How to Do MLA Format on Google Docs

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If you use your Google Drive for schoolwork, you should know how to do MLA format on Google Docs. There is a Google Docs template you can use, but it helps to know how to set up MLA format manually as well.

Instructions in this article apply to the web version of Google Docs. The steps are the same for all web browsers and operating systems.

What Is MLA Format?

While your instructor may have specific requirements, the general guidelines for MLA format are as follows:

  • Size 12 Times New Roman font
  • Double-spaced text with no extra spaces between paragraphs
  • One-inch page margins on all sides
  • A header with your last name and a page number in the top-right of every page
  • Your full name, the instructor's name, the course name, and the due date in the top-left of the first page
  • A centered title above the body text
  • Body paragraphs begin with a 1/2 inch indent
  • A Works Cited page at the end of the paper

How to Use an MLA Format Template in Google Docs

Google Docs has some templates available that can help users get a jump on formatting documents. The Google Docs Report MLA add-on is one such template. To set up MLA in Google Docs using this template:

  1. Open a new document and select File > New > From template.

    The From Template option in Google Docs
  2. The template gallery will open in a separate browser tab. Scroll down to the Education section and select Report MLA Add-on.

    The Report MLA add-on in Google Docs.

    There are also templates for other academic styles such as APA.

  3. A new document will open with dummy text that you can replace with your own. The formatting for the document will already be in place. You won't need to change anything but the words.

    Google Docs MLA template with dummy text

How to Do MLA Format on Docs

If you don't trust using a template, or if you have an altered version of MLA format you must stick to, then you can also set up MLA format in Google Docs manually. Once you've set it up, you can also save it as your own, customized template so you don't have to do it again the next time you need the format.

  1. Change the font to Times New Roman and the font size to 12.

    The Font style and size options in Google Docs.

    Google Docs uses 1-inch margins on all sides by default, so there is no need to adjust the margins.

  2. Select Insert > Headers & footers > Header.

    The Google Docs Insert menu showing how to add a header

    If you want to remove the headers from your Google Doc later, it's a simple process if you're using Google Docs in a web browser. A little harder if you're using Google Docs on an iOS and Android mobile device

  3. Note that the font for the header changes back to the default. Change it to 12 point Times New Roman, then select Right Align.

    The Right Align option in Google Docs.
  4. Type your last name followed by a space, then select Insert > Page numbers.

    The Page Numbers option in Google Docs.
  5. Adjust your Page numbers options as needed and then select Apply.

    The page numbers dialog box in Google Docs.
  6. Click or tap anywhere below the header, then select Format > Line Spacing > Double.

    The Double Spacing option in Google Docs.

    Alternatively, you can click the Line spacing icon in the toolbar at the top of the page and choose Double.

  7. Type your name, the instructor's name, the course name, and the due date on separate lines.

    How to format the header in Google Docs for MLA formatting.
  8. Press Enter to go to the next line, then select Center Align and type the title of your paper.

    Capitalize the first letter of every major word. Do not use bold, italics, or other text formatting options.

  9. Press Enter to go to the next line, then select Left Align.

    The Left Align option in Google Docs.
  10. Press the Tab key to indent, then start typing your first paragraph. Begin every new paragraph with an indent.

  11. After you finish the body of your paper, select Insert > Break > Page Break to create a blank page for the Works Cited page.

    The Page Break Option in Google Docs

How to Set MLA Works Cited in Google Docs

The last page of your paper should begin with the words “Works Cited” (without quotation marks) centered below the heading. The format for each works cited entry is different depending on the format of the source. For example, use this format for articles found on the web:

  • Author name (last, first). "Title." Publication, Date (day, month, year). URL. Accessed date.

Therefore, an entry for an online news article may appear as follows:

Sources should be alphabetized by the author's last name. All works cited entries should have a hanging indent, which means that each line after the first is indented.

Google Docs MLA Works Cited page sample

For specific examples of how to put different types of sources in MLA format, visit the Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL) website.

How to Create a Hanging Indent in Google Docs

To get a hanging indent in Google Docs for your Works Cited page:

  1. Highlight all of the text on your Works Cited page and select Format > Align & Indent > Indentation options.

    The Indention options in Google Docs.
  2. In the Indention options dialog box select Hanging from the Special indent dropdown box and then select Apply.

    The indention options dialog box in Google Docs.

    The default ident of 0.5 inches is acceptable for MLA style.

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