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MLA Format Explained – How To Cite Sources And Format Pages?

mla format

When writing an academic paper, formatting is one of the most crucial things that you need to pay attention to because your instructor will. The correct paper format ensures that you have uniform papers regardless of the course or part of the world in which you are. The Modern Language Association is an organization that developed the MLA format, which is mostly used in literature and other works by students and researchers.

This type of formatting has had several editions with the most recent one, the eighth edition, being released in 2016. It has updated requirements when you are asked to write in MLA format. Many students struggle with finding the best way to do this since the guidelines have not always been so clear. However, it is quite easy to learn if you understand the main points that need your attention.

MLA Format 8th Edition Guidelines

If you want to use MLA format citation correctly, then you must know all the details down to the little fine ones of what you need to do. Once you master all the requirements, then you can create a template, so your work is always formatted perfectly. If you have struggled with this in the past, here is your ultimate guide to MLA formatting.


That is the first thing you should fix since it gives order to your paper. The page should have a uniform one-inch margin at the top, sides, and bottom. Remember, that the text shouldn’t be justified but instead use the align-left option. That means that the right side will be rugged as opposed to having perfectly straight edges.

MLA Heading

The formatting has precise instructions for your headings; however, it doesn’t have any guidelines for a title page. If you have been asked to have a title page yet you are writing in MLA, then you should get a clarification on the exact style.

The paper starts with your name, leave a double space, then the name of your instructor(s). Under that should be another double spacing followed by the course or class number and the date. Remember that there should be a double space between each of these headings.

You must add another double space after which you will include the title. Please, note, that the title should be written in the regular case without any bolding, underline, or italics unless it consists of the name of a publication. You also need to center it, but it is the only part that doesn’t start from the margin.

Running Head And Page Numbering

The running head is a heading that is at the very top of the page and is the same throughout the document. You can add it by double-clicking on the margin where you will get a new line to appear. If you had already done your margin settings, then it will automatically show half an inch from the top and one inch from the side.

The running head also includes the page number and is added in the upper right corner. Do not include the running head in the middle or left-hand side as this will be wrong, yet it is an essential requirement. The head should consist of your name, usually the last one, then space and page number. Do not add the word “page” or ‘P” before the number, as this is wrong. Also, note that most times your instructor will not want you to start with the page number on the first page, so seek clarification before starting.

Font, Size, And Spacing

While Times New Roman is the most widely used fonts, the recent MLA guidelines don’t have any preferred font. However, your instructor may have defined what he wants you to apply; however, the main thing is that it should be readable. The font should also be easy to identify when text is italicized.

The page should be white, no other color is allowed, and the size is 8.5” x 11”. The standard font size is 12, and your whole work should be double spaced. The text shouldn’t be justified, and there should be only one space after the period.


Having already set the margins to an inch all around, the first word in each paragraph should start another half an inch from the margin. You don’t have to measure it; you can easily use the tab button that automatically does it for you. Remember to include a double space after each paragraph throughout the paper.

Quotes And Paraphrasing

You cannot write academic papers without quotes, which is why it is an important aspect when formatting in MLA. In-text citations are made to emphasize or to prove a point, and you must do it correctly to avoid plagiarism. Quotes are words that someone said or wrote, and there are two main ways in which you can do this.

  1. Include the name of the author in the sentence

That requires that you write the quote and the person’s name as part of the whole sentence.

For example:

Martin Luther King, Jr. observed the effects of lack of justice when he said, “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

  1. At the end of the quote in brackets

This method allows you to write the author’s name at the end of the citation in parentheses, so it is still clear that those are not your words.

For example:

He further noted that justice and freedom must be fought for by stating that, “freedom is not voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.”

Alternatively, you are allowed to paraphrase text where you summarize the words by an author but still credit them for it. That means that you don’t have to use their exact words but explain the meaning of the text while crediting them for it.

For example:

“The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.” Mahatma Gandhi

This statement can be paraphrased into:

Mahatma Gandhi reminded the people that forgiveness requires great strength and that only strong people can afford to give it. He told them that they should shun weakness since it breeds anger and grudges; hence, such people are unable to forgive themselves and others.

MLA Citation Page – What To Include?

So, how to cite a website, book, or any other source in MLA? First of all, the works cited page must appear at the end of your paper since it shows all the sources that you have used to come up with the essay. It is still a part of your paper, so it should follow all the other rules that you used in your work, including the running head and double spacing. The following are the guidelines to follow for your MLA bibliography:

  1. The references should be listed following the alphabetical order.
  2. The sentence should start one inch from the margin. If it extends to more than one line, then the second line should begin half an inch from the margin so you must press the tab before continuing.
  3. Correctly italicize and put quotation marks in the references. Italics are used for the names of movies, shows, books, and other publications.

The above are some of the main aspects of MLA format that students usually have a problem figuring out. The guidelines have to be followed correctly without any alterations unless requested by your instructor. Proofread and edit your work before submission (or get the help of professionals with this part), have a checklist to allow you to view the different requirements and whether you’ve fulfilled them.

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