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. I recommend Times New Roman. The font size should be 12 pt.
Leave only one space after periods or other punctuation marks.
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.
Use italics throughout your essay for the titles of longer works (including novels).
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, on separate lines, list your name, your instructor’s name, the course (example – Reading 8A), and the date (day, month, year – example – 17 May 2017). 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.
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.
A sample MLA paper can be found here showing correct appearance of headers and titles.
In-Text Citation of Quotes
After the quote and before the period ending your sentence, insert your citation as follows:
“Ralph wept for the end of innocence, the darkness of man’s heart, and the fall through the air of the true, wise friend called Piggy” (Golding 357).
(author’s last name, space, page number)
Notice there is no dash or comma between the author’s last name and the page number. The word “page” or an abbreviation for the word “page” is not used. There is no period inside the quote. If a question mark had ended the quote this would have been included within the quote.
Citing a quote within your quote, in other words citing what a character says, is done as follows:
According to Simon, “‘Maybe there is a beast…maybe it’s only us'” (Golding 189).
Auto-Format Your Paper
I have no problem if you use a web site or application to automatically MLA format your paper. Some teachers in your future may however.
One web site can be found here. If there are others you find more useful feel free to post them. Simply search for “MLA Generators”.
Easy-Bib is also a popular site for generating citations.