Since 1883 the Modern Language Association (MLA) of America has been standardizing the way scholarly findings are shared. When you, the student, are asked to write a paper in the MLA format, you are expected to adhere to a set of guidelines for formatting documents and referencing sources. In this post, you will learn how to format an MLA document using Microsoft Word 2016. For more information about formatting, citations, and the Works Cited page use the Purdue Online Writing Lab, the MLA Handbook, or the MLA website.

To create an MLA formatted paper using Word 2016 (page numbers refer to the book Microsoft Word 2016 In 90 Pages):

  1. Start Word and click Blank document, if necessary. p. 1
  2. Be sure the Page Setup is for standard, 8.5″ x 11″ paper: Click Layout > Size > 8.5″ x 11″. p. 9
  3. Double-space the text for your document: Select all existing text, if necessary, and then on the Home tab click the Paragraph dialog box launcher . In the dialog box, on the Indents and Spacing tab, set After to 0 and Line Spacing to Double. p. 24
  4. Change the font to Times New Roman 12 point: Select all existing text, if necessary, and then on the Home tab use the lists in the Font group to change the font to Times New Roman and the size to 12. p. 21-22
  5. When you type your text, type only one space after a period and other punctuation marks. p. 10
  6. Change the margins to 1 inch on all sides: Click Layout and then click the Page Setup dialog box launcher . In the dialog box, on the Margins tab, change Top, Bottom, Left, and Right to 1. p. 33
  7. When you type your text, press the Tab key at the beginning of each paragraph to indent the paragraph one-half inch. Do NOT type spaces to indent a paragraph. p. 26 tip
  8. Create a right-aligned header that numbers pages consecutively: Click Insert > Page Number > Top of Page > Plain Number 3 (the right-aligned page number option). On the Header & Footer Tools tab (you may need to double-click in the header to make this tab available), be sure the Header from Top option is set to 0.5″. Next, highlight the page number to select it and then on the Home tab, change the font and size to Times New Roman 12 point. p. 34-36, 21-22
    • If your instructor requires your last name in the header, click in the header, place the insertion point to the left of the page number, and then type your last name followed by a space. Be sure to format all the header text in Times New Roman 12 point.
    • If your professor requires that you omit the header on the first page, then click in the header and click Header & Footer Tools > Different First Page. Note that if you have only one page, the header no longer displays. As you type, the header will be automatically added to subsequent pages.
  9. In the upper-left of the first page, type the following information:
    Your Name
    Instructor Name
    *Note that the text will be double-spaced because of the formatting you applied in a previous step.
  10. Type your paper title and then format it with center alignment: With the insertion point in the title, click Home > Center  in the Paragraph group. Do NOT emphasize your title with bold or italic. And be sure to use mixed case text.
    *Note that when you press Enter to type the next paragraph of text, you will need to click Home > Align Left  in the Paragraph group to change the alignment back to left. p. 23

The first page of your MLA formatted document will look similar to:

MLA formatted document
MLA formatted document

**Note that your instructor may give you special instructions that should be used where necessary.

MLA citations appear alphabetized on a separate page titled Works Cited at the end of the paper: Place the insertion point after the last character in the paper and then press Ctrl+Enter to create a new page. Click References > Bibliography > Works Cited to insert citations that have a one-half inch hanging indent. Center the Works Cited title at the top of the page. Format all the citation text, including the Works Cited title, in Times New Roman 12 point. p. 85 – 86

The last page (Works Cited) of your MLA formatted document will look similar to:

MLA Works Cited page
MLA Works Cited Page

To learn how to use Word 2016 to create and insert MLA style citations, refer to p. 85 – 86 in Microsoft Word 2016 In 90 Pages.


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