How to Use the MLA Format for a Term Paper: The Complete Guide

Quite often English and Humanities’ instructors like for their students to write in the MLA style. MLA stands for Modern Language Association and the format dictates how the paper is presented and delivered. Here is a complete guide for reference as you work on your essay.

Guide Tips

  • Font Information-you will use a size 12 font with a very plain appearance. A font lie New Times Roman or Arial is considered acceptable for use.
  • Headings-you will not have a title page. On page one in the left corner, you will place your name, the teacher name, subject, and date. It will look like this-
  • Susie Smith

    Mrs. Brown

    English II

    10 October 2014

  • Title-immediately following the heading, you will place the title centered in the page
  • Spacing-the entire paper will have double-spacing
  • Page numbers-after the first page, you will place your last name and the page number in the top right corner
  • Citations-the paper will have parenthetical in-text citations. This will include the author’s last name and page number. It will look like this (Bush 111). If there is no author you can use the article name. If there is not author and no article name, you can then use the website address.
  • Margins-all margins will be 1 inch
  • There is no summary or abstract section
  • The thesis statement will be placed in the first paragraph
  • Use standard 8.5” by 11 inch paper
  • Indentations-they are located a half-inch from the left margin, tab once or space five times for the correct amount of space
  • Longer works-use italics for the titles of long pieces such as plays (standard grammar rules)
  • Shorter works-use quotation marks for the titles of shorter works such as a short story (standard grammar rules)

The association sets these rules and they do issue occasional updates. You want to make sure that you know the most current procedures. It is important that you follow all of the guidelines throughout your paper or you may lose points in your grade. There are other rules concerning using long excerpts, using quotations, and citations for unusual sources. There is also a set way to construct the Works Cited page. If your instructor assigns you a MLA essay, use this reference sheet and bookmark a MKA reference page to make sure that you understand your obligations and the standard rules.

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