How to Format an Essay in MLA: 11 Thing You’re Forgetting to Do

Formatting an essay in MLA is often a challenging task for many students. Although most students are fluent in APA, MLA is rarely used and thus brings about various errors that pull students’ scores down. 

This article will look at the MLA college essay format and highlight common MLA errors to avoid for an outstanding paper. 

What is the MLA format for an essay? 

The Modern Language Association format is a common referencing style for the humanity and arts disciplines. The style ensures uniformity in the referencing of documents, making it easy for experts in the field to refer to the work used to prepare arguments in one’s paper.

Proper formatting of references in MLA allows you to avoid plagiarism claims, reducing the burden of countless corrections. 

Requirements of MLA format: 11 things you are forgetting to do

MLA, like all referencing styles, is bound by rules, which, if not adhered to may result in a points deduction. Some of the MLA format rules you ought to remember include: 

  1. Quotation marks

Quotations in MLA are formatted differently depending on their length. Short quotations (less than four lines) are enclosed in double quotation marks. All punctuation marks (that were not part of the original text) appear after the parenthesis of your in-text citation. 

Quotations longer than four sentences should be presented as a block of text without quotations. The block should have a ½-inch indent and maintain double line spacing. If you add commentary in the quotation, you should enclose the added words in brackets, informing the reader that they are not part of the original text. 

  1. Intext citations

In-text citations in the MLA essay format should start with the last name of the author followed by the page number. No punctuation should be included between the author’s name and the page number. 

If the author’s name appears in the text, you may include the page number alone within the parenthesis. 

  1. Works Cited

When entering references in your works cited page, include the last name as written in the intext citation to the far left. Also, be keen not to include URLs in the works cited section and to italicize the book titles. 

You should start the works cited on a new page and maintain double spacing in the works cited section. If you have only used a single page of a source, abbreviate your reference with a .p, before the page number e.g., (.p,7). If multiple pages are used, abbreviate your reference with a .pp .i.e., (, pp. 77-89).

  1. Font

Although you may feel compelled to settle for a fancy font, the rules of MLA dictate that you use Times New Roman / Georgia/ Arial, font size 12. 

  1. Title page

The title page in MLA follows some rules that you could easily overlook. The title page is not a must for the MLA paper and should only be included when your tutor guides you to include one in your paper.

The title page should follow the double-spacing that is typical of the MLA paper. At the start of your pager, school two lines and key in the designation of your college. After that, skip 1/3 of your page and key in the title and subtitle of your paper.

Next, skip three rows before adding your name, course title, professor’s name, and due date. If you opt to go without a title page, insert your name, your tutor’s name, the course name, and the due date at the top left corner of your first page. 

  1. Margins

When formatting a paper in MLA style, use the default, one-inch all-around margin option. 

  1. Numbers

When discussing digits in your text, the MLA format rules dictate that you spell out numbers that are two words or fewer. However, any number that starts a sentence, regardless of length should be spelled out. 

  1. Avoid using contractions

Contractions are illegal in formal writing. It is also great for you not to use contractions as they limit the word count of your paper. 

  1. Indents in references

Your references should have a hanging indent. For this, the first line should be flush with your paper’s left margin. The rest of the reference, however, should have a 1/2 -inch margin. 

  1. Sorting your works cited page

Your works cited page should be sorted in alphabetical order, allowing your reader to easily trace various references. 

  1. Running head

The running head in MLA should be included on every page. An MLA running head usually appears in the upper right corner and comprises the author’s last name and the page number. The details of the running head should have a 1-inch margin to the right of the page and a ½-inch top margin.

Final take

Formatting in MLA should not be a major cause of headaches. These tips should come in handy to help you edit your paper and avoid losing points to styling errors. We recommend that you check a sample MLA format essay to better acquaint yourself with various rules for writing your paper.

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