The Most Popular MLA Essay Format

If you have been instructed for create an essay utilizing the Modern Language Association (MLA) handbook, it may be helpful to know what the most common format is that you can use. The MLA style is not difficult to master, but following a few simple guidelines the first time around will give you more experience later on so that you can focus on content rather than structure.

The Basics

First of all, you will have to use a common font such as size 12 Times New Roman. You will want to make sure that all of your margins are set at one inch all the way around the page, and that you last name and page number are listed in the header on the right hand side (starting with the second page). You should also make sure that all of your lines are double spaced.

Cover Page

The cover page is the first page of your essay. In the upper left corner, put your name, instructor's name, class information and date on separate lines. Write the title of your essay, centered, and use proper capitalization. Start writing your essay immediately underneath the title, and continue until you have completed your essay, ensuring that you tab in each paragraph for easy reading.


If you use information from other sources, it is vital that you cite the information and the source so that you do not plagiarize. Not only is it important to cite the source directly after the information in parenthetical format (the correct formats by source can be found in a MLA handbook or on the website) you will also need to create a "Works Cited" page that instructors can use to locate your references easily. This is probably the most complicated part of an essay, and the most time consuming, but once you get the hang of it, it will become like second nature.

Using MLA will give your paper a more professional appearance, and it is one of the most common ways of formatting in most high schools and colleges. There are other styles that can be utilized as well, but MLA is usually considered one of the easiest to follow. As long as you nail down the basics and spend time citing your sources correctly, your essay will have credibility, look great, and will be more consistent and organized. Purchase a handbook if you have more questions on citations, or visit the MLA website for immediate answers.