The Format of the Research Paper

by Stephen on August 31, 2011 · 33 comments

in MLA Format

Below is the standard format of a research paper utilizing MLA Style. Make sure to check with your instructor if he/she has any other specific requirements.

Format TypeFormat Information
PaperUse white paper, 8 1/2 x 11 inches. If you lack this paper, you can use the closest available size. Print on single side only.
Margins– 1 inch {top, bottom, left, and right} (1 inch = 2.5cm)
– for page numbers, set at 1/2 inch (1.25 cm) from the top upper-right hand
  corner, flushed to the right margin.
Text Formatting– Font: Times New Roman
– Size: 12 points
– Do not justify the text
– Double-space the entire research paper
– Leave one space after a period
HeadingBegin at 1 inch from the top of the page, type:
– Your name
– Professor name
– Course number
– Date

All on separate lines. Begin your research paper title on a new line and center it. See example on the image below, on the Sample section.

Do not:
– Italicize, underline, in quotation, boldface, or type in all CAPs your title.
– There is no period after your title or after any heading in your paper

Page Numbers– Place page number in all pages
– Place page numbers 1/2 inch from the top-right margin
– Type your last name before the page number: your last name followed by
  a space then page number.
Tables and IllustrationsPlace tables and illustrations as close as possible to the parts of the text to which they relate. A table is labeled Table, given an arabic numeral and titled. Photograph, map, drawing should be labeled Figure (usually abbreviated Fig.), assign an arabic numeral and give a caption. See samples below.


First Page Sample:

Table Sample:

Figure Sample:


– MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, 7th Edition, Chapter 4, p115-122

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{ 33 comments… read them below or add one }

Bryan Phelps January 15, 2012 at 2:36 am

Good mla format info


Kati Kilpatrick January 23, 2012 at 10:05 pm

I agree with Bryan, this is reallly good information.


Dahlers February 15, 2012 at 2:03 am

Simple and concise – thank you for this!!


Krod February 24, 2012 at 10:57 pm

This information is to the point. I breeze through it in less than a minute. Thank you!


Jessica Kampa March 28, 2012 at 4:28 pm

I am having trouble getting my header and my page number on the pages it deletes one or the other any suggestions?


Stephen March 28, 2012 at 5:35 pm

Hi Jessica! On the top header, on the right side, enter your Last name => a space bar => then insert the automatic page number macro (don’t enter the number itself manually). Hope this helps.


LIB March 29, 2012 at 12:41 pm



Fred April 1, 2012 at 5:00 am

This is useful! Thanks a lot!


Billy October 17, 2013 at 8:15 am

Thank you.


Alexandria April 2, 2012 at 11:19 am

This is a great website. Mucho gracias people!!!


Maddie May 28, 2012 at 2:57 pm

Wait so it has to be in Times and the size will be 12?


Luke November 9, 2012 at 7:35 pm

So… the word say that the required font is Times New Roman, yet the sample sheet is definatley not in that font, so which is it? Calibri? or TNR?


Stephen November 13, 2012 at 4:38 pm

Maddie and Luke:

For the font and size, you can pick something else as long as it is easy to read. Make sure to check with your instructor first though to make sure he/she likes your font.


Billy Bob Joe III December 10, 2012 at 8:23 pm

This is great information!!


Kim January 2, 2013 at 12:01 pm

Some sample papers have your name, professor name, course number and date on page one; however, other sample papers do not have this information on page one. Which one is correct? or does it depends on a specific edition?


Stephen January 2, 2013 at 12:27 pm

Hi Kim,

If your instructor asked you to include a cover page, follow this sample paper: MLA Sample Paper w/ Cover

If not, follow this sample paper:


Tace January 17, 2013 at 10:01 pm

This page is a huge help with my classes.


Puga March 6, 2013 at 12:12 pm

How cool.


Jeremiah Gaines May 13, 2013 at 6:50 am

I am having trouble putting the page number in the top-right hand corner of the pages. Please Help.


Stephen May 13, 2013 at 8:41 am

Hello Jeremiah! Assuming you are using Microsoft Word, use the “Header and Footer” feature. Just look around, you should be able to find it.

In my Word 2011, it is under View => Header and Footer.

Another way I normally use: Insert => Page Numbers => Position: Top of Page => hit “Ok” => then you should see the page number appearing on the top right => I double click on it to open the Header and Footer feature => I then click once on the page number, this allows me to embed any other characters I want, now I put my last name before the page number.


Cynthia Burton August 23, 2013 at 10:42 pm

My English instructor has given us instructions to indent 10 spaces the first line of the paragraph. Is this correct?


Stephen August 24, 2013 at 10:18 am

Hi Cynthia! You can use the “tab” button but follow your teacher’s instruction.


Katdaddy allen October 31, 2013 at 9:50 pm

Ok ya this is so confusing like what the heckles am I doing right now I can’t handle this why can’t I be smart! Like how do you even double space something or do the last name in the top corner with the number thing someone help me!!!


Cailyn November 12, 2013 at 8:46 am

If we have a cover page for a research paper do we need a header with our name on the first page of the paper thats shown above?


Stephen November 12, 2013 at 9:48 am

Hi Cailyn! Please see the “Alternate First Page” on this page for an example:

Take care!


DAVIES SIMIYU November 23, 2013 at 7:53 am

Thank you.


Hugh G. Rection December 4, 2013 at 12:10 pm

Writing was a long, hard, tedious process but this site really helped me finish. Thanks.


Andrea February 27, 2014 at 5:19 pm

So for the double spacing, when choosing the spacing between lines we just select the 2 ? not the 1 or 1.5?


Stephen February 27, 2014 at 9:20 pm

Hi Andrea. Select the “2” for double spacing.


Christopher March 3, 2015 at 9:06 pm

Thanks for all the info on MLA Format. This has been a lot of help and very resourceful! 😀 😀


Case Jones October 1, 2015 at 7:44 pm

If only MLA formatting made as much sense as this website.


Evelyn December 11, 2015 at 9:22 pm

Omg I wasn’t paying attention when my teacher was explaining the MLA format for my research paper, but this just saved my life! Excellent information.
Thank you


Katie July 11, 2017 at 6:42 pm

This is definitely useful, and will be a big help the next time I type up a report. Thank you. (:


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