The MLA format is one of the most prominent styles widely used by students and writers in formatting their essays and research papers and in the citation of the sources that they have consulted. The MLA format specifies rules, conventions, and guidelines for formatting all types of academic of scholarly manuscripts, including specifications for the MLA heading, and the MLA cover page. The MLA format also provides writers with a comprehensive citation system to properly cite their sources through in-text citations in their papers and in the MLA works cited page.
By using the MLA format, students and writers provide their research papers credibility and integrity by giving proper acknowledgement to their sources. Furthermore, because virtually all academic conventions and copyright laws require proper citations to their work, they can protect themselves from accusations of plagiarism or intellectual theft, which is defined as the act of copying another person’s ideas or written work without giving proper credit and is punishable by law.
The complete rules and guidelines of the MLA format is covered and explained fully in the official MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers. Chapter 4 in particular covers the full style conventions in preparing papers, including the rules in formatting the MLA cover page and how to cite sources in the MLA works cited page.
In the MLA format, a MLA cover page is generally not required unless it is specifically requested by your class or instructor. A MLA heading, however, is always needed in your paper. Take note that you only need to include the complete heading the title of your work on the first page of your essay or research paper. As a general rule, all margins – top, bottom, and left and right sides – should be set to one inch on all pages. Extra white spaces or sectional breaks are not necessary between the heading and the title, between the title and the body of the paragraph, and between paragraphs. Additionally, all typed text in the paper must also be double spaced.
The MLA heading consists of your name, the name of your instructor, the title of your course, and the date. This collection of data is aligned to the left margin. Below this, the title of your research paper is typed, and aligned to the center of the page. The MLA format uses standard capitalization, thus the title in the MLA heading is not capitalized, underlined, or put in quotation marks. Rather, only the first, last, and the first letters of proper nouns of the title are capitalized.
The MLA format recommends using a reasonably sized font; though in most cases a 12 point sized font is used. Choose a font that is easy to read. Though the Times New Roman font is the standardized typeface that is preferred in most papers, other similar fonts, such as Arial, Lucida, Modern, or Palermo, are also sometimes used.