A Quick Guide to Composing a Research Paper in the MLA Style

The Modern Language Association (MLA) style is frequently used style for research papers in literature and composition. Anyway, before start writing a paper, ask if you are required to write your research paper in the MLA style.

Format of a research paper in the MLA style

There are some differences between different styles of writing. That’s why it is important to know the style required by the instructor of the course.

  • Indention and margins - The MLA style requires margins of one inch around the text. Paragraphs should be five spaces indented. In-text quotations longer than four typed lines should be ten spaces indented.
  • No title page - What is different in this style is that it doesn’t require separate title page. The title of the paper, your name, instructor’s name, the name of the course and the date, should be written at the left top of the first page. Use only Times New Roman font with 12 font size.
  • Titles within the text – Titles of books, films, newspapers, journals, TV programs, names of plays, songs, poems, short stories, CD album, all should be underlined or italicized.
  • Pagination – Numbers of pages (including the first one where the title of the paper and the names are) should be written in the upper right corner, half inch from the top of the margin and one inch from the right margin, and double space from the first line of the text on the page. You can out your last name next to the page number. It gives more convenient work.
  • Double spacing- The whole text throughout the paper should be double-spaced. No exceptions.
  • Simple – keep it as simple as possible. This is formal style of writing and this is a paper, so you don’t need any binders. The simpler, the better.
  • Figures and tables – all photographs, charts, images, and any type of drawing should be labeled “Figure” , numbered with Arabic numbers and captioned. Tables should be marked as “Table” and properly numbered and captioned.
  • Avoid plagiarism – You should avoid plagiarism. The source of any quotation and phrase that is cited in the text should be written in the reference list. If you paraphrase someone’s idea or thought, make sure you put quotation marks or cited it properly.
  • In-text citation – If in-text citations are shorter than four typed lines include them in the text with quotation marks. If they are longer, write them indented in a new line.

If you use the MLA style properly you will show credibility of your writing. Moreover, this style protects writers from being accused of plagiarism.