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Writing Center: How to Set up an MLA Paper

A guide to information to help you research and write more effectively.

MLA: Step by Step for Newcomers to the Style

How to Set up a Paper

Basic Rules:

1)      Set the margins of your paper to be 1 inch on all sides (go to “margins” under “page layout” )

2)      Use the font: Times New Roman

3)      The font size should be 12 point.

4)      Make sure your paper is double-spaced and that the before and after boxes both read 0 (go to Paragraph and then look under Spacing.)

5)      You text should be aligned left (also go to Paragraph and look under General.)

6)      Indent the first line of paragraphs one half-inch from the left margin. (Use Tab key).


How to Set up an MLA Paper

MLA (Modern Language Association) style is commonly used to write papers and cite sources in English and foreign language courses, as well as in other disciplines in the humanities.

General format guidelines:

1)      Follow all basic rules mentioned above.

2)      Create a header that numbers all pages consecutively in the upper right-hand corner, one-half inch from the top and flush with the right margin.

·         Go to Insert, click Page Number and choose Plain number 3 under Top of Page.

·         Type your last name next to the page number and leave one space between your last name and the page number, then double click.

·         Make sure the header is in Times New Roman size 12 font and the header should appear on every page of your paper.

3)      In the upper left-hand corner of the first page, list the following information:

·         Your name (First name + Last name, Ex: Lingshan Song)

·         The professor’s name (Ex: Professor Steve Price)

·         The course number (Ex: English 101)

·         The due day (day/month/year, Ex: 11 August 2011)

4)      On the fifth line, center your title. The title is not bolded, underlined, or italicized.

5)      Start your text on the same page. Use the Tab key to indent the first line of paragraphs one half-inch from the left margin.

6)      Set up a Works Cited page (The Works Cited page is a list of all the sources cited in your paper):

·         This page begins on a new page.

·         This page should be double spaced as well.

·         Center the word Works Cited without underling, bolding, or italicizing it. If there is only one entry, title this page Work Cited.

·         Create a hanging indention for this page:

a)      Go to Paragraph and select Special under Indention

b)      Then select Hanging

Terms in Chinese (文档专业名词的中文翻译):

1)      Inch: 英寸; 1 inch = 2.54 cm

2)      Font: 字体/字形

3)      Times New Roman: 新罗马字体

4)      Font size: 字体大小

5)      Double spaced: 双倍行距

6)      Paragraph: 段落

7)      Spacing: 间距

8)      Aligned left: 向左对齐

9)      General: 常规

10)  Tab key: 跳格键,位于大写锁定键上方

11)  Header: 页眉

12)  Insert: 插入

13)  Page number: 页码

14)  Works Cited Page: 引用页面

15)  Hanging indention: 悬挂式缩进


Video on Formatting an Paper with MLA Seventh Edition

Are you struggling on how to format a paper with MLA Seventh Edition? Check this video out!