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MLA 9 Style Guide: Paper Formatting

Updated for the 2021 9th edition

Basic Formatting Rules

This information is adapted from "Formatting Your Research Project," which is chapter 1 of the MLA Handbook, 9th edition.

Document Settings

  • 1 inch margins
  • Double spaced
  • 0 points after paragraphs
  • 12-point font that is "easily readable" (MLA, p. 1)
  • Indent every paragraph
  • Insert page numbers in upper right corner. 
    • Start numbering on page 1.
    • Include
      • your last name
      • a space
      • the page number 

Use our sample MLA papers in Word or Google Doc formats below to see these in action. You can also use them! Replace our sample information with your own.

Sample MLA Papers for NWACC Assignments

Formatting the Name and Title Block

Name, Course, Date

  • Begin with 4 standard elements, double spaced.

Your Name

Your Instructor's Name

Class or Course Name

Date the Paper is Due

  • Instructor's Name: Use your instructor's full name and include Dr. if they have one. For example, Dr. Lindsay Hutton or Instructor Rachel Ackerman.
  • Class / Course Name: Your instructor may have a preference so check. For example, does she prefer English 1013 or Composition I? They are the same class. If no preference is stated, MLA recommends English 1013.
  • Date: Use the paper's due date. Dates are written Day Month Year, for example 18 September 2025.

Title

  • Center the title on the page on the line immediately after the date. 
  • Type in regular font without bold, etc.
  • Use title case. Title case capitalizes the first letter of each word with the exception of articles (the, an, a) and prepositions (of, with, on, in, etc.). For example: The Rise and Fall of the Mouse Pad

 

Formatting In-Text Citations

In-Text Citations

  • Insert after the quote.
  • Write the author's last name. Space. Page number. 
  • Enclose in parenthesis.
  • Put the period after.
  • If there page numbers, as with a web site, just skip that part.
  • If there is no author, use the first few words of the title as it's written in the Works Cited page.
(Rodgers 51).
(Gilbert).
(MLA Style Quick Guide).
According to Rattler...
Rewis argues...

Formatting the List of Works Cited

Works Cited Page

  • A new page at the end of the paper
  • Double spaced
  • Hanging indentation
    • The first line starts at the left margin
    • Each following line is indented 0.5"
  • Centered on top line: Works Cited
  • Alphabetize the list by author. Use the title, if there is no author
  • For web sources, remove the "https://" or "http://" 
    • Check with your instructor to see if links (URLs and DOIs) should be kept active and clickable, which is Microsoft Word's default (blue, underlined font) or if they want you to remove the hyperlinks
      • In general, NWACC instructors prefer active links when the paper is submitted online and links removed when the paper is printed to be turned in.
      • If no preference is given, MLA recommends removing hyperlinks (no color, no underline)

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