What is an MLA Research Paper?

Article Details
  • Written By: Felicia Dye
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 25 September 2019
  • Copyright Protected:
    Conjecture Corporation
  • Print this Article

An MLA research paper is written according to the Modern Language Association’s (MLA) style. According to the MLA, its style is a popular choice for humanities research papers, such as those that are written about language and literature. This style determines numerous factors about the creation of research papers, such as how the body of the paper is structured and how the referenced works are cited.

The paper’s structure is addressed with requirements such as one inch (2.5 cm) margins on all sides, double spacing, and consecutive page numbers in the upper right hand corner. An MLA research paper should be submitted in a font that is easy to read, set to 12 point, and one with a clear contrast between text that is italicized and text that is not.

There are specifications for the manner in which works are cited in an MLA research paper. This style requires parenthetical citations in the text. This means that a reference indicator is placed within parentheses in the body of the paper following quoted text. For example, if this sentence were taken from a publication titled “The Research Paper Explanation Guide,” it may be followed with an indicator such as (5).


At the end of the paper, there should be a “Works Cited” page. The MLA explains that this section of the paper should contain a list of works. Each listing should be preceded by indicators from the paper. Considering the aforementioned example, if a person turned to the Works Cited page and found the number 5, she should see that the quote she encountered earlier was taken from “The Research Paper Explanation Guide,” and the details about that publication should be listed.

The manner in which the citation is structured is also addressed. Depending on the work cited, for example, it may be necessary to include the author’s name in the in-text parenthetical citation. It is also dictated how citations that involve works by multiple authors or with multiple volumes are listed.

An MLA research paper could be requested in a number of countries because the style is used in nations around the globe. Such research papers are requested at educational institutions on various levels, generally beginning with high school. There is a publication titled “The MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers,” which can be used as a guide for people who need to compose papers according to this style. Educational institutions where this writing style is regularly used also commonly have guides to help students effectively complete their research papers according to the standards. These are often made available through writing labs.



Discuss this Article

Post your comments

Post Anonymously


forgot password?