You will find that the Modern Language Association (MLA) is usually associated with writing within the context of humanities and liberal arts. In these resources, you will find rules which are a reflection of the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, 7th edition, and the MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing, 3rd edition. You will also find examples of papers written using the MLA style of formatting, along with explanations on how to make in-text citations and footnotes.
In order to familiarize yourself with all the differences among the most popular citation styles, address the Citation Style Chart.

General Format

MLA style relies on specific rules and guidelines for using proper language and formatting. It also provides a way for writers to cite their sources with the help of parentheses on the Work Cited page(s).
Using the MLA can be one of the tools for establishing yourself as a more respected writer who is responsible and accountable when it comes to using source material written by other authors. Also, using the MLA can also be an effective preventative measure against accusations of plagiarism, which is one of the most severe offenses in academic circles.

When writing a paper using the MLA format, always check out the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, 7th edition. Also, if you are scholar or a student, rely on the MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing, 3rd edition. You can find the book in most bookstores, your local library, or the official MLA website.

MLA Paper Format

Consult chapter four of the MLA Handbook in order to make all the necessary preparations for writing your paper using the MLA style. Take a look at some of the rules below.

MLA Guidelines

  • Your work should be printed out using a standard white paper. Dimensions: 8.5 x 11 inches
  • Use double spacing and a legible font. For instance, Times New Roman is appropriate. If you are choosing other fonts, make sure that their regular and italic styles are different enough so that they don’t cause confusion. Font size: 12 pt.
  • Use a single space after comas, periods, and other punctuation marks.
  • Margins should be 1 inch wide on all sides of the page.
  • Indentation should be half an inch on the left side of the page, and should be made using the Tab key, as opposed to pressing the Space Bar five times.
  • Pages should be numbered using a header which features a page number that is located half an inch from the top, and flush with the right-side margin.
  • When mentioning the titles of longer works, use italics. Emphasis should be used when really necessary.
  • Footnotes/endnotes should be listed on a separate page right before your Works Cited page. It is best that you name the section Notes.

First Page Formatting

  • Creating a title is not mandatory if not specified otherwise.
  • Your name, the name of your instructor, the name of the course, and the date, should be placed in the upper left corner of the first page. Use double spacing.
  • Use double spacing again and have the title of your paper centered, without using bold, underlined, or italicized letters. Do not use quotation marks. Use standard capitalization.
  • Quotation marks and/or italic letters should be used should the title of some other work find itself in the title of your paper.
  • Use double spacing to separate the title and the first line of text.
  • Make a header in the upper right corner containing your last name, along with a page number separated by a space.
  • Use Arabic numerals to number the pages. Page numbers should be placed half an inch from the top and flush with the right margin.

An example of the first page of an MLA-styled paper:

Section Headings

In order to make your paper more readable, you can use section headings. Here are some rules on how to do it properly.


Sections within an essay should be assigned Arabic numbers, followed by a period and a space, and then by name of the section. Example:
1. Early Years
2. College Life
3. Living It Up in LA
4. Later Years


While there are no strict rules about sections headings when writing a book, you can consult the MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing, 3rd edition. It is recommended to use section headings which are similar grammatically, provided that you don’t go beyond one level of heading. The key is to keep it as consistent as possible.
If you decide to use sections within sections, provide your editor with a key that will help them navigate through your book.

Sample Section Headings

While you are free to use any formatting you want, for as long as it remains the same throughout the entire book or document, here are some suggestions on how to do it:

1. Central Processing Unit
1.1 Registers
1.2 Cache
2. Integrated Circuit
3. Peripherals

Formatted, unnumbered:

Level 1 Heading: bold, flush left
Level 2 Heading: italics, flush left
Level 3 Heading: centered, bold
Level 4 Heading: centered, italics
Level 5 Heading: underlined, flush left

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