Skip to Main Content

MLA style


Did your instructor tell you to use MLA style to format your paper? Then you're in the right place. This guide, based on the 9th edition of MLA, includes some quick how-tos, a little explanation, and resources in case you need to look something up. Be sure and ask your instructor which edition of MLA they are using.

A note on using "Cite" buttons that you click in O.W.L. and GALILEO or citation generator websites: They are fine to use--saves you typing--but always double check your citation. They are not always correct.

Your ATC Librarians are happy to help. Come by the library, call, chat or text.

Note: Numbers in parentheses (4.14-16), refer to chapters and sections of the MLA handbook, 9th edition. So the example refers to chapter 4, sections 14-16.

Paper format

  • Double space your entire paper, even the works-cited list
  • Use a "legible" font where the difference between regular and italics is clearly visible. Times New Roman is an example
  • Font size between 11 and 13. Generally it's 12. Ask your instructor
  • Margins are 1 inch on all sides
  • Indent the first line of each paragraph 1/2 inch from the left margin
  • Create a header with your last name, a space, and the page number in the upper right corner. Do NOT use the abbreviation "p." before the page number
  • Do not make a title page for your paper. On the first page:
    • List your name, instructor's name, course, and the date in the upper left corner
    • Double space again and center the title. Capitalize the first word, the last word, and all important words in the title. (2.90)

For more information, see  "MLA General Format." Purdue Online Writing Lab or chapter 1 (unless otherwise noted) of MLA9.


Differences between the 8th (MLA 8) and 9th (MLA 9) editions

  • The first chapter of MLA 9 covers formatting (margins, running-head, lists, etc.)
  • MLA 9 has a new chapter (chapter 3) on inclusive language
  • MLA 9 adds more situations, beyond common knowledge, where citing isn't necessary: passing mention, allusions, and epigraphs (4.14-16)
  • Basics of in-text citations have not changed; MLA 9 has added more examples, explanation, and clarification
  • The 9th ed. has a new chapter (chapter 7) with examples on using bibliographic notes
  • MLA 9 has much more explanation and examples when describing the MLA core elements. For example, it includes a chart for when a website is or is not a container
  • The method of citing various formats on your works cited page has not changed, but MLA 9 includes more guidance and examples. In fact there are over twice as many examples, plus an appendix with even more


For more information, see "MLA ninth edition: What's new and different." Purdue Online Writing Lab.


MLA Handbook. 9th ed., The Modern Language Association of America, 2021.

"MLA formatting and style guide." Purdue Online Writing Lab. The Writing Lab and OWL at Purdue and Purdue U, 2021, Accessed 29 Nov. 2021.

*Note that the access date is not required but highly recommended, see "MLA Works Cited: Electronic Sources." Purdue Online Writing Lab, Basic style for citations sec..

Athens Campus Library: 706.355.5020 | Elbert County: 706.213.2116  | Walton County: 706.552.0922 
email: Library Webmaster

adobe logo This site links to pdf documents. Click this link to get Adobe reader