Easy Guide on How to Write a Research Paper in MLA Format


The MLA style of formatting is used is used in many humanities and social sciences courses and is generally considered a standard form that gives you credibility in your work. It’s a system for you to reference your sources through easy to understand parenthetical citations and a page for all works cited.

  • Title information: For research papers, unless your instructor has told you otherwise, you don’t have to include a title page. Instead, write your name, your professor’s name, your course number and the date of the paper should be aligned left, double-spaced, at the top of the first page. Your research paper’s title should be centered two spaces below your name and class information.

  • Spacing information: MLA requires double-space throughout, including the title information section. If your research paper has any subtitles the first paragraph immediately following should only be double-spaced.

  • Titles of sources: The titles of sources you reference in your text – books, journals, movies, articles, etc. – should all be italicized.

  • Citations: In-text quotations in MLA format are easy to insert. Simply insert the text you want to use within your own text and in parenthesis enter the original author’s name as well as the page number from the original work where this quote was taken from.

  • Block Quotations: If the information you are quoting is longer than four lines in your paper, then indent the quotation and use what is called a block quote. This too should be double spaced.

  • Grammatical Errors: If you ever need to quote something that has any type of spelling, punctuation or grammatical errors, enter the quotation as it appears in the original text then follow the quote with “[sic]”. This lets the reader know you have not made a mistake when typing the quote.

  • Footnotes: In MLA, you should use footnotes anytime you need to explain something in your paper that doesn’t quite fit in with your argument or the rest of the paper. Add the superscripted (raised) footnote after a paraphrased piece of information. The information you add at the bottom of the page should cite the complete author’s name, source, and year, along with any information you want to share about the addition.

  • Works Cited: This section is very important in your research paper. In alphabetical order by last name, it should contain the author’s name, the title of the work cited, the city it was published in, the name of the publisher and the year in which it was published.

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