The Modern Language Association seeks submissions from students of exemplary research papers written in MLA style for publication in “Writing with MLA Style,” a collection of student essays published online annually.

Submissions will first be evaluated for eligibility. Then a committee of teachers will read eligible submissions and select essays for “Writing with MLA Style” according to the criteria below. Separate review committees will be established for submissions from high school and postsecondary writers.


Length: 2,000–3,000 words. Works-cited-list entries do not count toward the word limit.

Language: Essays must be written in English.

Age: Authors of student essays must be at least 13 years of age at the time of submission.

Students: Submissions from high school, undergraduate, and graduate students are welcome. Essays written in the last two years by current students or recent graduates are eligible.


Anonymity: Essays should contain no information identifying the student so that the review process is anonymous. Contrary to section 1.3 of the MLA Handbook, exclude identifying information such as the course title or the instructor’s name. Information about students should be provided only on the submission form. (Essays selected for “Writing with MLA Style” will include the students’ names when they are published.)

Format: Essays should be paginated, double-spaced, and submitted as Microsoft Word files or in Word-compatible formats (e.g., doc, docx, rtf). Files should be labeled with a short title (e.g., Reading-Shakespeare). Do not include the student’s name in the file name.

Number of Submissions: A student may submit one paper per year for consideration by the committee.

Deadline: 2 February 2024. Submissions are closed.

Selection Criteria

Essays should move beyond the traditional five-paragraph-essay format and include the following elements:

  • A title
  • A clear and original argument (thesis statement)
  • Ample evidence that supports and further develops the argument
  • An awareness of the audience for the paper
  • Direct prose
  • An accurate explanation of what others have said about the topic and a serious consideration of opposing views
  • Judicious use of quotation and paraphrase
  • Paragraphs with clear topic sentences
  • Clear transitions between paragraphs
  • An introduction that presents and contextualizes the argument
  • An ending that fits the paper’s conclusions into a larger perspective and answers the question, Why does this matter?
  • A works-cited list and in-text citations styled according to the ninth edition of the MLA Handbook

Since these essays will be a resource for teachers who want to help students learn MLA style, submissions containing some of the elements listed below are more likely to be selected for publication:

  • A wide range of source formats (books, journal articles, websites, videos, etc.)
  • Tables or illustrations with explanatory captions
  • Subheads
  • A mix of run-in and block quotations
  • Endnotes

Authors should follow MLA style and format and aim for correct grammar, spelling, and punctuation.

Selected Essays

Notification: Authors of selected essays will be notified by e-mail in spring 2024.

Publication Agreement: Authors of selected essays will be asked to sign a publication agreement. If authors are not at the age of consent of the country in which they reside, a parent or guardian must sign the agreement for them.

Honorarium: Authors of selected essays will receive a $50 USD gift card or equivalent as an honorarium.

Copyediting: Selected essays will be lightly copyedited by an MLA editor before publication.


Questions may be sent to