How To Write An Essay In The MLA Format: Tips & Tricks

For most literature and journalism courses, you’ll be asked to write your papers in MLA format. MLA format was created by the Modern Language Association of America, beginning in 1985. It’s specifically designed for documenting sources in papers pertaining to the humanities. The write way to write an essay in the MLA format is documented in the MLA Style Guide.

The big issue with MLA formatting is that the rules change every few years. This can be frustrating, but fortunately, there are resources you can check to make sure you’re formatting your paper and works cited correctly. One of the best places to look is OWL at Purdue, which provides a comprehensive guide for how to write an essay in the MLA format.

Here are some tips and tricks for writing MLA essays:

  • Type your essay on a computer, and print it on standard 8” by 11” paper, using sensible 12-point font like Times New Roman, Cambria, or Calibri.
  • Leave only one space after each period and comma.
  • Indent the first line of each paragraph.
  • Use italics for the titles of longer works, like films and novels.
  • Use quotation marks for shorter works, like short stories or essays.
  • Put any relevant endnotes on a separate page before the works cited.
  • Double-space your paper.
  • Create a header with your name, the date, the page number, and if relevant, the professor’s name and course number. You don’t need a title page unless your teacher or professor specifically requests it.
  • Use numbered section headings, if necessary.
  • Use proper citations. Citation formats differ for different media, like periodicals, websites, newspapers, books, and films.
  • For in-text citations, use parentheticals. This generally includes the author’s name and a page number. For print sources without an author, use the title instead.
  • Short quotations can be in the text normally, surrounded by quotation marks. For longer passages, go down a space and indent.
  • Begin your Works Cited page on a separate sheet of paper, placed at the end of the essay.
  • Double-space your citations. Indent each line after the first line.
  • As of 2009, you no longer need to provide the URL for online sources.
  • Cite each source correctly, according to its medium (book, film, journal, magazine, online, etc.)

These are just a few tips and tricks for writing an essay in the MLA format. By following these guidelines, you can ensure that your paper meets all formatting requirements, so that you can get the best possible grade for your work.


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