The MLA essay (Modern Language Arts Association), often assigned in humanities or liberal arts classes, is distinguished for having a specific set of format rules, summarized here:
1. Use 8.5" by 11" white paper.
2. All sentences are double-spaced, including the space between title and text, and all margins are set to 1". The first lines of paragraphs are indented .5" (set tab or press space bar 5 times).
3. A clear font, which is plainly distinct between regular and italic type, such as New Times Roman, and must be size 12.
4. The mandatory page numbering header is located .5" from the top of the page, and even with the right-hand margin. For the first page, this includes the writer's last name, 1 space, then the page number.
5. The writer's name, instructor's name, course title, and date, listed on page 1, are located in the top left corner, and double-spaced. The title is double-spaced below the date, centered on the page, and written in title case. A two-line title is also double-spaced.
6. There is no title page, unless requested by the instructor.
7. MLA has format rules for citing sources, which includes parenthetical citing in the text, as well as creating a cited sources page at the end of the MLA essay.
8. Remember, of course, to include any other formatting requests of the instructor.
As with any essay, the title and beginning sentences (thesis) introduce the central theme of the paper. The body of the essay, with cited quotes and references, supports or proves the thesis. The conclusion reiterates the correlation between the thesis and the proofs in the body, and brings the essay to a logical and satisfying finale.
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