What Is MLA Format for Essays?

Style MLA (Modern Language Association (MLA) Style) is the most widely used format for documenting and citing sources in the humanities. It was developed by the Association of Modern Languages. The academic style of MLA is used in the United States, Canada, and other countries to create written works in English, English literature, spelling, study of other modern languages, or literature, including comparative analysis, literary criticism, media studies, culturology, and related disciplines.

Published in March 2009, the seventh edition of the Handbook on MLA for writers and research papers is mainly addressed to students of secondary schools, colleges, university teachers, and college students. In addition, there is a Manual on the style of MLA and a guide to scientific publications, offering examples of the general format of research MLA papers, citations in the text, end references, and also about the literature used page.

Features of MLA Format for Essays

  • The document is typed on the computer and printed on standard white paper of size 215.9 x 279.4 mm.
  • There must be a double interval between the lines. You should use an easy-to-read font (for example, Times New Roman). Whichever font is chosen, the Modern Languages Association recommends that the usual font and italics could easily differ. The font size should be 12 points.
  • After the sign at the end of the sentence, only one space is inserted, as after other punctuation marks.
  • The width of all fields of the document should be equal to 2.54 cm.
  • The indent of the first line of each paragraph from the left margin should be 1.27 cm. Modern Languages Association recommends using the Tab key.
  • Pages should be sequentially numbered in the upper right corner of the header after an indentation of 1.27 cm from the top edge of the sheet, but without indenting from the right margin.
  • If there are end links, they should be listed on a separate page before a page containing a list of used literature. The section is named Links, which should be centered.

Detailed Description about How to Format Texts Using MLA

Formatting the first page of the document:

  • You do not need to create a cover page of the document, unless there are additional instructions to that effect.
  • The name of the creator of the document, the name of the teacher, the course, and the date are listed in the upper left corner. There should also be a double line spacing.
  • After that, again after two intervals, the name of the document formatted in the center follows. It cannot be underlined, italicized, or quoted. The title only begins with a capital letter. You cannot type all the words of the title in capital letters.
  • Quotes or italics are allowed when mentioning other works in the title.
  • Double input is used between the title and the first line of text.
  • At the request of the teacher, the surname of the author of the work can be indicated in the right corner of the header, then the page number is separated by a space from the last name. (Note: the teacher or other future reviewers may ask that the footer of the first sheet does not contain the name or page number.) Follow their instructions.

Section Headers

The authors sometimes use section headings to improve the readability of the document. Sections may consist of individual chapters or other titled parts of a book or an essay.

MLA Format for Essays and Similar Documents

Modern Languages Association recommends that when dividing a document into sections, they are numbered with Arabic numerals, followed by a space and the title of the section.

For example:

  1. Early Creativity
  2. Years in London
  3. A journey through the continent
  4. A journey through the continent


The Association does not have an established table of contents system for sections of books. If these are headings of the same level, i.e. sections do not have subsections, then Modern Languages Association recommends that they be like each other grammatically. For example, if the headers are short, you need all of them to be similar in length. It is impossible that some of them were short phrases, and some are long sentences.

If the headings are multi-level (sections have subsections), then the MLA format for essays is selected when agreed with the teacher or the editor.

In the MLA format, the reference to the author of the quotation in the document itself is brief and clear, so that the reader can easily find it in the list of used literature. The source of information is indicated in brackets in the format “author-page.” This means that only the surname of the author and the number of the page with which the quote was taken should be given in the text. Full information on the source must be provided on the Used Literature page. The name of the author of the source can be cited either in the sentence itself, or in parentheses after the citation or paraphrase.


  • An indication of the table in the text begins with a small letter, it consists of parentheses, for example: (see table 2).
  • The table is located near the text to which it refers. It must be placed without indenting from the left margin.
  • Above, there should be the word Table and the corresponding Arabic figure. No punctuation mark is allowed after the figure.
  • The next line is the name of the table.
  • Under the table, the word Source is written followed by a colon and bibliographic information about the source according to the rules of the MLA. The lines following the first one are typed indented. If there is complete information under the table or image, it is not necessary to indicate this information in the section of the literature used.
  • Names, notes and inscriptions should also be typed at double intervals.

List of Used Literature

The list of used works should be inserted at the end of the document under the title Used Literature or Bibliography. The list should provide the information necessary to identify and locate each source.

  • Sources are listed alphabetically by the authors’ names or by the source name, if the author is unknown.
  • Each significant word of the title of the listed works is written with a capital letter. Articles, prepositions, and conjunctions are written with a small letter.
  • The names of publishers are being reduced as well. Do not write articles, cuts from legal forms (Co., Inc.) and descriptive words (Press, Publishing).
  • When several publishers are listed, you must specify all of them through a semicolon.
  • Do not apply abbreviations “with....” or “page” before the page number.
  • Paragraphs: The first line of the source name begins without an indent from the left margin, all subsequent lines of the title are located 5-7 spaces from the field.

Formatting the First Page Using MLA Format for Essays

Write a title in the top left corner. The title should include the same data as the title page if it is used.

  • Type your name on the first line using the following Name-Surname.
  • Enter the teacher’s name on the next line.
  • Then, enter the course’s name.
  • The date of submission of the assignment should be inserted on the last line. The date should be written in the format Day-Digit Month of Year-Digit.

Align the title of the paper in the center. After the date of the assignment, write the title of your work on the next line. Align it to the center.

  • Do not highlight the title of the paper in italic, bold, underlined, or large font.
  • The title should be both informative and creative.
  • If you want to include a suheader. it should be inserted on one line with the header, separating them with a colon.
  • The first letter of each important word must be capitalized. Prepositions and articles must remain capitalized if they do not stand at the beginning of the title or subhead.

Start writing the text of your work. On the line immediately below the title, start writing the opening paragraph to your work, aligning the text to the left.

Citation Style Within Text

Always include quotations in parentheses for any material you used in the text. After direct citation, exposition of the borrowed material, or paraphrasing, the source in parentheses after the borrowed material should be indicated.

  • If you have more information about the source, also indicate in parentheses the author’s surname and the page on which the source material was found.
  • If the source material was found on the internet and does not have a page number, specify only the author’s surname and the source’s name.
  • If the author’s name is also unknown, it is sufficient to indicate in abbreviated form the abbreviated name of the original source.
  • If you mentioned the author’s name earlier in the sentence, you should not again indicate it in brackets.

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