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Using the MLA (9th) Edition

A guide to properly using the MLA citation style

Formatting Your Paper


The following guidelines have been widely adopted by instructors and educational institutions to standardize manuscript formatting, making it easier for instructors to evaluate papers and theses and for writers to focus on making decisions about their research, ideas, and prose. 

Follow the directions of your lecturer if you are asked to use different formatting guidelines.

General Format // Purdue Writing Lab

Margins, Text Formatting, Titles & Headers

Am MLA Style paper should:

  • Be typed on white 8.5'' x 11" paper
  • Double space everything
  • Use 12pt. Times New Roman (or similar) font
  • Leave only one space after punctuation
  • Set all margins to 1 inch on all sides
  • Indent the first line of paragraphs on half-inch
  • Have a header with page numbers located in the upper right-hand corner
  • Use italics for titles of container works (e.g. books) and quotation marks for sources within containers (e.g. chapters within books)
  • Place endnotes on a separate page before the list of works cited


MLA Paper Format: Simple Guidelines to Follow |

Section Headings

Section Headings are generally optional:

  • Headings in an essay should usually be numbered
  • Headings should be consistent in grammar and formatting


Formatting: MLA Style – The RoughWriter's Guide



Place tables and illustrations as close as possible to the parts of the text to which they relate.


  • A table is usually labeled Table, given an Arabic numeral, and titled.
  • Type both the label and title flush left on separate lines above the table an capitalize them as titles (NOT all capital letters)
  • Place the source of the table and any notes in a caption immediately below the table.
  • To avoid confusion between notes to the text and notes to the table, designate notes to the table with lowercase letters rather than with numerals.
  • Double space throughout
  • Use dividing lines as needed.

MLA Paper Format: Simple Guidelines to Follow |





Photograph, map, line drawing, graph or chart.

  • These should be labeled Figure (usually abbreviated Fig.) assigned an Arabic numeral and given a caption
  • A label and caption ordinarily appear directly below the illustration an have the same one-inch margins as the text of the paper. 
  • If you provide full bibliographic details in a caption, punctuate the caption like a works-cited-list entry but do not invert the name of the author or artist that appears at the beginning of the caption.
  • Otherwise, use commas to separate elements in a caption and provide publication details in the works-cited list.


Format - *MLA GUIDE* - LibGuides at Ledyard High School Library