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MLA (Modern Language Association) Style: Paper & bibliography format

MLA Paper Format

MLA is pretty easy to format if you can remember a few rules:

  • Don't use a cover sheet. The first sheet of your paper is the first page of your essay.
  • Number your pages with your last name and the page number in the upper-right-hand corner (see below)
  • Use 1" margins all around
  • Center your title
  • Use the heading below (name, professor's name, course, and date)
  • Double space the text
  • Use a 12 pt. font
  • Put your Works Cited page on a separate page at the end of your paper.



More details on formatting your paper can be found at the MLA Style Center.


Bibliography formatting

  • Continue your page numbering.
  • Center "Works Cited".
  • Make sure your entries are in alphabetical order by the authors' last names. Also,
    • Alphabetize by the exact letters in the spelling: MacKay precedes McHam.
    • Let a shorter name precede a longer name beginning with the same letters: Linden, Ronald precedes Lindenmayer, Arnold.
    • With last names using a prefix such as le, du, di, del, and des, alphabetize by the prefix: Le Beau, Bryan F.
    • When de occurs with French names of one syllable, alphabetize under d: De Jean, Denise. Otherwise, alphabetize by last name: Maupassant, Guy de.
    • Alphabetize by the first element of a hyphenated name: Sackville-West, Victoria.
    • Alphabetize by the last name when the author uses two names without a hyphen: Thomas, Elizabeth Marshall.For a work with no author named, alphabetize by the first word in the title other than A, An, or The.
  • If you have two works by the same author, use ---. for the second article and sort them in alphabetical order.

Smith, John. Books by John Smith.

---. More Books by John Smith.

  • If you are unclear about any requirements, ASK YOUR PROFESSOR

Formatting MS Word


  1. Go to "Layout"
  2. Select "Margins"
  3. Select "Normal"

Page Numbering with Header

  1. Go to "Insert"
  2. Select "Page Number"
  3. Select "Top of Page"
  4. Select "Plain Number 3" (or whatever option gives you the page number in the upper right-hand corner)
  5. Click next to the page number in your paper
  6. Type your last name

Page Break

  1. Go to "Insert"
  2. Select "Page Break"

Hanging Indent

  1. Highlight the items you want to have the handing indent
  2. Select the small arrow next to "Paragraph" to expand the box
  3. Under "Indentation," arrow down at the "Special" box
  4. Select "Hanging"
  5. Click "OK"

...and it will look like this:

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