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MLA Citations: Formatting MLA Papers

Information on citing sources in Modern Language Association format.

MLA Formatting

Sample MLA PaperGeneral Formatting

  • Margins should be 1" on each side of the page.
  • Use a size 11-12 pt readable font, such as Calibri, Arial, or Times New Roman.
  • The page number should appear in the top right page header on each page with your last name in front of it.
  • The paper should be double-spaced, with no extra line breaks in between sections.
  • Each sentence should have a single space between it and the next sentence.
  • Each paragraph should be indented 0.5" to the right.
    • Exceptions: Entries on the Works Cited page should have a hanging indent 0.5" to the left. 
  • In-text quotations should include the author's last name and page number in parentheses before the period.

First Page

Course information should appear in the top left corner of the first page. Information should include:

  • Your Name
  • Professor's Name
  • Course Number
  • Date
    • Make sure you follow the proper date format: day month year, spelled out completely with no commas. 

Title of your paper should be centered below the course information on the first page, with no extra line breaks. Do not bold or italicize. Capitalize all major words.

Do not include extra line breaks between the title and the start of the body of the paper. Do not include an introduction heading

Sample MLA Works CitedWorks Cited

  • Center Works Cited on a separate page at the end of your paper. Do not add extra line breaks between the title and the entries.
  • Each entry on this page should have a hanging indent 0.5" to the left.
  • Alphabetize entries by the first author's last name or, if no author, by the title.
  • Include every reference you cited in your paper except personal interviews.
  • If there is only one source listed, it should be title Work Cited.
  • See the tab on MLA Citations for the information to include in each reference item.

Using Templates

Google Docs and Microsoft Word have pre-made templates you can use. Check them first to make sure that you have the correct edition and that they fit the format required by your instructor. You can delete any extraneous lines that you don't need to use.

Google Docs

When you open the Google Docs program (click the blue Google Docs paper icon in the top left corner), you are taken to a landing page with the option to start a new document in a blank document and several templates. Click the Template Gallery to expand it and scroll down to Educationwhere you can find templates for both APA and MLA papers. Make sure you select the correct edition.

Google Docs Template Gallery

Google Docs Template - Selecting MLA or APA

Microsoft Word

When you open Microsoft Word, you are taken to the landing page, where you can select a blank document or choose from an existing template. Here, you can also use keywords such as "MLA" or "APA" to search for a template. Make sure you select the correct edition or, if using an older template, make sure you make the necessary changes to update it.

Word Templates

Formatting Videos

How to set up MLA Format Paper with Works Cited Page in Microsoft Word [5:58] by Xamplio:

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Additional Notes on Formatting

  • Tables should be labeled, starting with Table 1. Other visual material such as illustrations, graphs, charts, etc., should be labeled as Figure, starting with Fig. 1.

Step-by-Step Formatting Tutorial with Microsoft Word 2016

Double-Spacing

  1. Click on the Home tab.
  2. Click the Line and Paragraph icon in the Paragraph section.
  3. Select 2.0 for double spacing.

You can also right click the document, select Paragraph > Line Spacing: Double > OK.

Double Space Steps

Margins

  1. Go to the Layout tab at the top of the document.
  2. Click the Margins icon.
  3. Select Normal (1" margins on all sides).

    Margins Steps

Titles

  1. While in the Home tab, highlight your title.
  2. Click the Center icon in the Paragraph area to center it.

Font 

  1. On the Home tab, look in the Font area to change your font.
  2. Use a readable 11-12 pt font. Calibri, Arial, and Times New Roman are common.

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Paragraph Indentations 

Body of Paper

  1. Open the Paragraph box on the Home tab.
  2. Select First Line by 0.5" from the Special Indentation box. This should indent the first line by 0.5 inches.
  3. Alternatively, use the ruler to drag the top indentation wedge right by 0.5". (If the ruler is not visible, go to the View tab and check the Ruler box from the Show area.)

    Paragraph Indentations

References Page

  1. For the citations follow the steps above, opening the Paragraph box on the Home tab.
  2. Select Hanging by 0.5" from the Special Indentation box. This should indent the first line by 0.5 inches.
  3. Alternatively, use the ruler to drag the bottom indentation wedge right by 0.5", leaving the top indentation wedge flush against the margin. 

    Hanging Indent Steps

Page Numbers 

  1. Click the Insert tab.
  2. Select Page Number.
  3. From the drop down, select Top of Page.
  4. Choose Plain Number 3, which puts the page number in the top right.
  5. Put the mouse cursor in front of the number and type your last name.

Page Numbers Steps