Formatting a Paper with Word

Microsoft Word

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 Microsoft Word.

Formatting Video

Initial Paper Set-Up


In Word, click on the tab "Layout" and find "Margins." Select 1" for all sides.

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Go to the "home" tab (red) and select your font (orange) and size (green) from the drop down menu

  • Font size 12
  • Accepted Fonts: Times New Roman, Ariel, Helvetica
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On the home tab, click the little arrow (red) in the bottom right of the paragraph section (orange). Then select double for line spacing(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.

Example: Doe 1

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, either triple click on the very top of the page or go to the "insert" tab (red). Go to "Page Number" (orange), choose "Top of Page" (yellow), and then select "Plain Number 3" (green). A page number will now be in the top right corner. Click in front of the number and put your last name.

*If you triple clicked instead of going to "insert," the "Page Number" tab will be on the far left.

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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:

  • On a PC, hanging indents can be made by attained in Word by highlighting the works cited entries and holding "Ctrl" and "T" at the same time.
  • Using Word's settings, highlight the works cited entries. Go to "home" (green) and then select the arrow (red) in the bottom right of "paragraph" (orange). Under "special," select "hanging" (blue), then OK.
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