The Modern Language Association (MLA) format is a common guideline required by academic institutions for essays and papers. My high school requires MLA formatting and each year I try to get the 9th grade students MLA-ed. They need to be able to look at their own work and notice if it is MLA or not.
It’s important to explain to students why MLA or APA is being required. The big idea is that the student’s writing is the most important content in the essay/paper. The assignment isn’t about a fancy formatted title or graphics that take up space. “But it’s boring!” they will complain. Yes, it is boring. It’s supposed to be that way. You are being assessed on the thoughts you put on the paper – standardized formatting makes you focus on that and not a 20 point font you want for the title.
- 1 inch margins
- Line spacing: Double space
- Indent paragraphs (no extra line spacing)
- Header: Last name and page number
Line Spacing. By default, Word 2007 adds extra line spacing between paragraphs. That is not needed or wanted in MLA. To correct this:
- Highlight your text
- Right click
- Choose paragraph
For the other key MLA elements, here is a tutorial on formatting these elements in Word 2007. I used Loren Ipsum for the filler text. You can use filler text like this to create documents for students to practice with.
Google Docs: As of this writing, you are unable to insert the page number with the last name aligned to the right in Google Docs. It will appear “1Lastname.” The only solution I’ve found is to put “Lastname 1” in the header and then change the header each time you print a page. Not elegant.