Article of the Week

Run-On Sentences

Run-on sentences occur when writers try to combine more than one idea into a single sentence. They cause confusion because readers are not sure when one idea ends and the next one begins. Read our entry and test your knowledge with our quiz!



The Modern Language Association (MLA) handbook gives rules for presenting research in language and literature. Most English students format their work in MLA style. This document will explain general formatting rules from the MLA Handbook. See our other pages if you want to learn more about adding quotations or citing sources in MLA. 

  1. Margins, Text, and Headings
    1. Margins
    2. Text Formatting
    3. Headings and Titles
    4. Page Numbers
    5. Tables and Illustrations
  2. Numbers in the Paper
    1. Words vs. Numerals
    2. Dates
    3. Inclusive Numbers
  3. Displaying Titles
    1. Titles
    2. Major Works
    3. Shorter Works

 

Margins, Text, and Headings

Margins (116)

Papers should have a 1-inch margin on each side of the paper: top, bottom, left, and right. Indent the first line of each paragraph an additional half inch from the left.

 

Text Formatting (116)

Select a standard font (such as Times New Roman) that has distinct regular and italic styles. Double-space the entire paper.

 

Headings and Titles (116-17)

MLA Style does not include a title page. Instead, you’ll have four double-spaced lines of information, on the left side of your paper.

Hermione Granger (student name)

Severus Snape (instructor)

5th Year Potions (class name and number)

22 November 2003 (Date, in Date-Month-Year format)

Afterward, you’ll center the title, and write it in regular type.

 

Page Numbers (117)

Place page numbers in the upper-right corner of each page, a half-inch from the top. If your word processing program (such as Microsoft Word) has a header feature, you can add the page numbers there. Write your last name before the page number, to avoid any confusion caused by misplaced pages. Do not include a p. for page, or any other mark.  

 

Tables and Illustrations (118-20)

Tables and Figures are labeled as such, with a number following (for example, Figure 1). On the next line, give a title, then display the figure or table. Double-space any table information. Include a source or caption directly below the table or figure. If the figure is not cited in the text, it does not require an entry in your Works Cited page.

 

Numbers in the Paper

Words vs. Numerals (81-82)

Spell out numbers that are only one or two words long (fourteen, one thousand)—use numerals if they are longer (such as 15,425). Do not begin a sentence with a numeral.

 

Dates (83-84)

Either day-month-year or month-day-year is acceptable, but be consistent: choose one or the other for use in the entire paper. Centuries and decades are written in lowercase letters.

 

Inclusive Numbers (84-85)

 When giving a range of numbers, list the second number in full if between 1 and 99:

43-57

Larger numbers only take the last two digits unless more are needed for clarity:

250-89 but 249-301

 

Displaying Titles

Titles

Write titles in the up-style, capitalizing all words but prepositions, coordinating conjunctions, articles, and the infinitive form of to.

 

Major Works

Italicize major works and the names of vehicles, planes, and ships. Major works include printed works, web sites, audiovisual recordings, performances, and compositions: Pride & Prejudice, Amazon.com, Thriller.

 

Shorter Works

Use quotation marks for shorter works, such as songs and poetry, and for pieces of longer works, such as articles, book chapters, and tv episodes. Unpublished works also receive quotation marks.