MLA format for papers and essays

MLA format, developed by the Modern Language Association, is primarily used by students and academics in the humanities. This article is based on the most recent MLA format guidelines published in the eighth edition in 2016.

Scribbr MLA Citation Generator

The general MLA format guidelines are:

  • Times New Roman 12 (or another standard font)
  • 1-inch page margins
  • Double line spacing
  • ½-inch indent for new paragraphs
  • Title case capitalization for headings

    Word templateGoogle Docs template

    How to set up MLA format in Google Docs

    Title page and heading

    The heading in MLA format is left-aligned on the first page of your paper. It includes:

    • Your full name
    • Your instructor’s or supervisor’s name
    • The course name or number
    • The due date of the assignment

    After the MLA heading, press ENTER once and type your paper title. Center the title and don’t forget to apply title case capitalization. Read our article on writing strong titles that are informative, striking and appropriate.

    MLA Heading

    At the top of every page, including the first page, you need to include your last name and the page number. Follow these steps to set up the MLA header in your Word or Google Docs document:

    1. Double-click at the top of a page
    2. Type your last name
    3. Insert automatic page numbering
    4. Align the content to the right

    The MLA header should look like this:

    MLA Page Header

    Works Cited page

    The list of works cited is included on a separate page at the end of your paper. You list all sources you referenced in your paper in alphabetical order. Don’t include sources that were only consulted.

    Place the title “Works Cited” in the centre at the top of the page. After the title, press ENTER once and insert your MLA references.

    If a reference entry is longer than one line, each line after the first should be indented ½ inch (called a hanging indent). All entries are double spaced, just like the rest of the text.

    MLA Works Cited

    Creating MLA Style citations

    Scribbr’s free MLA Citation Generator can help you cite your sources in MLA Style. All you need is the website URL, book ISBN, or journal article DOI, and the citation generator does the rest.

    Scribbr MLA Citation Generator

    Prefer to cite your sources manually? Use the interactive example below to see what the Works Cited entry and in-text citation look like for different source types.

    Headings and subheadings

    Headings and subheadings can help organize and provide structure to your paper, especially in longer assignments. There are no set formatting requirements for headings in MLA – the only rules are that you must be consistent and not add a period after the heading.

    We recommend keeping the font and size the same as the body text and applying title case capitalization. In general, boldface indicates greater prominence, while italics is appropriate for subordinate headings. For example:

    • Chapter Title
    • Section Heading
    • Subheading

    Tip: Both Google Docs and Microsoft Word allow you to create heading levels which help you to keep your headings consistent.

    Tables and illustrations

    Tables, illustrations, and other visuals should be placed as close to the relevant part of text as possible. MLA also provides formatting guidelines.

    MLA format for tables

    Tables are usually labelled and numbered, along with a descriptive title. The label and title are placed above the table on separate lines. Source references or explanatory notes are placed below the table and are assigned a lowercase letter instead of a numeral.

    Just like in the rest of the paper, the text is double spaced and you should use title case capitalization for the title.

    MLA Table Format

    MLA format for illustrations and other visuals

    Like tables, illustrations and other visuals are labelled and numbered. The label “Figure” is usually abbreviated to “Fig.” and is followed by a number and caption. The information is placed directly below the image.

    MLA Illustration Format

    Frequently Asked Questions

    What font and size is used in MLA format?

    MLA recommends using 12 point Times New Roman since it’s easy to read and installed on every computer. Other standard fonts such as Arial or Georgia are also acceptable. If in doubt, check with your supervisor which font you should be using.

    What is the easiest way to create MLA citations?

    If you’re not familiar with the MLA Style citation guidelines it’s best to use the Scribbr MLA Citation Generator. An MLA citation can be automatically generated with just a URL, DOI or ISBN. It’s simple, fast and accurate.

    What is the most recent edition of the MLA Handbook?

    The MLA Handbook is currently in its 8th edition, published in 2016. This article on MLA format explains the latest guidelines for citing sources and formatting papers according to MLA style.

    Is this article helpful?
    Raimo Streefkerk

    Raimo is an expert in explaining plagiarism and citing sources. He has been writing helpful articles since 2017 and is continuously improving Scribbr's Citation Generators.

    3 comments

    Ambedkar Bodigadla
    April 22, 2019 at 10:32 PM

    Useful content

    Reply

    sr. maria tran
    October 31, 2018 at 3:55 AM

    How do I capitalize my title: My feeling "A Little like God"?

    Reply

    Leon Smits
    Leon Smits (Scribbr-team)
    November 4, 2018 at 10:41 PM

    Hi Maria!

    I would suggest: My Feeling: "A Little Like God"

    Cheers,
    Leon

    Reply

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