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MLA Format In Google Docs- Write Paper in 7 Easy Steps

As students, we usually have to submit a lot of papers, assignments, and essays throughout the year. One thing that we often overlook in our documents is the formatting guidelines. You might think that a few formatting mistakes won’t affect your marking, but they do.

Most education institutions prefer the use of MLA format for academic papers. To know more about the MLA format and how to apply it on google docs, read this post till the end. 

What is the MLA Format in Google Docs

The MLA Format in Google Docs is a style of formatting your documents to meet the standards set by the Modern Language Association. It includes margin spacing, font size and type, line spacing, parenthetical citations, and headline capitalization. It helps you ensure that your work meets professional standards.

MLA format was introduced by the Modern Language Association. This format was initially used in the field of literature and language but is now widely used in most educational institutions for academic and research papers. Since many students and scholars use it for writing academic papers, Google Docs offers MLA format settings.

When someone asks you to use the MLA format, they expect you to adhere to the following guidelines:

  • Every page needs to have a one-inch margin on all sides (i.e., top, bottom, left, and right).
  • Use Times New Roman font for your text with size 12.
  • Leave double space between lines.
  • Your last name and the current page number should be mentioned on every page on the top right of the header.
  • The title should be aligned to the center, one line above the first paragraph.
  • Your name, the Instructors name, the Subject name, and the Date should be mentioned on the top left corner of the first page. (Each in separate lines)
  • Start all paragraphs with a half-inch Indent.
  • Add a separate Works Cited page at the end of the doc to cite your sources in the correct format. 

It would be best to clarify these guidelines with your instructor beforehand, as the requirements might differ slightly in some schools or organizations.

Overall, the MLA format helps to create a professional, well-organized document that clearly and accurately cites sources, enabling readers to easily locate and verify the sources you have used.

How to Use the MLA Format Template in Google Docs

To use the MLA format template in Google Docs, open a new document and click File > New > From Template, and select the Report MLA Format Template from the Education Section. Then, you can customize your document with appropriate margins, font size and type, and line spacing, and add parenthetical citations for quotes and headlines for titles.

Google Docs offers a variety of templates, so you don’t need to apply common formatting rules manually. One such template also follows the MLA format. Here’s how you can use this template on google docs:

  1. Open a blank document on google docs and go to File > New > From template gallery.
new document mla format in google docs
  1. Once the template gallery opens, scroll down to the Education header
  2. Under this header, you will find Report MLA; click it to open the template.
report mla template add on

The MLA formatting rules might slightly differ in this template, so double-check everything before submitting the document. 

How to Manually Apply the MLA Format in Google Docs

To manually apply the MLA format in Google Docs, set 1-inch page margin, 11 Times New Roman font, double-line space, page number & your last name, and title & course information. Also, indent the first lines of paragraphs and add a Works Cited page at the end.

If you have been instructed with slightly different guidelines or prefer formatting the document yourself to ensure everything is on point, then you can manually apply the MLA format in google docs. Here’s how to do it:

1. One-Inch Page Margin

By default, you get a one-inch long margin on all sides of the Google Docs page. You can double-check this by following these steps:

  1. Click File from the toolbar.
  2. Now select Page Setup.
mla format paper page setup
  1. Make sure the margins on all sides are set to 1 inch. If the margins are in centimeters, they should be set to 2.54.
page setup mla formatting one inch margins
  1. Save changes by pressing OK.

2. Font Size and Style

By default, Google docs use the Arial font style at size 11. According to the MLA formatting guidelines, you must use a readable typeface (mostly New Times Roman) at size 12. Here’s how you can change the style and size of your font on google docs:

  1. Click the Font dropdown from the toolbar and select Times New Roman.
font size times new roman
  1. Click the and + to increase or decrease your font size until it becomes 11 or 12 (whatever is defined by your professor).
font size mla style guide

3. Line Spacing

You get a default line spacing of 1.15 lines in google docs. To add double line spacing, follow these steps:

  1. Click Format from the toolbar and select Line & paragraph spacing.
  2. Select Double.
setup line spacing button double spaced

4. Page Number and Last Name

Your last name and page number should be mentioned on the top right of the header of every page. Here’s how to do that:

  1. First, click Insert from the toolbar and select Headers & Footers.
paper headers footers example using google docs
  1. Now add a header and footer to your document.
  2. Double-click the top of the document to edit the header.
  3. Apply the font size and style according to the MLA guidelines.
  4. Click the Align dropdown and select right align or press Ctrl+Shift+R.
setting alignment using google docs
  1. Now type your last name.
  2. Click Insert again and select Page number.
  3. Choose the image that shows the page number in the top right corner.
insert page numbers while writing using google docs

5. Title and Course Information

The information about your course and title should appear on the left side of the first page:

  1. Align the text to the left by clicking on the Align dropdown and then selecting left align or pressing Ctrl+Shift+L.
left align on new page when writing on google docs
  1. Now type in your name, the instructor’s name, the subject’s name, and the date. Press Enter after each so they all come in separate lines.
add on first page information like course name full name due date page numbers etc
  1. In a separate line below the course details, select the Title case and type in your title.
click apply for title case 1
  1. Lastly, align the title to the center from the align dropdown or by pressing Ctrl+Shift+E.
write title

6. Indent First Lines of Paragraphs

The First line of all the paragraphs should be indented by half an inch. Here’s how to do that:

  1. From the toolbar, click Format and select Align & Indent > Indentation options.
formatting indentation
  1. Now from Special Indent, select the First line and adjust it to half an inch or 1.27cm.
first letter special indent
  1. After this, press Apply to save changes.

7. Work Cited

The sources from which you have cited your references should be on a separate page. It also has some unique formatting rules that you must follow closely.

  1. Firstly, you need to add a page break. So, navigate to Insert from the toolbar and select Break > Page break.
create works cited page
  1. Now add the title “Work Cited” and align it to the center of the page.
enter the letter works cited on the works cited page
  1. The sources should be mentioned in alphabetical order. 
  2. All sources should have the following format. Author’s name > Article or Book name > Website name > Date it was published. For example, James Clear. Atomic Habits. Good Reads, 2018. 
  3. Add a hanging indent before every source. Click Format > Align & indent > Indentation options. Select Hanging from the dropdown menu under Special indent. Set the indent to 0.5 inches and press Apply.
special indent hanging options

Google Docs Citing Tool

Google docs also offer a citing tool that you can use to cite your sources in the right format:

  1. Click Tools and select Citations.
use google docs works cited tools
  1. Choose MLA from the dropdown menu in the sidebar. 
  2. Now click Add citation source.
add works cited
  1. Select the Source type and the source form in the dropdown menu under Accessed by.
  2. Add detail about your source by pressing Cite manually.
works cited cite manually
  1. After adding the details, press Add Citation Source.
works cited source
  1. Click where you want to cite your source and select Insert Work Cited from the sidebar.
insert work cited
  1. Lastly, add a page break, as mentioned before.

Double-check the format of the cited page once you’re done to make sure there is no mistake.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is MLA format used?

MLA format is used to ensure consistency and uniformity in all pieces of research and academic papers. Plus, it is also easier for the reader to navigate through the text written in MLA format.

How many paragraphs are there in MLA Paper?

Typically, there are five paragraphs in an MLA paper. Firstly, there is an introductory paragraph that includes the thesis statement. Then follows three body paragraphs where you write the main content of your paper/report. Lastly, there is the conclusion paragraph to summarize and conclude the paper/report.

What are the three main components of the MLA style? 

The three main components of the MLA stype are:

Body– Where you write the main content of the paper.
Endnotes– Where you make comments for certain parts of a text on a page.
Works Cited page– The last page where you cite all the works that you have referred to in your paper.

What is MLA format in Google Docs?

MLA format is a style guide commonly used for writing papers in the humanities and liberal arts. In Google Docs, you can access MLA format by navigating to Tools > Citations and selecting MLA. Or else, you can use a template in Google Docs that is already formatted in MLA style.

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