Even though MLA Style lacks explicit rules about specific pages to include in your
paper and how to organize those pages, it does have many formatting rules that you need
Following MLA Style shouldn't detract from the overall work of your paper, however.
It takes some work to achieve the proper MLA format, but it's important to not allow the
paper format to prevent you from focusing on writing the paper. These tips will give you
some additional help to follow MLA Style with your paper.
TIP 1. DOUBLE-CHECK ALL CITATIONS.
With MLA Style, it's important to make sure you have properly listed all of the in-text
citations, making it easy for readers to find each citation in the Works Cited list. Make sure
you spell all authors' names correctly in the Works Cited list, too, so you don't confuse
readers about the author.
TIP 2. FOLLOW YOUR INSTRUCTOR'S INSTRUCTIONS.
You may have an instructor who gives you directions for composing the thesis or
dissertation that differ slightly from those in MLA Style. Follow your instructor's guidelines
in those instances.
TIP 3. GRAMMAR GUIDELINES.
Papers that follow proper grammar are more likely to receive favorable marks from an
instructor. For example, always write in active voice, rather than passive voice. In other
words, make certain the subjects of your sentences are doing something in the sentence,
rather than the subjects having something done to them. Avoid using contractions in your
paper, if possible. Do not use slang or jargon in your paper, unless you're writing about a
subject that requires such language. Do not write in the first person; in other words, do not
use the words "I" or "me" in any sentence. Try to avoid making absolute statements,
especially when you are describing an opinion. Do not use numerous quotations just to fill
a word count or page count; make sure quotations add to your argument.
TIP 4. PROOFREADING, A NECESSARY TASK.
For most people, proofreading is the least enjoyable task for compiling a formal
paper. However, it's a key task. You might have the most compelling argument your
instructor has ever seen, but inadvertently, allowing several grammatical and spelling errors
to appear in your paper will make it tough to take your argument seriously. Proofread your
paper at least a few times before submitting it. If possible, take a few days off between
proofreading sessions. A fresh look at the paper after a break will help you catch a few
errors that you may have missed the first time around. Remember that, although word
processing software spell checkers are handy, they do not catch every error, such as "to,"
"too," and "two." Proofreading is vital to having a successful paper.
TIP 5. TAKE YOUR TIME.
During the writing phase or the proofreading phase, you need to leave plenty of time
to finish the paper. If you force yourself to hurry to meet a deadline, your writing will
suffer, and you'll make mistakes. Start early on the paper, set goals for finishing different
aspects of it -- initial research, detailed research, first draft, second draft, detailed
proofreading, and final draft -- and you'll have a much better finished paper.
TIP 6. WORKS CITED LIST.
Throughout the research process for your paper, it is important to track all of the
sources you use. For every idea or quote you use from one of your sources, you will have
to cite the idea in the paper and list the source in the Works Cited list. Collect extensive
information about each source, which will allow you to cite each source properly in your
paper. It's important to give credit for any ideas you use from other people. Citing sources
properly will ensure you dont inadvertently commit plagiarism. If youre unsure whether
to use an in-text citation for a source, you probably should use it. Its better to be safe than
sorry when citing sources.
TIP 7. FINAL TIP.
If you ever are unsure about the formatting style you should follow when citing a
particular source, turn to the MLA Style Manual. It has examples and explanations of
every type of source that you'll ever encounter.
However, be certain that you're using the latest edition of the MLA Style Manual. The
changes in the latest edition are subtle, but there are enough of them that you don't want to
make some silly formatting errors, just because you were using an old edition of the MLA
Style Manual. If you have a difficult time finding the newest edition of the MLA Style
Manual, check with your instructor. He or she might not care if you use the previous
You can use an MLA writing software
to correctly write and format papers in MLA Style
, available at http://www.masterfreelancer.com/mla-writing-style-software.php