Directions on how to write a research paper in MLA writing format

As you write a research paper in MLA format you need to have all of the right pieces. The average paper will include:

  • Title page
  • Introduction
  • Body
  • Conclusion
  • References

Some people styles have other sections embedded in the body or before the introduction. A research paper--for example--will have the following components:

  • Title page
  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Literature review (if applicable)
  • Methodology
  • Results
  • Discussion
  • Conclusion
  • References
  • Appendix (if applicable)

Remember too that you need to format the paper based on the formatting style assigned to you. If you do not have a format listed on the project instructions you can inquire with your teacher. The most common formats are:

  • MLA
  • APA
  • Harvard
  • Or Chicago

MLA format is the most common for regular English and literature papers. If you are not drafting a scientific report then chances are you will use MLA format. This format is quite simple. The same as most other formats it offers a particular way to cite sources in text and in the reference page. The first page will be similar to the example below:

Your first name and last name

Your course name

Your institution

The date

The title of your paper


The introduction should be indented one tab. This applies to each new paragraph. You can place headings above the paragraphs such as the “introduction” heading you see in this example. But bear in mind this is not a requirement. If you want to include a quote from an expert you can integrate it into the text. “the study showed us A and B were related” (author name and page number). Or you can include a longer quote but it must be indented.

Your Text

(author name and page number)

Everything in MLA format should be double spaced. It should be typeface 12. It should all have one inch margins around the perimeter. If you use a quote you must use quotations and a parenthetical in-text citation. But if you use a quote that is longer than three lines you will indent the entire bloc of text and remove the quotations.