MLA Research Paper

MLA is a writing style and a way of formatting papers. Many professional bodies and places of study will require essays and research papers to be written in MLA format. If you need to write in MLA style, it’s important to understand what is required of you, as failure to follow the MLA guidelines could result in a poor mark. We’ll take a look at what MLA is and how to write an MLA style research paper. 

MLA stands for the Modern Language Association. It’s a governing body that ensures consistency for research papers. They have developed criteria for formatting and styling essays and papers to ensure they are readable and references can be easily located.

MLA Research Paper Format

When formatting your paper in MLA style, follow these points to ensure you meet guidelines. 

  • Double spacing is required throughout the paper.
  • Structure the page with 1-inch margins around the top, bottom, and sides. 
  • Use footnotes and end notes where appropriate.
  • Start every paragraph with an indent. 
  • Use a standard font like Times New Roman or Arial in size 12.
  • Ensure italics looks visibly different and are used for names and titles in references. 
  • Use page numbers with a running head (short title or your last name) in the top right-hand corner of each page.

If you are required to print your paper, you may need to follow some additional guidelines. 

  • Use only white standard printing paper.
  • Use the size A4 or 8.5 inches by 11 inches.
  • Staple the papers together unless you are required to bind them.

MLA Research Paper Outlines

  1. Title Page 

The Title Page must include the key information about your paper. In the top left-hand corner, list the following:

  • Your Name
  • Your professor’s name
  • The name of the course
  • The submission date

After, you can include the paper title centrally aligned on the page.

  1. Section Headings

Use a section heading for each part of the paper so it is easier to read. Ensure each header stands on its own line. 

  1. Quotations 

When including quotations, you may add the author’s name within the text or in brackets after the quotation. If the quote is more than 4 lines, you will need to create a block for the quote to stand alone with an additional indent.

  1. Works Cited

You should include a page titled ‘Works Cited’ at the end of your paper. On this page, you should list alphabetically by last name all citations of the sources and references that you used as part of your research for the paper.

MLA Research Paper Example

An example of an MLA citation is as follows: 

  • Author Last Name, Author First Name. Title Of Book. Version, Number, Publisher, Publication Date.

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When reviewing MLA research paper samples, ensure you proofread the text. Ensure that grammar and spelling are correct and all references and quotations have citations.

Writing a Research Paper in MLA

Here are some final tips for writing a research paper in MLA. First, avoid making text bold and only use italics for names in references. Avoid abbreviations and write out any names or titles in full. Avoid starting a sentence with a number; ensure your numbers are formatted correctly. Finally, use images, graphs, and tables to support your paper to ensure they are easily read and located in the relevant text area.


MLA is a common writing style that is easy to follow once you are familiar with the formatting. It’s important to follow this style correctly when you are required, as it will impact your paper’s grade. If you are not used to writing with the MLA format, your college or university should have resources to support you. Alternatively, you can seek additional support and advice from writing professionals.