Tips How Format an Essay in MLA

Essays are part and parcel of any student’s education. This means that the sooner you learn how to write an essay in the earlier mentioned formats, the more readable and appealing your work will be. As a result, your tutors will always be eager to go through your work, resulting in better grades and a smooth-sailing student life. Fortunately, you don’t have to face the learning curve alone. Here is a well-detailed guide to help you master how to put an essay in MLA format.

How to Format an Essay in MLA

The Story behind the Coveted MLA Format

The Modern Language Association developed the MLA writing style to create a uniform way for researchers, students, and scholars in the literary field to format their papers. Today, MLA is one of the most commonly used writing formats in both literary and academic fields. It follows a predefined structure and the writer is expected to observe various guidelines. Thus, to MLA format an essay properly, follow the prompts below

How to Set Up an Essay in MLA Format; Basics

  • Paper Choice

While most professors nowadays allow electronic submissions, an MLA formatted essay should be printed on a white, 8 ½ by 11-inch paper.

  • The Font and Font Size

The acceptable font standard in MLA is Times Roman Size 12. All regular and italic fonts used in the paper are expected to contrast.

  • Margins and Paragraphs

Each page is expected to have 1-inch margins on each side. Paragraphs in MLA begin with half-inch indents and double space the sentences in every paragraph.

How to MLA Format an Essay; Structural Guidelines

  • Page Headers

A page header is a brief running head placed on the top right corner of every page. In MLA, it consists of the author’s last name, space, and the page number. It should have a 1 ½ inch indent from the top margin and one inch from the right margin.

  • The Title Page

In MLA, there’s no official title page. Therefore, you should not make one unless specifically requested to do so. The first page of the assignment is where all the components of a title page go. They follow the format below

  • Your Full Name
  • The Instructor/Professor’s Name
  • The Course or Class Name
  • The Date

All the above should be on the upper-left corner of the assignment. The title comes after the date and should be written in standard-letters, centered and capitalized. No bold or italicized font, no underlining, and no quotation marks. You’re only allowed to italicize it if part of your title is inclusive of the title of another source.

  • Section Headings

If you’re going to have section headings in your essay, MLA recommends you number them with an Arabic number, followed by a period and a space and then the heading. Additionally, you should flush them left.

  • In-Text Citations

To do an MLA format essay correctly, you’re expected to include in-text citations in your essay after using a particular quote using parenthetical citations. Also, all your in-text citations should correspond to your entries on the work-cited or reference page.

A proper in-text citation usually has an author’s name and a page number without a comma enclosed with parentheses, for instance; …… Until now (Rita 97)

Additionally, if there are three or more others, only write the first one and then add “et al.” For instance …until then (Rita et al. 1997)

Also, ensure you use quotation marks or italics when mentioning titles of published books you mention in your work.

If you shorten any quotes, add an ellipsis and three periods. For instance, “decipher…strength. Use block quotes if the shortened quote has four or more sentences.

  • Footnotes and Endnotes

The footnote is added directly after the referring phrase. It should be double spaced, font size 12, Times New Roman. For the endnote, create a separate page after your assignment and title it Notes. Similarly, it should follow the basic guidelines of MLA formatting mentioned at the beginning.

  • Works-Cited Page

This should come after the endnotes. The title, “Works Cited” should be centered and capitalized. It should also include the running head and the final page number. All entries in your paper should be in alphabetical order, and the entire page should be double-spaced.

How to Write an Essay in APA Format

APA is a documentation style developed and followed by the American Psychological Association. Here’s how to format an essay in APA.

The Basics

  • The Paper Choice

Your APA essay should be printed on a white 8 ½ by 11-inch paper.

  • Font, Font Size and Margins

APA recommends Times New Roman, font size 12. The margins should be a constant 1-inch on each side of the page.

  • The Running Head

The page header in APA should include a shortened version of your title’s paper and should not exceed 50 characters. To write it, insert the page number and flush right then write the title. Check out the example below;


How to Write an Essay in APA Format Step by Step; Structural Elements

An APA- style paper is made up of four major components as outlined below

  • The Title Page

The title page often includes

  1. The title of the paper
  2. The author’s full name name
  3. Institutional Affiliation

On the title page, the page header is usually a little bit different and is formatted as follows;

Running Head: TITLE OF PAPER 1.

The rest of the work follows the earlier mentioned running head format.

  • The Abstract

Since most scholarly studies are often lengthy, the abstract section of an APA style paper is where the author gives a summary of their findings. It briefs the reader a heads up on what the rest of the paper is about so they can decide whether they’d like to read it or not. Even though depending on the instructions the abstract isn’t always necessary, you cannot claim you know how to do an essay in APA format if you don’t know how to write this part. So if your professor doesn’t indicate it in the assignment sheet, you don’t need to include it. To properly format an essay’s abstract page in APA

  1. Ensure you have a running head
  2. On the first line, write and center the word “Abstract.” No bolding, formatting, underlining, italicizing, or quotation marks.
  3. Write down the summary of your research. It shouldn’t be indented and should be 250 words or less and double-spaced.
  • Body

Here is where you write all your research. It should include section headings to guide the reader and in-text citations.

The main headings are formatted depending on their level

  1. Level 1 headings are often centered and bolded. They have standard capitalization.
  2. Level 2, also known as subheadings are placed against the left margin and use standard capitalization
  3. Level 3 are left-aligned, bolded, have a capital letter only in the first word, and end with a period.

How to Write an Essay in APA Format; In-text Citations

In-text citations in APA consist of the author’s name, date of publication, a page number and should be separated using commas as shown here

(Rita, 1997, p.6)

If it has three or more authors, you only write the first author and add et al

(Rita 1997)

  • References Page

The reference page is separate from the rest. To properly format it

  1. Write and center “ References” using standard text
  2. Your sources should be written according to alphabetical order

Each reference should have

  1. the name(s) of the author (s) or institution behind the source
  2. The year of publication
  3. The name of the source where the essay appears

Expert Tips to Help You Become a Pro on How to Format an Essay in MLA and APA Formats

In a nutshell, learning how to properly format an essay in APA and MLA formats is a manageable task. if you’re a beginner, writing the essay while following the above tips will make your learning curve smoother. But if you still find it overwhelming, get in touch with us today for expert tips and also help doing the essay.