How to format an essay in MLA Format

Modern Language Association (MLA Format)


All standard MLA papers have a header at the top-right corner. The header comprises the author’s Last Name/ Surname and page number.

Cover Page

MLA documents have no cover page. The assignment details are included in the top-left corner, left aligned. The details are not indented and capture the following information:

  • Author’s Full Name
  • Professor’s/Tutor’s Name
  • Course Name
  • Date of Submission



The title of the paper comes after the above details and is centred.


The first line of every paragraph is indented 0.5 inches from the margin. All other lines in a paragraph start from the margin.

In-text Citation

MLA referencing and citation style uses the author-page syntax. This can be done in two ways:

  • ……(Author, Page) e.g. ….(Shakespeare 13)
  • ….Author PAGE…e.g. Shakespeare states that……(13).

The author’s name and the page are enclosed in parentheses. Please note that there is no comma between the author’s name and the page number. in this case, the author’s name is forms part of the statement/point being delivered, and the page number is enclosed in parentheses at the end of the statement. All citations should be included within the statement i.e. before the punctuation that terminates the statement.


  1. Morrison states that President Clarke’s decision was driven by the need to rid the country of illegal immigrants (56).
  2. President Clarke’s decision was driven by the need to rid the country of illegal immigrants (Morrison 56).

Works Cited

All external sources cited in a paper are listed in this section. It is normally situated at the end of a document, mostly after the conclusion. Note:

  • References are never numbered
  • References are arranged in alphabetical order
  • The first line of each reference starts at the margin
  • Second, third, and subsequent lines of a reference hang 0.5 inches from the margin.

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