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Citation Guides

Guides on everything related to citing sources: MLA and APA style, citing websites, and avoiding plagiarism.

MLA Works Cited page formatting plus hanging indent

The format of your Works Cited page should follow these rules:

  • The Works Cited list starts on a fresh page of your document. Go to the end of your paper and click after the end of the last sentence. In Microsoft Word, select "Insert" then "Page Break". This ensures the Works Cited list always remains on a separate page for printing.
  • Type the phrase Works Cited at the top, then center it using the center symbol in the Microsoft Word Paragraph menu ribbon.
  • Use the same font size and style as the rest of your paper.
  • Put references in alphabetical order, alphabetized by the first word of each citation. This is usually the author's last name, but may be the first word of a title (excluding A, An, The) where no author is given. 
  • The entire reference list is double-spaced, with no extra space between citations. You will likely have to adjust the spacing from the default to achieve this. Find detailed instructions in the linked document below, Formatting Works Cited in Word & Google Docs.
  • Each reference list citation should be formatted with a hanging indent. This is a paragraph setting in Microsoft Word that is like a reverse paragraph indent. Find detailed instructions for creating this format in the linked document below, Formatting Reference list in MS Word & Google Docs for MLA.
Click through this slide show or download the document below for specific directions on how to use Microsoft Word or Google Docs to get the proper formatting for your citations.

MLA Paper formatting directions

These directions are for how to format your document in Word or other word processing programs in MLA style.

From MLA Style Center, Formatting a Research Paper

  • 1 inch on all sides (Word default) 
  • To check margin settings, go to Word menu "Layout" then "Margins". It should be called "Normal" and show 1 inch margins all around.
Font style and size:
  • Any readable font, where regular and italic have good contrast
  • Generally 12 point font. MLA states the font size should be "set to a standard size"
  • To change font of your paper, press Ctrl+A to select all text, then use the drop downs on the "Home" menu, in the "Font" section, to make any needed changes.
Line spacing
  • Spacing throughout your paper should be double-spaced. This is NOT the Word default, and should be changed in the "Home" menu.
  • To change line spacing, press Ctrl+A to select all text, then click the up-and-down arrows in the Home menu, in the Paragraph section, to select 2.0.
  • In the same line spacing menu, also click "Remove space after paragraph".
Paragraphs and tab
  • Indent the first line of each paragraph half an inch from the left margin. This should be the default tab size on Word.
  • Indent quote blocks half an inch as well, using the "Increase Indent" button with the right-pointing arrow in the Paragraph menu section.
Heading and Title
  • Begin at the top of the first page, flush with the left margin.
  • Type your name, your instructor's name(s), the course numbers, and the date, each on separate lines. Double-spaced.
  • On a new, double-spaced line, use the "Center" button in the Paragraph menu section to center your title. Do NOT put title in quotes, italics, or all caps. Follow title capitalization, capitalizing the first word and all important words. Do not use a period in your title.
  • Begin your first paragraph one double-spaced line after the title, and return to left-flush margin. Tab to indent your first line a half inch.
  • See sample heading and title on the MLA Style formatting page
Page numbers and running header
  • Number all pages of your paper, in the upper right-hand corner. In Word, find the automatic page number settings in the "Insert" menu, "Header & Footer" section. Click "Page Number" drop down, move mouse to "Top of Page" and select the number in the top right-hand corner.
  • When the page number appears on your paper, leave the cursor there and type in your last name. This creates the running header for your paper.
  • If your instructor prefers no running header on the first page: While your cursor is still in the header area, click the box in the "Desgin" menu "Options" box that says "Different first page". This should take the page number and your last name off the first page, but leave it on the remaining pages.

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