How to Write in MLA Format for Microsoft Word Processor

By Amy Dombrower

MLA style refers to the Modern Language Association and is regularly used for research papers in the humanities and liberal arts fields. It uses a simple style with short in-text citations that correspond to a list of works cited at the end of the document. Many universities and schools, as well as magazines and journals employ MLA style. The MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers (see Resources) details everything you need to know about formatting a document in MLA style.

Things You'll Need

  • Microsoft Word 2007

Step 1

Open a blank document in Microsoft Word 2007.

Step 2

Format the text as recommended by MLA style, which includes double-spaced text, a readable font such as Helvetica or Times New Roman and 12 pt font. Click the "Home" tab. Click the "Line Spacing" icon in the "Paragraph" group. Select "2.0" to double-space the document. You can also click on the arrow to the right of the word "Paragraph" to bring up the "Paragraph" dialog box and under "Line Spacing" choose "Double" from the drop-down box. Then click "OK."

Step 3

In the "Font" group, choose a font and 12 pt font size. You can also click the arrow to the right of the word "Font" to bring up the "Font" dialog box. From here, you can change the typeface to Times New Roman and change the font size to 12 pt. Then click "OK."

Step 4

Set the page margins to 1 inch on all sides. Click the "Page Layout" tab. In the "Page Setup" group, click "Margins" and make sure "Normal" is selected.

Step 5

Create a header in the top-right corner of each page with your last name and the page number. To do so, click the "Insert" tab. In the "Header & Footer" group, click "Header." Select "Blank." On the "Design" tab in the "Header & Footer" group click "Page Number." Select "Top of Page" and "Plain Number 3." Type your last name in front of "1" on the first page.

Step 6

Begin typing. If you are writing a research paper for a class, enter your name, professor's name, course name and date in the top-left corner. Create a centered title on the next line. Enter only one space after the period at the end of each sentence (instead of two, which is commonly done).

Step 7

Enter in-text citations using parentheses following a direct quote or paraphrase. Each citation will refer to the list of works at the end of the document. If the name of the author is mentioned in the sentence, only type the page number of the citation in the parentheses. Otherwise, enter the author's name followed by the page number. For example, "When Hester asked if Pearl knows why her mother wears the scarlet letter, she replies that it is the same reason that the minister keeps his hand over his heart (Hawthorne 158)."

Step 8

Type the list of works cited at the end of the paper. See Resources to determine how to format each type of work. They are listed in alphabetical order according to the author's last name.

Tips & Warnings

  • These instructions only cover the basics of MLA style. Refer to the MLA handbook (see Resources) for any question you may have about MLA formatting.