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MLA Style Guide

About MLA Style

MLA (Modern Language Association) Style is commonly used in the humanities, particularly in language and literature research. The 9th edition of the MLA Handbook is the authoritative source for MLA style and citation, and the MLA Style Center is the official style site.

The Handbook provides guidance on formatting research papers, prose mechanics, inclusive language, avoiding plagiarism, creating a works cited page, and citing sources in the text.

What's new in the 9th edition

In general, the ninth edition includes more sample citations, more illustrations, new group project formatting guidelines, new inclusive language guidelines, more guidance on plagiarism, quoting, and paraphrasing, information about annotated bibliographies, and more guidance on footnotes and endnotes. 

Some specific changes include:

  1. Endorsing the singular use of 'they' (Section 3.5, 91-92)
  2. The location for online works, in order of preference, is DOI, permalink, then URL (188)
  3. If the DOI is not preceded by http:// or https:// in the source, then precede the DOI in the works cited with https://doi.org/ (194)
  4. Only include an access date if the work lacks a publication date or if you suspect that the work has been altered or removed (Section 5.111, 211)
  5. Works cited entries for dictionary definitions require additional information (328)
  6. Works cited entries for specific formats differ based on how the source is accessed (328-333).

General Formatting Guidelines

  • A readable font (like Times New Roman), between 11-13 point
  • 1-inch margins all around
  • double space throughout
  • indent the first line of each paragraph 0.5 inches from the left margin
  • indent block quotations (quotations longer than 4 typed lines) by 0.5 inches from the left margin
  • create a running head, 0.5 inches from the top, flush with the right margin, with your last name, a space, then the page number

First page only

  • 1-inch from the top margin, flush with the left margin, include
    • your first and last name,
    • your professor's name,
    • course name and number, and
    • date (in day month year format)
  • Center the title on a new line below the date

Works cited page:

  • Place at the end of the paper
  • Center the heading "Works Cited" 1-inch from the top of the page
  • Format each entry with a hanging indent (first line is flush with the left margin; subsequent line(s) are indented 0.5 inch from the left margin)

first page of MLA style paper

works cited page of MLA style paper

Images from the 9th edition of the MLA Handbook.

Sample First Page of an MLA Style Paper