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MLA Research Format for Academic Papers

Academic papers play a crucial part in the student’s career life. That is why it is essential for all students to master the process of writing such papers to get better grades and advance their careers. One crucial aspect of producing a well-written academic paper is following the set guidelines and requirements, such as formatting style.

The common research paper formatting styles include mla research format, APA, and Chicago style. Therefore, if what is MLA style paper has been your question, reading through this guide will help you understand useful insights about MLA research paper format. Keep reading for an in-depth analysis.

What does MLA format stand for?

Better known as Modern Language Association, MLA is one of the formatting and citation requirements usually assigned to students when writing specific research papers.

What is MLA format?

MLA format style, which was developed by Modern Language Association, is an academic formatting guide used in the humanities and art fields to cite sources used in the research process.

Just like any other formatting style, MLA follows the set rules for headings, in-text citations, page citations, abbreviations, and even page settings.

What is the appropriate MLA structure?

When formatting your paper in MLA, you need to, first of all, understand the key elements of MLA style, which are:

  • The author
  • Source title
  • Title of container
  • The contributor
  • Version
  • Number
  • Publisher
  • Date of lublication
  • The location

Once you have understood the above elements, follow the guidelines below to create an MLA outline for research paper:

  • Professional fonts such as Arial, Calibri, and Times New Roman, among others, with sizes 11 to 13
  • 1-inch margin
  • Centered title
  • Indented paragraphs
  • Double-spacing option for all of the text

MLA quoting format

When quoting a phrase in MLA style, begin the quotation in a new line that is indented to ½ inch from the left margin. (Keep the double-spacing option throughout)

Now, add the closing marks after adding the parenthetical citation keeping the rule of double-spacing option.

If you are quoting from the source, have the quote in quotation marks, then have an in-text citation at the quote’s end, including the name of the author and page number.

Note: for MLA format word count, do not include the heading, the title, an outline, and the citation. Simply select the paragraphs only.

How to format your research papers MLA

Once you have a research paper you need to format in MLA, consider the following strategies to simplify the process.

  1. Formatting your word document

Resetting your word document to meet MLA formatting guidelines will simplify the process of having to review the paper after you finish everything. Therefore, set your document to:

  • 1-inch margin on all sides
  • Double-spacing line option
  • Times New Roman font with size 12
  1. Formatting page header

Here, you simply add the page number and your surname.

  1. Title block

Adjust the details to the upper left side of the page (include your name, the name of the instructor, the course number, and the date). In the next line, add a centered title that shows the reader what your paper is about.

  1. Citations

Citing your sources will help you follow the MLA guidelines as part of the requirements, then help you to avoid plagiarism in your document. When citing in MLA, you simply focus on the author’s name and page number. Do not add a comma when writing the name of the author and page number.

  1. Works cited list

Your MLA research paper won’t be complete without a list of bibliographies of your sources. When formatting the bibliography in MLA, include the name of the author, book title, name of publisher, and publication date.


Do you always struggle with formatting your research paper in MLA? Well, like any other formatting style, MLA has basic rules and guidelines to follow, as highlighted in this guide.

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