The MLA essay is most commonly assigned in humanities courses. Some students view MLA essays as the easiest essay format because the style is simple. MLA essays use much of the same formatting that students learned when writing reports throughout their entire primary and secondary education.
An MLA essay begins with the basics. Students should put their full name, course name and number, submission date, and instructor name at the upper left corner. An instructor might also request that the student include their student identification number and other information as well. Students should always be sure to include any additional information that the instructor requests.
An MLA report should also include a header that displays the student's last name and page number in the right header. Programs such as Word, Works, and other up-to-date word processing programs have a feature where the pupil can set the program to automatically update the page number so that they do not have to manually enter it for each page. The header should be formatted with the student's last name, five blank spaces, and then the page number.
Each MLA report should have a title. The title should reflect the contents of the report and should not be inflammatory or offensive. The title should be one double-spaced line down from the student name block and should be centered. Students should be sure that their title is properly capitalized.
MLA essays require the use of an easy-to-read font such as Times New Roman or Arial. The font should be 12-point size unless otherwise indicated by the instructor. Some instructors like students to use 14-point font. MLA reports should be double-spaced with one-inch margins all around. Students should include a blank line between paragraphs and indent each new paragraph one-half inch.
The main reason that students often prefer to write MLA essays is because of the ease in inserting citations. Unlike some more difficult styles that require the use of footnotes, endnotes, or complicated citations, MLA essays call for simple parenthetical citations inserted at the point of reference within the document. Citations should include the last name of the reference's author, a comma, and then the page number where the reference can be found.
Citations are important because they give credit to the original author of the information that the student has used for the document. Using someone else's work without properly citing its use is called plagiarism whether the lack of citation is intentional or unintentional. In addition to in-text citations, MLA essays also require a bibliography on a separate page at the end.
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