MLA Quick Guide for Research Paper Writing

We all know the uncertainty and difficulty that comes with writing research papers. However, it can be made much easier with the proper guidelines, paper instructions, and tools.

One of the most important things to remember when writing a research paper is the format, and there are a few popular types.

The Modern Language Association (MLA) format is a widely accepted format for academic papers and is commonly used in the humanities and liberal arts. This guide will provide a quick overview of the MLA format and how to use it effectively when writing a research paper.

What does MLA stand for?

MLA stands for Modern Language Association. It is a professional organisation that focuses on studying and teaching language and literature. The MLA is best known for its MLA Handbook. The handbook provides guidelines for writing research papers and citing sources in the humanities, particularly literature, and the liberal arts.

The MLA Handbook, first published in 1977, is now in its 8th edition and is widely used in high schools, colleges, and universities in the United States. The handbook provides detailed instructions on formatting research papers, including guidelines for in-text citations and works cited pages. The MLA citation style is commonly used in the fields of literature, languages, and the humanities and is a widely accepted academic citation style in North America.

The MLA has more than 25,000 members worldwide, including scholars, teachers, and students. The organisation holds an annual convention and publishes the journal PMLA (Publications of the Modern Language Association of America).

What font size is MLA format?

In MLA format, the font size should be 12 points. This applies to the text in the main body of the paper and the text on the works cited page. The font should be a standard typeface, such as Times New Roman, Arial, or Calibri. It is essential to use a legible font that is easy to read and to maintain consistency throughout the paper.

It is also important to note that MLA format guidelines do not specify a specific font, but using easily readable fonts like those mentioned before is recommended. Following the MLA format outline for your research paper ensures that it is properly formatted and easy to read. This includes the font size and other elements such as MLA format spacing, margins, and headings.

Guide for writing research papers: MLA style

Using the MLA style to write research papers may prove difficult, especially if you haven’t attempted it before. However, with the right tips, you can figure it out in no time. Here is a guide on how you can successfully write a research paper in MLA style.

  • Format the paper

The first step in using the MLA format is properly formatting the paper itself. The paper should be typed and double-spaced on standard 8.5″ x 11″ white paper to follow the MLA outline format. The margins should be set to 1″ on all sides, and the font should be a legible 12-point font, such as Arial or Times New Roman. The first page should also include a header with your last name and the page number, which should be placed in the upper right-hand corner.

  • Format the title page

The next step is to format the title page properly. The title of the paper should be centred on the page, with no bold or italicised text. The author’s name should be written in the centre of the page, a few lines below the title. MLA headings should be written in the same font and size as the rest of the paper and should not be bold but may be italicised.

  • Review the in-text citations

Looking at the actual content of the paper, it is essential to use proper in-text citations. In-text citations are used to give credit to the sources used in the paper. The MLA format uses parenthetical citations, which means that the author’s last name and page number are placed within parentheses at the end of the quote or paraphrase. For example, (Smith 23). If the author’s name is already mentioned in the sentence, only the page number is needed in the citation.

  • Ensure the works cited page is written properly

When it comes to how to cite multiple authors MLA style or the sources used in the paper, the MLA format uses a Works Cited page. The Works Cited page should be the last page of the paper and titled “Works Cited” and centred at the top of the page. The sources should be alphabetically outlined by the author’s last name. Each source should be formatted in a specific way, depending on the type of source. For example, a book should be listed with the author’s last name, first name, book title, city of publication, publisher, and publication date.

  • Use the correct page number format

In MLA page number format, you should include the page numbers in the upper right corner of each page, including the works cited page. The page number should be placed in the header, ½ inch from the top of the page, and flush with the right margin.

  • Avoid plagiarism by all means

Lastly, when using MLA format, it is vital to avoid plagiarism. To avoid plagiarism, citing all sources used in the paper is crucial. Additionally, using your own words when paraphrasing or summarising information from a source is essential.


Writing a research paper can look strenuous, but following the MLA format guidelines can make it much easier. Properly format the paper, use proper in-text citations, and create a Works Cited page to ensure you produce a decent paper.