How To Format The First Page Of An MLA Research Paper


If you write your research paper in compliance with the MLA formatting rules, you may be confused on how to format the first page of your work. The problem is that the Modern Language Association (MLA) format does not require a separate title page. However, some instructors claim that a separate title page is a must because it makes the paper look professional. If you don’t know what rules to follow, check the assignment details. If your teacher wants to see a separate title page, the corresponding instructions will be available in the assignment details. If there are no any specific requirements, format the first page of your work according to the official MLA rules. Here are two sets of rules for these two cases. Depending on your situation, refer to a corresponding set.

If a title page is needed

  • If you use a title page, don’t include it in the page count. Only the first page containing the text of your research paper should be marked as Page 1.

  • Center the text 2 inches from the top of your Page 1. This is the only deviation from the standard requirements of 1-inch margins throughout your paper. This deviation is applied only on the sheet following a separate title page.

  • Format your separate title page the following way:
    • Write your title as normal text. It shouldn’t be underlined, in larger font, or bold.

    • Center your text both horizontally and vertically.

    • Separate the sections with the full title of your project and the general title page details (your name, your instructor’s name, course, number, and the due date) with a space of 12 lines.

If you don’t need a separate title page

  • Use 1-inch margins all around your first page.

  • Double-space the text.

  • Write your general title page information (your name, your instructor’s name, course, number, and the due date) in the upper-left corner of the first page.

  • Put your last name in the upper-right corner. Place it 3 spaces from the page number.

  • Center the full title and write it in normal text. Don’t underline your title and don’t type it in larger font or in bold.

  • Indent the first line of the text following your title.

  • Set a ragged right margin.

These are general standards for formatting the first page of your research paper, either with a separate title page or without it in MLA style. However, your instructor’s requirements may somewhat deviate from these standards. Whatever your professor’s preferences are, remember to strictly follow them as well.