MLA doesn’t just apply to citations and bibliography; it applies to the way the document is formatted.


(Know that your instructor’s specific requirements supersede these guidelines)

  • Use white, 8.5 x 11 inch paper.
  • Type (print out) your work.
  • Use 1″ margins on the left, right, top and bottom of each page.
  • Double-space and use a serif font like Times Roman in a size 12.
  • Leave one space after periods.
  • Indent the first word of each paragraph 1/2 inch.
  • Put your last name and the page number in the upper-right-hand corner, flush with the right margin, and 1/2 inch from the top of the page.
  • Use italics or underlining for the titles of magazines, films, novels, and other long works.


  • Don’t make a title page unless specifically asked.
  • List your name, your instructor’s name, the course, and the date in the top left corner. Double-space.
  • Double-space and center the title of your essay. Don’t underline it, or put it in all capital letters. Capitalize the first letter of each word. Read our entry on creating a title for help.
  • Use quotation marks or underlining to refer to other works in the title. Example:
    • Batman as Bat-Weirdo: the Case for Ostracizing Bruce Wayne
    • Social Commentary in The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill
  • Double-space between your title and the first line of the essay.

Click here to download a PDF sample essay, in the MLA format. The paper includes annotations – comments – that help you understand the rules and expectations.