Should College Essays Be In MLA Format: Pros and Cons

Should College Essays Be In MLA Format: Pros and Cons

When starting your college journey, you may come across the term MLA format. This is a specific set of rules and guidelines for academic writing, mainly used in the humanities. One of the questions that often arise is whether college essays should be in MLA format. In this article, we will explore the pros and cons of using MLA format for your college essays.

One of the main advantages of using MLA format is that it provides a standardized structure for your essays. This makes it easier for readers, such as admissions officers, to follow your arguments and understand your overall message. MLA format also ensures that your essays are well-organized and presented in a clear and coherent manner.

Moreover, MLA format promotes academic integrity by providing guidelines on how to properly cite your sources. This is crucial when writing essays, as it allows readers to verify the accuracy of the information you use and gives credit to the original authors. By following MLA format, you demonstrate your commitment to academic honesty and give a professional touch to your work.

However, there are also some drawbacks to consider. MLA format can be quite strict and may require a lot of attention to detail. You need to follow specific guidelines for formatting your essay, including things like spacing, headers, and citing sources. This can be time-consuming, and if you’re not familiar with MLA format, it might take some time to learn how to properly apply it to your essays.

Another challenge is that not all colleges and universities require MLA format for their essays. Some may have their own preferred writing styles or follow different formatting guidelines. It’s important to read through the application instructions carefully to see if MLA format is recommended or required. In some cases, colleges may ask for a specific format or provide their own essay prompts.

Guide Overview

The MLA format is commonly used in academic writing and is recommended by many colleges and universities. It provides a standard format for organizing and presenting your ideas in a clear and organized manner. The MLA format also emphasizes the integrity of your work by providing guidelines for citations and avoiding plagiarism.

To start, your college essay should have a header that includes your name, your instructor’s name, the course title, and the date. The essay should be double-spaced and written in a legible font, such as Times New Roman. The paragraphs should be indented, and the overall structure of your essay should follow a narrative or argumentative style.

When using the MLA format, it is important to cite any sources that you use in your essay. This includes both in-text citations and a works cited page at the end of your essay. The in-text citations should follow the author-page format, and the works cited page should provide all the necessary information for readers to find and verify your sources. The Purdue OWL and EasyBib are great resources for learning how to properly cite sources in MLA format.

In addition to formatting, the MLA style also guides your writing process. It encourages the use of active verbs and clear sentence structures. It also prompts you to consider your audience and how to effectively communicate your ideas to them. The MLA format allows for creativity and personal expression, while still maintaining a sense of academic rigor.

While the MLA format is widely accepted, it is important to note that not all colleges and universities require it. Some institutions may have their own specific formatting requirements, so it is always a good idea to check the application guidelines before starting your college essay.

Do colleges require essays to be in MLA format?

The answer to this question is not a simple yes or no. While some colleges may have specific guidelines for formatting essays, such as requiring them to be in MLA format, not all colleges have this requirement. It is important for students to carefully read the application instructions and prompts provided by each individual college to determine what formatting guidelines, if any, they should follow.

For those colleges that do require essays to be in MLA format, it is important for students to familiarize themselves with the guidelines. MLA, or Modern Language Association, is a commonly used formatting style in academic writing. It provides guidelines for formatting essays, citing sources, and organizing information. The MLA Handbook, which is available for free on the OWL Purdue website, is a helpful resource for students to consult when formatting their essays.

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One of the key components of MLA format is the use of in-text citations and a works cited page to show where information from sources was obtained. This is important for maintaining the integrity of the essay and giving credit to the original authors of the information. MLA format also includes guidelines for overall essay structure, such as using a header with your last name and page number, double-spacing the text, and using a legible font such as Times New Roman.

While MLA format may seem overwhelming at first, there are resources available to help students navigate the process. Websites like EasyBib provide tools for generating MLA citations, and the OWL Purdue website offers a comprehensive guide to MLA formatting. Students can also ask their English teachers or college counselors for assistance in understanding and implementing MLA format.

Provides a consistent and organized approach to formatting essaysCan be time-consuming to learn and implement
Helps to maintain the integrity of the essay by citing sources accuratelyMay not be required by all colleges
Offers a comprehensive guide to essay structure and formattingCan be challenging for students who are not familiar with MLA format

EasyBib Writing Resources

If you’re starting your college essay and wondering about the best format to use, look no further than EasyBib’s writing resources. Whether you’re writing a narrative, argumentative, or research essay, EasyBib has the tools and advice you need to make your essay successful.

EasyBib offers a free MLA formatting guide that shows you how to organize your essay and cite your sources correctly. This guide follows the guidelines set by the Modern Language Association (MLA), which is the standard format used in most college and academic settings.

One of the most essential things to remember when writing your college essay is to follow the prompt given by the admissions. EasyBib’s guide can help you understand the prompt and structure your essay accordingly. It also provides tips on how to mix information with your own claims and ideas, making your essay more compelling.

The EasyBib guide not only covers formatting but also offers helpful advice on proofreading, spelling, grammar, and sentence structure. It emphasizes the importance of integrity and academic honesty, reminding you to always cite your sources and avoid plagiarism.

If you’re unsure about certain grammar rules or want to improve your writing skills, EasyBib’s guide provides a list of common grammar mistakes and offers explanations on how to correct them.

EasyBib’s writing resources are easy to access and use. You can find examples of different essay structures and styles, as well as guidelines on how to use proper verb tenses and punctuation. It also provides tips on how to organize your essay, develop your arguments, and create a clear thesis statement.

If you’re unsure about where to find reliable sources or how to incorporate them into your essay, EasyBib’s guide offers advice on how to conduct research effectively and evaluate sources for credibility.

In addition to the MLA formatting guide, EasyBib also provides resources for other citation styles such as APA and Chicago. Whether you’re required to use MLA or another format, EasyBib can help you format your citations correctly.

Overall, EasyBib’s writing resources are a valuable tool for anyone writing a college essay. Its user-friendly interface and comprehensive guides make the writing process much easier and more enjoyable. So if you’re looking for guidance on how to format your essay, proofread your work, or improve your writing skills, EasyBib is here to help.

How to Write a College Admissions Essay

  1. Start early: Don’t wait until the last minute to start writing your college admissions essay. Give yourself plenty of time to brainstorm ideas, draft your essay, and revise it before submitting your application.
  2. Read the prompt carefully: Before you begin writing, make sure you thoroughly understand the essay prompt. Take note of any specific requirements or questions asked, and use them as a guide for structuring your essay.
  3. Organize your thoughts: Outline your essay to ensure a logical flow of ideas. This will help you stay focused and avoid rambling or veering off topic.
  4. Follow MLA formatting: Unless otherwise specified, adhere to MLA formatting guidelines for your essay. This includes using double spacing, a header with your name and page number, and citing sources properly when necessary.
  5. Proofread and edit: After you’ve written your essay, proofread it carefully for any spelling or grammatical errors. Ask someone else to read it as well, as they may catch mistakes you missed.

When writing your college admissions essay, it’s important to remember that you are not simply summarizing your academic achievements or listing your extracurricular activities. Instead, focus on telling a compelling story that gives the admissions committee a clear picture of who you are as a person.

Use specific examples and vivid language to bring your essay to life, and avoid using cliches or generic statements. Show your personality and convey your passion for your chosen field or interests.

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If you need additional guidance, there are resources available to help you. The Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL) offers a comprehensive guide to writing college essays, including tips on how to choose a prompt, develop your arguments, and revise your essay for clarity and coherence.

In addition to the Purdue OWL, websites like EasyBib and active admissions offices at colleges and universities often offer valuable advice and information on writing college admissions essays. Many colleges also provide sample essays or prompts from previous application seasons to give you an overview of what they are looking for in an essay.

Overall, remember that your college admissions essay is your opportunity to show the admissions committee who you really are beyond your academic achievements. It’s a chance to demonstrate your integrity, creativity, and ability to communicate effectively through the written word. By following the advice above and putting in the time and effort, you can create a compelling and successful college admissions essay.

Advice for Writing Successful Application Essays

  1. Start early: The college application process can be overwhelming, so it’s important to give yourself plenty of time to brainstorm, write, and revise your essays. Starting early will also allow you to seek feedback from others and make any necessary improvements.
  2. Read the prompt carefully: Take the time to thoroughly understand the essay prompt before you start writing. Make sure you address all aspects of the prompt and stay focused on the assigned topic.
  3. Organize your thoughts: Before you begin writing, create an outline or a plan for your essay. This will help you structure your ideas and ensure that your essay flows logically and cohesively.
  4. Show, don’t tell: Use descriptive verbs and specific examples to paint a vivid picture of yourself and your experiences. This will make your essay more engaging and memorable.
  5. Be honest and authentic: Admissions officers value integrity, so it’s important to be yourself and write in your own voice. Don’t try to be someone else or tell the admissions committee what you think they want to hear.
  6. Use active sentence structures: Write your sentences in the active voice to make your essay more engaging and dynamic. This will also help you avoid common writing pitfalls, such as using unnecessary passive constructions.
  7. Read examples and resources: Take the time to read successful application essays to get an overview of what works and what doesn’t. You can find examples in books, online resources, or even by asking your school’s college counselor or English teacher for recommendations.
  8. Follow the guidelines: Each college may have specific requirements or essay prompts, so make sure you carefully read and understand the instructions. Stick to the guidelines provided by the college, including word limits and formatting specifications.
  9. Ask for help when needed: Don’t hesitate to ask for help if you’re struggling with your essays. Your school’s college counselor, English teacher, or a trusted friend or family member can provide valuable feedback and guidance.

Overall, writing successful application essays requires time, effort, and attention to detail. By following these tips, you’ll be on your way to crafting compelling essays that showcase your strengths and impress college admissions officers.

Writing a Paper

1. Understand the format: Familiarize yourself with the MLA format guidelines by reading through the official MLA handbook or consulting online resources such as the Purdue OWL (Online Writing Lab) website.

2. Follow the prompt: Before starting your essay, carefully read and analyze the prompt given by the college admissions or your professor. Make sure your essay addresses the prompt accurately.

3. Organize your ideas: Plan the structure of your paper before you start writing. Outline the main points and arguments you want to make, and think about how to organize them effectively.

4. Use proper citation: In MLA format, it’s crucial to accurately cite your sources both within the text and in the list of works cited. Use reliable sources and make sure to follow the MLA citation style guidelines.

5. Proofread and edit: Always proofread your paper for spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors. It’s also important to check the overall coherence and flow of your writing. Consider asking a friend or professor to review your paper for additional feedback.

6. Maintain integrity: When writing a paper, it’s critical to maintain academic integrity. Avoid plagiarism by properly citing any sources used and ensuring that all ideas, arguments, and claims are your own.

7. Seek guidance: If you’re unsure about any aspect of writing your paper in MLA format, don’t hesitate to seek guidance. Your college’s writing center or professors can provide valuable advice and resources to help you write a successful paper.

Through the seasons before us

Pros of using MLA format:

1. Style consistency: MLA format provides a standard structure for organizing your essay, making it easier for readers to follow your arguments and narrative.

2. Academic credibility: Using MLA format shows that you understand the academic conventions and are capable of following them correctly.

3. Proofread and accurate citations: MLA format requires you to include in-text citations and a Works Cited page, ensuring that you properly attribute any sources you use and avoid plagiarism.

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4. Easy to read: MLA format uses double-spacing and a legible font, making your essay more readable and professional-looking.

Cons of using MLA format:

1. Time-consuming: MLA format has specific rules for every aspect of the essay, which can be time-consuming to learn and apply correctly.

2. Restrictive: MLA format may not allow for as much creativity and freedom in formatting as other styles, which can be a downside if you prefer more flexibility.

3. Not always required: While some colleges and universities may require MLA format, others may not have specific formatting requirements, allowing you to choose a style that best suits your writing.

Overall, the use of MLA format for college essays has its advantages and disadvantages. It is essential to consider the specific requirements of the colleges you are applying to before deciding whether to use MLA format or another formatting style.


Should college essays be in MLA format?

There are pros and cons to using MLA format for college essays. On the positive side, MLA format provides a standard and consistent method of citing sources, which can help to establish credibility and give credit to the original authors. Additionally, MLA format includes guidelines for formatting the paper, such as font size and margins, which can make the essay look more professional. However, some students may find MLA format to be too strict and time-consuming, and it may limit their creativity in expressing their ideas. Ultimately, the decision of whether to use MLA format for college essays should be based on the specific requirements of the institution or professor.

How to write a college admissions essay?

Writing a college admissions essay can be a challenging task, but there are some tips that can help. First, it’s important to read and understand the essay prompt before starting to write. This will ensure that you address the specific question or topic that is being asked. Next, it’s a good idea to brainstorm and make a plan for your essay. This can include outlining the main points you want to cover and organizing your thoughts. When writing the essay, it’s important to be yourself and let your unique voice and perspective shine through. It’s also important to provide specific examples and evidence to support your ideas. Finally, don’t forget to proofread your essay and have someone else read it for feedback.

Do colleges require essays to be in MLA format?

The requirement for essays to be in MLA format can vary depending on the college and the specific assignment. Some colleges may have specific guidelines for formatting essays, while others may allow more flexibility. It is important to carefully read the instructions and requirements for each individual college application or assignment to determine if MLA format is necessary. If no specific format is specified, it is generally a good idea to use MLA format as it is commonly accepted in academia.

How to organize an essay?

Organizing an essay is an important step in the writing process. There are several ways to effectively organize an essay, but one common approach is to use a traditional essay structure with an introduction, body paragraphs, and a conclusion. In the introduction, you should provide some background information on the topic and present a thesis statement that expresses the main argument or point of the essay. The body paragraphs should each focus on a separate point or idea and provide evidence or examples to support it. The conclusion should summarize the main points and restate the thesis in a new way. It’s also important to use transitional words and phrases to help guide the reader through the essay.

What are some tips for proofreading an essay?

Proofreading is a crucial step in the writing process, and there are several tips that can help make it more effective. One tip is to proofread the essay slowly and carefully, reading each sentence out loud to catch any errors or awkward phrasing. It’s also helpful to take a break between writing the essay and proofreading it, as this can help you approach the essay with a fresh perspective. Another tip is to have someone else read the essay for you, as they may be able to catch errors that you missed. Additionally, using a spell check tool can help identify spelling and grammar mistakes. Finally, it’s a good idea to read the essay backwards, starting with the last sentence and working your way up to the first, as this can help you focus on individual words and phrases.

Should college essays be in MLA format?

Yes, college essays should be in MLA format. MLA format is widely accepted as the standard format for essays in the humanities. It provides guidelines for formatting the paper, citing sources, and creating a Works Cited page. Using MLA format ensures that your essay is properly structured and organized.

What are the pros and cons of using MLA format for college essays?

Using MLA format for college essays has several pros and cons. The pros include: it provides a clear and uniform structure for your essay, it ensures proper citation of sources, it is widely recognized and accepted by academic institutions, and it helps you showcase your knowledge of academic writing conventions. The cons include: it may be more time-consuming to format your essay according to MLA guidelines, it restricts creativity to some extent, and it may not be necessary for all college essays, especially those in non-humanities disciplines.

Alex Koliada, PhD

By Alex Koliada, PhD

Alex Koliada, PhD, is a well-known doctor. He is famous for studying aging, genetics, and other medical conditions. He works at the Institute of Food Biotechnology and Genomics. His scientific research has been published in the most reputable international magazines. Alex holds a BA in English and Comparative Literature from the University of Southern California, and a TEFL certification from The Boston Language Institute.