Document Format

The Modern Language Association (MLA) recommends the following standards for formatting documents.

Paper and Ink

  • Use standard, white, 8½-by-11-inch paper.
  • Print all text in black ink.


  • Use a single, readable typeface throughout your paper.
    (such as Century Schoolbook, Palatino, or Hoefler Text)
  • Set the font size at 12 point for the entire document.

    For advice on font selection, see: What Font Should I Use?


  • Set document margins to 1 inch all around (top, bottom, left, and right).
  • Left-align all text. Do not justify text or hyphenate overflowing words.
  • Indent the first line of each new paragraph ½ an inch from the left margin.
  • Indent block quotations one full inch from the left margin.


  • Double-space the entire document, including headings, block quotations, and the list of works cited.
    In Microsoft Word, use Line Spacing Options to set the Line spacing at Exactly 24 pt for the entire document.

  • Do not add extra space after paragraphs.
    Microsoft Word’s default settings add extra space after paragraphs. Use the Line Spacing Options to remove it.

  • Leave one space after a period or other concluding punctuation mark.


  • MLA style does not require a cover sheet or a title page — instead, at the top of the first page, list each of the following items on a separate line, flush with the left margin:

    Your name
    Instructor’s name
    Course title and number
    Date of submission


  • Center your title and follow the rules of title capitalization. Capitalize the first and last words of titles and subtitles and every other word in the title except for articles (a, an, the), prepositions (in, on, of, by, to), and short conjunctions (and, but, or).

    Do not apply any special formatting to the title — no underlining, bold-face, italics, ALL-CAPS, larger font size, different typeface, or any other distinctive formatting.

Page Numbers

  • At the top of every page — ½ an inch from the top and flush with the right margin — insert your last name, skip a space, and insert the page number.


  • Staple you paper together with a single staple in the upper left-hand corner.
  • Do not submit papers in a plastic folder or binder.


Download: Sample MLA Paper.pdf
This PDF shows how a properly formatted document should look.

Download: Sample MLA Paper.doc
This MS Word document can serve as a template for your own paper.

MLA Format in Microsoft Word

Page Last Updated: 29 August 2016