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MLA Manual - Guide for MLA Citation: Formatting

Use this guide for help with MLA Citation.

Adjusting the margins

Your margins should be 1" all the way around: top, left, right, and bottom of your paper. This is usually the default margin on a new document in both Microsoft Word and Google Documents. However, if you need to change them, do the following:

  • Microsoft Word: go to your top toolbar and click Layout > Margins and adjust margins
  • Google Docs: click on File > Page setup and adjust the margins

Formatting the text: font, size, spacing

For MLA text formatting requirements, you will need to:

  • Use a standard-sized, legible font (10 pt to 12pt; Times New Roman, Arial, etc.)
  • Double-space all of your text 
           How do I do that? MS Word | Google Doc
  • Indent the first line of each paragraph at 0.5"
           How do I do that? MS Word | Google Doc
  • Create a 0.5" hanging indent for your works cited page
           How do I do that? MS Word | Google Doc
  • Create a running header with your last name and the page number
           How do I do that? MS Word | Google Doc

Heading and title

Do not confuse your heading with your header, which is where your page number goes. The heading of your paper is where you include your name, your professor, your class, and the date (D Month YYYY), respectively. This information should be left-aligned at the top of your first page. DO NOT put it in the header of the document.

The title is the name of your research paper. It should be centered on the first page of your paper. DO NOT put it in the header of the document.

Removing text formatting from copy & paste

If you are copying and pasting a citation -- or a direct quote, or any other text, really -- you may notice that when you paste it into Microsoft Word or a Google Doc, it carries formatting with it, including background colors. There are several ways to avoid this:

  1. Before you paste, right click in the place you would like to paste the text. From the menu that comes up, click "Keep text only" in MS Word or "Paste without formatting" in Google Doc.
  2. If you have already pasted your text, highlight the text.
    • In MS Word, go to the Styles part of the Home toolbar, then click on the bottom-most arrow on that window. Once you click on that, some new options should come up. Click "Clear formatting" to get rid of all the extra formatting from the web.
    • In Google Doc, click on the Format tab, then go down the menu and click "Clear formatting" to get rid of any extra formatting.