MLA style, or MLA format, are terms commonly used to describe the guidelines for writing which are developed, maintained, and periodically updated and issued by the Modern Language Association of America (MLA).
The Modern Language Association of America was founded in 1883 as a forum for scholars to share their ideas, experiences, and findings with counterparts in their respective fields. Since it was founded, the MLA has grown to more than 30,000 members from over 100 countries.
Among MLA’s many activities over the years, has been the development of standards and guidelines for the uniform writingof academic documents developed by its members. These MLA style guidelines are now the standard used by hundreds of thousands of students and scholars worldwide for the preparation of manuscripts and research papers in English and the Humanities.
The MLA documentation style covers all aspects of scholarly writing, beginning with the mechanics of writing and publishing, through the basics of writing style, to guidelines for the preparation of theses and dissertations. Although the MLA guidelines cover all aspects of writing and publishing a paper, MLA documentation style places special emphasis on the proper citing of sources of information in one’s written work, and how to properly and consistently cite them throughout a paper or manuscript.
MLA produces two major style publications as follows:
- The MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers (targets high school and undergraduate college and university students).
- The MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing (targets graduate students, scholars, and professional writers).
Together, these two books have sold over four million copies worldwide, and have even been translated into Japanese and Chinese.
A key feature that differentiates MLA style from other major style conventions is that it recommends that the citation of works (sources) be listed “in-context” within the text of a paper, rather than in page footnotes or chapter/document endnotes.
Basic MLA Rules – Paper Format and CitationsOverall Paper Format - MLA
The publications mentioned above cover literally thousands of technical details for the writingand publishing of papers, and should be consulted if that level of detail is required. Nevertheless, there are a number of overall general guidelines, which are normally sufficient for the preparation of most papers at the undergraduate level:
- The paper should be typed and double-spaced, on standard 8 ½" x 11", 20-pound white paper.
- All four outside margins should be set at 1 inch.
- A header with consecutive page numbering should appear on the upper right-hand corner of each page. It must be flush with the right margin, and one-half inch down from the top margin.
- A title page is not necessary (unless otherwise requested). Instead of the title page, four double-spaced entries are made, beginning at the top left-hand corner of the first page, listing author (your) name, course instructor's name, course name/number, and the date.
- The title of the paper should be centered, one double-space from the bottom of the previous entry (either the header, or the date if there was no title page).
Continued MLA Paper Writing