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How to Cite Something in MLA Format
MLA formatting refers to the writing style guide produced by the Modern Language Association. If you’re taking a class in the liberal arts, you usually have to follow this format when writing papers. In addition to looking at MLA examples, it helps to know the basics of the style guide.
MLA requires parenthetical citations within the document. This means you must include source information inside parentheses placed after a quotation or paraphrase from a source. Each parenthetical citation must have the page number where you found the information you used. It may also have the author’s or creator’s name. Do not use a comma to separate the name and the date.
The format for in-text citations depends on the format of the source material. For print material like books and journals, you need the author’s name and publication date. If the source has two authors, use and to join them and the term “et al.” if it has more than two authors. You can also reference the authors in the document and include only the page number in parentheses.
Citations for Nonprint Material
If you use nonprint materials as sources, you have to cite them. However, you don’t have to include page numbers with the in-text citations. You do have to include information like the name of the work, the creator’s name and the year of publication on the Works Cited page.
When you complete the Work Cited page, each source requires additional information. For images, you need to include contributors, the reproduction number and URL where you located the image online. Movies must list the director’s name and distributor. A TV series needs the episode title and number, series title, season number and network. Pieces of music should include the title of the track and album and the record label.
Works Cited List
When you use MLA format, you must have a Works Cited page that lists all of the sources you used for the paper. This page goes at the end of the document on a separate page. You list all of the sources in alphabetical order according to the author’s last name. Make sure the page is double-spaced and that you follow the specific guidelines for formatting each entry.
If you don’t have access to printed MLA style guides or don’t understand how to format your sources, you can turn to a citation generator. There are several citation generators available online for free or as part of a subscription service. You can also find them in word processing programs.
To use a citation generator, you enter information about each source. The program automatically formats the sources for the works cited page. You can also select the places in the document to add in-text citations.
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Microsoft 365 Life Hacks > Writing > What is MLA Style formatting?
What is MLA Style formatting?
For students and scholars writing papers on language, literature, and the humanities, the MLA format is indispensable. Why is it important, and how can you harness it to stay organized in your own writing?
The MLA format was designed to standardize the formatting of research papers, keeping them uniform and professional no matter what the subject. Its rules encompass everything within a paper: from the spacing of headers and margins, to when words should be italicized, to citing your sources.
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It was developed by the Modern Language Association, whose MLA Handbook—now in its 9th edition—covers all aspects of MLA Style. It is a cornerstone of communication, emphasizing strong writing and boosting credibility by presenting your sources concisely. Read on to learn how to harness this powerful writing tool.
Rules of the MLA Style
The MLA Format is designed to maximize legibility without straining the reader’s eyes. Most of the formatting also comes default when opening a new document in Microsoft Word , which speaks to the ubiquity of the MLA Format. Below are the key basics to starting your paper:
- One-inch margins. All four sides of your document will have an inch of space from the paper’s edge.
- Indented paragraphs, Indent every paragraph with a half-inch wide space, which is the default indent from the Tab key.
- Double space lines. All lines should be double-spaced. This makes the paper easy to read without overcrowding.
- Page numbers The page number goes in the upper-right, after the writer’s last name: i.e., Smith 2. Page numbers can easily be set in Word by double-clicking the header area.
- A legible font You don’t need to sweat this detail by picking out your favorites: the two most used fonts are Arial and Times New Roman.
Information to include on your header
The header is where your biographical information goes: name, professor, course, and the paper’s due date. All are presented in that order, double-spaced, and aligned to the left:
November 16, 2022
Below that goes your title, which is centered. Capitalize major words and use italics or quotations only if you’re quoting another work. From there, you can dive right into your topic: see how you can write a strong introduction that reflects your expertise.
Writing and formatting citations with a Works Cited page
Chances are you’re familiar with MLA Style primarily through a Works Cited page, which is a specific format for stating the research you’ve used throughout your paper.
- The Works Cited page always begins on its own page.
- “Works Cited” is always centered as the title of this section.
- All citations get their own separate entries, numbered for quoting within the paper.
For most citations, the format goes like so:
Author. Title of Book. City of Publication: Publisher, Year.
To cite quotations in your paper, there are three ways to do so:
- With a parenthesis to the citation number, if you mention the author beforehand.
- With the author’s name and citation number both in parentheses.
- In a footnote, if you need to expand on something.
There are further ways to cite anything, from websites to anthologies, even film and television. Check out the MLA website for detailed examples of these citations.
How to set up MLA Style in your document
A new document in Microsoft Word comes with many of these MLA-approved settings by default, such as legible fonts and one-inch margins. Other elements can be customized through the Design tab , where you can set double spacing, the size of tabs and margins, and more.
Word has tools that can automate your citations. The Citations & Bibliography panel, under the References tab, has options for the major formatting styles, including MLA. And the Insert Citation button features information about your sources, based on different categories (book, performance, journal, etc.). Within your document you can highlight these sources with your quotes.
By taking the guesswork out of formatting, Word allows you to focus on honing your writing skills . And by taking advantage of MLA format, your writing will look clear and professional.
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How to Set Up and Use MLA Format in Microsoft Word
Important to know when writing your dissertation
The Modern Language Association (MLA) is an organization that provides guidelines for professional and academic writers. Many universities, employers, and professional agencies now require writers to conform to the MLA style since it’s easy to use and consistent.
In this article, we’ll cover how you can use the MLA format in Microsoft Word.
The MLA Format Requirements
Here are the basic MLA guidelines:
- Use 1-inch margins on all sides
- Use a legible font like Times New Roman
- Use 12 size font
- Use double-spacing throughout the entire document
- Use indentation for the beginning of each paragraph
- Include a header that displays your surname and page numbers on the top right-hand side
- The first page should include your name, paper information and date
- The title of your paper should be centered on the first page
- The end of the paper should include a Works Cited page with MLA citations
How to Set Up the MLA Format in Word
Here’s how you can organize your Word document so that it conforms to the MLA guidelines. We’ll cover each requirement in turn, so start at the top and work your way down.
1. Set the Margins
To set 1-inch margins:
- Click on the Layout tab (in older versions of Word this will be Page Layout ).
- Select Margins then click Custom Margins .
- For the Top , Bottom , Right and Left margins, type 1 and press Enter .
- Select OK .
2. Set the Font and Font Size
To change the font:
- Select the Home tab.
- Click the font drop-down menu and select the Times New Roman font (or a similar font like Calibri).
- Click the font size drop-down menu and select 12 .
3. Set Double Line Spacing
To set double-spacing:
- Select the spacing drop-down menu . This icon looks like blue up and down arrows beside four horizontal lines. Click 2 .
4. Set the Indentation
To set paragraph indentation:
- Right-click the document and select Paragraph .
- Make sure the Indents and Spacing tab is selected.
- Click the drop-down menu beneath Special and select First line . Then, click the field beneath By and type 1 cm .
Alternatively, you can press the tab key before starting each new paragraph.
5. Set the Header
To set your header:
- Click the Insert tab.
- In the Header & Footer section, select Header and click Blank (the top option).
- In the header, type your name and press the spacebar once.
- Click the Home tab.
- Select Align Text Right in the Paragraph section.
6. Set the Page Number
To set page numbers:
- Using your cursor, click in the header after your name.
- Select the Header and Footer tab.
- Select Page Number , click Current Position and select Plain Number .
7. Include Key Information on the First Page
Now that your formatting is set up, it’s time to include the required information on the first page of your document.
This should be one to four lines with your full name and other key information such as your course name, course number, instructor’s name, and date (written in a day, month, year format).
After the date, click the Enter key, type your document or research paper’s title and center the text by pressing Align Text Center in the Home tab.
8. Format the Works Cited Page
If you include citations in your document, these also need to conform to the MLA handbook. The list should be:
- Titled with “Works Cited” at the top of page
- In alphabetical order
- Indented with a hanging indent
To include a hanging indent , select your citation list, right-click your document and select Paragraph . In the Indentation section, select the drop-down box underneath Special , select Hanging , and click OK .
Time to Get Writing
Now that you’ve formatted your MLA paper correctly, it’s finally time to get writing. With this formatting guide, you’ll have no trouble passing the MLA requirements. Just make sure to double-check your document before you submit it!
Jake Harfield is an Australian freelance writer whose passion is finding out how different technologies work. He has written for several online publications, focusing on explaining what he has learned to help others with their tech problems. He’s an avid hiker and birder, and in his spare time you’ll find him in the Aussie bush listening to the birdsong. Read Jake's Full Bio
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- Formatting Your Word Document
- Formatting a Paper in MLA
- Formatting a Works Cited in MLA
MLA Formatting for Word 2013/2016
Use the following directions or download these PDF instructions to format your Microsoft Word document in MLA format ( Using Online Word? ) . Also, check out our directions for Formatting Your Works Cited Page . Also, check out our MLA 9th ed. sample paper. You can also review Chapter 1 Introduction to Formatting Your Research Project in the online MLA Handbook .
MLA Formatting for Word - Online Version
- Note that once you finish your header and start typing in your Word document, your header will disappear from your screen . You can see your header by clicking on the "Header" tab in your Word document.
- Hit "Enter" on your keyboard to move down to a new line. Type in the title of your paper. To center your title, click the alignment icon and change your alignment to "Align Center."
Formatting a Works Cited in Word 2013/2016
Using the Online Version of Word?
Use the following directions to format your Works Cited document in MLA format. Also, check out our MLA 9th ed. sample paper. You can also review section 1.6: Placement of the List of Works Cited in the online MLA Handbook .
- Click the "Home" tab, then click the "Justify Center" icon. This will center your title.
- Type in your title, Works Cited. Your title should be in size 12 Times New Roman font.
- Hit "Enter" on your keyboard to start a new line. Then, hit the "Justify Left" icon to move the cursor back to the left.
- Type in your full MLA Citations for your sources. Remember, your Works Cited page should still be double-spaced!
- All Works Cited entries that are longer than a single line must include a Hanging Indent for second (and so forth) line(s).
- Choose the line you wish to indent. Move your cursor to the line you wish to indent.
- Hit CTRL T (or CMD T on a Mac) on your keyboard.
- Repeat (if necessary) for your third line.
Formatting a Works Cited in Word Online
- After completing your paper, add a new page to your document for your Works Cited. Hit "Enter" on your keyboard until you begin a new page.
- Click the "Home" tab, then click the "Justify Center" icon. This will center your title.
- Hit "Enter" on your keyboard to start a new line. Then, go to the "Home" tab and hit "Justify Left" to move the cursor back to the left.
- Type in your full MLA Citations for your sources. Remember, your Works Cited should still be double-spaced!
- All Works Cited entries that are longer than a single line must include a Hanging Indent for second (and so forth) line(s). Move your cursor to the end of the first line.
- Using your mouse, move the cursor to the beginning of the second line of your citation.
- Hit "Tab" on your keyboard. This should indent only the second line of your citation.
- << Previous: In-text Citations
- Next: MLA Handouts >>
- Online MLA Handbook This link opens in a new window
- Formatting the Author and Title
- Container Punctuation
- Citing a Book or Ebook
- Citing Part of a Book or Ebook
- Citing an Encyclopedia
- Citing a Journal Article
- Citing an Article Written for a Database
- Citing a Magazine or Newspaper Article
- Citing an Interview/Podcast
- Citing a Website
- Citing a Video
- Citing Social Media
- Citing Images in a Project
- Citing Artistic Works/Performances
- Citing a Play
- Citing a Poem
- In-text Citations
- MLA Handouts
- MLA Workshop (video, Feb. 2022)
- MLA - Getting Started (Basic Tutorial)
- Annotated Bibliography
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- Last Updated: Sep 29, 2023 1:57 PM
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MLA Format in Word 2022
by Mel Beasley | Jan 11, 2022 | Academic Writing
Information is taken from the 9th edition MLA Handbook, latest version, 2021 – 2022.
MLA format was created by the Modern Language Association—hence the acronym—and is a widely used styling for research papers and academic essays. If you’re a college student, you’ll notice that MLA format is required in liberal arts and humanities subjects.
This is a simple guide to formatting your essay in MLA style using Microsoft Word 2022. While this guide only covers the formatting guidelines needed to begin your paper, we’ll cover other aspects of MLA such as in-text citations, organization, and the works cited page in later guides.
What will we cover?
- Proper MLA font style and size
- Margins and header
- First-page title information
- Body-paragraph spacing
1. Set the font and size
In MLA format, you may only use Times New Roman font at size 12. When it comes to academic formats, there’s little room for creativity. Avoid breaking the rules when it comes to your course’s required format because your grade will reflect deviations from the guidelines.
How do you do it?
- In Microsoft Word 2022, navigate to the Home tab (seen in the image below).
- Click the font dropdown menu to select Times New Roman .
- Click on the dropdown menu to select size 12 .
2. Set the margins in MLA format
Margins play a huge role in the cleanliness and overall look of your MLA style essay. If your margins aren’t set correctly, your 3-page essay might suddenly take much longer to complete because you can add more words to a page with wider margins. Stick to the format and your professor’s essay assignment will go much smoother.
- Click the Layout tab.
- Click on Margins .
- Select the option Normal .
This will give you a 1-inch margin on all sides of your paper. Now we’re cooking with gas!
3. How to add your name and page number in MLA Format 2022
Properly formatting your header can make the difference in half a letter grade or more sometimes. Be sure not to miss this step when setting up your essay in Word. There’s no sense in losing valuable grade points over something that takes no effort, right? Let’s save the heavy grading for the content!
Every MLA style essay should include your last name next to the page number in the header. It’s easy to forget this step because we don’t often look this far up the page. For that reason, we recommend getting this step out of the way before you even begin writing.
- Select the Insert tab.
- Select Page Number toward the right.
- Hover over the Top of Page option.
- Select option 3 because it doesn’t have formatting or accents.
Once you have your page number inserted into the header, it should show that it’s highlighted and ready for customization.
At this stage, you can insert your name with these steps:
- Press the Left Arrow key on your keyboard to deselect the page number.
- Type your last name and hit the Space key to add space between your name and the page number.
- Make sure to change the font for your name and page number by selecting them, then clicking Home , then using the font + size drop-downs.
It should look like this:
4. How to set double-spaced lines in Word 2022
MLA Style requires that all your body text be double-spaced. This helps your essay look cleaner and easier to read. It also provides space between your sentences, which allows for mark-ups either by you during proofreading, or by your professor during grading.
The best thing about using double spacing is that you can write more pages much faster because of the double space!
- Click on the Home tab.
- Click on the Line and Paragraph Spacin g icon.
- Click on Double or set to 2.0 , which stands for double space.
5. How to set name and title information
The name, assignment type, date, and essay title are the first things your professor sees in your essay because they’re at the top of the first page. I’ve seen many students mess up this part of the essay formatting process, and it cost them dearly in their grade.
Before you begin writing the first draft of your essay, go ahead and enter the name, course, and date information. We recommend giving your essay at least a title placeholder in the first draft too, so you don’t forget to enter a title later on.
How do you format your name and course info in MLA Format?
- Under the Home tab, hit the Left Alignment key.
- Type your first and last name and Enter .
- Type your professor’s name and Enter . Be sure to use their proper title. Don’t use Mr., Ms., or nicknames here. Stick with their first and last name if you don’t know their official title. Professor is often a safe bet in most cases.
- Type your course name and ID, then Enter . This helps the instructor keep your essay organized among many other essays in various other courses.
- Enter the date. In MLA Format, you should enter the day of the month in numeric format, then the name of the month spelled out, then the full year in numerals. Don’t use commas.
The finished title information should look like this:
Next, you’ll need to hit Enter once and select the Center Content key. Your title should be in the middle of your paper, and should clearly define what your essay is about.
Finally, hit Enter again to move to a new line, go back to Left Alignment , and start typing your essay! The finished top half of your essay should look like the screenshot below:
Remember to indent each new paragraph by half an inch. This should be automatically set in Word, but you can change it in the paragraph section we visited earlier if it’s not set correctly.
That’s all their is to properly setting up your essay in MLA Format using Microsoft Word 2022. Keep in mind that some professors create variations of MLA Format, but this isn’t the norm.
Some professors may require that you set up a cover page for your MLA essay. If this is the case, we’ll show you how to set it up in a later article. Good luck!
Mel Beasley has a bachelor’s in creative writing and journalism from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. He brings 9+ years of digital marketing and writing experience to the table by writing for publications such as Lumina News and Encore Magazine. He spent 2 years as a college-level writing tutor, and is a certified writing tutor through the CRLA, which is a prestigious cert recognized by the Association for the Coaching & Tutoring Profession. He is a professional SEO blogger with experience writing for brands such as Boardworks Education and The Greater Wilmington Business Journal. One of his latest website and marketing projects has been building the website for the now New York Times Bestselling author, Nina de Gramont .
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Question: How do I format my paper in MLA Style in Word?
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Answered By: Norma Drepaul Last Updated: Sep 29, 2021 Views: 1703
- Open a new blank document in Microsoft Word, then click on the Font diagonal arrow
- Select Times New Roman from the Font menu
- Select 12 from the Size menu
- Click on Set As Default
- Click OK on the pop-up box
- Bring down the Paragraph menu by clicking on the diagonal arrow
- Make sure that Spacing Before and After are set to 0 pt
- Check the box for “Don’t add space between paragraphs of the same style”
- Select Double from the Line spacing menu
Make sure that the margins are set to one inch all around:
- Go to the Layout tab
- Click on Margins
- Select or make sure that Normal (Top, Bottom, Left, Right) is set to 1”
Header and Page Number
- Go to the Insert tab
- Click on Page Number
- Click on Top of Page
- Select Plain Number 3 (aligns to the right)
- Enter your last name and press the space bar key on the keyboard (do not alter the number configuration, this will automatically number each page)
- Click on Close Header and Footer to continue setting up your document.
MLA style calls for a heading only on the first page, and this will list your name and the class information. There is not title sheet, unless your professor specifically asks for one.
- Enter your first and last name, then press enter to go down to the next line
- Type the word Professor followed by your professor's last name, then press enter
- Enter the class name, number, and section (if requested by your professor), then press enter
- Enter the date using the day, full month, and year format
Title for your Document and Starting your Essay
You will need to create a title for your document, and this only goes on the first page, after the heading.
- After you have typed the date, press the enter key (on the keyboard) to go down to the next line (only press the enter key once)
- From the Home tab , click on the Center align button
- Type the title of your essay/document, and press the enter key to go down to the next line
- From the Home tab , click on the Left align button
- Press the tab key (on the keyboard) to indent your first paragraph, and start typing your essay
Note* As you type, Word uses a feature called "word wrap" so you do not have to worry about your text going over the right margin. Also, remember to indent all of your paragraphs, unless indicated otherwise by your professor.
Works Cited Page
After your essay, the last section is the Works Cited list. This is where you list all your sources alphabetically and follow strict MLA citation guidelines. MLA calls for double line spacing and requires hanging indentation. A hanging indent is where the first line of an entry extends out to the left margin, and the rest of the entry is indented.
To set up your Works Cited list:
- Place a page break after your essay, if necessary, to start your references list on a new page A page break can be inserted by pressing the control and enter keys (from your keyboard) at the same time, or by going to the Insert tab and clicking on the Page Break button.
- Type and center: Works Cited
- Press enter key to move the cursor to the next line, and then from the Home tab, click on the left align button
- Click on the down arrow in the Paragraph group
- Under the Indentation section, select Hanging from the Special menu
- Start typing your citation entries following MLA guidelines. Not sure about the format? Contact your professor or librarian.
For examples and instructions on how to cite your sources in MLA style, see: https://libguides.lasc.edu/lasc_library/citations
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