What's MLA format? It is probably one of the most commonly used academic style guides. This format was developed by the Modern Language Association, which can be exactly what the abbreviation MLA stands for. This format is mainly used by students in the humanities – literature, liberal arts, language, and other disciplines.

When writing an MLA format essay or other paper, students have to follow specific style requirements. In this article, we intend to give you an exhaustive insight into the core MLA style guidelines, on the basis of the format’s 8th edition published in 2016.

General MLA Format Guidelines

An MLA format follows the listed rules:

  • Preferred font: Times New Roman
  • Font size: 12pt
  • Page margins: 1 inch
  • Line spacing: double
  • New paragraph indents: ½ inch
  • Headings: title case capitalization

Within the next section, you're going to get to know how exactly to create an MLA format heading, which appears near the top of your writing assignment. Before using the instruction, ask if your professor prefers a particular way to format an MLA heading.

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Title Page, Headings, and Subheadings

Title page

It really is worth noting that MLA format will not imply the usage of a title page. Broadly speaking, students aren't prohibited to include a title page to papers written in MLA style, yet there is no official guide on how best to format this site according to MLA rules.


A header in MLA format can be either placed on the title page (if you choose to include one), or you can include it near the top of the first page of your work.

Listed below are the 4 main components that have to be contained in a header:

  1. Student’s full name
  2. Instructor’s name
  3. Name of the class, course, or section number
  4. The project’s deadline

All elements need to be placed in this exact order with double line spacing and one-inch margins from all sides of the page.

The last type of the header (assignment’s due date) ought to be followed by the assignment’s name, unless you are creating a title page – in this case, you'll start assembling your project on another page. The work’s title should be centered and doesn't need to be placed in bold, italicized, underlined, or put into quotation marks.

MLA title page by EssayPro

The only real case whenever you would need to use an italicized font in the MLA title is if you range from the name of another source within yours.

Title Example: The Concept of American Dream in the Novel The Great Gatsby

Headings and Subheadings

Whatever the type of assignment, using headings and subheadings in the written text is vital to ensure the logical organization and structure of the content. Consequently , writing a paper in MLA format, you will likely need to include some chapter titles, section headings, and other subheadings.

In the official MLA format guide, there are no specific rules regarding how exactly to format various titles. You can find only two recommendations to bear in mind:

  • Do NOT put a period after your heading.
  • Be consistent, meaning choose specific formatting for headings and stick to it through the whole paper.

This is a good exemplory case of how you can style your headings and subheadings:

  • Chapter Title
  • Section Heading
  • Subheading

    The font and size of elements remain the same. The one thing you are changing is the font style. Bold font is just a wise choice for chapter titles as it shows a greater amount of importance, while italics are less prominent and thus, good for section headings. Meanwhile, subheadings, which are the least important of heading types, are left in the conventional font style.
  • Basic Text Formatting Requirements in MLA Format

    To perfect how to style your essay using MLA format, start with watching our video guide:

    Video Guide on MLA Style

    Running Head & Page Numbers

    A running head is a short heading located at the top of every page in the right corner. This heading consists of the author’s last name and the page number—following it after a space.
    Here are a few of the typical rules placed on the running head and page numbers:

    • These details should be put into the top right corner on each page of your work.
    • The running head only includes the last name of the student, followed by the page number.
    • Usually do not place the abbreviation p. (for page) before MLA page numbers.
    • The running head is located one inch from the page’s right margin and half an inch from the most notable margin.
    Example: Blackwood 4

    The conventional MLA margins are one inch. Every page of one's work needs to have one-inch margins from all sides. The sole item that ought to be seen in the one-inch margin is the running head.


    The very first word of each and every new paragraph should have a one half-inch indent from the left margin. All paragraphs must have double spacing. The standard space between the left margin and the start of your text is one-half inch. To set it, you can use the “tab” button.


    Through the entire whole paper, use standard double MLA spacing.

    Font and Font Size

    The MLA format guide suggests using the Times New Roman font in 12pt size. Although Times New Roman is a recommended font, students are permitted to use other standard fonts.

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    In-Text Content in MLA Format


    Writing a paper in MLA format, you should use any of these approaches to add quotes in your text:

    1. Giving a quote and mentioning the author’s name in the sentence
    Example: Winston Churchill shared his opinion on the significance of reading in one of his famous quotes, “Employ your time and effort in improving yourself by other men’s writings so you shall come easily with what others have labored hard for. ”

    In this example, the name of the quote’s author is placed at the start of the sentence, so there is no need to say it again.

    1. Giving a quote and not mentioning the author’s name in the sentence
    Example: A clear statement of the value of reading is highlighted in the language of a famous politician, “Employ your own time in improving yourself by other men’s writings so you shall come easily in what others have labored hard for” (Churchill).

    Once the author’s name is not included with the sentence, put it in parentheses after the sentence.

    1. Block quotes

    The next type of quote is called block quotes, it applies to all phrases of 4 lines or longer. If you need to put in a large quote in the body of one's paper, follow these rules:

    • Start a block quote on a new line.
    • Don’t put a block quote in quotation marks.
    • Keep it double-spaced.
    • Make a half an inch indent for your quote from the left margin.
    • Be sure you keep the quote in its original state (with exactly the same punctuation, capitalization, etc . )
    • Mention the author’s name in parentheses — after the quote.
    The MLA block quote example by EssayPro


    Generally speaking, the MLA format prefers rare utilization of abbreviations. In the official guide, the Modern Language Association advises scholars to spell out abbreviations into full words. This rule relates to papers written in this format, to prevent any confusion.

    Even though it is recommended to make use of abbreviations only rarely. There are several cases whenever you may find them appropriate in your text. In such cases, you will have to follow certain rules:

    • Don't place periods between capital letters (e. g. United states of america = US, not U. S. )
    • If the full words are in lower case, periods between the words are acceptable “for example = e. g. ”
    • Once the full phrase has a mixture of upper and lower case letters, usually do not put periods if you can find more upper case letters (e. g. PhD, maybe not Ph. D. )

    Now, let’s look at different abbreviation cases separately:


    MLA format requires using full month names in the body of a paper. Thus, if you wish to mention a certain month in your research or other paper, you have to type them fully. However , if you should be making references, you are permitted to use abbreviations for months that are longer than four letters. For instance , June will always be the same, while longer names like January can be abbreviated to Jan.

    Also, students are allowed to use other abbreviations in their Works Cited page. Some of the acceptable abbreviations are:

    • Chapter – ch.
    • Page and page numbers – p. and pp.
    • Volume – vol.
    • Revised – rev.
    • Number – no.
    • Edition – ed.
    • Translated or translation – trans.

    Once more, these specific abbreviations can only just be used on your own Works Cited page. Otherwise, in the paper’s human body, you are likely to type them out completely.


    Other words which can be abbreviated on the Works Cited page are the names of publishers. For example:

    • Company – Co.
    • University – U
    • Limited – Ltd.
    • Incorporated – Inc.
    • Press – P

    They are the publishers’ names which are always abbreviated when making references. Others need to be written completely.


    Finally, on your references page (Works Cited page), you may also use commonly-accepted abbreviations of certain biblical and classical sources. Some of them are:


    • Much Ado about Nothing – Ado
    • Henry VI, Part 3 – 3H6
    • Othello – Oth.
    • Macbeth – Mac.
    • Julius Caesar – JC
    • Romeo and Juliet – Rom.
    • Midsummer Night’s Dream – MND

    Hebrew Bible or Old Testament – OT:

    • Psalms – Ps.
    • Genesis – Gen.
    • Deuteronomy – Deut.
    • Leviticus – Lev.
    • Numbers – Num.

    New Testament – NT:

    • Matthew – Matt.
    • 1 Corinthians – 1 Cor.
    • James – Jas.

    Exactly why these works have gained dedicated abbreviations that can be used for in your references is really because these pieces are cited very often, therefore it is considered unnecessary to type their full names.


    With regards to the type and content of one's work, you may want to use numbers frequently. In cases like this, follow the rules given below:

    1. Numerals

    Based on the official MLA guidelines, students should use numerals that precede measurements.

    For example: 8 kilograms
    130 ounces
    1. Arabic Numerals

    When adding Arabic numerals to your paper, spell out those numbers that may be written in a single or two words (e. g. three or twenty-five). Large numbers which are written in more than two words should really be written in numbers. For decimals or fractions use digits. Also, use digits whenever a number is placed before a label or measurement.

    Examples: Two
    Fifty five
    3 ½
    3 a.m.
    9 years
    1. Roman Numerals

    Roman numerals in MLA are utilized either in a outline or even to indicate suffixes (e. g. Ramses III).

    1. Numbers in the MLA Outline

    The current Language Association does not provide official recommendations on the format of the MLA outline. Nevertheless , typically it is suggested to use roman numerals, capital and lowercase letters, and numbers to produce an outline.

    1. Extra Tips

    When it comes to the use of numbers in MLA style, you will find two more tips to follow:

    • Do not include ISBN numbers in a paper.
    • Don't start a new sentence with a number. If at all possible, restate a sentence so your number is put elsewhere. When it is not possible, show the number that stands in the beginning of the sentence.

    Images and Tables

    It is usually a good idea to incorporate photos, pictures, tables, as well as other visual elements to a paper provided that they subscribe to the overall quality of the job and add value. Ergo, if a specific image or table doesn't bring any actual value, it is better to prevent adding it.


    General rules:

    • Place an image as close to the sentence to which it relates as possible.
    • Develop a label for every image you include, and add labels right under each particular image. A label must begin with the abbreviation “Fig. ”
    • Following abbreviation “Fig. ”, place a specific number assigned to the image based on its location in the paper. For example , the initial image contained in the paper should really be labeled as “Fig. 1”, and the following should really be “Fig. 2, ” and so on
    • Place parentheses with the label and amount of the relevant image by the end of the piece to cite it.
    • In addition to the label, every image should feature a brief caption placed right beneath it, after the label.
    • Just in case the caption of a picture or dining table provides exhaustive data about its supply of origin and also you haven’t already cited the exact same source in your text, it does not need to be added to the Works Cited page.
    Example: Princess Diana’s famous midnight blue velvet dress was sold for $347, 000 (fig. 1).
    Fig. 1 . Princess Diana’s Famous Dress; attribution information.


    Unlike images, tables in your paper need not be marked with the “fig. ” label. Alternatively, you need to add the label “Table”, accompanied by an Arabic numeral. Much like images, tables in your projects are assigned numbers in line with the specific order of their appearance in the written text. Also, every table will need a title. Together, the label “Table”, numeral, and title need to be located above the data set on split up lines, and all flush left.

    Tables’ titles need all of their first letters capitalized, except for insignificant small words. Under the dining table, you can include any relevant notes and the origin of origin.

    The MLA-style table example by EssayPro


    If you wish to add a list to your paper, that’s fine. Nevertheless , there are a number of rules you will have to follow:

    • All lists in MLA format need to be horizontal.
    • A colon must be placed between the list and the introductory sentence, unless the list is really a part of the sentence.
    Example: Ernest Hemingway has written numerous art pieces: The Torrents of Spring, The sun's rays Also Rises, To Have and also have Not, For Whom the Bell Tolls, Across the River and to the Trees, and The Old Man and the Sea.

    Exemplory instance of a list as an element of a sentence: Some of the most popular works of Ernest Hemingway are The Torrents of Spring, The sun's rays Also Rises, To Have and also have Not, For Whom the Bell Tolls, Across the River and to the Trees, and The Old Man and the Sea.

    MLA Works Cited Format

    When writing academic papers, students conduct research and collect information from the variety of sources (e. g. books, internet sites, scientific journals, etc . ). Putting information from different sources, together with your own some ideas, is vital to develop a compelling and informative paper. However , if the sources used in the project aren't cited precisely, it can influence the final grade of the paper, in addition to indicate the paper to be plagiarised. That’s why you need to cite correctly also to include a works cited page.

    To create a reference to an authentic source of the data included in a paper, students need to create in-text citations, as described in the previous element of our article. However , providing a brief mention of the original sources in your text just isn't enough. To offer readers with sufficient precisely the origin of the information utilized in the text, you'll need to list all sources on a different page. Below you can find an in depth guide on the best way to create an MLA works cited page.

    General Formatting Rules

    • Place the Works Cited section on another page by the end of your work.
    • Apply the same margins and a header together with your last name and page number—just as if you have every-where else in the paper.
    • Name the page Works Cited and place the title in the middle at the top of the page. (Note, do not put the title in quotation marks or italicize it).
    • Align your citation entries with the left margin.
    • Use double line spacing.
    • Add 0. five inch indents to the next and following lines of each citation entry.
    • Place your entries in alphabetical order.
    • When marking just one page of a printed source to which you have referenced, use the abbreviation “p. ” before the number (e. g. p. 632).
    • When marking numerous pages through the source, utilize the abbreviation “pp. ” and add a specific span of pages following the abbreviation if necessary (for example, once you refer to a specific chapter or article, e. g. pp. 65-112).
    • Always indicate the name of an on the web database in italics in the event that you retrieved an originally printed publication from the database. Don't provide subscription information.

    Entry Types

    With regards to the type of the initial source, the format of one's entries may differ. Here are types of how different entry types should be shaped:


    Last, First Name of mcdougal. Title. City of Publication: Publisher, Year Published. Print

    Example: James, Henry. The Turn of the Screw. New York: Penguin Publish, 2007. Print


    Last, First Name of the writer. “Title of the Article. ” Newspaper Title [City] Date Month Year of Publication: Page(s). Print.

    Example: Quint, Peter. “Turning Screws. ” Pittsburgh Press [Pittsburgh] 7 Mar. 1990: 12-14. Print.


    Last, First Name of mcdougal. “Title of the Article. ” Journal

    Title Series Volume. Issue (Year Published): Page(s). Database Name. Web. Date Month Year Accessed.

    Example: Quint, Peter. “Turning Screws. ” Journal of Engineering. 28. 1 (2012): 41-54. Print.

    Article from the Web (with author)

    Last, First Middle Initial. “Article Title. ” Website Title. Website Publisher, Date Month Year Published. Web. Date Month Year Accessed.

    Example: Quint, Peter. “Turning Screws. ” New York Times. New York times. 17. 02. 2017. Web. 18. 03. 2017

    Article from the Web (without author)

    “Website Article. ” Website Title. Website Publisher, Date Month Year Published. Web. Date Month Year Accessed.

    Example: “Turning Screws. ” New York Times. New York Times. 17. 02. 2017. Web. 18. 03. 2017

    MLA Example

    In this essay we have taken you through the core concepts, rules, and tips of the MLA format (8th edition). To help you get a deeper comprehension of how your paper should look, listed here is a clear MLA format example:‍‍

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