Hey All! So, we know that trying to figure out all the different rules about margins, citations, headers and works cited pages gets a little sticky, especially in one style to the next. In an effort to help people try to get a handle on some of the issues, we here at the Writing Center are going to do a few posts that try to break down some of the specifics of each style. For this post, I am going to focus on boarders, margins and spacing within the paper for MLA. Note that these are in accordance with the 2010 edition of the MLA handbook. If you are in a field where you will have to use MLA frequently, you actually might consider purchasing a copy. However, there are other internet sources, like the fantastic Purdue Owl website. Also check our blog for tips on other styles, like APA and Chicago.
Margins, Headers and Spacing, Oh My!
One of the first things you should do when working on your paper is immediately set up the margins. It is one of the easiest steps, and one of the easiest to forget. Specifically, these standards are for “research papers.” They will apply to all your standard literary essays, but always double-check with your professor.
The standard paper should have a 1-inch boarder on all sides: top and bottom, left and right. The border between your last name and page number, which should appear on the upper right-hand corner of every page, needs to be half an inch. The header, or the body of the text, is what will begin an inch down. When you indent at the start of a paragraph, that is half an inch, and block quotes starts an inch in from the already set left boarder (2 inches from the very edge of the paper). Check out this site for an actual picture layout of the margins!
Spacing & Font:
You must double space everything, including the header and block quotes! The only exception to this rule is if your professor specifically tells you to treat the papers a different way. Also keep in mind that the standard font used for most MLA research papers is Times New Roman. If you would like to use a different font, be sure to check with your professor first.
Keep in mind that your header needs to be double spaced in between each line, and that it appears in the upper left-hand corner of the first page of your paper. The information it needs to include is your name, the teacher’s name, the course number, and the date. Remember, the date usually goes (for the purposes of the header) the date, month then year.
Good luck! Keep posted for more articles on MLA citation and works cited pages!