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Formatting your essay to meet the Modern Language Association (MLA) guidelines

Formatting your essay to meet the Modern Language Association (MLA) guidelines can be tricky if you need to familiarize yourself with the process. However, with Microsoft Word, this task is made significantly easier. Follow these steps to correctly format your essay in MLA style using Microsoft Word 2022:

**1. Set the Margins**

The first step in formatting your document is setting the margins. MLA style requires one-inch margins on all sides.

- Open Microsoft Word and go to the "Layout" tab.

- Click on the "Margins" drop-down menu.

- Select "Normal" to set the margins to 1-inch on all sides.

**2. Set the Font and Size**

Next, you will need to set the font and size. MLA requires a legible font that contrasts clearly with the paper. Times New Roman size 12 is generally preferred.

- Go to the "Home" tab.

- In the "Font" section, choose "Times New Roman" from the drop-down menu.

- Then, set the size to 12.

**3. Double-Space the Text**

MLA style also requires that your paper is double-spaced.

- While still in the "Home" tab, look for the "Paragraph" section.

- Click on the "Line and Paragraph Spacing" button (which might show as '1.0', '1.15', etc.).

- Select "2.0" from the drop-down menu.

**4. Insert a Header with Page Numbers**

Every page of your essay must include a header with your last name and the page number.

- Go to the "Insert" tab.

- Click "Page Number" in the "Header & Footer" section.

- Choose "Top of Page," then select "Plain Number 3".

- This positions the page number to the right. Type your last name, followed by a space before the page number.

- Return to the "Design" tab and ensure that "Different First Page" is NOT checked.

**5. Create the First Page Information**

The first page of your paper should contain certain information in the following order: your name, the instructor's name, the course, and the date.

- In the upper left corner of the first page, type your name, your instructor's name, the course name and number, and today's date, each on a new line.

- Center your title on the following line. Remember to use standard capitalization.

- If you have a subtitle, place a colon at the end of the title and then type the subtitle.

- Double-space and begin typing your essay.

**6. Indent the First Line of Each Paragraph**

- On the "Home" tab, in the "Paragraph" section, click the small arrow in the lower right corner.

- In the dialog box that appears under "Indentation," choose "First line" from the "Special" drop-down menu.

- Ensure the indent is set to 0.5" (Usually the default setting).

**7. Use In-Text Citations**

You must cite the source whenever you quote, paraphrase, or summarize someone else's work.

- Include the author's last name and the page number from which the quotation or paraphrase is taken in parentheses after the quote or a paraphrase.

**8. Create a Works Cited Page**

At the end of your essay, you must provide a page listing all the sources you've cited in your paper.

- Insert a new page at the end of your essay.

- Center the words "Works Cited" at the top of the page.

- List your sources in alphabetical order by the author's last name.

- Each entry should be double-spaced, and if an entry runs more than one line, indent the subsequent line or lines 0.5 inches from the left margin.

Following these steps, you can confidently format your essay in MLA style using Microsoft Word 2022. Remember to pay close attention to details, as small formatting mistakes can add up and impact your grade. When in doubt, refer to the MLA Handbook or ask your instructor for guidance.

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