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Home » Student Writing Assistance » MLA Format – Overview » MLA Format – Basic Formatting

MLA Format – Basic Formatting

  • The paper should be typed, double-spaced, in a legible 12 pt. font (e.g. Times New Roman)
    • MLA recommends that the regular and italics styles of the font contrast enough so they are recognizably different from each other (e.g. regular style vs. italics style)
  • Margins of document should be one inch on all sides
  • Create a header that includes a consecutive page number on all pages in the upper right-hand corner
  • Use italics throughout paper for the titles of longer works (e.g. The Divine Comedy), and to provide emphasis (although this should only be done when absolutely necessary)
  • If any endnotes are included, put them on a separate page before the Works Cited
    • Entitle this page “Notes” (centered, unformatted, no quotation marks)

A. The First Page 

  • A title page for the paper is not necessary unless specifically requested
  • In the upper left-hand corner of the first page, list the following information (double-spaced):
    • Name
    • Professor’s name
    • Course
    • Date
  • The title should be double-spaced and centered with no formatting (no underlining, italicizing, bolding, or quotation marks), and the title should be written in standard capitalization
    • If another work is being referred to in the title, use quotation marks and/or italics
  • Double space between the title and the first line of the text
  • Create a header, located in the upper right-hand corner. The header includes the following information:
    • Last name
    • Page numbers (Arabic numerals; all pages are labeled consecutively beginning with 1)
    • Example:                                                            Doe 1
                                 Title of Paper

           Introduction of paper.

 

B. Section headings 

  • Section headings are sometimes utilized to help keep the document organized, thus improving readability and comprehension
  • Sections may include individual chapters, or simply differentiate between topics in the paper
  • MLA recommends that, when a paper is divided into sections, sections are labeled with an Arabic number, followed by a period, followed by a space, then the section name
    • Example:
      Section Number One
      Begin text here about section one.
  • Section headings have levels (i.e. main section, subsection, etc.)
    • If only one heading level is being used throughout the paper, which means that all sections within the paper are distinct and have no additional subsections to fit within them, then these sections should resemble each other grammatically
      • If the headings are typically short phrases, stay consistent and make all headings short phrases (and not, for instance, some headings be short phrases while others are one word); do not waiver between different formatting between headings
    • If multiple heading levels are being used, which means that there are subsections within the sections of the paper, then MLA recommends that a key is provided, which will better explain the chosen level headings and their formatting
  • If numbers are being employed to show distinction between heading sections, use the following format (as example only):

1. Section Name
1.1 Section one subsection
1.2 Section one subsection two
2. Section Name
2.1 Section two subsection
3. Section Name
3.1 Section three subsection one
3.2 Section three subsection two
3.3 Section three subsection three

  • If numbers are not being used to show distinction between section headings, then the following level heading formats should be followed:

Level 1: Bold, flush left
Level 2: Italics, flush left

Level 3: Bold, center
Level 4: Italics, center

Level 5: Underline, flush left

  • Note that level 1 headings are the main section headings, then level 2 is the subsection of level 1, level 3 is the subsection of level 2, and so on
    • It is quite possible that level 5 headings will not be utilized often in a paper, but are given as a just-in-case scenario