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MLA Format: The Simplest Guide

Skip the google searching! We have everything you need to know right here and the easiest way to do it! From students who have been there and have learned the latest tricks!

So your teacher asks you to write a five page paper in MLA format. Don’t know how? Simple. We will explain everything very simply so you understand. From the overall layout, to references, to citations!



The MLA (Modern Language Association) format, is one of the most popular writing formats (if not the most popular) used for literature based classes such as, English class. While its brethren, APA, is used for social science courses. These formats are used to organize information and to ensure proper use of citing information is used. Ya know, because plagiarism is bad.


Overall Layout

I’m going to start off with the greatest tip to save you tons of time, get word 2013! They have an MLA template you can easily use and just fill in the blanks! Google Docs has a version as well! Note: Word 2013 you have to pay for unless your computer came with it. Google Docs is free and online, you do not have to pay for either of the templates.

See link here for google docs.

Once in Google Docs, (you will have to create an account) hit more in the templates section (a dark grey area), then under education it will have the MLA template you can just click on!

If you are confused from the template (it can be sometimes) then read on. I will explain the main format (does not include information like margin, line spacing, or font… this is automatic with the template).


-1 inch margins

-Times New Roman

-Double Spacing


So first, how do you make the heading?

First off, make a page number with your last name, then page number at the top right hand corner of every page. Then, the following headings should be aligned to the left side of the page. (Name, next line Instructor Name, next line course name, next line date). Your MLA paper should not have a cover page unless instructed specifically by your teacher.

The title should be on the following line, centered, and if there is a subtitle use a colon to separate it from the original title.


What about the body?

Just write it like an essay! Plain and simple. Use paragraphs to separate ideas and make sure to add some quotes in there! If you are quoting something that is more than 4 lines, make sure to indent again and you do not need to use quotation marks. Like this:

          Blah blah blah, I am quoting something here that is four lines.            …………… ………………………………… ……… ………………          ……………………… ……………………………                                                ………………………… ………………………………                                      ……………………………………

And then end it just like that! So, indent, indent again to start the paragraph and viola!


Works Cited

The references page is easy when using Word. Just go to the references tab and hit manage sources. Add your new sources information that you are using (word does a good job walking you through the steps) and be sure to add your new source to your current list.

If you are not using the word template, you will have to add your references page manually. To do this (make sure you have clicked a blank page in your document at the end) go to the references tab, hit insert bibliography then, references. Note: in MLA format call the bibliography page your works cited page.

After doing this your works cited page should appear on its own page at the end of your document. If you need to make changes to your references, you can do so by going to the manage sources button we talked about earlier. Then to update your references, hit the red button at the top left of the references box on your actual paper. 

If you do not have Word, (which is the easiest way to make your references page) I recommend using or or another automatic reference maker. The way to cite a source is complicated and not needed to learn with the resources you have access to.



Citations are easy when you have Word involved! Just hit the references tab in Word and then hit insert citation. As the drop down menu appears, make sure you add a new source. There you can input the information from your reference (easy as pie) and BOOM! Citation entered!

Citations should be implemented whenever you use information from a source. For example, I am talking about what I learned about The High School Digest here and I can keep talking about it. I can start a new sentence about it and continue talking about it. But as soon as I finish talking about it, I have to make my citation at the end (Title of Book, year published). Citation should be in parenthesis and the period should be after the citation.


I 100% recommend using Word as it will make your life so much simpler for writing papers. If you do not have Word at a home computer, be sure to visit your library at your school as they will for sure have it!

There you have the simplest guide to MLA format! Be sure to talk with your teacher about any specifics they want on your paper, such as, not wanting the abstract, or wanting specific headings. Comment below or contact me if you have any questions so I can help!



-If it is okay with your teacher, put a piece of paper between the cover page (if you have one and the actual writing of the paper. This blocks the writing of the paper from the cover page so you can see the cover page clearly.

-If it is okay with your teacher, use Courier New font when writing a research paper that has to be a certain length. Courier New makes every character get the same length so your paper turns out to be much longer!

3 Comments so far:

  1. James says:

    Hi! Very useful post!! But should link redirect to google docs or to this template on google docs. Because I can’t find it.
    Also, what font size is better to use? I’ve read that here that it should be 12. That’s right?

    • The High School Digest says:

      Hey James!

      MLA format highly recommends using size 12 font.

      I am not at a computer right now and Google Docs won’t allow me to create a new template to get that link for you, but I will soon.

      I am glad you enjoyed it!


    • The High School Digest says:

      Alright James, I was able to get to a computer. Unfortunately, I cannot give you a link to the report because you have to be signed into a google account. However, I can describe it to you.

      In Google Docs, start a new document. When you do, you can hit the more button at the top right of the gray box. There, it will bring a drop down menu with templates. Under the education section, you will see a template labeled Report MLA which is the one you need.

      I hope I was able to help! Let me know if you still cannot find it.

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