The MLA Format style: A comprehensive guide.

MLA is an abbreviation that stands for Modern Language Association.

It is a type of citation that is commonly used in liberal arts and humanities research work. MLA is normally used in research papers to link the resources used in the work to the author.

Most are done by attributing the sources to the original owner of the work written. This is to ensure that academic principles are not violated in the process of writing the work.

If the citation is incomplete, any academic paper is not credible and will be termed incomplete. In any other citation, the same rule applies.

Therefore it is very important to understand how this and other citations work and how and where it applies.

Below is a comprehensive guide on things you should note when it comes to using MLA in any academic work.

The format

Every piece of paperwork should have a specific format. It is important to understand the format in which the paper in question should be structured and just like any other style, MLA has its own unique format.

Here are the key components to put into consideration while creating an MLA-style format.

1. Margin

In this style, every margin (right, left, top and bottom) should be one (1) inch toward the inside of the page.

To set it up;

-Drag the pointer into the page, right-click and select ‘paragraph’. A dashboard will pop up with several setting options.

-Go to margins and select ‘1’ for both left and right margins.

Most of the time, the top and bottom margins are always in default settings of 1 inch on the margins. So you will not have to change these settings.

2. Paragraphs

While writing your work, all paragraphs are justified towards the right-hand side of the page.

To set it up;

At the top of your page on the computer, there is a section under the ‘home’ menu that indicate ‘paragraph’. Just above it are short parallel lines sectioned into four.

These are the types of paragraphs that you can choose from depending on the writing style. However, in MLA, the first line in every paragraph should be 1.5 inches towards the right.

The simplest way to do this is by pressing the space button on your computer 5 times or the ‘tab’ button only once.

You can as well make this setting to be automatic by;

-Right-click on your work page

-When options pop up, click on ‘special’ and select ‘first line’ on the options as you special settings.

This setting will allow your computer to automatically create an indented first line in the paragraph every time you press the ‘enter’ button.

3. Header

This is the section where you provide page numbers. Page numbering is crucial in every paper written but depending on the instructor of your work, some might request you not to number the work.

In MLA style, there is no running head except page numbers only. In rare cases, some instructors might request that you put the title of your work as a header and some might request that the first page be left unnumbered.

Either way, if specific instructions are not given, always number your work from the first page.

Note: there is a difference between the first page and the cover page so always be keen on the instructions given and the type of work you are writing.

Some work will require a cover page and some will not. Your header settings will depend on the instructions given.

Unless given any other instructions, the page header should appear on the top right corner of every page of your work. It should include the last name of the author /writer which in this case is yourself and the page number. For example:

The author’s name is Jacky Moloy.

Then the header should be: Moloy 1 which will appear on page 1 and on page 2, it will be Moloy 2. This format should go on until the last page.

To set it up;

– The title on your header

-Drag the cursor to the top page of your work and double-click. An option to type the title will show on the screen. Type your title and once you are done, double-click on the written page to go back to your work.

-Another option is to click on ‘insert’ on the left side of the screen and the header option will appear on the right side as a drop-down for more options.

-To number your work;

-At the top of the screen, click on ‘insert’.

To the right side of the screen, there is an option for page numbers that will lead you to the drop-down menu. The menu allows you to select where to place the numbers on your pages.

Each option will show you how your numbers will appear on the page. It is normally recommended to use the ‘bottom of page’ option but depending on your instruction and how you want it to appear, you can always select other options on the menu.

There is also an option of removing page numbers in case you want to change it.

4. The first-page format.

On the first page of your work, it is important to note the format in which it should appear. The main content of the cover page is the details of your instructor, your details, and the title of your work.

On the left side of the page, you should write your name and the name of the instructor, course title and the date, all double-spaced. The use of 12 –point Times New Roman is recommended.

5. The title

The title of your work is a simple few-word text that generalizes the main context of your work.

This is the most crucial part of your work and your work will be incomplete without a title.

After providing your details, those of your instructor, course details and date, the title appears next. The space between the first block of the details and the title should be double space.

The title should be centered and not italicized, quoted, bolded, or underlined.

Quotation marks are only used in the title when making a reference to another author’s original work.

To know more about in-text citations in this style, I put together an article with comprehensive details here.

I also put together and article with complete guide on APA style.

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