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Lawrence: Political Science: Formatting Your Paper

Formatting Your Paper in MLA Style- University of Maryland University College

Watch this video, pausing and restarting, to help you format your paper in MLA format. You may also use the guide below.

Step 1: Formatting your Word features

You will need to set up these features in your Word Document before you begin.

1. To set the Margins: PAGE LAYOUT tab> Margins box launcher (small down-facing arrow in Margins box)> Normal (1" on all sides)

2. To set the Font: HOME tab> Times New Roman and 12-point font size

3. To set the Spacing: HOME tab> Paragraph dialog box launcher (small arrow in the bottom right corner of the Paragraph box)>Line Spacing> Double.

4. Click the box marked, "Don't add lines between paragraphs of the same style."


Step 2: Setting Up the Header

1. Choose the INSERT tab> Header box launcher (small down-facing arrow in Header box)> Blank (first option)


2. Hit TAB two times to bring your cursor in line with the RIGHT margin of the page

3. Type your LAST NAME, then hit the space bar.

4. In the HEADER & FOOTER TOOLS DESIGN tab> Page Number box launcher (small down-facing arrow)> Current Position> choose Plain Number.



 5. Exit the HEADER by double-clicking anywhere below the dashed line at the bottom of the header.

Step 3: Setting Up the Information Block

MLA-style papers do not have a title page. Instead, they contain a block of information at the beginning of the paper. To format this block, follow the instructions below.

1. Place your cursor in the body of your paper (below the header), on the first line, and make sure your cursor is aligned with the left margin of your page. (HOME tab> Paragraph box> Align Left symbol. See below.)

2. Type your full name> ENTER

3. Type your professor's name> ENTER

4. Type your course name and number> ENTER

5. Type the date in DD Month YYYY format.> ENTER


Step 4: Titling your Paper

1. In the HOME tab> PARAGRAPH box> Center Alignment button.

2. Type the full title of your paper, separating sections (if there are more than one) with a semicolon.

3. ENTER> HOME tab> Paragraph box> Left Alignment button. You are now ready to begin typing the body of your paper.


REMEMBER: Your first paragraph, and all subsequent paragraphs, in the body of your paper should have a 1/2" indentation. This is the default setting in Word 2013. Hitting TAB should give you this indentation.

Formatting your Works Cited page

After you have finished the body of your paper:

1. INSERT tab> Page Break. This will start a new page.

2. HOME tab> Center alignment> type Works Cited. (Do not use bold, italics, or any other style.)

3. Hit ENTER. (One time only)

4. HOME tab> Left alignment button.


5. Type your first citation.

6. MLA citations use a hanging indentation. To do this, highlight your entire citation by LEFT CLICKING AFTER the period of the citation, HOLDING DOWN, and DRAGGING your cursor to the beginning of the citation.

7. Go to the PAGE LAYOUT tab> Paragraph launcher arrow (tiny box in the bottom right-hand corner of the Paragraph box)> Indentation > Special. Choose Hanging. Click OK.


8. The second line of your citation should now be indented by 1/2".

9. Repeat Steps 6-8 for all citations. Citations should be listed in alphabetical order by their first word.

Sources Used

The MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, Seventh Edition (2009) was consulted in preparing this tutorial.

Questions or Comments

*If you need further assistance formatting your essay, please see/call/email a librarian or visit the Writing Lab.

Library Reference Desk: 423-585-6946


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