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Writing A Proper MLA Comparative Essay: Helpful Directions


MLA style is the most common style used for writing papers and citation of sources within the humanities and liberal arts. MLA style has some specific guidelines that should be followed while writing a proper MLA comparative essay. These guidelines are for abbreviations and writing numbers as well as referencing sources. Following these guidelines makes it easy for the readers to see the sources of your information.

Stated below are helpful directions for writing a proper MLA comparative essay:

  • General:
    • You should print your paper on a standard 8.5 x 11-inch white paper.
    • Make sure to double space your entire paper.
    • Use a legible font such as 'Times New Roman' and the font size should be 12 pt.
    • The margins should be set to 1 inch on both sides.
    • Use the tab key once to indent the first line of each paragraph. It is recommended to use the tab key for indenting instead of using space bar five times.
    • In case you have any end notes, include them on a separate page before the "Works Cited" page.
  • Titling:
  • Write your name, your professor’s name, the name of your class and the date of paper on top of your first page. This information should be formatted to the left margin. Write the title of your paper on the next line. The title should be centered.

  • Introduction:
  • Write an introduction paragraph after the title. The introduction paragraph should include the thesis statement outlining your basic argument. For a comparative essay, you should also write a sentence briefly describing the sources of items you're addressing.

  • Section Writing:
  • You should split your essay into multiple titled and numbered sections. You can dedicate the first two sections after the introduction, on the two items you are comparing. After that, you can move on to comparing and contrasting in a separate section. Each section excluding the introduction should be titled with a Roman numeral and name of the section.

  • MLA In-text Citation:
  • It is likely that a comparative essay will draw information from two sources at least. You should include an in-text citation when you quote, reference or paraphrase information from these sources. You should place the in-text citation in parenthesis after the sentence. The parentheses should contain the name of the author and the page number from which the information is taken.

  • Works Cited List:
  • After completing the paper, you should mention all the sources you reference in your paper on a separate page. "Works Cited" should be the title of this page. Do not bold or make it italic. List the sources used in alphabetical order by the author’s last name. You should mention the title of the source, author’s name, and information about publisher and year of publication for each source.

For more detailed information, you can always use the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, which is available in most reference centers and writing libraries.