How to Use MLA Formatting in Microsoft Word 2013: A Step-by-Step Guide

If you’re working on a research paper or an essay in school, chances are you need to know how to use MLA formatting. MLA stands for Modern Language Association, and it’s a style of formatting used in the humanities. In Word 2013, this might seem like a daunting task, but it’s actually pretty straightforward. Once you know where to find the tools you need, you’ll be able to set up your document in no time. Ready to get started? Let’s dive in!

Step by Step Tutorial: How to Use MLA Formatting in Word 2013

Before we jump into the nitty-gritty, let’s understand what we’re trying to achieve here. We want our document to follow the MLA guidelines, which means setting proper margins, font, line spacing, and headers. By doing this, we ensure that our paper looks professional and adheres to the standard academic format.

Step 1: Set the margins

The first thing you need to do is set your margins to 1 inch on all sides.

In Word 2013, go to the ‘Page Layout’ tab and click on ‘Margins.’ Select ‘Normal,’ which will automatically set your margins to 1 inch all around. This is the standard for MLA format and is crucial for ensuring your paper is properly aligned.

Step 2: Choose the right font and size

Next, you’ll need to set your font to Times New Roman, size 12.

Highlight your text, then go to the ‘Home’ tab. In the font group, select ‘Times New Roman’ from the dropdown menu and change the font size to 12. This font is easy to read and is the standard for MLA formatting.

Step 3: Double-space your document

MLA format requires that your document is double-spaced, including quotations and the Works Cited page.

Go to the ‘Home’ tab, click on the ‘Line and Paragraph Spacing’ button, and select ‘2.0.’ This will ensure that there is a clear space between each line of text, making your document easier to read.

Step 4: Create a header with your last name and page number

In MLA format, the header should include your last name and the page number on the top right corner of each page.

Double-click in the header area at the top of your document to open the Header & Footer Tools. Click on ‘Page Number,’ choose ‘Top of Page,’ and select ‘Plain Number 3.’ Then, type your last name before the number, and hit the space bar once to separate them. This will automatically number all pages and keep your last name in view, which is a requirement for MLA format.

After you’ve completed these steps, your Word document should be perfectly formatted according to MLA guidelines. All that’s left is to add your content!

What Happens After You Complete the Action

Once you have your MLA formatting in place, you can focus on writing your paper. With these settings, you won’t have to worry about making formatting changes later on, which can be a real time-saver. Plus, your paper will meet the standards required by your teacher or professor, which is definitely a win!

Tips: How to Use MLA Formatting in Word 2013

  • Always double-check your formatting. Even with these tips, it’s easy to miss something.
  • Save your settings. Once you’ve set up MLA formatting, save your document as a template for future use.
  • Use the ‘Styles’ feature in Word to quickly apply formatting to headers and titles.
  • Don’t forget to indent the first line of each paragraph using the ‘Tab’ key.
  • Make sure any citations are properly formatted in your Works Cited page according to MLA guidelines.

Frequently Asked Questions

What if I need to include a cover page?

In MLA formatting, a cover page isn’t usually necessary. Instead, include your name, instructor’s name, course, and date in the left-hand corner of the first page before beginning your essay.

How do I format block quotes?

For quotations that are more than four lines, indent the entire quote one inch from the left margin and do not use quotation marks. Make sure to maintain double-spacing.

Can I use a different font if Times New Roman isn’t available?

While Times New Roman is the preferred font, you can use any legible font as long as it’s size 12 and doesn’t distract from the readability of the paper.

How do I format my Works Cited page?

Start a new page for your Works Cited list. The entries should be in alphabetical order and double-spaced, with a hanging indent for the second and subsequent lines of each entry.

What if I’m using a Mac?

The formatting principles are the same, but accessing the menus in Word might be slightly different. Look for similar options in the ‘Layout’ and ‘Format’ menus.


  1. Set 1-inch margins on all sides.
  2. Use Times New Roman font, size 12.
  3. Double-space the entire document.
  4. Add a header with your last name and page number.


Mastering MLA formatting in Word 2013 might seem intimidating at first, but with a little bit of practice, it becomes second nature. Remember, the key to any successful paper is not only the content but also the presentation. Proper formatting ensures that your ideas are presented in a clear, professional manner, which is bound to make a lasting impression on your readers. So, next time you’re tasked with writing a paper in MLA format, just follow these straightforward steps, and you’ll have a perfectly formatted document in no time. And who knows, you might even become the go-to person for MLA formatting in Word 2013 among your peers!

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