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.
- 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 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.)
- Use italics throughout your essay for the titles of longer works and, only when absolutely necessary, providing emphasis.
- If you have any endnotes, include them on a separate page before your Works Cited page. Entitle the section Notes (centered, unformatted).
Formatting the First Page of Your Paper
- Do not make a title page for your paper unless specifically requested.
- In the upper left-hand corner of the first page, list your name, your instructor's name, the course, and the date. Again, be sure to use double-spaced text.
- Double space again and center the title. Do not underline, italicize, or place your title in quotation marks; write the title in Title Case (standard capitalization), not in all capital letters.
- Use quotation marks and/or italics when referring to other works in your title, just as you would in your text: Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas as Morality Play; Human Weariness in "After Apple Picking"
- Double space between the title and the first line of the text.
- Create a header in the upper right-hand corner that includes your last name, followed by a space with a page number; number all pages consecutively with Arabic numerals (1, 2, 3, 4, etc.), one-half inch from the top and flush with the right margin. (Note: Your instructor or other readers may ask that you omit last name/page number header on your first page. Always follow instructor guidelines.)
Parents often ask me what they can do to help their child. We don’t expect every student to have a computer connected to the internet and even if they did we couldn’t expect every one of them to have the software we use at school. Owing to this, we make every effort to ensure students have enough time to get their work done during the school day. Unless I’m absent, I’m in the building by 6:50 every day and usually a bit earlier. Every student has a 30 minute home room and they can use that time to come to my lab and work. I have no study hall expressly for that reason.
If you do have a computer, here’s the software we use in my InfoTech lab:
FileMaker Pro 9
Photoshop Elements 6
- a well done Microsoft Office clone available for Windows and Mac operating systemsGrubba
- an online database system - FireBird
- a freeware database system - it is similar to FileMaker Pro in ability but not terribly similar in functionPixlr
- an online graphic editor that has both free and paid options
If you think all a good student needs is Microsoft Office, Adium, a browser, and Portal 2, boy are you wrong. Here are a few applications you might find very useful for studying, keeping track of your time and schedule, preparing papers and research, and all the other things good students need to do. I’ll try to make sure there’s something for everyone - Windows, Mac, Andoid, and iOS. Linux users, you’ll need to help me out here.
- EverNote: all platforms. Evernote is an excellent resource for students to capture everything they have going on in class. If you need a little inspiration for how to use Evernote, Shep McAllister's guest post on the Evernote blog outlines a lot of ways you can use Evernote in school, including taking snapshots of notes, blackboards, organizing research, and more. If you're not a fan of Evernote, be sure to check out Springpad for a similar, but more streamlined experience. Free, iOS, Windows, Linux, Mac
- iProcrastinate: iProcrastinate isn't a to-do manager specifically designed for college students, but it might as well be. It works with class filters, step-by-step tracking, and repeating schedules. The iPhone version syncs with the desktop version through iCloud or Dropbox, so all your to-dos are in one place. If iProcrastinate doesn't look like it'll fit your needs, be sure to check out Wunderlist. Free, iOS, Mac
- Wunderlist: As mentioned above, another excellent to-do manager. Free, iOS, Mac, Windows, Android
- Studius: Studious is a to-do manager and calendar built specifically for a student. It's packed with all the features you'd expect from a to-do manager, but it also comes with a notes feature, and more importantly, ringer automation so the app automatically turns your phone to silent when you're in class. If you're looking for a more traditional to-do manager, look at Wunderlist. Free, Android
- Flashcards: Love them or hate them, flashcards are a great way to memorize information. Flashcards* is an app that not only allows you to make your own, but you can also search through thousands that have already been created for classes, or collaboratively make a set of flashcards with your fellow students. If you're lucky enough to be in a class that already has cards made, Flashcards* will make your life a lot easier. Free, iOS
- GFlash+ : Flashcards for Android. Free
- Google Docs: Not long ago, students were stuck with Microsoft Office for their office suite, but now that Google Docs has offline editing it's a perfect replacement to Office for most students. The best part is the fact that it's free, but it also has pretty much everything you need: spreadsheets, presentations, and a document editor. It also stores you documents in the cloud so you never to worry about the horrible just-lost-my-paper panic. Free, Mac, Windows, Linux
- LibreOffce: If you aren’t a Google fan or would rather have an Office suite that doesn’t require an Internet connection, this open source project is another excellent choice for avoiding the Microsoft tax. Free, Mac, Windows, Linux
- Mendeley: Keeping track of research can get really complicated, especially when you're working with a bunch of different documents from your library. Mendeley is an organization tool that helps you keep track of all those PDF files. It also lets you annotate and generates citations on the spot. Free, Mac, Windows