the basics

There are strict guidelines set up by the Modern Language Association to make your paper look officially “academic”. 

Follow these and you’ll be ready to write college-level papers.

(At least they’ll look college-ready).


Let’s Talk About Feet

Serif Font

Sans Serif font

When you look on the Web you see lots of fonts that look like this one.  No feet, see?  These feet are called serifs.

Sans serif fonts are good for reading off web pages.  This one is Arial, but there’s lots more— Helvetica, Impact and hundreds of others. 

MLA format is used mainly for print—hardcopy.   Open up any book and it will most likely have a font with feet.(serifs).  Times New Roman is the default font for Microsoft Word.  It’s a good one for writing papers. Georgia, Verdana are poular serif fonts as well as an infinite number more. 

Size Matters

12 pt. font.

No exceptions. 

12 pt. means 12 pt.

It isn’t 13, because that’s bigger than 12.

14 is way too big.

11 pt. is 1 pt. too small.

Fonts First



Top Corner

Half an inch

The rule for indenting paragraphs is 1/2 from the left margin. Tabs are set by default at this so just “TAB” once and begin typing.

It’s Your Name, Baby




Date (Day - Month - Year)

Make Mine a Double

Everything is double spaced.  Look at the sample.  The header is double spaces, there’s one space before the title, one space before the body and everything in the body is double-spaced. 

Just never hit the return or enter key more than once, select your document to be “double-spaced”, and you’re golden.