Research Paper Manuals and Tutorials

Academic Guidelines for Students: How to Master the MLA Term Paper Format

MLA style is the chosen method of writing research papers in most areas of humanities. If you would like to succeed in your MLA term paper work, here are some important guidelines you have to take into account.

  1. General rules
  2. Formatting:

    • Only use double spacing in your work, including notes and a works cited list.
    • Make one-inch margins on all sides.
    • Pay attention to the font (generally, it is Times New Roman) - it should be legible. The font size is 12-point only.
    • Don’t use any special formatting in the page titles in terms of quotation marks, underlining, or italics.
    • Place the page numbers at the upper right hand corner of the pages.
    • In headings and titles, only capitalize the first, last, and principal words.
    • Quotation marks and italics are allowed in the references.


    • Always provide citations when referencing the words and ideas of other people.
    • When quoting the sources, use the “(author, page)” format.
    • The titles of books, films, plays, newspapers, etc. should be underlined or italicized.
    • Don’t use quotation marks for the titles of articles, songs, book chapters, poems, and lectures.
    • Present tense is used in most cases of citing and quoting. You can use past tense only if you mention some historical events or quote some texts written in past tense.
  3. First Page Format
  4. Write your name, professor’s name, and name of the course and date at the left-hand margin corner - all on a separate page.

    Center the title. It’s not required to have any special capitalization.

  5. Works Cited Page Format
  6. The title “Works Cited” has to be centered and placed one inch from the top of the sheet. Don't use any text decorations or quotation marks.

    Place the sources alphabetically by the authors' last names (the editors' last names if there is no author, or the first important word of the title if there is no author or editor).

    The first line of each entry must be placed right up to the left margin.

    Use capital letters for initials of the source titles only, but don’t capitalize other words. Add the type of media (printed media, web site, film, CD/DVD, or other types) for each source of your list.

    Print or download the articles from websites that you are going to use, because they may become inaccessible. Save these next details - author's name, document title, date of publication on the website, date when you find it, and the URL.

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