How To Do A Research Paper In The MLA Format In A Proper Way


When writing a research paper within any discipline, your professor usually will require you follow the formatting rules from a specific writing style. One of the more popular styles is MLA format, which usually applies to a broad range of academic disciplines. Be sure to check with your instructor for the proper style before starting. Here’s what you need to know about doing a research paper in MLA format the right way:

Basic Requirements:

  • Your work should be printed on standard white 8.5 x 11-inch paper, with 1” margins all the way around.
  • Use a legible text in 12-pt font, such as Times New Roman, Arial, Calibri, etc. double spaced throughout the paper.
  • Indent the first line of each paragraph (typically half-inch); use the space bar for consistency.
  • Don’t include a title page unless your professor has required you to do so.
  • Using a double space, write your name, your professor’s name, your course info, and the date in the upper right hand corner of the first page.
  • Write your title immediately after the above information, center spaced.

In-Text Citations:

Providing citations is a way to establish your authority on a topic. It shows that you have conducted original research and are providing evidence from academic, governmental or other resources generally deemed as empirical.

  • Long quotes (of three lines or more) should be cited using block quotes. These should only be used if you don’t have a better way of providing the same information using paraphrasing.
  • Block quotes are double spaced and should be indented half an inch from the left hand margin.
  • Short quotes (of two lines or less) should be included within your text using quotation marks.
  • Place the parenthetical citation, including the author’s name and page number where the quote appears, after the period at the end of the quotation.

Works Cited Page:

Your works cited page should start on a separate page appearing at the end of your research paper. In MLA your citations should include complete bibliographical details on each source you used in your work. Here are some of the basics.

  • Each of your sources should be organized alphabetically by the author’s last name. If the author of the work is an institution or an organization (e.g., a non-profit agency or a government office), alphabetize according to its name.
  • Follow the author’s name by listing the name of work in which the citation was found. Book, article title, etc., followed by publication information. There are different pieces of information required for each different type of publication, so be sure you pick up an MLA guide for the complete details.