Step-by-Step Guide to Applying MLA Format on Microsoft Word

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The Modern Language Association (MLA) format is a widely used academic referencing style throughout the humanities. We understand the need for perfect citation, emanates from the pursuit of steel-proof intellectual honesty in academic and research work. Unsurprisingly, this importance undoubtedly underscores the necessity of mastering MLA formatting. But the good news is, Microsoft Word, a powerful word processing tool, contains features that can simplify this seemingly daunting task. Let’s embark on an exploration of the MLA format and how Microsoft Word aids its application.

What is MLA Format?

The Modern Language Association (MLA) style is a system for documenting sources in scholarly writing, developed by the MLA itself. Its history traces back to 1951 when it was used primarily for literature and linguistics research. Today, its reach has expanded across various humanities subjects.

This style governs two essential aspects of paper formatting: in-text citation and the structure of the Works Cited page. With MLA style, academic integrity is maintained, plagiarism is avoided, and clarity of documentation is achieved. It’s designed to be as real-world applicable as possible, referencing everything from contemporary artworks to tweets.

Microsoft Word and MLA Format

Before touching on its relation to MLA, a brief overview of Microsoft Word: it’s a widely-used word processing tool, part of the Microsoft Office Suite. Its multifaceted features, ranging from spelling and grammar checks to style formatting, make it vital for academic work.

Microsoft Word can simplify MLA formatting. It offers preset formatting options, allows automatic citation insertion, and facilitates the creation of a Works Cited page compliant with MLA guidelines. Let’s explore these functions and how to use them effectively for MLA style formatting.

Setting up a New Document in MLA Format

After launching Microsoft Word, setting your document appropriate for MLA format involves three key steps. Beginning with page settings, MLA format requires 8.5 x 11-inch paper size with one-inch margins around the page.

Selecting the proper font and size adheres to readability in MLA style. Times New Roman 12-point is typically recommended.

The header displays your surname and page number in the upper right-hand corner. Microsoft Word licences this easy setup.

Citing References In-Text in MLA Format Using Word

In MLA format, the author’s name and the page number of the referred material are required for in-text citations. Word supports this through its citation tools.

A real-life example: Let’s say you’re citing a book written by John Doe. After the paraphrased content or direct quote, click on References > Insert Caption. Enter the author’s name and page number accordingly. Microsoft Word’s citation tools help automate and streamline this process.

Creating an MLA Works Cited Page with Word

An MLA Works Cited page detailed all the references in your document. Each entry should follow the Author. Title. Publication details. structure.

Creating a correctly formatted Works Cited page can be done by clicking on the References tab and selecting Bibliography. Word’s automatic citation features can apply correct formatting to your citations, though you should always double-check for accuracy.

Tips and Best Practices

Common mistakes to avoid include incorrect header setup, incorrect in-text citation, or not alphabetizing the Works Cited page. Keep an eye on these details, complementing Microsoft Word’s tools with meticulousness.

Another key tip: make sure you regularly save your document. Word’s autosave feature is helpful, but manual saves grant you extra security. Finally, ensure proper MLA style compliance by cross-checking your document against MLA’s guidelines.


Implementing MLA format in Word effectively accentuates accuracy, integrity, and professionalism in your academic or research work. Using Word’s features makes the process easier, less stressful, and time-saving. Encouragingly, the mastery of Word tools for MLA format positions you for a smooth academic writing journey.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the standard font and size for MLA format on Word?

The standard font for MLA format on Word is Times New Roman, size 12.

How do I correctly insert in-text citations in MLA format using Word?

Microsoft Word allows you to add in-text citations through the “Insert Caption feature in the References tab.

Can Word automatically generate an MLA-compliant Works Cited page?

Yes, Word offers preset citation styles for generating a Works Cited page.

Are there templates available in Word to automatically set up a paper in MLA format?

Yes, several templates are available in Microsoft Word, where the document is pre-formatted according to MLA-style requirements.

What are common mistakes to avoid when setting up a Word document in MLA format?

Common mistakes include incorrect setup of headers, incorrect in-text citation format, and improper formatting of the Works Cited page. Be sure to cross-check with MLA guidelines.