mla format short essay
The Modern Language Association (MLA) specifies a standard format for essays and research papers written in an academic setting:
- One-inch page margins.
- Double-spaced paragraphs
- A header with author’s last name and page number one-half inch from the top of each page.
- Name of author, name of professor, title of course, date of paper on the first page of the paper.
- A works cited page beginning on a separate page at the end of the paper.
Follow the steps below to format your essay or research paper according to MLA whenever you use Microsoft Word. Before you begin, however, make sure that you can see the Standard and Formatting toobars displayed on two rows on your screen.
Click the Align Left icon or, from the menu bar, select Format and Paragraph, select the Indents and Spacing tab, and change Alignment to left.
When it comes to size, 8 ½-by-11-inch paper is the recommended size. If you’d like to use a different size, ask your teacher prior to submission.
¹See Isadora, Parr, and Velazquez. While Parr’s work features characters of various colors, such as pink or blue, children easily correlate it with individuals of different races and ethnicities.
Except for the running head (see below), leave margins of one inch at the top and bottom and on both sides of the text. If you plan to submit a printout on paper larger than 8½ by 11 inches, do not print the text in an area greater than 6½ by 9 inches.
Proofread and correct your research paper carefully before submitting it. If you are checking a printout and find a mistake, reopen the document, make the appropriate revisions, and reprint the corrected page or pages. Be sure to save the changed file. Spelling checkers and usage checkers are helpful when used with caution. They do not find all errors and sometimes label correct material as erroneous. If your instructor permits corrections on the printout, write them neatly and legibly in ink directly above the lines involved, using carets (⁁) to indicate where they go. Do not use the margins or write a change below the line it affects. If corrections on any page are numerous or substantial, revise your document and reprint the page.
- If the author is an organization (such as a government agency or non-profit foundation), alphabetize according to the name of the organization.
- If you are citing a painting, or a composer, then obviously “author” has to be interpreted a little loosely.
- Unless your instructor ask you to organize your Works Cited list differently, everything should be alphabetized together, in a single list. MLA does not require that you separate works of different kinds, or that you cite works in the order that they appeared in your paper, or that you write annotations to go along with each item.
- Use double-spaced line height. (in my copy of Word, I select the text and choose Format -> Paragraph -> Line spacing -> Double -> OK.)
- Use hanging indent paragraph format. (In my copy of word, I select the text then choose Format -> Paragraph -> Indentation -> Special -> Hanging Indent.)
- In my test run, the left and right margins are too big. To change them:
Layout -> Margins -> Normal (1-inch all around)
- The default line height is too low. Change it to 2.0.
Home -> Line Spacing -> 2.0
- My Mac copy of MS-Word does not add extra spaces after paragraphs. If yours does:
Home -> Line Spacing -> Line Spacing Options… (a new window will pop up)
Don’t add space between paragraphs of the same style (check this box) -> OK
- The 12-point Cambria will probably be fine, but to change the typeface:
Home-> Font Face Selector (change to Times New Roman)
Home -> Font Size Selector (change to 12)
Any time you use the ideas A thought, opinion, or impression. , arguments A set of statements or reasons making a case for or against something. , theories In science, a well tested and widely accepted explanation for a phenomenon. Theories incorporate facts, observations, experiments, laws, and careful reasoning. In more general usage, theory may merely mean an unproven idea, speculation, or guesswork. , or words of another writer, you must provide correct and properly formatted citations. Be sure to check with your instructors regarding what style they prefer for formatting any essay you are assigned.
Works Cited Pages