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MLA Style 9th edition: Formatting Your Paper

This guide covers the basics of MLA Style writing, formatting, and citing.

Standard format for MLA Style 9th edition

  • 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 each distinct from one another. The font size should be 12 pt.
  • Leave only one space after periods or other punctuation marks (unless otherwise prompted by your instructor).
  • Set the margins of your document to 1 inch on all sides.
  • Indent the first line of each paragraph one half-inch from the left margin. MLA recommends that you use the “Tab” key as opposed to pushing the space bar five times.
  • Create a header that numbers all pages consecutively in the upper right-hand corner, one-half inch from the top and flush with the right margin. (Note: Your instructor may ask that you omit the number on your first page. Always follow your instructor's guidelines.)

Guiding Principles for Citing in MLA Style 9th ed.

1. Author.

2. Title of Source.

3. Title of Container,

4. Other Container,

5. Version,

6. Number,

7. Publisher,

8. Publication date,

9. Location.

(Elements 3-9 may repeat, especially when citing a journal article inside of a database.)

"How to Avoid Plagiarism in 5 Easy Steps" by Vanessa Garofalo, Steelman Library is licensed under CC BY 2.0

MLA Format

Citation Example from Guiding Principles

Zhang, Chen, et al. "Physiological and Nutritional Constraints on Zooplankton Productivity Due to Eutrophication and Climate    Change Predicted Using a Resource-Based Modeling Approach." Canadian Journal of Fisheries & Aquatic Sciences, vol.        79, no. 3, Mar. 2022, pp. 472-86. EBSCOhost,


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Hanging Indent

Use a hanging indent on the Works Cited page. The first line of your source starts at the left margin with the second and subsequent lines indented.

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Works Cited Sample

A Works Cited page is an alphabetical list of the sources you paraphrased or quoted within the text of your paper. Your parenthetical citations within the text of your paper point to a corresponding entry on the Works Cited page.

The Works Cited page should:

  • Be at the end of your paper and be numbered consecutively with the rest of your paper
  • Include the words Works Cited centered at the top of the page
  • Include all sources paraphrased or quoted within you paper
  • Be alphabetized by the source - usually this is by an author's last name but could be by title in entries where there are no authors.
  • Have hanging indents, which means the lines after the first line of an entry are indented.

See the example below.

Works Cited

Benady, Alex. "Agencies equivocal on climate change denial: Climate change is mankind's biggest comms challenge. Every month we look at how the climate change message is progressing." PR Week, 2015, pp. 16. ProQuest,

Gordon, David George. “Can Eating BUGS Save the Planet?” Scholastic SuperScience, vol. 22, no. 8, May 2011, pp. 12–15. EBSCOhost,