Online Writing Lab

Basic Format of an MLA Paper

Type: How To:


  • White paper, 8 1/2 x 11 inches
  • Print on single side only. Note: some instructors will allow for printing on the back in order to save paper. However, MLA suggests printing on one side only, so check with your instructor before printing on the backside. 


  • 1 inch for all top, bottom, left, and right (1 inch = 2.5cm)
  • Page numbers on all pages, set at 1/2 inch (1.25 cm) from the top upper-right hand corner, flushed to the right margin.

Text Formatting

  • Font: Times New Roman
  • Size: 12 points
  • Do not justify the text.  Instead, align along the left margin 
  • Double-space the entire research paper
  • Leave one space after a period


Begin at 1 inch from the top of the page, and type:

  • Student/writer name
  • Professor name
  • Course number
  • Due date

All on separate lines; then, provide a title for the paper on a new line, centered (see first page sample below).
Do not:

  • Italicize, underline, boldface, use quotations, or type in all CAPs for title.
  • There is no period after the title or after any heading used in the paper

Header and Page Numbers

  • Place page number on all pages
  • Place page numbers 1/2 inch from the top-right margin
  • Type last name followed by a space, then page number.  Do not include first name in the header

Tables and Illustrations

Place tables and illustrations as closely as possible to the parts of the text to which they relate. A table is labeled “Table,” given an Arabic numeral and titled. Any photographs, maps and drawings should be labeled “Figure” (usually abbreviated Fig.), assigned an Arabic numeral, and given a caption.

MLA Sample Paper

To see a sample MLA essay in its entirety, view the MLA Sample located on this site.