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How to Do Research: A Step-By-Step Guide: 5c. MLA Formatting

How to do research

MLA Formatting

MLA HandbookMLA Handbook

Call Number: LB2369 .G53 2016

Permanent Reserve -- ask at Library Services Desk.



Purdue OWL -- MLA Formatting and Style Guide

For examples of MLA citations, see the MLA Citation Examples page, which includes in-text citations and works-cited entries.


  • Use 1 inch margins for the entire document.
  • Indent the first line of paragraphs 1/2 inch from the left margin.
  • Indent set-off quotations 1 inch from the left margin.

Text Formatting

  • Pick a readable 12 pt font (e.g., Times New Roman).
  • Do not justify the text or use hyphenation.
  • Double-space the text of your paper.
  • Leave only one space after periods or other punctuation marks.

Heading and Title

  • Do not use a title page unless required by your instructor.
  • Place your name, the instructor's name, the course number and the date on separate lines at the top of the first page, flush with the left margin.
  • Center and double-spaced the title between the course heading and the first line of text.
  • Do not underline, italicize, or place your title in quotation marks.

Page Numbers

  • Place page numbers in a header in the upper right-hand corner, 1/2 inch from the top and flush with the right margin.
  • Type your last name before the page number.
  • Do not use the abbreviation p. or pg before the page number or any other mark or symbol.


  • If you have any endnotes, include them on a separate page before your Works Cited page.
  • Entitle the section Notes (centered, unformatted).

See the sample MLA Style paper from the Purdue OWL.

NOTE: EasyBib, RefMe, and Zotero will help you format your entire paper in MLA style.

In-text citations in the body of your paper point the reader to specific sources listed on your Works Cited page. They usually include:

  • Author’s last name
  • Title (if no author is given)
  • Relevant page numbers (if given)


Author's name in text
Author has expressed this concern (118-21).

Author's name in parenthetical reference
This concern has been expressed (Author 118-21).

The Works Cited list provides bibliographic information for the sources you used, thereby allowing your reader to identify and locate those materials. To format the page:

  • Begin the list on a new page at the end of your paper.
  • Use 1 inch margins.
  • Continue the page numbers of the text (i.e., the Works Cited will be labeled page 11, if the paper ends on page 10) .
    • Place in the upper right-hand corner 1/2 inch from the top flush with the right margin.
  • Center the Works Cited title.
  • List sources alphabetically by author's last name--if anonymous, arrange by 1st significant word of title (after A, An, or The).
  • Double space within and between entries.
  • Indent entries longer than one line by 1/2 inch (Tab key or 5 spaces).

See the MLA Sample Works Cited page at the Purdue OWL.