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Purdue OWL Writing Lab OWL News Engagement Research Contact Site Map General Writing • Research and Citation • Teaching and Tutoring • Subject-Specific Writing • Job Search Writing • ESL OWL Family of Sites > OWL > Research and Citation > MLA Style > MLA Formatting and Style Guide Search

Research and Citation
MLA Style
MLA Overview and Workshop
MLA Formatting and Style Guide
MLA Formatting and Style Guide
MLA In-Text Citations: The Basics
MLA Formatting Quotations
MLA Endnotes and Footnotes
MLA Works Cited Page: Basic Format
MLA Works Cited Page: Books
MLA Works Cited: Periodicals
MLA Works Cited: Electronic Sources
MLA Works Cited: Other Common Sources
MLA Additional Resources
MLA Abbreviations
MLA Sample Works Cited Page
MLA Sample Paper
MLA Tables, Figures, and Examples
MLA PowerPoint Presentation
MLA Undergraduate Sample Paper
MLA Classroom Poster
OWL Mail MLA FAQs
Giving to the OWL

Suggested Resources
-MLA Guide
-APA Guide
-How to Navigate the New OWL
-Media File Index
-OWL Exercises
MLA Formatting and Style Guide
Summary:
MLA (Modern Language Association) style is most commonly used to write papers and cite sources within the liberal arts and humanities. This resource, updated to reflect the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers (7th ed.) and the MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing (3rd ed.), offers examples for the general format of MLA research papers, in-text citations, endnotes/footnotes, and the Works Cited page. Contributors:Tony Russell, Allen Brizee, Elizabeth Angeli, Russell Keck, Joshua M. Paiz, Purdue OWL Staff Last Edited: 2012-05-09 07:17:57

Please use the example at the bottom of this page to cite the Purdue OWL in MLA.

To see a side-by-side comparison of the three most widely used citation styles, including a chart of all MLA citation guidelines, see the Citation Style Chart.

You can also watch our MLA vidcast series on the Purdue OWL YouTube Channel.

General Format

MLA style specifies guidelines for formatting manuscripts and using the English language in writing. MLA style also provides writers with a system for referencing their sources through parenthetical citation in their essays and Works Cited pages.

Writers who properly use MLA also build their credibility by demonstrating accountability to their source material. Most importantly, the use of MLA style can protect writers from accusations of plagiarism, which is the purposeful or accidental uncredited use of source material by other writers.

If you are asked to use MLA format, be sure to consult the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers (7th edition). Publishing scholars and graduate students should also consult the MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing (3rd edition). The MLA Handbook is available in most writing centers and reference libraries; it is also widely available in bookstores, libraries, and at the MLA web site. See the Additional Resources section of this handout for a list of helpful books and sites about using MLA style.

Paper Format

The preparation of papers and manuscripts in MLA style is covered in chapter four of the MLA Handbook, and chapter four of the MLA Style Manual. Below are some basic guidelines for formatting a paper in MLA style.

General Guidelines

Type your paper on a computer and print it out on standard, white 8.5 x 11-inch paper. Double-space the text of your paper, and use a legible font (e.g. Times New Roman). Whatever font you choose, MLA recommends that the regular and italics type styles contrast enough that they are recognizable one from another. The font size should be 12 pt. Leave only one space after periods or other punctuation marks (unless otherwise instructed by your instructor). Set the margins of your document to 1 inch on all sides.

Indent the first line of paragraphs one half-inch from the left margin. MLA recommends that you use the Tab key as opposed to pushing the...
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