How to Format a Paper

MLA Handbook coverMLA Formatting: The Basics

Papers constructed according to MLA guidelines should adhere to the following elements:

  • Double-space all of the text of your paper, and use a clear font, such as Times New Roman or Courier 12-point font.
  • Use one-inch margins on all sides, and indent the first line of a paragraph one half-inch from the left margin.
  • Type your name, your instructor’s name, the course, and the date in the upper left-hand corner of the first page. This is called a heading. There is no cover page.
  • Insert a  header in the upper right-hand corner with your last name, a space, and then a page number. This is called a running header. Pages should be numbered consecutively with Arabic numerals (1, 2, 3, 4, etc.), one-half inch from the top and flush with the right margin. You only need a running header when your paper is longer than one page.
  • Provide in-text citations for all quoted, paraphrased, and summarized information in your paper.
  • If you use endnotes, include them on a separate page before your Works Cited page.
  • Include a Works Cited page at the end of your paper that gives full bibliographic information for each item cited in your paper. For more information review the Works Cited page.
  • Your Works Cited page at the end of your project should match with the in-text citations in the body of your essay.

The information in this section follows the MLA Handbook, 8th edition.

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MLA in Minutes by Sami Lange; Vicki Brandenburg; and Leila Palis is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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