MLA Citations (OLD): Format Your Paper

Overview of MLA Style Guidelines
This guide has been updated! The current MLA style guide is located at

MLA Style Center: Formatting a Research Paper

MLA Style Center: Formatting a Research Paper.

Video: How to Format Your Paper in MLA Style

General Guidelines

  • Type your paper and print it out on standard, white 8.5 x 11-inch paper. 
  • Double-space the text of your paper, and use a legible font (e.g. Times New Roman). The font size should be 12 pt.
  • Leave only one space after periods or other punctuation marks (unless otherwise instructed by your instructor).
  • Set the margins of your document to 1 inch on all sides.
  • Indent the first line of paragraphs one half-inch from the left margin. MLA recommends that you use the Tab key as opposed to pushing the Space Bar five times.
  • Create a header that numbers all pages consecutively in the upper right-hand corner, one-half inch from the top and flush with the right margin. (Note: Your instructor may ask that you omit the number on your first page. Always follow your instructor's guidelines.)

Guidelines for First Page

  • Don't make a separate title page for your paper unless specifically requested.
  • In the upper left-hand corner of the first page, list your name, your instructor's name, the course, and the date. Again, be sure to use double-spaced text.
  • Double space again and center the title. Do not underline, italicize, or place your title in quotation marks; write the title in Title Case (standard capitalization), not in all capital letters.
  • Double space between the title and the first line of the text.
  • Create a header in the upper right-hand corner that includes your last name, followed by a space with a page number; number all pages consecutively with Arabic numerals (1, 2, 3, 4, etc.), one-half inch from the top and flush with the right margin. (Note: Your instructor  may ask that you omit last name/page number header on your first page. Always follow instructor guidelines.)

Guidelines for the Works Cited Page

  • Place your Works Cited page at the end of your research paper. 
  • All entries in the Works Cited page must correspond to the works cited in your main text (in-text citations).
  • Begin your Works Cited page on a separate page at the end of your research paper. It should have the same one-inch margins and last name, page number header as the rest of your paper.
  • Label the page Works Cited (do not italicize the words Works Cited or put them in quotation marks) and center the words Works Cited at the top of the page.

  •  Double space all citations, but don't skip spaces between entries.

  •  Indent the second and subsequent lines of citations five spaces so that you create a hanging indent. See the handout, Create a Hanging Indent Using Microsoft Word 2013, for step-by-step instructions.
  •  List entries alphabetically by the author's last name (or, for entire edited collections, editor names). If there's no author, begin the entry with the next element in the citation (usually, the title).

Sample First Page

Sample Works Cited Page

How Do I...?

...set margins, change fonts, create a hanging indent, insert a page number? Click on the links below for step-by-step instructions.

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