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The Research Process: A Step-By-Step Guide: 5b. MLA Formatting

Format of the Research Paper


  • Use 1" margins for the entire document.
  • Indent the first line of paragraphs a 1/2" from the left margin.
  • Indent set-off quotations 1" from the left margin.

Text Formatting

  • Pick a readable 12 pt font (e.g. Times New Roman).
  • Do not justify the text or use hyphenation
  • Double-space the text of your paper
  • Leave only one space after periods or other punctuation marks.

Heading and Title

  • Do not use a title page unless required by your instructor
  • Place your name, the instructor's name, the course number and the date on separate lines at the top of the first page, flush with the left margin.
  • Center and double-spaced the title between the course heading and the first line of text.
  • Do not underline, italicize, or place your title in quotation marks

Page Numbers

  • Place page numbers in a header in the upper right-hand corner, 1/2" inch from the top and flush with the right margin.
  • Type your last name before the page number.
  • Do not use the abbreviation p. or pg before the page number or any other mark or symbol.


  • If you have any endnotes, include them on a separate page before your Works Cited page.
  • Entitle the section Notes (centered, unformatted).

Format of In-Text Citations

In-text citations in the body of your paper point the reader to specific sources listed on your Works Cited page. They usually include:

  • author’s last name
  • title (if no author is given)
  • relevant page numbers (if given)


Author's name in text
Author has expressed this concern (118-21).

Author's name in parenthetical reference
This concern has been expressed (Author 118-21).

Format of the Works Cited Page

The Works Cited list provides bibliographic information for the sources you used, thereby allowing your reader to identify and locate those materials. To format the page:

  • Begin the list on a new page at the end of your paper
  • Use 1" margins
  • Continue the page numbers of the text (i.e., the Work Cited will be labeled page 11, if the paper ends on page 10)
    • Place in the upper right-hand corner a 1/2" from the top flush with the right margin
  • Center the Works Cited title
  • List sources alphabetically
  • Double space within and between entries
  • Indent entries longer than one line by a 1/2"

MLA Handbook

MLA Guides

Consult the Works Cited Examples page or the guides below for examples of in-text citations and work cited entries.

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