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MLA Paper Format: A Guide for Formatting Your MLA Paper

Paper format
An MLA-formatted document typically includes a first page with a header and running heads, followed by the main text containing in-text citations, and concludes with a Works Cited page.

MLA Paper format 

The Modern Language Association (MLA) style is widely used in the field of humanities, especially when writing on language and literature. Since humanities literature emphasizes language and meaning, MLA style is particularly effective for enabling evaluators to analyze exact quotations and references.

An MLA-formatted document typically includes a first page with a header and running heads, followed by the main text containing in-text citations, and concludes with a Works Cited page.

The general formatting includes the use of a standard white 8.5 x 11-inch paper. In addition, the text should be readable with 12-point font, such as Times New Roman and double-spaced. The first line of each paragraph should be indented by half an inch and all pages must have 1-inch margins on all sides.

The in-text citations in the text includes the author’s last name and the page number in parentheses, like this: (John 123).

The document ends with a works cited page, wherein the title “Works Cited” is centered and is without formatting. The sources are listed alphabetically by the author’s last name, using a hanging indent for each entry.

MLA Title Page

In MLA format, a title page is generally not required, unless it is specifically requested by your instructor/institution or if multiple authors are to be listed. In cases where a title page is required, begin with the author’s full name (list all author names if there are multiple authors). Below the author’s name, add the instructor’s name, the course title and number (if available), and the date, each on separate lines. Center the paper’s title with the main words in the uppercase. Avoid bold, italics, or underlining in the paper title.

Header in MLA Format

MLA style typically uses a header on the first page of your document. This includes the names of the author, instructor, and the course, and the date of submission, all aligned to the left and double-spaced. The title of the document is centered in the middle of the page followed by the main text. The text should also be double-spaced, with a half-inch indent for each new paragraph.

Running Head

The purpose of the running head is to provide a consistent identifier for the document, making it easy for readers and instructors to follow your work across multiple pages.

A running head includes the last name of the author followed by the page number. This header appears on every page of the document, positioned in the upper right corner, half an inch from the top and one inch from the right margin. It should be of the same font and size as the rest of your paper.

Headings and subheadings

Headings and subheadings help organize the content of your paper and make it easier to follow. Headings that come after the first level are called subheadings. It is essential to maintain all headings and subheadings in a consistent style and format.

Font styling and size indicate prominence in headings. Typically, a boldface and larger font denote higher importance, while a smaller font, italics, or a normal font denote subheadings. To maintain readability, avoid using all capital letters for headings.

Headings should be aligned with the left margin, without indentation or centering. A line space above and below each heading enhances the readability of the document.

Numbers in MLA format

MLA guidelines specify when to use Arabic and Roman numerals and when to spell them out.

According to the MLA style guide, numbers that can be written in one or two words are spelled out and the others are expressed in numerical form. However, the numbers at the beginning of a sentence are always spelled out.

In case of dates, times, and addresses, always use numerals.


Numbers requiring one or two words There were twenty participants in the study.  
Numbers requiring more than two words The survey included 1,250 respondents.  
Number at the beginning of the sentence Twenty students attended the lecture.  
Dates The event will take place on July 4, 2024.
Times The meeting starts at 3:00 PM.
Addresses Her address is 123 Main Street.

In addition, use numerals for page numbers, chapters, specific amounts of money, decimal numbers and percentages.


Page number Refer to page 45 for more details.
Specific amounts of money The book costs $20.
Decimal numbers The average grade was 88.5.
Percentages The results showed a 15% increase in efficiency.

Line Spacing & Margins in MLA Format

Proper line spacing and margins are crucial elements of MLA style, ensuring your paper is easy to read and professionally presented.


    • Double-Spacing: Double-spacing enhances readability and provides space for annotations. Hence, MLA recommends the entire document including all text, headings, quotes, and the Works Cited page to be double spaced.

    • Between Paragraphs: Do not add extra space between paragraphs. Instead, indent the first line of each paragraph by half an inch.

    • After Titles: Double-space between the title and the first line of text.

    • For margins, as mentioned in the beginning, set 1-inch margins on all sides of the document. This uniformity provides a clean and professional appearance.

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NSK is a project manager with a Ph.D. in Plant Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering from University of Madras and has published articles in the fields of plant genetic engineering and molecular biology. In her current role as Manager, Scientific Editing and Journal Services, NSK plays a pivotal role in facilitating communication between journals and authors, ensuring a seamless publication process.

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