Writing Research Papers How to Format in MLA Style
Pre-Writing Formatting What To Do Before You Start Writing
Margins • In MLA Style, all margins should be set to one inch. • Header and footer should be set to one-half inch. • In Microsoft Word 2003, click File – Page Setup – and set the margins on the Layout tab. • In Microsoft Word 2007+, click on the Page Layout tab, click margins, and choose the appropriate setup from the drop-down list. • In OpenOffice Writer, click Format – Page, then click the Page tab, and enter your margins.
Paragraph Spacing • In standard MLA style, paragraphs should always be double-spaced. • In Word 2003, click on Format – Paragraph, and select Double Spacing under the Line Spacing menu. • In Word 2007+, it may be preset to double space. If not, on the Home tab, under the Paragraph section, click the Line Spacing button and choose 2.0. • In OpenOffice Writer, click on Format – Paragraph, and under Line Spacing, choose Double.
Font Face and Size • Font Face should be Times New Roman. While other simple fonts are acceptable, due to student abuse of “loop holes” in rules, I ask that you all use Times New Roman. • Font Size should be set to 12 point. • Under no circumstance should you use bold fonts. • Only use underlines or italics when referring to the title of a work of literature, or if it is part of a quotation.
Alignment and Header • Text should always be aligned to the left side of the page. Never used justified text. Though it looks nice because everything aligns to both sides, it is not recommended for writing research papers. • For your header, use the following format, aligned to the left, of course: • Your Name • Teacher’s Name • Course Title • Date
Page Numbers • Before you start writing your paper, you should always begin your page numbering. This saves you time later, and prevents the possible “oops” of forgetting once you’re done. • For Microsoft Word 2003, click on View, and choose Header and Footer. • For Microsoft Word 2007+, click on the Insert Tab, and click Header, and then choose Edit Header. • In the header, align to the right, and type your last name only. After your last name, click Insert – Page Number (if in Word 2007+, choose Top of Page – Plain 3). • For OpenOffice, see the handout to format page numbers.
Begin Writing Your Paper • After formatting your margins, adjusting line spacing, setting the font face and size, inserting your page numbers, and entering your header, you are ready to write. • Return once after the header, and type a title for your paper. For this research paper, I’m not going to be picky about a title, just give it one. • Return once after the title, hit tab, and begin writing your paper.