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MLA Formatting

April 20, 2012 by Lori in MLA

Although students may feel intimidated by the requirement to strictly follow any specific style, including MLA, the truth is that MLA style really is not that complicated. Following are a few quick tips we suggest at proofreadingpal.com for properly formatting an MLA document:

  1. Set the margins of your paper to one inch on all sides, double-space the text of your paper, and use a 12-pt. font (usually Times New Roman). Leave only one space after periods or other punctuation marks (unless otherwise instructed by your teacher).
  2. Under Page Layout – Paragraph, change the indentation of the first line to one-half inch, and change the spacing to 0 pt. before and after the paragraphs.
  3. MLA style does not require a title page unless your instructor specifies otherwise (always verify and follow your instructor’s guidelines). However, you should create a header with your last name and the page number in the upper right-hand corner. Then in the upper left-hand corner of the first page (within the text, not in the header), list your name, your instructor’s name, the course title, and the date (MLA date format is day month year). On the line directly below this, you should center the title (regular font in Title Case).
  4. On the line below the title (remember that everything is double spaced, with no extra spaces between paragraphs or sections), you may begin writing your paper.
  5. Any titles of articles, songs, or other shorter works that you include within your paper should be enclosed in quotation marks, while titles of books, journals, symphonies, and other large works should be in italics. To properly cite these and any other sources you may include, remember that MLA requires the author’s last name and the page or paragraph number of the material cited, with no comma between the two elements. Example: (higham 3)
  6. According to MLA guidelines, the word “percent” and all numbers that can be written as one or two words should typically be spelled out within the text (only in scientific tables and in a few other scenarios—units of measurements, statistical findings, page references, and so forth—should numerals be used).
  7. Remember to include a Works Cited page at the end of your paper, beginning on a new page, with full references of all sources cited.

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Your paper’s structure is another issue of great importance; consider creating an outline before actually writing the paper to ensure that you avoid repetition of concepts and that you present each point in an organized, logical order. As you write, read back over your work frequently to verify that all paragraphs clearly relate to your theme and that every sentence within each paragraph clearly supports the main point of that paragraph. You should ensure cohesion, moving smoothly from one fully explained concept to the next while demonstrating how each concept relates to the one before it and to the overall theme of the paper.

Take a break, and then edit your paper. As you read back over your work, compare it with your outline. Is your paper organized and logical in structure? Have you followed proper grammar and punctuation guidelines and provided proper citation of all sources?

Finally, consider sending your paper to an experienced editing service, such as proofreadingpal.com, where trained experts can polish your paper and suggest tips for any final revisions that may enhance the quality of your paper.

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