Formatting a Paper with Google Docs

No matter the program you use, there are certain requirements that must be met to make your paper conform to the MLA format. Below, you will find help with where key formatting information can be found inside Google Docs.

Formatting Video

Initial Paper Setup


  1. In Google Docs, go to "file"
  2. Select "Page setup."
  3. Make sure that your setup has 1 inch listed for all the margins.
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On Google Doc's primary tool bar, select your font (red) and size (orange) from the drop down menu.

  • Font size 12
  • Accepted Fonts: Times New Roman, Ariel, Helvetica
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In MLA, spacing should be doubled for the entire paper. Go to "Format" (red), then "line spacing" (orange), and select "double" (green).
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Formatting Your Paper's Information


Headers are placed in the top right of your paper and they contain your last name, a space, and the page number.

Headers are programmed to repeat on every page automatically - this means that you cannot just type the page number as it will list the same number on every page.

To add a header, go to "insert" (red) and select "header and page number" (orange). Then select "page number" (green). At this point, you have two options:

  • If your paper requires a cover page, select the second option (yellow).
  • If your paper does not have a cover page, select the first option (purple).

After you have selected the header you want, click by the number and insert your last name BEFORE the number.

Your header should look like this: Doe 1

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Your heading should be place on the left side of the paper. It is where you include the information your teacher needs to identify and sort your paper. It should include the following information:

  • Your first and last name
  • Your teacher's name and title if they have one (Prof. Dr., Mr., Mrs., etc.)
  • Your course's full name (Algebra I A, English II B, etc.)
  • The date written in the day month year format.

The whole thing should be double-spacing automatically if you set up the spacing before writing your heading. If not, then highlight the heading and follow the steps under "spacing."

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The title of a paper should not be named after the assignment. It should be unique to what your paper is about or the argument you are making. Connecting it to your thesis is always a good idea.

Titles should be centered and should be the same font and size of the rest of your paper. There should not be additional spacing around it beyond the normal double-space that your paper should automatically be doing at this point.
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Each new paragraph of a paper written in MLA format should have the line indented. This is to ensure that the paragraph is clearly designated as separate.

On a PC computer, hitting the "tab" button on the keyboard should automatically create the spacing. If there is not an option, then try putting at least 10 spaces between the margins and the new paragraph.

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Works Cited Page

Works cited pages are formatted a specific way:

  • A separate page from the essay
  • Page titled "Works Cited" at the top
  • Listed in alphabetical order
  • Contains hanging indent
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Hanging Indents:

  1. In Google Docs, hanging indents are achieved by highlighting your text.
  2. Select "format" (red)
  3. Choose "align and indent" (orange)
  4. Select "Indentations options" (green)
  5. In the options menu for "special indent," select "hanging."
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Changing the SHARE Settings in Google Docs

If the SHARE settings are not changed in Google Docs, then your teachers will not be able to access the document if you choose to only give the URL instead of downloading the document from Google and then uploading it to Ignitia.

Please following these directions to change the SHARE settings.

Step 1: Hit share in the upper right corner

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Step 2: Click on the link share tab and select MORE at the bottom

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Step 3: Select "Anyone with the link"

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Step 4: Change to "Can comment"

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Step 5: Select "Save"

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Step 6: Select "Copy link"

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Step 7: Paste link into the assignment