MLA Format Tips

There are many formats that can be used when a person begins to write an essay, and one of the most common is from the Modern Language Association (MLA). Knowing how to write an essay begins with understanding how to use the style that the instructor chooses and making sure that all of the required elements are used properly. This article will discuss the most popular in-text citation methods, how to write a common reference, and other formatting challenges that MLA style contains.

In-Text Citations

There are only two different ways that an in-text citation will normally be written. There are others that you can learn if you want to understand how to write an essay in more depth, but they are beyond the scope of this article. First, an in-text citation is used to reassure the professor that you are not plagiarizing. If a particular thought or direct quote is cited then it is not plagiarized because you are giving credit to the original writer. To write an essay in MLA format you can write a citation in one of the following two ways.

            Blah, blah, blah (None Page Number).

            None said blah, blah, blah (page number).

Either was is acceptable depending on how you wish to present the citation in that particular part of the text.


When an in-text citation is written you have not completed the chain back to the original author. This happens when you write a reference that "refers" the audience back to the original publication. As with the citation there are only two types of references that are most commonly used. These are for a book and for a periodical. Examples are shown below.

None, Wilbur. Book Name. Place of Publication: Publisher, Year of                                                Publication.

None, Wilbur. "Title of the Article." Journal Title day month year: pages.

These two forms are the most used when you write essay. There are many other reference types for different types of media, and they can be found online if needed.


Every different style manual contains some of the same elements that must be used when you are learning how to write an essay. Here are some of the specifics when you write essay in MLA format style.

  • There is no separate title page required, but there is a specific way to introduce the essay on the first page. In the upper left hand corner of the page complete the following:

                                    Your Name:
Instructor's Name:
Completed on Date:
Class Number:

  • All margins must be one inch.
  • The paper must be written in a Times New Roman font unless otherwise specified, and you should write essays in 12 pt type.
  • The sequential page number should be in a header at the top of each page following the student's last name (as illustrated in this paper).
  • The lines, throughout the paper, need to be double spaced.


If you follow these few simple guidelines you will successfully complete your paper. Just remember to refer to the MLA style guide or a website that offers tips if you need any more specific instructions.