MLA Essay

An MLA Essay is a writing style predominantly used in liberal arts and humanities courses. The Modern Language Association of America (MLA) specifies guidelines for the format of the manuscript and the use of the English language.

General Format

Use the Times New Roman in 12 point size. The text should always be double spaced. The entire page should have a 1 inch margin top, bottom, and left and right sides of the paper.

All new paragraphs should be indicated by a 1/2 inch tab. Indent by five spaces or one tab the first line of the next paragraph that follows. Headers are created at the upper right hand corner of the page, 1/2 inch from the top of the paper.

Punctuation marks are always by followed by a single space, and in-text citation must be parenthetical. Use italics or underlining to emphasize titles of significant length and include footnotes at a separate page, right before the Works Cited page.

The Works Cited List

• Must have a separate page at the end of your paper.
• Must be double-spaced.
• Entries must be in alphabetical order.
• Indent the subsequent lines of each entry.
• Separate each part (i.e. author, title, publication information) with a period.
• If the content of the essay already makes the source apparent, there is no need for parenthetical information.


• Use quotations to support your points with that of other authors’. Make them short, direct and relevant.
• Have at least three quotes for every 2000 words.
• Enclose direct quotations in quotation marks (“ ”).
• Indent direct quotations.
• Add a footnote at the end of each quote.

Short Tipsters

• Avoid using statements that start with the likes of “I think..” or “In my opinion..”
• Avoid using slang and colloquial language.
• Keep your use of generalizations at a minimum.
• When referring to numbers, use words for those less than a hundred and figures for those over a hundred.
• When referring to an unknown artwork, use the footnote to indicate the location of the piece of art or the resource where you found its illustration.
• When referring to the artist, use his/her surname. Use the full name when introducing the painter, and then include the birth dates (and death dates in any case). Place the dates in brackets.

Using the correct format serves saves you from accusations of plagiarism. You can be accused of plagiarism, if you do not credit your source with the proper citation.

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