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Citation Guides

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

MLA Paper formatting directions

These directions are for how to format your document in Word or other word processing programs in MLA style. For directions on how to format your Works Cited page, see farther down this page.

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.

MLA Works Cited page formatting

Cedar Rapids Campus Library

Benton Hall

6301 Kirkwood Blvd SW, Cedar Rapids, IA

Iowa City Campus Library

107 Credit Center Building

1816 Lower Muscatine Rd., Iowa City, IA