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Research Style & Usage: APA/MLA


MLA Style: Formatting the Manuscript


Basic Guidelines

  • Paper and margins: Use standard 8.5"x11" paper with margins of at least 1" on all sides.

  • Spacing: Double-space every line, including references.

  • Numbering: Number all pages, including the first page, with a heading that includes your last name and the page number: Rodriguez 12. Place this heading in the upper right-hand corner, 0.5" from the top of the page.

  • Underlining vs. italics: MLA style prefers underlining over the use of italics. If you wish to use italics instead, check with your instructor or editor for clarification.


Heading and Title

  • Do not create a separate title page.

  • At the top left corner of the first page, type your name, your instructor’s name, the course name, and the date. Double-space these lines.

  • Place your title one double-space below your heading, centered on the page. Capitalize the first word and all principal words. Do not underline any words except for words (e.g., titles of books) that normally would be underlined in text. Double-space all titles longer than one line.


Tables and Figures

  • Label all tables numerically: Table 1, Table 2, Table 3, etc. Always include a short caption.

  • Label all images, drawings, and other non-textual material numerically: Fig. 1, Fig. 2, Fig. 3, etc. Always include a short caption.

  • Number your tables and figures independently, i.e., the first figure and first table should be labeled Table 1 and Fig. 1 (not Table 1 and Fig. 2).


Using Quotations

  • Quotations from text

    • Four lines or fewer: Include the quotation in the text, surrounded by double quotation marks.

    • More than four lines: Set the quotation off from the main text in indented block form (1" from left margin of text), without quotation marks.

  • Quotations from poetry

    • Three lines or fewer: Include the lines within the text, with each line break indicated by a solidus (/) with a space on either side:

      • “Ruin hath taught me thus to ruminate, / That time shall come and take my love away.”

    • More than three lines: Set the lines off from the main text in indented block form (1" from the left margin of text), with line breaks included. Do not use solidi to signal line breaks:

      • . . . as in Keats’s “On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer”:

        Much have I travell’d in the realms of gold,
        And many goodly states and kingdoms seen;
        Round many western islands have I been
        Which bards in fealty to Apollo hold. (1–4)

  • To indicate errors in the original source, use sic, in brackets if placed within the quotation or in parentheses if placed outside the quotation:

    • Taylor notes that “Rooseveld [sic] remained in office until his death from a cerebral hemorrhage on April 12, 1945.”

    • In several instances, Jones refers to Lincoln as “the Great Emancipater” (sic).

  • To omit words or phrases from a quotation, use an ellipsis: “Doug ran quickly to school.” becomes “Doug ran . . . to school.”

  • To omit one or more sentences from a quotation, use an ellipsis with an extra period: “Doug ran quickly to school. He ate lunch. Then he went home.” becomes “Doug ran quickly to school. . . . Then he went home.”

  • To insert clarifying material, use brackets:

    • “[President-elect] Roberta Ford opened the NRA meeting with a bang.”

    • Marjorie wrote that she “care[d] little for green beans.”