MLA Format

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The Modern Language Association (MLA) publishes a citation style guide used to standardize writing and cite information. MLA format is widely used in the humanities. This handout explains how to format writing assignments according to MLA (9th ed.) (section numbers listed in headings). This resource provides general information about formatting MLA papers, but writers should always tailor their work to their audience and assignment.

Paper Format (1.1–1.6)

  • Your last name and page number are right-aligned in the header of every page. For group papers, include only the page number..
  • All margins are set to 1 inch.
  • The heading is left-aligned and includes your name, the professor's name, course, and date.
  • The paper’s title is capitalized in title case, centered, and placed on its own line after the header.
  • The entire document is in a clear, readable 11 or 12-point font, such as Times New Roman.
  • The entire document is double-spaced and left-aligned with no extra space between paragraphs.
  • The first line of each paragraph is indented an additional .5 inch from the left margin.

This image is of a header and title on a sample MLA paper

Internal Headings (1.5)

Internal headings are not commonly used in MLA. However, when used, headings in the body paragraphs should be left-aligned with the margin and include a line space above and below. Each level of heading should include two or more instances of use in  the paper.

This is an image of a sample MLA heading, level 1.

Block Quotes (6.35)

Writers are encouraged to limit the number of long quotes in a paper, but when quotes are longer than four lines, they are formatted as block quotes. Block quotes remain double spaced, are indented an additional .5 inch, are formatted without quotation marks, and include the in-text citation after the quote's end punctuation.

This image is of a block quote in MLA format.


End Punctuation

While block quotes are formatted to include punctuation after the quote, in-text citations include punctuation after the citation (“. . .” (Mitchell 23).). American academic writing, in general, places punctuation inside  quotation marks (“. . . apart.”] unless followed by an in-text citation.

Tables and Illustrations (1.7–1.12)

Place visual elements as close to the related text as possible. Double-space tables, labels, and captions.

Tables (1.7)

Each table is labeled with a number and title; both should be left-aligned on separate lines above the table. If adapting data from a source’s table into a new table, place its source and notes in a caption below the table. To cite information from a table in-text, include the table number in square brackets after the page number e.g. (Smith et al. 18 [table 2]).


Table 1

Distribution of Literature Degrees in the U.S., 2014–2016

Year Bachelor’s Degrees Master’s Degrees Doctoral Degrees
2014–15 16,008 2,517 762
2015–16 16,762 2,637 778

Adapted from: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics. Digest of Education Statistics, 2017 ed., June 2017, table 297,

Illustrations (1.7)

Other types of visual material (e.g., photograph, map, graph, or chart) should be labeled “Figure #” (usually abbreviated Fig.) and include an identifying caption below. If a writer chooses to give a full citation in the caption and does not cite it elsewhere, no entry is needed in the works cited.

Example (Full Citation):

This is an image of the NASA Logo as an example of a figure in MLA.


Fig. 2 James Modarelli, NASA Insignia. 1959,
National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

Example (Partial Citation):

This is an image of a NASA Logo as an example of a figure in MLA.
Fig. 2 James Modarelli, NASA Insignia

Works Cited Format (1.6)

  • Works cited begins on a new page.
  • The words Works Cited are centered but not bolded, underlined, or italicized.
  • Entries are alphabetized by author’s last name or organization’s name.
  • Each citation has a hanging indent (the first line is left-aligned and subsequent lines are indented an additional .5 inch).

This is an image of a sample MLA works cited page.