MLA refers to a set of rules and formatting guidelines that are used by researchers within the humanities and liberal arts. These standards are described in the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers (8th edition), which is a 300-page manual, describing every aspect of MLA paper writing.
Update: There was a recent update to the MLA handbook, issued in spring 2016. While basic requirements remain the same, there are numerous minor updates to the essay writing process. The list of recent updates.
You can also download an MLA format template, which allows you to skip the formatting part and use our pre-formatted file.
MLA Format: Paper
Use standard white 8.5x11 inches paper.
MLA Format: Title Page
Unless this is a specific requirement set by your instructor, a title page is not needed. MLA essay example of the cover page:
MLA Format: Font
Use legible 12pt font. While MLA has no specific requirements regarding fonts, use Times New Roman if unsure. Georgia, Courier New & Arial are good alternatives as well.
MLA Format: Formatting
- Use 1" margins on all sides
- Use 1/2" margins from top to your name
- Center your title, do not italicize it
- If your quotation is longer than 4 lines, indent that paragraph 1". Do not use quotation marks!
MLA Format: Numbering
Use Arabic numerals (e.g. 1, 2, 3 etc) and number your pages consecutively. Check with your instructor - he or she might not want to see the number on the first page. Page numbers are placed in the upper right-hand corner of your paper.
MLA Format: Spacing
- Use double spacing throughout your paper
- Put one space after punctuation marks (commas, full stops etc).
MLA Format: Indentation
Indent all paragraphs 1/2". MLA recommends that you hit TAB once as opposed to pressing the space bar five times.
MLA Format: Heading
Headers should be capitalized - same way as you would capitalize words in titles. Center your headings and do not italicize, bold or underline them.
MLA Format: Citation
MLA is known as the "author page" style. It means that whenever making an MLA style reference, always indicate author's last name and a page you took the quote from. In-text citation in its most basic form defaults to this: (Name, 1).
MLA Format: Examples
The values are a representation of maximum loads which can be exerted on the material without causing deformation (Ashby 23).
The climate is changing but the biologists do not agree that it will threaten animals and plants with extinction (Stampf & Traufetter 132).
MLA Format: References
- The references page is placed at the end of your paper
- It should start with a new page, have a centered "Works Cited" title
- Double space all citations
- Create a hanging indent, to do so, indent second and subsequent lines of citations by 0.5 inches.
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