MLA Style

MLA stands for the Modern Language Association. Most papers that use MLA formatting and citation style are those written in the humanities, especially in languages and literature. In 2016, the MLA Handbook was updated in an effort to simplify much of the documentation process in MLA format.

MLA Handbook cover

MLA 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.
  • List your name, your instructor’s name, the course, and the date in the upper left-hand corner of the first page. This is your heading. There is no cover page.
  • Type a header in the upper right-hand corner with your last name, a space, and then a page number. 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.
  • Provide in-text citations for all quoted, paraphrased, and summarized information in your paper.
  • Include a Works Cited page at the end of your paper that gives full bibliographic information for each item cited in your paper.
  • If you use endnotes, include them on a separate page before your Works Cited page
  • Your Works Cited page at the end of your project should line up with the in-text citations in the body of your essay.

The following pages in this section will provide you with more information regarding MLA basic formatting, in-text citations, and the Works Cited entries. The information in this section follows the MLA Handbook, 8th edition. MLA guidelines do change over time, so it’s important to be aware of the most current information.

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