Day Month Year
Start your introduction paragraph here. Remember to
double-space your entire document!
This sample paper describes MLA
guidelines for formatting papers for your English courses.
For more information on document design, see the MLA handbook, or any writing
handbook, and perhaps do a
web search for "document design."
You will not
need a cover page or a title
page for your essay, so set up the first page of your paper as described above.
Be sure to
double-space your entire essay, including the Works Cited
page (even though this
web-page is not). Use at least one-inch margins
on all four sides. Use
a 12-point “readable” font
(e.g., Times New Roman,
Cambria, Arial, or Calibri).
Indent the first line
of each paragraph one tab.
An extra space between paragraphs is optional.
Finally, do not submit
your final draft in one of those plastic "report covers" or binders.
Ask your instructor if s/he prefers you to staple your
In addition, check your paper for the following items:
- You should NOT “quote,” bold, underline,
italicize, CAPITALIZE, or
enlarge your own
- You might use the assignment title as your own title--or even the number of the assignment, such as Essay #1, as
your own title. But some instructors, and readers, might prefer you to come
with a more original title of your own, one that reflects
the essay's topic or central idea (argument).
- You should definitely proofread your final draft
carefully before submitting it.
As you proofread, pay particular attention to
the following items:
- Be sure to spell the names of any other authors
correctly; check your books to be sure.
- When you refer to another author in your paper, use
her/his full name the first
time; then use either her/his full name or
last name; do not refer to
author by her/his first name only.
- Be sure to spell any other names correctly
as well, such as characters' names in a novel or play; check your books to be
- When you refer to a character in your paper, use his/her full name the
first time; thereafter, you may refer to a character by his/her first name or
- We underline or italicize the titles of books,
movies, TV shows, and albums/CDs--e.g.,
Where No Gods Came
and The Little Seagull Handbook are underlined or italicized--but not both at the same
time, and be consistent with which one you choose.
- We put in “quotation marks” the titles of stories, poems, articles,
chapters, individual TV episodes, individual songs, etc.
(For really long titles, once you have used the long
title once, such as "Leaves that Shimmer in the Slightest
Breeze," you can use a shorter version thereafter,
such as “Leaves that
These are the most common formatting functions
- To Change Margins -- Go to File
-- then Page Setup
- To Change to Double spacing
Highlight the whole text -- then go to Format --
then Paragraph -- then Line
Spacing (or Ctrl-A -- then Ctrl-2)
- To Create a Header -- Go to View
-- then Header and Footer