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How to Create an MLA Style Research Paper Using Word 2007 and MLA Style Described in MLA Handbook 8th Edition

Create a new document in Microsoft Word 2007.

Make these settings before starting to type. Any specific instructions from your teacher supersede these instructions. 

  • In the Page Layout tab (ribbon), Page Setup section:
    • Click Size, Letter (8 1/2 x 11 inch)
    • Click Margins, Normal (1 inch)
    • Click Orientation, Portrait
  • In the Home tab (ribbon):
    • In the Font section:
      • Click the Font box down-arrow to list the font names (listed alphabetically) then select either Times New Roman font
      • Click the Font Size box down-arrow to list the font sizes then select 12 point
      • Click the Font Color button down-arrow to show the colors. Then select either automatic or black color.
    • In the Paragraph section
      • Click the Line Spacing button down-arrow then select 2.0 for double spaced.
      • Click the Line Spacing button down-arrow then select Remove Space Before Paragraph if it is shown.
      • Click the Line Spacing button down-arrow then select Remove Space After Paragraph if it is shown.
    • View the Bold, Italic, and Underline buttons and verify that they do not have gold highlight. If they do, click the button to remove the gold highlight. This will turn-off Bold, Italic and Underline.
  • On the View tab (ribbon):
    • Click the Ruler check box to show the ruler.

Create a page header

  • Double-click in the top margin of the document (the page header area will be shown above a dashed blue line.)
  • On the keyboard press Ctrl-R keys. The insertion point will move to the right margin
  • On the Home ribbon select font Times New Roman 12-point black.
  • Type the student's last name
  • Type a space
  • Verify that the insertion point follows the space that you just typed, then on Insert tab, click Page Number, Current Position, Plain Number
  • Do not press Enter key.
  • Double-click the body of the document (below the blue dashed line) to close header editing and resume editing the body of the document.


Create a Works Cited page

The Works Cited page is where you list the sources for all borrowed ideas used in your report. "Bibliography" and "Works Cited" have similar meanings. Use the following procedure to create the Works Cited page before starting to type the body of your paper.

  • Move the insertion point to the end of the document.
  • Create a new page by pressing Ctrl-Enter or by clicking Insert tab, then Pages, Page Break.
  • (Word then creates a second page.)
  • Move the insertion point to the top of the body of the new page.
  • Click the Home tab, Paragraph, Center button.
  • Type the page title, "Works Cited"
  • Press the Enter key to create a new paragraph.
  • Press Ctrl-L on the keyboard or click the Home tab, then click the Align Text Left button.
  • Change the new paragraph to hanging indent style as follows:
    • Right click the new paragraph, then click Paragraph on the shortcut list
    • or, click the Home tab, then click the small button at the lower right corner of the Paragraph section.
    • then, when the Paragraph window is displayed, click the Indents and Spacing tab, then in the Indentation section, set Special, Hanging and By, 0.5".  Click the OK button.
  • The Works Cited page is now ready for the first entry in the works cited list (entries are typed in alphabetical order usually by the last name of the author). The following examples illustrate the MLA style for citing referenced works:

Book format: AuthorLastname, Firstname. Title of Book. Publisher, Year of Publication. 

Harbord, Janet. The Evolution of Film: Rethinking Film Studies. Polity, 2007. 

Magazine format: AuthorLastname, Firstname. "Title of Article." Title of Magazine, date, page number(s).

Cowley, Malcolm. "It Took a Village." Utne Reader, Nov.-Dec. 1997, pp. 48-49.

Online sources: AuthorLastname, Firstname. "Title of Article." Website name, date posted, URL.

Purdue OWL Staff, "MLA 8th Edition Formatting and Style Guide." The Purdue Online Writing Lab,

Film: DirectorLastame, Firstname, director. Title of film. Name of production company, release date.

Nolan, Christopher, director. The Dark Knight. Warner Brothers, 2008.

Notes: The first descriptive item is the author's name if available (last name, a comma, first name and period). Next comes the article title or web page title that are enclosed in quotation marks and followed by a period. Next comes the titles of books or periodicals or websites or films that are italicized, followed by a comma followed by the name of the publisher,  a comma, the publication date, a comma and, if applicable, the document pages (pages are preceded by either p. or pp. depending on whether a single page or multiple pages) followed by a period.
If the author's name is unknown, the first descriptive item will be either the book title or article title, whichever comes next.

Continue until all of your sources are listed on the Works Cited page. Use the pattern above to document other types of media.

Begin typing the body of your paper.

  • Click the mouse on the first page to move the insertion point there.
  • On the Home tab, select “Align Text Left”.
  • On line 1: At left margin, type the student's first and last names. Then press Enter.
  • On line 2: At left margin, type the teacher's name, as Mr. Johnson. Then press Enter.
  • On line 3: At left margin, type the course name. Then press Enter.
  • On line 4: At left margin, type the date as 14 September 2016. (The month is located between the day and the year and is spelled out.) Then press Enter.
  • On line 5: Click the Center icon on the Home ribbon. Type the title of the paper. Then press Enter.
    • If the title is too long for one line or if there is a subtitle, type it centered on the next line. Then press Enter
  • On the line following the title and subtitle, click the “Align Text Left” button on the Home ribbon. Press the Tab key to indent the line. Then start typing the first paragraph. Don't press Enter at the end of lines and sentences will flow automatically onto the next line. At the end of the paragraph press Enter.
  • After pressing Enter, press Tab and begin typing the second paragraph. Continue typing paragraphs to the end of the document. When a page is full, Word will create a new blank page and allow the body sentence to flow onto the new blank page.
  • For example:

Jane Goodstudent

Mr. Chambers

English 7

14 September 2016

This is the Title of My Research Paper

     This is the first sentence of my first paragraph; it has been indented 0.5 inch by pressing Tab before typing the sentence. There is a single space between all words and sentences. All lines in the paper are double-spaced. There is no additional spacing either before or after paragraphs. Font for the whole document is Times New Roman, 12 point, black or equivalent. Verify that name and page number in the page header are the same font. Notice that the title has been centered horizontally on the page by clicking on the title and then clicking the Center button on the Home ribbon. Press the Enter key to end one paragraph and start a new paragraph.

Long quotations

  • Normal quotations are typed with preceding and following quotation marks. Long quotations are formatted differently.
  • A long quotation is one that occupies more than four lines in the paper.
  • Long quotations should be typed without quotation marks but all lines should be indented 1" to the right of the left margin. 
    • Before starting the long quotation, press the Enter key to create a new line
    • At the end of the quotation, press the enter key
    • With the quotation selected, click the “Increase Indent” button (on the Home ribbon) twice so that the quotation is indented 1"
    • Select the line following the quotation, then click the “Decrease Indent” button (on the Home tab) twice to start the line on the left margin.
  • The line following the long quotation:
    • begins at the left margin if it is a continuation of the current paragraph
    • is tabbed 0.5" if it is the beginning of a new paragraph.

Illustrations (tables and figures)

  • MLA uses the word "Illustration" to include both tables and pictures (MLA calls pictures "figures").
  • Figures: Putting a figure along with its label, caption and citation into a table will keep them together in a Word document. Do the following: 
    • In your document create a 1-column, 2-row table near where the figure is referenced in the document text. Change the table properties to Autofit to Content.
    • Find the picture on the Internet and copy it.
    • In your document, click in the top cell of the table then right-click and click paste. The picture will be pasted into the cell.
    • Select the bottom cell of the table  Type the label, for example, "Fig. 1. " followed immediately by the caption  and then by the source citation in parentheses.
  • Tables: Putting a table ("data table"), its label and caption, and its citation inside another table ("outer table") will keep them together in a Word document. Do the following:
    •  In your document create the outer table, a 1-column, 3-row table near where the table is referenced in the document text. Change the table properties to Autofit to Content.
    • In the top cell, type a label, for example "Table 1." and a title for example "Pizza topping preferences at Cornerstone Christian Schools.
    • In the middle cell either:
      • create a new inner table with the number of rows and columns to contain the data for the report (in this example the pizza topping data). Then fill the inner data cells, remembering that the top row should contain column headers.
      • or, copy the table from its original location and then paste into the middle cell.
    • In the bottom cell type any notes about the table followed by the source citation in parentheses.

In-text Citations

  • When in writing your paper you include an idea borrowed from someone else, you are required to give credit to (or "cite") the person who is the source of that idea. You should have listed that source in the Works Cited page before starting to type the body of your report.

  • In the body of the text following a quotation, you reference the work cited by enclosing in parentheses the last name of the source and the document page number where found, as (Harbord 137). This in-text citation should be placed immediately after the quotation. If at the end of a sentence, place the in-text citation just before the period. If there is no page number then only the author's name is within parentheses. Subsequent in-text citations to the same document may show only the page number within parentheses as (137). When you refer to the content of a movie or video, instead of page number, give the elapsed time from the start as (Nolan 01:09:30) for one hour, nine minutes and 30 seconds from the start.

  • You must also cite the source even if the borrowed idea isn't a direct quote, that is, within quotation marks. For example, in the following sentence the words "states that" indicate that the following ideas are borrowed from Franklin, however they are not his words, therefore not within quotation marks; this is known as an indirect quote. Since Franklin's name already is identified in the text, only the page numbers are given within parentheses at the end of the sentence.

In his Autobiography, Benjamin Franklin states that he prepared a list of thirteen virtues (135-37).