Widely Used MLA Essay Format

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MLA Title Page

While other styles require a separate title page, MLA does not.  On the first page of the actual work, in the upper left-hand corner, the author lists (doubled-spaced) his/her name, the instructor’s name, the class or course information, and the date, each on a separate line.  The title of the work is centered following a double space, and the text of the work begins following another double space.

MLA Template for Margins and Pagination

Margins should be 1-inch on all sides, with the right margin unjustified.

A Running Header should be placed in the upper right-hand corner with the author’s last name and the page number.  Pagination begins on the second page of the document.

The font should be one of the easily read options and the size should be 12 pt.

New paragraphs should be indented ½ inch

MLA Citations Within the Text

Using the MLA template of in-text citations comes with options.  The author may refer to the last name(s) of a resource with the text of the work and then simply place the page number in parentheses following the information, data, or quote.  As well, the page number may be placed in parentheses immediately following the author’s name within the sentence.  Another option is to cite the information, data, or quote and place the author’s last name and page number at the end, in parentheses.  Thus the following would all be acceptable:

According to Gardner, penguins are actually monogamous (57).

Gardner (57) states that penguins are monogamous.

New studies indicate that penguins are monogamous (Gardner, 57).

MLA Citations at End-of-Text

The MLA essay format requires a separate page(s) with a centered header titled “Works Cited.”  Note, this is not a bibliography in the traditional sense of the word.  The only works cited as end-of-text MLA citations are those that were actually cited within the text.  Resources that may have been utilized but which have not been cited within the text are not cited.


Last name, First name or initials, Title of Book, Place of Publication:  publisher, date of publication. Print.


Last name, first name or initials, “Title of Article in Quotes,” Title of Journal, Date of Publication, Page numbers.  Print (Note:  Volume and Issue numbers are not required)

The word “Print” at the end of each MLA citation indicates that you used a hard copy of the resource.

Electronic Sources:

Use the same format for periodicals and books, but state “electronic” at the end of the citation.  There is no longer a requirement to list the URL for articles and other publications found on the Internet, because the Modern Language Association understands that URL’s change and that such articles and publications can generally be found through search engines.

Note that if a widely known and/or historical document is documented within the text of a work (e.g., the Magna Carta), there no need to list this as a resource on the “Works Cited” page.

Note as well that if any work has more than three authors, use only the first author’s name, followed by a comma and the abbreviation “et al.”

If you should have unique or unusual resources, consult the MLA Style Guide Book, available electronically.

The MLA essay format is quite popular with students because it is perhaps the most streamlined and efficient style in use today.  Fortunately, many instructors and professors agree!