Most Basic MLA format.

It starts with the heading (yourname/prof’s name/class name/date) followed by the title – always a title then the body: all double-spaced with no extra hard returns (empty lines) stuck anywhere. Look at the sample student paper on page 41 on the free Norton MLA guide. It’s real easy to spot any visual anomolies like 1.5 line spacing and non-standard fonts / point sizes/ margins. Margins should be 1 inch on each side and on the top – which is standard in every word processor program I know.

Book titles get italics – no longer do they get underlined. The underlining is a throwback to the days of typewriters. Underlining a title would be like using the expression “carbon copy” or “cc” when sending a duplicate message to someone. It wouldn’t make sense today 😉 Titles of short stories/ poems/ chapters in books get quotes around them.

Every page with the possible exception of the first page gets the author’s last name and page # in the top right-hand corner.

Keeping things uniform makes my reading easier. When I read it’s like I’m running a marathon and the format of student papers is the shoes they give me to wear. Cowboy boots are great shoes and in no way of less quality or inferior to running shoes – unless you have a marathon to run. Standard MLA format performs like top-of-the line running shoes.

Nobody expects one pair of shoes to serve every need. Don’t expect one format or writing style to serve every communication purpose either.