MLA Paper Writing Rules

MLA, or Modern Language Association, is a commonly accepted formatting style, generally used in academic texts in the humanities and liberal arts. It is not the only widely used formatting style, but in case you take a course in one of these subjects you are very likely to encounter it sooner or later. And it is better to be prepared.

Of course, it is impossible to describe MLA within this short article – if you want to learn all the minute details and specifics of every particular case you should better consult the full MLA manual. But some basic formatting rules can be found right here.

Usable Fonts

MLA allows the usage of any legible font, but generally it is presupposed that you use standard Times New Roman, double-spaced and sized 12 pt. In case you select any other font, make sure italics can be easily recognized and distinguished from regular type style, because italics is widely used in the titles of works and for emphasis. However, the latter use is only acceptable when it is absolutely necessary – to avoid confusion.

Margins and Indentation

All margins in MLA are set at one inch wide, and the first line of every paragraph is indented half an inch from the left margin. If you are typing on a computer (of course you do!) it is better to use the TAB key for precision rather than to pressing the spacebar a number of times.


A header should be present on all pages of your work, including the first one, in the upper right corner, half an inch from the top and flush with the right margin. Take notice: in MLA papers you don’t normally have to include a title page, the main text begins from the very beginning. However, your instructor may give you other directions: for example, to include the title page after all or omit the header on the first page. In this case demonstrating your knowledge of the MLA formatting style is not the best option – do what your instructor asks.

How the First Page Should Look

Write your name, your instructor’s name, the title of the course and the date in the left upper corner. Next, place the title in the middle of the page, using a font of the same size as in the rest of the text, avoiding italics, and using standard capitalization.

Of course, it is just the tip of the iceberg, but knowing these things will make writing your first MLA paper at least a little bit easier.