How to Write in MLA Format

MLA (Modern Language Association) style is a set of formatting conventions most often used in papers written in the liberal arts and humanities field. The MLA style is laid out in the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers and the MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing. Knowing these guidelines is an essential part of research writing. Learn how you can use the Modern Language Association guidelines to add authenticity to all your research writing.

Use double-space and write in a Times New Roman 12 point font. Only use one space after punctuation. Use a header that places the page number a 1/2 inch down and to the right of each page.

Put end notes and cite all work on separate pages. Set your page margins to 1 inch all the way around and indent five spaces, or 1/2 inch, from the left margin. Titles for longer works used in your paper can be underlined or italicized, but not both.

Make a cover page. Include your name, the instructor's name, the course name, and the date in the left-hand corner. Drop down a double space, center your title, and write it in title case. Drop down a double space to begin the body text. The upper right corner should have a header that includes your last name followed by a space and a page number.

Enclose short quotations in the body of your paper with quotation marks. Include author and specific page citation information in parenthesis and include the full information for the citation on the works cited page. Keep all punctuation outside the parenthesis.

Write quotations more than four lines long as a block of text indented 1 inch from the left margin and without quotation marks.

Include a works cited page after the paper that gives complete author and publication information (see "Resources" below). Use end notes sparingly, number them consecutively, and include them on a separate page before your works cited page.

  • Be sure to include publication dates and format each reference according to MLA guidelines.
About the Author

Carl Hose is the author of the anthology "Dead Horizon" and the the zombie novella "Dead Rising." His work has appeared in "Cold Storage," "Butcher Knives and Body Counts," "Writer's Journal," and "Lighthouse Digest.". He is editor of the "Dark Light" anthology to benefit Ronald McDonald House Charities.