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A Brief Introduction To Writing An Essay In The MLA Format

Writing an essay within the humanities and social sciences often requires using the MLA format. You can get an MLA handbook and style manual in your school library. However, it takes plenty of time to study it. In truth, you need only a brief introduction to get started, so read the following advice on how to format your paper in the MLA style without a hitch.

The MLA Format Basics: Vital Advice

If you are not familiar with the MLA style, it makes sense to use an example. You can find such a document on the Web, at the school library, and on the website of any academic writing center. It is also a good idea to study a comparison of the most widely used citation and formatting styles so that you will not mix them up. Another useful option is to watch a video guide on how to format your essay correctly.

Follow the vital advice provided below in order to avoid common mistakes:

  • Set a legible font. The recommended font is Cambria or Times New Roman, 12 pt.
  • Apply italics type styles to highlight important details throughout the text, e.g. titles of books.
  • Double-space all the text to make it readable.
  • Use the same one-inch margins on all sides of the paper.
  • Create one half-inch indents using the Tab key.
  • Omit the number on your first page if your professor asks you to. Remember to follow his or her instructions carefully.
  • Avoid using endnotes. If you still have them, provide endnotes on a separate page before your works cited list. You should entitle this section as “Notes.”
  • Divide your essay into several sections if your assignment is long. Each section should be numbered with an Arabic number followed by a period. Then, leave one space and provide the name of the section.

Adjusting Your Word Processor Settings: Easy Tips

Some students agree that they spend less time formatting their assignments if they adjust their word processor settings first. It takes a few minutes to set margins, spacing, a font, font size, indent, and line height. You can find comprehensive step-by-step guidelines on the Web on how to change your settings to the MLA style. It is also a good idea to use a document template that you can download from the website of your course, the electronic archive of your school academic writing center, or a popular writing blog. You can also use your old essay in MLA as a format template.

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