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MLA Style Guide

Why do I have to use MLA Style?

From the 9th edition of the MLA Handbook:

  • "References are formatted in a standard way so that they can be understood by all, just like a common language" (95).
  • "Learning a documentation style prepares writers to recognize the conventions their professional field expects its members to adhere to in their writing" (95).
  • To "ensure that academic writers can clearly distinguish their ideas from the ideas of others" (95), thereby avoiding plagiarism.

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.

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