Skip to Main Content

MLA 9th Edition Citation Guide
Formatting Your Paper

Why is Formatting Important?

You want your essay to be easily read and understood by your audience. Using consistency in format enables your readers to focus on your content, instead of the presentation of your paper. Errors can distract the reader, cause misinterpretations, and make your work look less credible.

For full instructions on formatting your paper, see Formatting a Research Paper on the MLA Style Center website.

Always use the specifications determined by your instructor in addition to these guidelines.

Text Formatting

Use a font that is easy to read and has a clear difference between regular text and italic text. Use a standard font size, such as 12 point.

Your text should be aligned with the left margin. All lines of your paper should be double-spaced. Indent the first line of each paragraph.

First Page

Your heading should be on the first page of your paper, aligned with the left margin. Include your name, your instructor's name, your course number, and the date.

Enter the title of your paper on the next line and center it. Do not italicize, underline, or bold your title, and do not type it in all capital letters or in quotation marks. Do capitalize the first word, last word, and all principal words and proper nouns.

Begin the body of your paper on the next line.

Include your last name and page numbers in the top right-hand corner aligned with the right margin. (Insert this using the header function in your word processing application.)

Image of the title page of a paper written in MLA format. One inch margins are used for all sides and a running header with the writer's last name and page number are in the top right. On the left side (separated on different lines) is the student's full name, the instructor's name, the course number, and the date. The title of the paper is then centered, is in title case, and is not bolded.

Works Cited

Your Works Cited page should follow your conclusion and include all in-text citations used throughout your paper.

Begin this page at the top, with "Works Cited" centered.

This page should have the same formatting as the rest of your paper, including double-spacing and a left-align margin.

If your citation is more than one line, indent each subsequent line.

Image of a works cited page in MLA format. The header with the writer's last name and page number continues. The upper center of the page reads 'Works Cited'. Full citations are then flush left with hanging indents.