How to Format Fonts in MLA

Formatting fonts in the MLA style is important for academic and professional writing. Here are the guidelines for formatting fonts in MLA.

Font Selection

MLA recommends using Times New Roman as the default font for academic papers. This is due to its readability and widespread availability on computers. However, if for some reason Times New Roman is not accessible, other standard fonts like Arial or Georgia are acceptable alternatives. It is important to note that the chosen font should be easily readable and readily available to ensure consistency across various platforms.

Considerations for Font Choice

If you find yourself in doubt about which font to use, especially when your institution has not provided specific instructions, it is advisable to seek clarification. Your institution may have a preferred font, and using the recommended font will not only meet MLA guidelines but also align with your institution’s expectations.

Emphasis with Italics: In MLA style, use italics for emphasis, titles of books, plays, films, and foreign words. Just be sure it’s clear they’re different from regular text. Use them for key terms, to maintain clarity and readability.

Font Size

The recommended font size for MLA-formatted papers is 12 points. This ensures that the text is legible and maintains a professional appearance. The 12-point size strikes a balance between readability and the efficient use of space on the page.

Font Styles

While choosing a common font like Times New Roman, Arial, or Calibri, it’s essential to ensure that the font clearly distinguishes between italics and regular style. In academic writing, italics are often used for titles of works, emphasis, or foreign words. Therefore, the selected font should make these distinctions apparent to avoid any confusion for the reader.


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Hannah Berry (Ph.D.)

Hannah Berry has lectured at several colleges and teaches at the WEA. Besides publishing extensively, she has taught citation skills and written multiple style guides.

Learn how to cite in MLA