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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

  • In File menu
    • Click New
    • In "Search for online templates" box type "MLA" then press Enter
    • Click "MLA style paper" template then click "pin to list"
    • Double-click the template to open it in Word.

This document is formatted for MLA-style research papers. It contains instructions for formatting your report. The document has the following settings required by the MLA style guide:

  • Page Layout
    • Size, Letter (8 1/2 x 11 inch)
    • Margins, Normal (1 inch)
    • Orientation, Portrait
  • Font:
    • Font name: Times New Roman
    • Font Size: 12 point
    • Font Color: either automatic or black
    • Font Properties: bold, italic, underline - turned off
  • Paragraph:
    • Align text left
    • Line Spacing: 2.0 for double spaced.
    • Line Spacing: Remove Space Before Paragraph.
    • Line Spacing: Remove Space After Paragraph.
  • On the View tab (ribbon):
    • Click the Ruler check box to show the ruler.

Customizing the Page Header for Your Report

  • Double-click in the top margin of the document (the page header area will be shown above a dashed blue line.)
  • Replace the words "Last Name" with the student's last name
  • Do not delete the space and page number field that follow name. Do not press Enter key.
  • Double-click the body of the document (below the blue dashed line) to close header and start editing the body of the document.

Begin typing the body of your paper.

  • Click the mouse on the first page to move the insertion point to the upper left corner of the body area.
  • On line 1: Replace "Your Name" with the student's first and last names.
  • On line 2: Replace "Instructior Name" with your teacher's name, as Mr. Johnson.
  • On line 3: Replace "Course Number" with the course name, as "English 7". Ask your teacher what to put here.
  • On line 4: Replace "Date: with the actual date as 14 September 2016. (The month is located between the day and the year and is spelled out. No comma.)
  • On line 5: Click "Title" then replace it with the title of your report. Delete the colon and the word "Subtitle". The should remain centered. If not, center it with the Center icon on the Home ribbon.
    • If the title is too long for one line or if there is a subtitle, continue it on the next line.
Lines following the title are aligned left so that paragraphs start at the left margin, except that the first line of a paragraph is automatically indented. You can start a new paragraph by pressing the Enter key, then typing the content of your paragraph. At the end of the paragraph, press the Enter key to create a new paragraph.

If you don't want Word to automatically indent your paragraphs so that you can use the Tab key to indent, you can delete the first line indent as follows:
  • Click the Home menu, then click the tiny box with the arrow in the lower right corner of the Paragraph section.
  • In the Paragraph box, Indents and Spacing tab, Spacing section, Special box, change "First line" to "none". After that paragraphs will no longer be indented.
After pressing Enter, 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 information about that source on your note card while doing your research. For how to do it easily in Word see Using Word Create Source Template below.

  • In the body of the text following text about a borrowed idea, 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).

  • Using Word Create Source Template. Microsoft Word will prompt you for the citation data required by MLA.
    • Click to position the Insertion point after the final quotation mark surrounding borrowed information but before the period ending the sentence.
    • Click References menu then in the Citations & Bibliography section of References do the following:
      • In the Style box click MLA seventh edition
      • Click the down-arrow next to "Bibliography" then select Works Cited from the list of titles
      • Click Insert Citation, then click Add New Source. Word will display a Create Source box with fields in which to enter information about the source. Only the most commonly used fields are shown. To display all fields, click the box next to "Show All Bibliography Fields."
      • Click the down-arrow next to the Type of Source box then select the type of source, for example: book, web site, film, etc.
      • Fill in the blanks for the information you have about your source. For web sites, click the box next to "Show All Bibliography Fields" then scroll down to the URL box and enter the URL (address) of the web site. You may type it or copy it from the browser's URL box and paste it into Word's URL box.
      • When all data is entered, click OK at the bottom of the Create Source box.
    • The Create Source box will close and an in-text citation will be added at the insertion point. The in-line citation will appear as the author's last name in parentheses, as (Faulkner).
  • To attach a page number to the in-text citation
    • Click on the name within the parentheses, then click on the down-arrow next to the name.
    • Click Edit Citation
    • Enter the page number in the Add Pages box
    • Click OK. The page number will be inserted after the in-text citation, as (Faulkner 234).
  • When you click Insert Citation to create an in-text citation, the sources already entered are listed so that you can select one from the list or create a new source.

Create a Works Cited page

The Works Cited page (the last page of a report) 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 after typing your report

  • Move the insertion point to the end of the document.
  • If there is a Works Cited template on that page delete it.
  • Create a new blank last page by pressing Ctrl-Enter or by clicking Insert tab, then Pages, Page Break.
  • Word then creates a new second page and moves insertion point to the new page.
  • Click the References menu then in the Citations & Bibliography section of References do the following:
    • In the Style box click MLA seventh edition
    • Click the down-arrow next to "Bibliography" then select Works Cited from the list of titles
    • Word then titles the page "Works Cited" in large blue font at the left margin and lists all the sources that you have entered while doing in-text citations, correctly formatted with hanging indents.
  • Select the title, Works Cited, then click the Home tab, Paragraph, Center button.

Notes: In Works Cited page entries 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.