Online Writing Lab


The Modern Language Association (MLA) style is a common format used in a number of academic disciplines.  All levels of English classes use the MLA format as the basic format for essays.   Other academic disciplines often use the MLA format as well. 
MLA style refers to 2 different things:

  1. The general format for how the paper should appear (see below and the “MLA Example” located on this site).
  2. The correct way for citing sources both within the paper and on a works cited page.  (For more information on citations, see "Citing Sources" or visit the Learning Commons.)

The following is a list of how a correct MLA formatted essay should appear:

  1. All margins of the document should be set to 1 inch, both sides and top and bottom.
  2. All lines within the essay should be double-spaced, including lines separating different paragraphs (make sure not to add an extra space between paragraphs).
  3. Font size should be 12 point, and needs to be a recognizable and readable style (When in doubt, use Times New Roman, which is generally the most accepted type of font.)
  4. All paragraphs should be indented one half-inch from the margin.  The easiest way to do this is to use the “Tab” button located on the upper left side of the keyboard.
  5. All pages of the document should contain a header in the upper right of the page.  This header should include your last name and the number of the page. 
  6. Every essay should have a title, which should be centered and appear toward the top of the 1st page, after the header and ID tag and before the opening paragraph.

With regards to citing sources, all sources need to be cited within the text and on a works cited page, which should be the last page of the essay.  In-text citations need to include the author last name, if available, and page #, if applicable.  If the source that is cited does not list an author name, the title of the source should be used instead.  All other information, such as publisher, date, location, etc. should appear on the works cited page.

Additional Resources

  • How to cite sources videos
  • Further information on MLA style can be found in the current MLA Handbook or another credible composition manual, visit the Aims Learning Commons, or go to the official MLA website: