Formatting a Paper in MLA Style
(This page has been checked against the seventh edition of the MLA
Handbook, published in the summer of 2009.)
This is what the top of your first page should look like:
Here's how to make it look this way:
- Spacing: The entire paper, including
the heading, the title, indented
quotations and the list of works cited, should be double-spaced.
- Paper: Be sure the printer is
stocked with good-quality 8½ x 11 paper.
- Font and printing: Use a standard,
readable font like Times New Roman for the body of the paper.
The font size should be 11 or 12. (For my classes, use 12.) Be sure
the printer you use produces clear, easily visible print. Do not use
fonts that look like handwriting or italics. Do not print the text in
- Justification: The paper should be left-justified
(have an even left margin). It should not be right-justified (made to have
an even right margin). The title, of course, should be centered.
- Margins and indentations: There should be a
margin on all sides (top, left, right, and bottom), although the page number will appear
in the top margin. Do not assume that your word-processing program's
default margins are correct for MLA style; check them. When an element must be indented, follow these rules:
- Paragraphs should be indented ½ inch (or 5 spaces).
- Indented quotations (more than 4 typed lines of prose or more than 3 lines of
poetry) should be indented 1 inch (or 10 spaces).
- Items in the Works Cited list should be typed with a hanging
indentation. Remember, the whole paper (including the list of
works cited) should be double-spaced!
- Page numbers: Type the page number ½ inch from the
top of the page in the right-hand corner. Put your last name before the
number, and space between your name and the page number. Do not use
any other letters or symbols unless your teacher has given special
Page numbers appear on all pages, including the first page and the pages of the list of
works cited. (Some instructors may ask you not to number the first
- Heading: Unless your teacher specifically told you to
do so, do not use a title page. Instead, begin the first page with a double-spaced
heading typed even with the left margin. The first line is your name, the second is
the teacher's name, the third is the course number, and the fourth is the date.
Double-space again and type the title, centering it. (Do not underline it, put it in quotation
marks, put it in italics, or put it in boldface. Just type it!) Use no extra spaces before or after the heading and title--the paper will
be double spaced from the top of the first page to the end of the list of
- List of Works Cited: Keep page numbering turned on
(if the last page of your paper is page 11, your Works Cited begins on page 12).
Begin the list on a new page. Type the heading, "Works Cited," at the top, centering it. (Do not put it
in quotation marks, underline it, etc.) Then type your entries, using a hanging indentation (see #5)
double spacing (see #1). Do not put extra space between the items.
- Styles and templates: Beginning with some
sort of pre-formatted page can
simplify following these rules, but remember that you are still responsible for
the format of your paper. Check to make sure everything is correct, and be
particularly careful to check that side margins are only 1 inch wide.
- Electronic submission: If you are asked to
submit your paper in electronic form, follow your teacher's instructions on
formatting and also on the way the paper is to be submitted (e-mail, through
Blackboard, etc.). If the paper is for me, follow all the formatting rules
given above so that the paper would meet MLA standards if it were printed.
For more information, consult the
If you were looking for the earlier version of this page which also gave
advice on using Word 2003 and earlier to create a page that follows these
instructions, you can find it here.
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