MLA style also specifies guidelines for formatting manuscripts and using the English language in writing and also provides a writers with a system for cross-referencing their sources--from their parenthetical references to their works cited page. This cross-referencing system allows readers to locate the publication information of source material. This is of great value for researchers who may want to locate your sources for their own research projects. The proper use of MLA style also shows the credibility of writers; such writers show accountability to their source material. Most importantly, the use of MLA style can protect writers from accusations of plagiarism--the purposeful or accidental use of source material by other writers without giving appropriate credit.
All guidelines for MLA style are in the MLA Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing (2nd edition). If you are asked to use MLA format for a research paper, the book to consult is MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers (6th edition). Copies of these books are on the reference shelves in the Writing Lab (226 Heavilon Hall) and in the HSSE Library; it is also widely available in bookstores, libraries, and at the MLA web site. Our additional resources section also has links to other helpful books and resources on using MLA style. Included here is a brief summary of MLA style for the research paper.
Basic Paper Format
Making Reference to the Works of Others in Your Text
Your Works Cited List (and Examples)
Basic Forms For Sources In Print
Basic Forms For Electronic Sources
Other Types of Sources
A Note on Notes
Basic Paper Format
The preparation of manuscripts in MLA style is covered in chapter four of the MLA Style Manual, as well as in chapter three of the Handbook for Writing Research Papers. Here are some basic guidelines for formatting a paper in MLA style. For additional help with formatting a document in MLA style, see our additional resources section.
Type your paper or write it on a computer and print it out on standard-sized paper (8.5 X 11 inches).
Double-space your paper.
Set the margins of your document to 1 inch on all sides.
Create a header that numbers all pages consecutively in the upper right-hand corner, one-half inch from the top and flush with the right margin. (Note: Your instructor or whoever is reading the manuscript may ask that you omit the number on your first page. Always follow their guidelines.)
Use either underlining or italics throughout your essay for highlighting the titles of longer works and providing emphasis.
If you have any notes, include them on a page before your works cited page and format them the same way as your works cited list.
Formatting the first page of your paper
Do not make a title page for your paper unless specifically requested.
Provide a double-spaced entry in the top left corner of...