How To Write A Term Paper In The MLA Format Properly: Basic Instructions


Most humanities and social sciences courses use the MLA formatting style. It’s a fairly simple style that makes in-text citations and references easy to document. Some disciplines will require you to use a more precise style, but whenever you are in doubt you can generally use MLA with being penalized. Here are some basic instructions to understanding how it works in a term paper:

Formatting the Title:


Most term papers written in the MLA style do not have to have a separate title page. But it’s always a good idea to double-check with your instructor in case there are any special requirements with a particular assignment. If you’re okay without a title page, simply provide your name, your instructor’s name, and your course information at the top of the page, aligned left. Like the rest of the paper the title should be in double spaced, with only an extra space coming in between the title information and the start of your first paragraph.

In-Text Citations:


MLA style formatting makes it really easy to make in-text citations whenever you quote or paraphrase content from somewhere else. All you need to do is insert the borrowed content and provide the author’s last name and a page number from the original resource within parenthesis at the end of your sentence. The reader will know where to find this information if they wish to verify what you have used.

Using Block Quotes:


Block quotes are often used when you absolutely must use a direct quote that can’t be paraphrased and runs longer than four lines. Block quotes are generally indented from the left margin and kept in double space. Some people prefer to put these in italics for distinction, but the indentation provides enough of clue for the reader.

Using Footnotes:


Footnotes are used when you have a long explanation or something you can’t quite explain clearly within the context of your writing. Think of it as a sort of bonus space where you can provide some contextual background of the content you are discussing.

Including a Works Cited:


Don’t overlook this section of your term paper. It’s where you provide the full information for any works you have cited in your work. Using last names, list your sources in alphabetical order, including an author’s complete name, the name of the resource, location of its publication, the publishing company and year of publication.