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 to appear online.


Essays will be evaluated by the MLA’s editorial team for eligibility, and a committee of teachers will then select essays for “Writing with MLA Style” according to the criteria below.

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

Language: Essays must be written in English.

Deadline: 2 February 2023 (submissions closed)

Format: Essays should be paginated, double-spaced, and submitted as Microsoft Word files or in Word-compatible formats (e.g., doc, docx, rtf).

Essays should have no information identifying the student so that the review process is anonymous. Information about students should be provided only on the submission form. (Essays published on the site will include the students’ names.)

Files should be labeled with a short title (e.g., Reading-Shakespeare). Do not include the student’s name in the file name.

Age: Authors of student essays must be at least 13 years of age at the time of submission. Authors of essays selected for publication will be asked to sign a publication agreement before selected essays are announced. 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.

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

Other: Essays written in the last two years by current students or recent graduates are eligible.

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

Selected essays will be lightly copyedited, but authors should follow MLA style and format as best they can and aim for correct grammar, spelling, and punctuation. Since papers should not have any identifying information on them, submissions should not include the name and course information at the top of the paper, contrary to section 1.3 of the handbook.


Authors of selected essays will be notified by e-mail in spring 2023.


Questions may be sent to