How to Write a Research Paper in MLA Format?

Students can sometimes get overwhelmed with the contents of their research papers, let alone the different writing formats. The style MLA format is one such formatting type that many instructors expect their students to base their research papers writeups on. This guide will show you how to write a research paper in MLA format like a pro.

What is MLA format?

It is a system of structuring and referencing research papers. MLA, which represents Modern Language Association, intends to keep your research accurate by citing sources accurately. Understanding how to write your research paper using the MLA format guidelines helps avoid confusion. Such an understanding also helps with the formatting and structuring the bibliography references, especially for an essay or research paper. 

The MLA style format also assists your instructor or professor in quickly navigating your work. The available MLA standards also help cross-check your adherence to this writing style’s formatting guidelines. For instance, key aspects can include headers, font sizes, format, etc.

MLA format guidelines

Most students are familiar with different writing styles, at least one. For this reason, the MLA outline format guidelines become easier to digest. The MLA research paper structure follows similar rules as other styles, especially in structuring the page layout, citation rules, etc.  

The first aspect entails the MLA header, which you must place at the left corner of the initial page. Next, your name and the page number need to align on the top right of your page.    

Using the recommended font of Times New Roman, Verdana, or Arial in 121pt size is also crucial. The page’s margins in Microsoft Word need to be 1 inch with the main content double-spaced unless otherwise specified.

The MLA header needs to get included only on the initial research paper page. In addition, the title needs to get centered, with the paragraph having a hanging indent.

Another crucial feature of the MLA style entails the citation aspect, where you list the author’s last name, including the page number. At the same time, the bibliography page will have the cited work’s title at the page’s top center.

Crucial conventions to follow here include listing the sources cited in alphabetical order. You also need to avoid placing periods after the headers or titles. Also, avoid underlining words and only do so when necessary. Further, remember to use inclusive language.

The MLA research paper structure

A proper structure of your research paper will help you write and ensure the message gets home without obscurity. The MLA structure needs to have the following:

The Title Page

Mostly a title page contains your college or university’s name, your research paper’s title and your name, course, instructor’s name, and the study’s due date. Remember to center all the information on this page.

Section Headings

It should have your name, the instructor’s name, other important class details, and the delivery date of the paper. For instance:

Level Heading (First)


Level Heading (Second)


Level Heading (Third)


Level Heading (Fourth)

Text, etc.

The outline of an MLA research paper

Title (needs to get centered)


The section needs to contain information on the significance of your subject. Additionally, include a captivating topic sentence. Allocate 10% of your overall word count for this and the thesis statement section.

Thesis Statement

Body Paragraphs

The body paragraph needs to have the methodology, the justification of the research, and the research findings. You need to use in-text citations in this section to back your arguments. The best way to go about it includes introducing a subject, making a claim, and utilizing a relevant citation to support your claim.

Remember to provide sufficient information in the bibliography for the cited works. Further, such citations must conform to the MLA style formatting guide depending on the type of work cited.

Tips on writing research papers MLA

  • Always begin with your sources and check for the included bibliography
  • Only use verified sources like PubMed, Google Scholar, etc.
  • Avoid overusing citations
  • And always introduce the subject besides talking about its significance.

Parting shot

Writing research papers or essays becomes fun when you internalize the various formatting style guides, as you’ll only need to focus on the information. Using this guide for your MLA-style research paper will help you to successfully convey your message, besides receiving a better rating on your score.

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