MLA General Format

Did you know that a quarter of the entire MLA Style Manual is devoted to basic formatting requirements? Below you will learn about the basic requirements for MLA formatting:

  • The paper size is 8.5×11 inches.
  • Interval: double.
  • Font: Times New Roman or another legible font. It is important that the styles of regular and italic fonts are contrasting and noticeably different from each other.
  • Font size: 12 pt.
  • Document margins on all sides: 1 inch.
  • Dots and other punctuation marks should be followed by only one space.
  • Each paragraph should be indented half an inch from the left margin. To do this, use the “Tab” key.
  • Page numbers should be in the upper right corner, 0.5 inches from the top, flush with the right margin.
  • Use italics to highlight the titles of voluminous works.
  • If there are endnotes in the text, place them on a separate page. It should be located in front of the “Works Cited” page. Name the page “Notes”.

How to format the first page

  • It is better not to make a title page for an essay if it is not required by the terms of reference.
  • If a title page is still required, please include your name, instructor’s name, your course and date in the upper left corner.
  • Line spacing must be double.
  • The heading needs to be centered. Do not italicize it, underline it, or use quotation marks. There is no need to write the title in “Caps Lock” mode, just format it like “Title 1” or “Title”.

By the way, italics and quotation marks in the title can be used in the same way as in normal text. They are needed to highlight the title of other works in the title. For instance:

  • Historical inaccuracies in Captain Blood: His Odyssey.
  • Review of “War and Peace” as a Novel with many main characters.

Note that there must be a double space between the title and the first line of text.

At the beginning of an essay or term paper, the title should be located in the upper right corner. Your surname should also be indicated there, then – a space and a page number.

Pages are numbered in Arabic numerals. Page numbers should be positioned 0.5 inches from the top of the page, and flush with the right margin.

If your instructor asks you to omit the title with the last name and page number on the first page, do so.

This is what an MLA-style title page looks like:

The text may contain section headings (chapters, subsections, etc.).

Sections in an essay

If you are writing an essay from several sections, number them in Arabic numerals. The number must be followed by a full stop, then space and the section name. For instance:

  1. Family.
  2. Early years and early career.
  3. At the top of musical fame.
  4. Personal life.
  5. Problems with law.
  6. Latest performances and albums.

Requirements for formatting books

The MLA Style Manual does not have any specific requirements for book titles. For more information on titles, see page 146 of the 3rd edition of the MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing.

One level of headings means that all sections, separate and parallel, do not contain subsections. It is desirable that these sections are grammatically similar to each other. For example, if your first headline is just a few words long, keep the rest of your headlines just as short.

If you have multiple levels of headings, ask your instructor to select the heading formatting requirements for you (eg, “Heading 1”, “Heading 2,” etc.).

Examples of numbered headings:

  1. Subject and specificity of the field of philosophy of education
  2. History of the philosophy of education

2.1. K. Popper’s ideas

2.2. Cultural approach

2.3. Existential Dialogic Philosophy

2.4. Humanistic direction

2.5. Pedagogical Anthropology

2.6. Critical emancipation philosophy

2.7. Postmodern philosophy

  • John Dewey’s postulates
  • Philosophy of education in the USA

Examples of heading levels without numbering:

Level 1 Heading: centered, bold 

Level 2 Heading: centered, italics 

Level 3 Heading: bold, flush left

Level 4 Heading: italics, flush left

Level 5 Heading: underlined, flush left