MLA (Modern Language Association) style is a widely used formatting style in academic writing, particularly in the humanities. It provides guidelines for various elements of a research paper, including citations, margins, spacing, and, yes, fonts. In this post, we’ll explore the intricacies of MLA formatting and help you understand what font you should use to ensure your paper adheres to the standards set by this style guide.
Who Uses MLA Style?
MLA is used in scholarly writing in the humanities, commonly in disciplines such as literature, linguistics, and cultural studies. The primary purpose of MLA style is to provide a uniform and consistent format for academic papers, making understanding and locating information easier for readers.
What Are Fonts?
A font is a specific style, design, and size of text characters, including letters, numbers, and punctuation marks used for written communication. Fonts are fundamental to typography, which is the art and technique of arranging type to make written language visually appealing and readable.
Fonts encompass various visual characteristics, including the following.
A typeface is the overall design or style of a set of characters. It defines the visual appearance of the letters and symbols. Common typefaces include Times New Roman, Arial, and Helvetica. Each typeface has its own characteristics, such as the shape of the letters, the thickness of the strokes, and the spacing between characters.
A font family is a group of related typefaces that share similar design elements but come in different variations, such as regular, bold, italic, and bold italic. For example, the Arial font family includes Arial Regular, Arial Bold, Arial Italic, and Arial Bold Italic.
Font size refers to the height of the characters, measured in points. The point is a standard unit of measurement in typography. Common font sizes for printed material range from 10-point to 12-point, with larger sizes used for headings and titles.
Font weight indicates how thick or thin the strokes of the characters are. Fonts can be categorized as light, regular, bold, or extra bold, among others. Font weight plays a role in emphasizing or de-emphasizing text within a document.
Font style includes variations, such as italic, oblique, or bold, which alter the appearance of the characters. Italic fonts, for instance, slant the characters to the right while bold fonts make the characters thicker and darker.
Serif vs. Sans Serif
Fonts are often categorized into two main groups: serif and sans serif. Serif fonts have small decorative lines, or serifs, at the ends of characters, which can add a more traditional and formal appearance. Sans serif fonts lack these serifs and are typically considered more modern and straightforward.
Some fonts are highly decorative and are used for artistic or specialized purposes, such as display fonts for logos, titles, or special occasions. These fonts often have unique and eye-catching designs.
Fonts play a crucial role in conveying the tone, style, and readability of written content. Choosing the right font for a particular project or context is essential for effective communication because it can impact how readers perceive and engage with the text. Different fonts are used in various media, from printed materials, such as books and newspapers, to digital content on websites and in software applications.
Why Do I Need to Choose a Font for MLA Formatting?
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A legible font ensures that your paper is easy to read, which is crucial for your readers, who are likely to be professors, graders, and peers.
MLA formatting guidelines aim to standardize academic papers, including their appearance. Consistency in font choice contributes to the overall professionalism of your work. Some font choices can add a variable to the page count, so style guides select font options from comparable fonts and font sizes.
Adherence to Guidelines
Following MLA guidelines, including font selection, demonstrates your commitment to academic integrity and respect for the rules of your discipline.
What Font Does MLA Format Use?
The ninth edition of The MLA Handbook, which is the definitive source for MLA guidelines, does not specify a particular font. However, it does offer the following recommendations.
Use a Legible Font
Regardless of the font you choose, it must be legible. Times New Roman, Arial, and Calibri are popular choices because of their readability.
Use a Standard Font Size
The recommended font size for MLA formatting is 12-point. This size strikes a balance between being readable and conserving space.
Avoid Decorative Fonts
Though using fancy or decorative fonts may be tempting, sticking with plain, straightforward options is best. Remember, the goal is to maintain professionalism and readability.
Whichever font you choose, make sure to use it consistently throughout your paper. Don’t switch fonts within the same document.
Pay Attention to Formatting Details
Beyond font selection, MLA has specific guidelines for headings, margins, line spacing, and more. Be sure to follow these rules to meet MLA standards comprehensively.
The preferred font choice among professors and writing instructors is often Times New Roman in 12-point.
In academic writing, following formatting guidelines is essential to maintain professionalism and ensure your work is taken seriously. When it comes to font selection in MLA format, remember to prioritize readability, adhere to the guidelines, and maintain consistency throughout your paper. By paying attention to these details, you’ll be well on your way to creating a well-formatted, polished MLA paper that impresses your instructors and peers alike.
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