Step-By-Step Guide on How to Write a Paper in MLA + Format Example

The MLA format is a standard referencing system used to build credibility and acknowledge the sources used for your paper. Many students accustomed to APA find it hard to follow the MLA paper format.

This guide will cover how to write a paper in MLA format and include an example to walk you through how to format a paper in MLA.

What is MLA format?

The MLA format is a popular referencing style for professionals and students of language and literature. Known as the Modern Language Association, the MLA paper format was introduced in the 1800s to bring uniformity and inspire the study of language.

MLA has been revised multiple times better to address the needs of professionals in the field. This style is currently in the 9th edition. We shall thus cover the most recent MLA format instructions as prescribed in the 9th edition.

How to write an MLA research paper

This section will cover the tips on formatting an MLA paper, MLA format citations and the basic guidelines of an MLA paper.

Basic formatting of an MLA paper

Some of the basic rules when using the MLA format include:

  • Use italics to refer to other people's work
  • Use a 12-size font in either Times New Roman or Arial style
  • Insert a ½-inch indentation at the start of each paragraph
  • You should set all margins at one inch
  • Print your work on a white 8.5x11-inch paper

It is critical to note that the preferred MLA line spacing is double-spacing. You are also required to leave a single space after punctuation marks to make your work easy to follow.

MLA research paper format

An MLA paper is divided into a title page, the body and a conclusion.

The title page

Unlike the APA format, the title page is not reserved for your information. The MLA title page comprises your information in the upper left-hand corner of the first page, followed by the introduction.

Some of the information to include in this section include; your name, registration number, tutor's name, unit name, unit code, and due date. Like other writing styles, a header has to be added to each page.

The MLA header is positioned in the upper right-hand corner and includes your last name and the page number. A space should separate your name and the page number. In some instances, the page number may be omitted on the title page.

As such, engage your instructor for their preferences in formatting your MLA paper.

The body

Your body should generally be divided into sections, each carrying its unique idea. You may opt to subdivide your paper into sections under relevant subheadings for longer papers.

For this, ensure that each MLA header is formatted according to these conditions:

  • You should place your header one inch from the top left
  • Center-aligned
  • 12 pt
  • Double spaced
  • Level one headers should be emboldened and left-aligned
  • Level two headers should be italicized and left-aligned
  • Level three headings should be centred and emboldened
  • Level four headers should be centred and italicized

Intext citations in MLA

When citing a statement within your work, you will require the authors first mane and the page number. i.e.

Countries should thus improve their education systems to exploit available resources and provide skilled labour for various sectors (Humphrey, 257).

In the works cited section, this reference should then be recorded. For instance:

Humphrey, Greg. "Reforms required in the education sector of developing countries". Bantum school of economics, vol 65, no 4, 2003, pp. 240-260.

If the source does not indicate page numbers, you may use the author's name. i.e. (Humprey).

MLA paper format example

Brian Humprey


Dr Harriet Stephanie

Sociology of Education

3rd July 2020.


Impact of Family on Social Development

The family is the basic unit of organization in the social structure. It is the initial interaction an individual has with societal norms. A child's upbringing dictates their beliefs, manners and their interaction with others in society (Ken, 206).

The guardian often acts as the initial contact with society and thus embosses various traits to the children. If the family fails to enact the moral code, children may flaunt societal laws and thus become a social menace in the latter stages.

What is expected of parents in child upbringing?

Parents are tasked to guide their children to develop a moral code and help their children master various interaction skills (Peter). Here, they may also impart economic skills to their children, making them productive members of society.


Works cited

Ken, Albert. "The Role of Family in Society." Springer, 2009.

Peter, Kelvin, Patel, et al. "On family and society: a study of how family affects the society at large.