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A Comprehensive Guide of MLA Format for Students

18 min read

Published on: Jan 3, 2023

Last updated on: Jan 3, 2023

MLA Format

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If you're like most students, you have probably heard of MLA format but don't actually know what it is. MLA format is a way to organize and present information in a research paper. In order to use MLA format, you must first understand how to create citations using MLA style.

MLA referencing style is a common referencing method that's easy for students to follow. However, if you're new and unfamiliar with these guidelines, it may take some time before everything becomes clear in your mind.

This blog post will explain the concept in detail. Keep reading the blog to learn about MLA citations, templates and format.

MLA Format Background

MLA format was developed by an organization called the Modern Language Association. This format was specially designed for students, researchers and scholars of language & literature.

The format helped these students & scholars to format their assignments and research papers. MLA format helped the readers to read the papers easily. Nowadays, this format is not only used in language folded but in other fields also.

In April 2021, the Modern Langauge Association issued its 9th and the most outdated MLA Handbook. The handbook contains the instructions about citation. In addition, it includes guidelines related to paper submission according to the MLA standards.

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Formatting the Header in MLA

Follow these steps to create a header for the first page of your paper:

  • Leave a one-inch margin from the top of the page.
  • Write your full name, name of your instructor, number & name of the course. Also, write the date on a separate line. Use double spacing in-between.
  • Write the title of your paper in the center of the page. There is no need to underline, bold or highlight the title. Use capital letters to write the title. Italicize the words that are the names for instance: The Theme of adventure in The Great Gatsby.
  • Never place a full stop or period at the end of the title.
  • Use double spacing in between the title and the previous line of this page.

double spacing

General Paper Formatting

  • Paper Choice

    Many teachers allow the students to submit papers electronically and some allow hard copies. This section discusses the formatting of papers to be submitted officially.

    White is the best paper color to use for your final paper. It will make all of those beautiful designs stand out more and look cleaner.

    Select a standard-size paper to print your project. Do not make the mistake of using cardstock or colored paper. Use a typical high-standard white paper for your project.

    We recommend you to use 8 ½-by-11-inch paper. If you want to make use of any other type of paper, ask your teacher.

  • Use One-Inch Margins in MLA

    Leave a one-inch margin around the four sides of the page. The header and footer are only allowed to be in the one-inch margin around the page sides.

    Most of the time the word software is default set to leave 1” margins around the pages. To make sure you’ve selected the correct margin, check out the margin size.

  • Indenting Paragraphs in MLA

    You need to indent each new paragraph. The sentences will start from a one-half inch away from the margin.

    Use the ‘tab’ button to indent your paragraphs.

  • Double Space Paragraphs in MLA

    The MLA research paper format requires that the entire work or essay includes double-spaced lines. These are meant to be found between your written body of text in headings.

    Double spacing is also used on the pages where you reference other sources such as books, chapters, quotes, etc.

  • MLA Format Font Size

    Even though it may seem like any old font will do for an MLA paper, you’ll want to choose one that's easy on the eyes and has some style.

    Two common types of fonts used in this kind of writing are Arial or Times New Roman - both these styles have small caps so they can be easily seen at a distance without having too much detail up close!

    It is important that you use a font by which the reader can easily distinguish the italicized and bold words. Use a standard 12 pt font for your paper. In some areas, 11 pt font is also acceptable.

  • Binding

    If you're looking for a quick and easy way to secure your project, there are several options available. You can staple it in the top left corner if that's what is allowed by the instructor. Otherwise, you can just leave paper clips attached when there is no tapper available.

    It is best to follow the recommendations of the professor, however, the above-given guidelines are just instructions by our experts.

MLA Heading & Title Page Instructions

You can format your research paper in two ways:

  1. The heading can be placed at the top of the 1st page in MLA format.
  2. A title page can be used to decorate the assignment. You can create a title page that will only contain the title of the project.

1. MLA Format Heading on Top of Page 

In this style, you will include the following four things:

  • Full name of the researcher
  • Name of the instructor
  • Course number & class
  • The duet date of the assignment

Write your full name on the paper. Leave a one-inch margin from the top and left side of the page to write your name.

Give double space and then write the name of your instructor. Again double-space and write the course number, class & your section. Add one more double space and write the due date for the paper submission.

Check this example:

History 101

The title should be placed below the publication date, after a double space. Align it so that it sits in the center of MLA format paper and only include italics or quotation marks if your article includes another source's name as its own.

2. Title Page

The title page is a very important part of the paper. If your instructor requires you to create one, ask for specifications and follow MLA's instructions as closely as possible so that it will be submitted correctly.

In most cases, when writing research papers, we recommend using an official heading like this one from Modern Language Association (MLA).

Write the title page in this way:

  • Double-space all the text on this page.
  • Write the school name on the page top.
  • Move to the center and write the title of your project.
  • Write the title in the title case.
  • Use 12 pt font, use Times New Roman or Arial.

Running Head & Page Numbers in MLA

The running head is a brief header that's placed in every page of your project. The Modern Language Association states it should consist only of one or more words and be centered.

Write out chapter titles for books and page numbers as:

  • Write only the last name of the author.
  • Page number.

Check out this example to know exactly how you’ll write your running head:

johnson 3

Quotations in MLA

The power of quotes is undeniable. They can be used to strengthen an argument or to put emphasis on an idea.

Quotes are a great way to add some variety. But they shouldn't take up most of your paper or assignment. Sparingly scattered through with shorter quotes being MLA block quote format is recommended. So the reader can easily read what you are saying and get your ideas.

You can add a quotation to your text in two ways:

  • Name of Author in the Sentence

    For instance,

    Dan Gutman shares a glimpse into the overall plot by stating, “I didn’t know it at the time, but a baseball card—for me—could function like a time machine” (5).

    Dan Gutman is the author of the book.

  • Without the NAme of the Author in a Sentence

    For instance,

    The main character’s confusing experience is realized and explained when he states, “I didn’t know it at the time, but a baseball card—for me—could function like a time machine” (Gutman 5).

    In this example the name of the author: ‘Gutman’ is not written within the sentence. The author’s name is written in the parentheses, outside the sentence.

Paraphrases in MLA

Paraphrases are a great way to bring your own voice and writing style into the project while still staying true to what was originally said.

By paraphrasing the text you can void plagiarism but you still need to credit the original author. Check out this example:


Using Abbreviations in MLA

Abbreviations are commonly used in many different types of sources, including websites and blog posts. It's acceptable to use them when writing an article for publication or even just sharing your thoughts with friends over dinner.

Abbreviations can be a useful way to save time and space when writing. Not only that, but many people read these short phrases or sentences as opposed to having long ones. For example kg for kilograms.

The following are the examples of abbreviations in MLA format:

  • no. for number
  • November - Nov.
  • Ltd. (Limited)
  • p. or pp. for page and page numbers
  • Inc. (Incorporated)
  • ch. for chapter
  • Corp. (Corporation)
  • ed. for edition
  • Co. (Company)
  • trans. for translation or translated
  • rev. for revised
  • vol. for volume

Formatting Numbers in MLA

  • Use of Numerals

    The use of numerals in the context of measurements can help to set an authentic and professional tone. If there is frequent use of numbers in a paper then write numerals with preceding measurements.

    For instance:

    • 5 pounds
    • 247 milligrams
  • Arabic Numbers

    Write numbers as words, for example, 6 as six. Write longer numbers & fractional numbers in the form of digits, for instance in the following ways:

    • eighteen
    • twenty-seven
    • One
    • 5,306
    • 2 ½
    • 247
    • Three
    • 101
    • 8 ½
    • one hundred
    • 17.953
    • forty-four

Write the digit of numbers when it comes before a measuring unit:

    • chapter 9
    • 4 pounds
    • 5:00 a.m.
    • 8 tablespoons
    • 25 King Street
    • 3-5 years
    • 3 July 2018

Using Images, Tables, & Musical Scores in MLA

Illustrations and images are important for enhancing the quality of a project or paper. If an illustration does not help enhance understanding, then it should be avoided in favor of clear written language that provides meaning without needing any visual representation.

A picture is worth 1000 words - but only when those visuals aid your message! When using graphs, images or musical scores, use only the one that closely relates to the text.

  • Images

    Follow the given format to add an image to the text:

    • Make a label as ‘fig’ for your image. Add the label beneath the image. ‘Fig’ is short for the word figure.
    • Write a caption for your image. Briefly explain the image in the caption.
    • Write the attribution information for the image just after the caption. If you do not refer to the image in the text, then you need to add it to the bibliography section.

    Add your image and information for it in one of the following ways:

    • Sarah’s tattoo design was filled with two of her favorite flowers: lilies and daffodils along a thinly curved vine (fig. 1).
    • Fig. 1. White Studio. “Houdini and Jennie, the Elephant, Performing at the Hippodrome, New York.” Library of Congress,
  • Tables

    In order to add a table or data set into your project, you will need to format it differently. The label “Table” must be placed above the actual content. Write an Arabic numeral and title that are on separate lines flushed to the left without any spaces between them for easy reading.

    Give a name to the first table as ‘Table 1’ and to the second as ‘Table 2’, and so on. In tables, the first letter of each word is capita,.ized. Have a look at the following table example:


  • Musical Scores

    Label your musical scores with "Ex." This will help you keep them organized and coherent. Place this label below the actual musical score image.

    Write the musical score information as ‘Ex.1’ and for the second one as ‘Ex.2’, and so on. You can also add a cation after the label for your musical score. Check out the given example:


Using Lists in MLA

There are some very important rules that should be followed when adding works cited lists into an MLA format essay.

The items in this list are included within your text rather than being listed horizontally like on a grocery bill. It's an interesting style that makes for some creative writing!

It's important to use a colon when listing items, but if the first item in your list is part of a sentence, then don't include one.

Many famous tragedies are written by William Shakespeare: Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, Macbeth, Othello, Julius Caesar and King Lear.

MLA Works Cited Format

Keep the following items on your mind when citing work in your text in MLA format:

  • Add the citation list at the very last page of your research project.
  • Add a running head and page number at the top of the page.
  • List down all the cited works in English alphabetical order.
  • Double-space the entire page.

Cite works carefully and writes correct information in the cited sources section. In this way, the reader can easily locate the original source.

MLA Format Citation

MLA format citation includes information like the name of the author, title of the source, publisher, publication, date, location and page number. However, your works cited pages should be added at the end of the research paper or essay.

How to cite in MLA format? Here you can learn to cite different types of sources:

MLA Format Works Cited

MLA Citation of Websites
Miranda, Lin-Manuel [@Lin_Manuel]. “Gmorning from a sky still blue above the smoke from a world still full of love and hope beyond the headlines from your own best self, whispering, ‘I’m still here, and it’s never too late to put me to work.’” Twitter, 22 June 2018,
MLA Citation of Books
James, Henry. The Ambassadors. Serenity, 2009.
MLA Citation of Journal/Articles
Adams, Mark C. “Educating the Music User.” Music Educators Journal, vol. 103, no. 1, 2016, pp. 64–69. JSTOR, Accessed 15 Feb. 2020.

With the help of this table, next time don’t need to be worried about ‘how to do MLA format?’.

Edits and Proofreading

The key to a successful research paper is knowing how and where your work needs edits.

The research process is a long and tedious one, but it can be made much easier with some careful planning.

The key is to edit your assignment for errors before you submit them to ensure that they meet all of the criteria set by instructors. Editing an assignment consists of checking the following:

  • Spelling

    All of the proper names, places and other unique words in your text should be checked for the correct spelling. Once finished running through a spell checker, you can review all errors that were found to see if it needs correction before publishing or submitting.

    Spell checking is a great feature to have, but it's not always perfect. Make sure you read through an assignment carefully and take the time necessary for your project so that there are no mistakes!

    When you’re not sure if your project contains proper spelling, ask someone else to read through it. They might find mistakes that are difficult for you to find.

  • Grammar

    Check your assignment to make sure you’ve used proper grammar and vocabulary. There are numerous online tools available like Grammarly, that can help with this.

    Make sure you review any recommendations from these programs before accepting them and be as specific about what changes need to happen.

  • Punctuation

    Check for proper grammar and punctuation in your writing. Make sure every sentence has an ending period, exclamation mark or question mark, at the end.

    Also check if you have properly placed commas, semi-colons, colons, hyphens and the other punctuation marks.

  • Attribution

    Also, check you have properly cited your work. Make sure if you have an in-text citation then you have formatted it according to the MLA citation format.

    Don’t forget to include a citation for all quotations and paragraphs.

MLA Format Example

Here is an example of MLA-style formatting for you. This example essay can help you format your research paper according to the correct citation pattern of MLA. Check the example here:

MLA Format Google Docs

This instructional exercise will tell you the best way to do MLA Format utilizing Google Docs on Google Drive. It is exceptionally simple and we will achieve the accompanying settings:

  • All text is textual style "Times New Roman" and Size 12.
  • One-inch page edge for all sides (top, base, both ways).
  • A header with your last name and page number 1/2 inch from the upper right of each page.
  • The whole paper is twofold separated.
  • Your name, name of teacher, course title, and due date of paper on the primary page.
  • Your exploration paper title is focused.
  • Body sections have a 1/2 inch first line indent.

There are two different ways, one is to utilize a layout with every one of the settings preconfigured and the alternate way is to perform the settings yourself.

Method 1: Using a Template:


  • On the Google Docs menu, click on File => New => From Template.
  • In the recently opened window, look for "MLA Format".
  • Many outcomes will show up and they are all around great => how about we accept you pick the first, click on the "Utilization this format" button.
  • The layout will be duplicated to your Google Drive and you are prepared to type your exposition.

Method 2: How to Perform all the Settings Yourself- Set the Font and Size:


  • Whenever you make another archive, the default textual style is Arial and size 11
  • Click on the text style and change it to Times New Roman.
  • Click on text dimension 11 and change it to text dimension 12.

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Set the Margins in Google Docs

Google involves the default edge of 1 inch for all top, right, base and left so there is a compelling reason that needs to change. Assuming you might want to check the edges, here are the means: click on File => Page Setup


Create a Header in Google Docs


  • Click on Insert => click on Header.
  • Notice the text style on the Header isn't Times New Roman => change the textual style to Times New Roman and text dimension 12.


  • Notice the cursor is squinting on the left, click on the Right Align symbol to adjust the cursor to the right.
  • Press the Enter key on your console two times.
  • Type your Last Name => press the Spacebar key on the console once.
  • Click on Insert => Page Number => Top of Page.


  • Presently click on anyplace underneath the Header line to close the Header.

Setup Line Spacing to Double Spaced


  • Click on the Line Spacing button => Choose Double.

Enter the First Page Information

  • Type your complete name => press Enter.
  • Type your instructor's name => press Enter.
  • Type course title => press Enter.
  • Type your paper's expected date => press Enter.
  • Click on the Align Center symbol on the arranging toolbar (to focus your flickering cursor) => Type the title of your paper, underwriting the primary letter and every significant word and formal people, places or things. Try not to utilize italics, underlining, or all covers to arrange your title. Try not to type a period toward the finish of the title => press Enter.
  • Click on the Align Left symbol (to carry your flickering cursor to one side).
  • Click on the Tab key to indent 1/2 inch to start your most special section. Utilize the Tab key on each next new passage. Your finished setting ought to seem to be this:


Other famous formatting styles for quotes or paraphrased content are APA, Chicago and ASA. Plus, we hope that the guide was helpful for you to understand how you can format your paper according to the MLA pattern? If you still need help writing or editing your paper, then contact

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Contact us and place your order with us. Hire our essay writer to get the best-written MLA style paper for your college and get the highest grades for it.

Nova A.


Nova A. (Literature, Marketing)

As a Digital Content Strategist, Nova Allison has eight years of experience in writing both technical and scientific content. With a focus on developing online content plans that engage audiences, Nova strives to write pieces that are not only informative but captivating as well.

As a Digital Content Strategist, Nova Allison has eight years of experience in writing both technical and scientific content. With a focus on developing online content plans that engage audiences, Nova strives to write pieces that are not only informative but captivating as well.

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