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MLA Format Research Paper: Examples & 9 Steps Guide

Learn how to write a research paper in MLA format with examples. Get tips, guidelines, and sample papers to ace your academic writing.

Farzana Zannat Mou

Zannat Mou

Last updated on Mar 26th, 2024

How to Write a Research Paper in MLA Format

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Table of Contents

Writing a research paper in MLA format requires attention to detail and allegiance to particular rules set by the Modern Language Association. From formatting the title page to citing sources accurately, MLA format is fundamental for academic success. Let’s start by synthesizing the key components and steps included in making a well-structured and properly formatted MLA research paper.

What is MLA Format?

A research paper in MLA (Modern Language Association) format is an academic report that follows the rules built up by the MLA for formatting and citing sources. It typically incorporates an introduction, a thesis statement, body paragraphs with supporting ideas, and a conclusion. In MLA format, particular rules oversee the formatting of the paper, including margins, font size and type, spacing, headings, and page numbering. Moreover, MLA format requires the use of in-text citations to recognize sources and a Works Cited page posting all the sources used within the paper.

The MLA research paper format provides important guidelines to help represent your research paper with a focus on every point in detail and delivered in a concise but interesting way. Following MLA format guidelines ensures consistency, clarity, and appropriate attribution of sources in academic writing.

Why is an MLA-format research paper significant in academic life?

The significance of the MLA format in academic writing cannot be overstated. It serves as a standardized framework that ensures consistency and clarity in academic communication. Here are a few key reasons why the MLA format for research papers is significant: 

1. Validity:
Following the MLA format illustrates your commitment to academic standards and consideration for detail, upgrading the validity of your research. 

2. Consistency:
MLA format gives a uniform structure for citing sources, formatting papers, and organizing content, encouraging ease of reading and comprehension for both writers and readers. 

3. Accurate Attribution:
Proper MLA citations permit readers to follow and verify your sources, empowering them to explore the research and ensuring academic integrity. 

4. Maintaining a strategic distance from plagiarism:
MLA format makes a difference when writers properly attribute ideas and data to their unique sources, guard against inadvertent plagiarization, and maintain ethical writing practices. 

5. Availability:
By following the MLA format, you make your research more available to others inside your academic community, empowering effective communication and collaboration. 

6. Professionalism:
Following MLA standards reflects professionalism and competence in academic writing, contributing to the overall quality and impact of your research. 

Steps for Writing an MLA Format Research Paper

1. Select a topic

Select a researchable topic that interests you and adjusts to the requirements of your task or academic goals. 

2. Conduct research

Accumulate relevant sources, such as books, journal articles, websites, and other academic materials related to your topic. Take detailed notes and record bibliographic data for each source. 

3. Create an Outline 

Create an outline to organize your research paper into logical areas, including an introduction, thesis statement, body paragraphs, and conclusion. Must write the main points and supporting ideas for each section.

4. Start to write a paper 

Start writing your research paper according to the outline, including information from your collected sources and adding in-text citations for paraphrases, summaries, and direct quotations. Follow the MLA guidelines for page formatting, including margins, font size, spacing, and page numbering. 

5. Cite sources 

Insert in-text citations within the body of your paper to identify your information sources. Use the author-page format for in-text citations (example: (Salmon 321)) or include the author’s name in the signal state, followed by the page number in brackets. You can visit Scribbr[1] and cite your source easily. 

6. Works Cited Page 

Make a Works Cited page after the conclusion of your paper, listing all the sources you cited in your research. Organize the sections in order by the authors’ last names and follow the MLA format for each citation type (books, articles, websites, etc.). 

7. Revise and edit

Revising and editing allow us to correct any grammar, punctuation, or spelling errors in our paper. Eliminating these errors improves the professionalism and credibility of our writing. Be alert to your common writing errors. If you want to write more advanced, you should know how to improve your writing skills. For grammar check, Grammarly and QuillBot are the easiest ways that help you improve grammatical errors and improve your writing. 

8. Look for feedback

Share your research paper with your brilliant, intelligent peers, experienced instructors, researchers, or writing centers to get feedback on its structure in MLA format. Join constructive feedback to upgrade the effectiveness of your paper. 

9. Finalize and submit 

Before submitting the reset paper, do one more final check to understand whether the corrections and editing you have done so far are correct.

By following these steps, you will be able to write a research paper in MLA format that successfully communicates your ideas and thoughts and contributes to the academic discussion in your field. 

Are there any benefits to writing a research paper according to the MLA format?

The MLA format is one of the best research paper writing formats. The MLA format is easy to follow as compared to other formats and does not require extra effort to write a research paper. Here are six benefits of an MLA-format research paper:

1. Worldwide Acceptance:  The MLA format is widely recognized and accepted in academic institutions around the world, making it simpler to share and spread research findings across the world. 

2. Ease of Use: Once you become familiar with MLA guidelines, writing papers in MLA format gets easier and more productive. Many online resources and citation generators are available to assist you in making citations and organizing your paper accurately. 

3. Career Opportunities: MLA format has a great role in making high-quality research papers that can improve your academic and professional reputation, leading to career advancement opportunities in academia. 

Example of MLA Format Research Paper

Let us share with you one MLA research paper format that was done by me and my teammates. I hope it will play a special role in your undergraduate life.


In conclusion, MLA format is crucial for academic writing, ensuring consistency, validity, and adherence to academic standards. By following MLA guidelines for formatting, citing sources, and making a Works Cited page, scholars contribute to the clarity and accessibility of their research. Whether creating research papers within the humanities or related fields, understanding MLA format cultivates compelling communication and maintains moral standards in academic discourse. 

Embracing these standards not only upgrades the professionalism of research papers but also advances intellectual judgment and fosters a culture of academic excellence. Let the accuracy of the MLA format be your guide to academic success and impactful research endeavors. 


Is there any cover page in the MLA research paper?

Generally, MLA-format research papers do not require a cover page; it is completely optional. You should include just the student name, instructor name, designation, and date of submission on the top left side of the first page.

When is MLA format used in a research paper?

Most of the time, MLA format is used only in cultural studies, humanities, and literature subjects.

Is there any online tool to make MLA references and citations?

There are various online tools and citation machines available on the internet to create citations and references as per MLA guidelines. If you share your chosen links in these tools, MLA citations and references will automatically be made easily.

How we've reviewed this article

Our content is thoroughly researched and fact-checked using reputable sources. While we aim for precision, we encourage independent verification for complete confidence.

1. Scribbr Citation Generator:

We keep our articles up-to-date regularly to ensure accuracy and relevance as new information becomes available.

Written By
Zannat Mou
Edited By
Murad Khan
Reviewed By
Editorial Team

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