If you have noticed the dates on my articles, you might wonder why I write them that way. For instance, the date on this post is 15 October 2021, not October 15, 2021 as is usually written in the U.S.

Actually, the date format I use is the one required by MLA, the Modern Language Association. MLA is the style most often utilized in high school and college English classes.

I require that my students use MLA formatting for all their papers. It’s not that I like it. In fact, I think much of it looks strange and even ugly. For a long time I balked at using it. I didn’t want to spend time teaching it, as I did not consider it actual “writing.” I had much more important things to do, like teaching all the great IEW structure and style skills!

But then I sent my first group of writing students off to college, one of whom was my daughter. There, they were confronted by the non-negotiable requirement of correctly implementing MLA. They had to learn how to do it while having to learn all kinds of much harder things at the same time.

Ever since, I have required MLA formatting so that when my students go off to college, it is one less thing to have to worry about. With so many little details, MLA can be annoying to learn, but it isn’t hard. It just requires careful attention to detail.

Certainly, learning to pay careful attention to detail is a life skill that will serve the students well, long after they have broken free of the shackles of MLA.

Since MLA formatting is such a big deal and also tricky in some ways, I made this video to help my students correctly set up their documents.

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