Northeast Wisconsin Technical College: Ask NWTC banner

How do I set up MLA formatting in Word?

  • Ask a Librarian
  • Ask an Eagle
  • 33 Canvas/Online Classes
  • 44 Citing Sources
  • 103 Computers/Mobile
  • 10 Faculty Resources
  • 83 Finding Library Materials
  • 9 Interlibrary Loan
  • 34 Library Check Out/Renew
  • 12 Library Hours & Locations
  • 26 Library Policies
  • 4 Library Supplies
  • 11 NWTC Help
  • 3 Printing/Copying
  • 57 Research Help
  • 17 Software
  • 7 Test Prep
  • 20 Troubleshooting

Instructions for  formatting an MLA paper in Word:

  • To begin, open a new document in Word and make sure the Home tab is selected. In the Font Group, select Times New Roman, size 12 pt. 

Font group on Word ribbon

  • Next, while in the Home tab, look for the Paragraph group, and click on the bottom right hand arrow. 

paragraph group

  • In the Spacing section, change the Line Spacing to Double and be sure to set the before and after spacing to 0pt. Close the window.

spacing section

  • On the Layout tab, click Margins and select Normal (1" on all sides).

Screenshot of Page layout in Word document, with margin settings to 1 inch (normal)

  • Click on the Insert tab. In the Header & Footer group, click on Page Number. Choose Top of Page and then Plain Number 3.

Screenshot of Inserting page numbers at the Top of page in Word document, with Plain number 3 option circled.

  • Click before the page number. Type your last name and hit the space bar once. Highlight the text, click the Home tab, and change font to Times New Roman, size 12. Then double click below dotted line to begin typing your paper.

Screenshot of Last name and page number in header

  • Type the following, each on a separate line: Your name, instructor's name, the course name/number, and the date (Day Month Year).

Screenshot of Name and course details

  • Hit Enter key to move down to a new line. To center your title, click the Center icon in the Paragraph section and type the title of your paper.
  • To begin your paper, hit Enter key to move down to a new line. Click the Left icon in the Paragraph section. Hit Tab key to indent and start typing. *Remember to hit the Tab key each time you begin a new paragraph.

See the MLA Citation Guide for more information on MLA format.

  • MLA Paper Format (free chapter of MLA Handbook)
  • MLA Margins & Text Formatting (free chapter of MLA Handbook)
  • MLA Title Format (free chapter of MLA Handbook)

  • Citing Sources
  • Computers/Mobile
  • Share on Facebook

Was this helpful? Yes 90 No 12

Comments (0)

Contact information.

ask@nwtc.libanswers.com

Spartanburg Community College Library

  • Spartanburg Community College Library
  • SCC Research Guides
  • Formatting Your Word Document

ask a librarian email questions

  • 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 .

Image of Microsoft Word's home" tab with "Times New Roman" selected

MLA Formatting for Word - Online Version

Microsoft Word Online homepage with Home and font Times New Roman, size 12 outlined in red boxes.

  • 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.

Microsoft Word online version with a proper MLA heading; the header tab is outlined in a red box with a red arrow pointing to it.

  • 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."

Microsoft Word online version with alignment icon outlined in a red box with a red arrow pointing to it; Align Center is also outlined in a red box with a red arrow pointing to it.

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 .

Task bar of Microsoft Word with the Insert tab outlined in red and the Blank Page icon outlined in a red box.

  • Click the "Home" tab, then click the "Justify Center" icon. This will center your title. 

Home tab in Microsoft Word with a red box outlining it; center justified icon also outlined in a red box.

  • Type in your title, Works Cited. Your title should be in size 12 Times New Roman font.

Sample Works Cited with the words Works Cited in the center of the page 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.

Task bar for Microsoft Word under the "Home" tab with the Justify Left icon outlined in red.

  • Type in your full MLA Citations for your sources. Remember, your Works Cited page should still be double-spaced!

Full MLA citation typed out on a Works Cited page.

  • 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. 

MLA citation on a Works Cited page with a full hanging indent.

  • 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.

Word Online taskbar with "Home" tab outlined in red and the "Center Alignment" tab outlined in red.

  • 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.

Word Online taskbar with "Home" tab outlined in red and the "Justify Left" icon outlined in red.

  • Type in your full MLA Citations for your sources. Remember, your Works Cited should still be double-spaced!

Full MLA citation on a Works Cited page

  • 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.

Full MLA Citation with a hanging indent.

  • << 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

Questions? Ask a Librarian

SCC Librarian and student working together

  • Last Updated: Dec 4, 2023 11:52 AM
  • URL: https://libguides.sccsc.edu/MLA

Giles Campus | 864.592.4764 | Toll Free 866.542.2779 | Contact Us

Copyright © 2023 Spartanburg Community College. All rights reserved.

Info for Library Staff

Return to SCC Website

how to put essay in mla format on word

Microsoft 365 Life Hacks > Writing > Writing an Essay in MLA Format

Writing an Essay in MLA Format

Knowing how to write a Modern Language Association—or MLA—essay is an essential part of making it through school these days. Be warned, however, that daunting little tasks await around every corner—whether it’s knowing where to set your margins, how to edit a header, the right way to format a heading, and beyond!

Someone using a tablet to study for an essay on coral and sea life.

While we can’t write your paper for you, this guide can certainly help you understand the proper MLA format for your essay. Keep reading to learn about writing an MLA-format paper with some tips for making sure it’s done right the first time.

Get the most out of your documents with Word Banner

Get the most out of your documents with Word

Elevate your writing and collaborate with others - anywhere, anytime

What is an MLA-format essay? It’s not uncommon for associations and organizations to follow a standard format and writing style. The Associated Press (AP) and University of Chicago styles are most common in professional settings. News outlets typically prefer the AP style, while businesses and creative agencies will choose the Chicago style. Academia, on the other hand, traditionally follows APA and MLA styles. APA (not the same as AP style) comes from the American Psychological Association and is used in scholarly articles. An MLA-format essay fits the established style for citing references and formatting essays established by the Modern Language Association.

Required elements of an MLA-format paper. MLA is the preferred style when writing an essay in high school and most college settings. As with other writing styles, there are specific characteristics and items an MLA-format paper needs to include to fit the bill of the style. Every MLA-format essay must include the following:

  • One-inch margins
  • Double-spaced text
  • Easy-to-read font (typically Times New Roman) in size 12
  • New paragraphs indented 0.5 inches
  • Italicized media titles (books, magazines, etc.), no underlining
  • Page numbers in the header 0.5 inches from the top of the page
  • Oxford comma
  • Center-justified title
  • Headings and subheadings
  • Clearly labeled and titled tables and figures
  • Parenthetical citations

In addition to the listed elements above, every MLA essay must include a Works Cited. MLA format doesn’t require a title page, but it also doesn’t deem them unnecessary, so it’s up to your professor whether you’ll need one or not. One way to take the edge off the process of writing this type of essay is to use a free template or a handy built-in tool that helps you build bibliographies and more.

A graphic depicting how to set up the headings for an MLA format essay.

Tips for meeting MLA formatting guidelines. It’s said that the devil is in the details, and it’s never truer than when it comes to MLA-format essays. The following tips are areas to pay attention to when writing your essay:

  • Set your margins. Your software might be set to one-inch margins, double-spaced text, and 0.5-inch indentations by default—but you can save yourself the trouble (and a headache) later in the writing process by adjusting them before you get started. Of course, one of the best parts about using a computer to write your essay is that you can always make adjustments later.
  • Straighten out your headings . One area students might miss with MLA formatting is with the title, headings, and subheadings. It’s normal to want to use bold or italicized typeface on your titles and headings to make them stand out from the rest of the text. MLA style specifically calls for them to match the rest of the text without any alterations aside from title case. A centered or left-justified heading will stand out enough from the rest of your text that it needn’t any additional adjustments.
  • Understand subheadings. While primary headings aren’t to receive any special formatting, subheadings will be changed to set them apart from their headings. For example, if your heading is about mammals, you might have subheadings about land and water mammals. You can further organize your water mammals subheading into types of whales and dolphins. Using subheadings helps to organize your writing and makes it easier to consume as a reader.
  • Know how to cite your work. The information you’re presenting in your essay didn’t mysteriously appear from out of the ether. You need to give credit where it’s due when writing an MLA-format paper, so you’re giving credit to the original author of your sources. You can also improve your writing credibility and avoid plagiarism. Plagiarism is one of the biggest academic offenses a student can commit and could lead to expulsion in some cases. Properly citing your work with parenthetical citations and quoting authors when necessary will help to keep you covered.

When it comes down to it, practice makes perfect. The more essays you write, the better you’ll become at writing and meeting the expectations of MLA style. Before you know it, MLA format will be second nature, and everything will fall into place.

Still having a hard time visualizing what an MLA essay looks like? Check out a sample paper so you can see first-hand how they’re formatted!

Get started with Microsoft 365

It’s the Office you know, plus the tools to help you work better together, so you can get more done—anytime, anywhere.

Topics in this article

More articles like this one.

how to put essay in mla format on word

What’s a conditional verb?

Conditional verbs are essential for writing about hypothetical or unlikely scenarios. Learn about conditional verbs and how to use them in English.

how to put essay in mla format on word

What is sentence inversion?

Sentence inversion can be employed in various styles, from formal to creative. See how you can use inverted sentences to mix it up in your work.

how to put essay in mla format on word

What are irregular plural nouns?

English language rules were meant to be broken. See how irregular plural nouns do just that.

how to put essay in mla format on word

Understanding pronoun cases

Each of the three pronoun cases can replace a different type of noun in a sentence. Learn about pronoun cases and how they work.

Microsoft 365 Logo

Everything you need to achieve more in less time

Get powerful productivity and security apps with Microsoft 365

LinkedIn Logo

Explore Other Categories

IMAGES

  1. MLA Sample Paper

    how to put essay in mla format on word

  2. MLA format

    how to put essay in mla format on word

  3. 38 Free MLA Format Templates (+MLA Essay Format) ᐅ TemplateLab

    how to put essay in mla format on word

  4. MLA Heading and Header Formats (With Examples)

    how to put essay in mla format on word

  5. MLA Document Formatting

    how to put essay in mla format on word

  6. Format paper in MLA 7 using Word 2016

    how to put essay in mla format on word

VIDEO

  1. Setting Up an MLA Word Document

  2. How to (MLA) Format a Document Using Microsoft Word (Spring 2014)

  3. MLA Format Your Essay in Microsoft Works

  4. How to write an essay for writerbay,upwork,fiverr,livingston in mla format

  5. How to Save MLA format in Microsoft Word

  6. MLA Format Word 2010

COMMENTS

  1. How Long Is a 500-Word Essay?

    A 500-word essay averages two double-spaced pages. The length of a document depends on the paper and margin sizes as well as the general text formatting.

  2. How Do You Block Quote in MLA Format?

    When writing in MLA format, use block quotes for quotes that are more than four lines long by introducing the quote with a colon and indenting the entire quote 1 inch from the left margin and flush to the right margin.

  3. 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, ...

  4. How to Set Up MLA Format in Word

    This is a quick video tutorial for setting up a Word 2010 document in MLA format. A lot of professors grade strictly when it comes to format

  5. How to Use MLA Format in Microsoft Word

    Open a new blank Microsoft Word document. · Click File from the ribbon. · Type MLA format and click the MLA Style Paper template in the Search

  6. How To Use MLA Format in Word in 9 Simple Steps

    How to use MLA format in Word · 1. Change the font. Open your document and select the "Home" tab. · 2. Verify the margin settings. Standard MLA

  7. How do I set up MLA formatting in Word?

    Highlight the text, click the Home tab, and change font to Times New Roman, size 12. Then double click below dotted line to begin typing your paper. ​

  8. How to Format Your Essay in MLA Style with Microsoft Word

    This is a simple guide to formatting your essay in MLA style using Microsoft Word, the latest version. We'll cover everything from proper

  9. Setting up an Essay in MLA Format in MS Word

    the arrow next to the Font Size box, and choose 12. Or choose a preferred font and size. Setting Defaults. • To set the above font and paragraph settings as

  10. Formatting Your Word Document

    MLA Formatting for Word - Online Version · On the "Home" tab, select "Times New Roman" from the font list and change the font size to 12. · On the

  11. MLA Formatting in Word

    How to Format Your Essay in MLA Style - Word 2022. Writer's Hive ... Microsoft Word: How To Set Up MLA Format 2023. No Rest For The Wicked

  12. Writing an Essay in MLA Format

    Get the most out of your documents with Word · One-inch margins · Double-spaced text · Easy-to-read font (typically Times New Roman) in size 12

  13. How to Create an MLA Essay Template in Microsoft Word on a PC

    It will save you several minutes of formatting time whenever you need to write an MLA essay. All you will need in order to get started is some basic knowledge

  14. Setting your Essay to MLA Format in Word

    In this video tutorial, I explain how to set your essay to MLA format including the header and bibliography. This is the improved version