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How To Create an MLA Template in Word and Pages

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The Modern Language Association, or MLA, is an organization that seeks to strengthen the world of language. One of the ways it does this is through a set of documentation style guidelines, which is used widely in the United States and elsewhere, especially in academic settings. In Humanities classes such, as english or literature, you'll more than likely have to format your essays in MLA formatting.

It's easy enough to remember to use 1" margins and 12pt Times New Roman, but the rest of the MLA formatting rules can be difficult to recall off hand. That's why you should have your word processor remember them for you.

In this tutorial, I will show you how to make MLA style templates in Pages and Microsoft Word to eliminate the need to remember each and every style rule each time you write an MLA style paper. You'll only need to make the template once, and every time after that it'll only take a click to get your paper formatted correctly.

The MLA Style Guide

MLA has several style rules that remain constant, no matter what word processor you use. Before we make the template, here is a quick run down of the rules you’ll need to remember while configuring your template document:

Text

MLA style papers should be typed in 12pt, double-spaced, Times New Roman font. 

Margins

MLA standards require one-inch margins on every side of the paper. MLA papers should be printed on 8.5"x11" (US Letter) paper, and even if your essay is to be submitted digitally, it should still be formatted to this paper size.

Header

Proper MLA headers have your last name followed by the page number in the top right corner of each page. The header should be located ½" from the top of your page.

Heading

MLA-style headings might be the most difficult to remember, as there's 4 parts to include in this order:

  • Your name
  • Your instructor’s name
  • The name of the course
  • The date, stylized Day Month Year (i.e. 12 March 2014)

The heading should be double-spaced and aligned to the left side of your first page. 

Title

Titles should be centered on the page. Other stylings, such as underlining, italicizing, putting the title in quotation marks, or changing the size of the title font, are not permitted. 

Body Text

Body text remains double-spaced. Body text is left-aligned, and ½" indentations are required with every new paragraph.

Block Quotes

Quotes should be blocked if they exceed four typed lines (or, if dealing with poetry, three lines). Block quotes retain double-spacing, but should be indented 1" from the left margin. Block quotes should not be put inside quotation marks unless you are quoting dialogue, and they should follow a colon.

Turning MLA Style Into a Template

All you need now is to turn the MLA page formatting into a template, so you can easily use it whenever you need to write an MLA formatted document. Then, when you need to make a new MLA formatted document, it'll take only one click to create with perfect formatting. Here are the steps to create an MLA template, first in Pages and then in Microsoft Word.

Pages

In this tutorial, I'm using Pages 5, which is the latest version and comes free with every new Mac. If you're using another version, the steps should still be very similar—and even on the iPad or in the Pages for iCloud web app, you can follow most of the same steps to format your document in MLA style.

To get started, first open Pages and start a new document using the Blank template.

Checking Margins

Setting margins in Pages
Make sure all margins are set to 1 in.  in the Setup menu.

To make sure you have 1" margins, click the Setup button in the top righthand corner of the screen. Under the Document menu, there is a field called Document Margins. If any of your margins are not set to 1 in, make sure you adjust them accordingly.

Adding a Header

Add name and page number to header in Pages
Add your last name and the page number to your header.

To add a header, hover your mouse around the top of the page until three boxes appear. Click on the box furthest to the right, and open the Format panel. Change your font to 12 pt Times New Roman. Type your last name, and follow it with a space. Then, go to Insert > Page Number. This will automatically add the page number to your header as your document spills over to other pages.

Once you have inserted your header, click the blue Update button that appears next to the Header & Footer* option in the text formatting sidebar to save your header style.

Setting Up a Heading

Configuring Heading in Pages
Select the Heading option from the drop-down menu. 

Once you have your header in place, you can proceed to set up your heading. From the Format panel, select the Heading setting. Set your font to 12 pt Times New Roman, and your set Spacing to 2.0 — Double. Then, click the blue Update button as before to save your Heading preferences.

Adding info to heading in Pages
Add your name, your instructor's name, your class's name, and the date to the heading.

Fill out the heading information that was listed above in one line, then separate each of the items by pressing the enter key once. You could leave filler text for the date, though, so you'll remember to update it whenever you're making a new document with MLA formatting using this template.

Adding a Title

Styling document title in Pages
Select the Title option from the drop-down menu.

Press enter so that there is one space below your heading before selecting the Title option from the drop-down menu in the Format panel.

Center and Title Case document title in Pages
Align your title to the center and capitalize it using standard title case. 

Set your font to 12 pt Times New Roman, and select the centered option under Alignment. Add some placeholder text for your title, so once again you'll easily remember to update it for new papers in the future when using this template, then click the blue Update button to save your Title preferences.

Adding Body Text

Setting body text indents in Pages
Set First Indents to 0.5 in for automatic indentation with new paragraphs.

Press enter so that there is one space between your title and where your body text begins. Pages defaults to the Body option in the Format panel, which is what you want to use to set the style for the bulk of your paper. Go to Layout > Indents and set First to 0.5 in. This will automatically indent your paragraphs as you write.

Adding filler text to Pages document
Insert stock text to create placeholder paragraphs.

Set your font to 12 pt Times New Roman, and change Spacing to 2.0 — Double, then press the blue Update button to save these preferences. Insert random text to create placeholder paragraphs for the time being, just so your paper will look almost like a real paper.

Adding a Block Quote

Add paragraph style in Pages
Press the Plus button to create a new Paragraph Style. 

To create a block quote style, you will have to create a new paragraph style. In the Format panel, open the Text drop-down menu and click the Plus button to create a new style. Rename this style to Block Quote. Set the font to 12 pt Times New Roman, and set spacing to 2.0 — Double. Make sure to reset Indents in the Layout panel back to 0 in, then press the blue Update button to save the style.

Add list style in Pages
Press the Plus button to create a new List Style.

Next, go to the Bullets & Lists field, expand the drop-down menu, and press the Plus button to create a new list style. Name the list style Block Quote, or something else that's easy for you to remember for quotes.

Set text indent for bullet lists in Pages
Set the Text Indent under the Bullets & Lists drop-down menu to 1 in. 

Expand the Bullets & Lists panel to reveal more formatting options, and set the Text indent to 1 in. Expand the List Styles drop-down again and click the blue Update button to save the style. Insert random text as before to create a placeholder block quote.

Exporting as a Template

Save document template in Pages
Save your document as a template.

At long last, you're finally done. Your document is a perfectly formatted MLA document—albeit one with dummy text instead of real content—and it's ready to be saved as a template so you can easily reuse these settings in the future. To do that, go to File > Save as Template… > Add to Template Chooser. The template window should open, and it will prompt you to rename your template. I’d recommend renaming it to something along the lines of MLA Template.

Using your own templates in Pages
Your template should be available to use at any time under My Templates.

The template should now be easily accessible and available to use under the My Templates section of Pages whenever you open the app or start a new document.

Microsoft Word

Creating an MLA style template in Microsoft Word is slightly more difficult than creating one in Pages, but it can be done. I will be using Microsoft Word 2011 to create my template, but the steps should be almost the exact same using Word 2008 or newer on the Mac, or Word 2007 or newer on a PC.

To start, open Microsoft Word and create a new Blank document. 

Checking Margins

Set document margins in Microsoft Word
Set all margins to 1.

To check your margins, go to Layout > Margins, and set each margin to 1. 

Adding a Header

Set header options in Microsoft Word
Select the Basic (All Pages) option for your header.

Next, go to Document Elements > Header and Footer. Press the Header button, and from the drop-down menu select the Basic (All Pages) option. Delete the text in the left and middle columns, and type your last name into the right-most column.

Add page numbers in Microsoft Word
 Set page numbers at the top right of your page.

Then, click the Page # button. For Position, you will want to select Top of page (Header) if it isn't already default, and for Alignment, select Right. Check off the Show number on first page box, then click OK to save the settings. A page number should automatically appear in the top right corner of every page.

Modify styles in Microsoft Word
1. Select the Window button to open the Styles menu; 2. Click the Paragraph button to Modify Style.

Since Microsoft Word's font of choice is Calibri, you will have to change the typeface to fit MLA standards. To do this, highlight all of the header text and go to Home > Styles, and press the Window button. This will open the Styles menu. The Current style of selected text should be Header. Press the Paragraph button next to the Header option, and then select Modify Style.

Set header font in Microsoft Word
Change the header font to 12 pt Times New Roman.

Keep all Properties as they are, but change the font to 12 pt Times New Roman, and check the Add to Template and Add to Quick Styles boxes before clicking OK to update the style.

If your name intersects with the page number, adjust the right margin until the two don't intersect. Then, click the Close button to finish editing the header.

Setting up a Heading

Modify heading style in Microsoft Word
Modify the Heading 1 style to create your MLA heading. 

In the Home menu, select the Heading 1 option from Styles. Open the Styles menu, and click the Paragraph button to the left of the Heading 1 option and select Modify Style

Set heading font and size in Microsoft Word
Change the font to 12 pt Times New Roman, and select the Double Space option.

Rename the style to MLA Heading, but keep the rest of the Properties the same. Change the font of the heading to 12 pt Times New Roman, and change the spacing to Double, which is notated by the lines placed furthest apart in the second column in the second row under the Formatting section of the menu.

Select paragraph formatting style in Microsoft Word
Select the Paragraph option from the Format drop-down.

Next, click on the Format drop-down in the bottom left of the menu, and select the Paragraph option.

Tweak paragraph text spacing in Microsoft Word
Change Before to 0 pt.

Under Spacing, change Before to 0 pt. Click OK to save these settings and return to the main menu. Make sure that the Add to template and Add to Quick Style list boxes are checked before pressing OK to save your settings.

Add heading info in Microsoft Word
Add your name, your instructor's name, your class's name, and the date to your heading.

Now, add all the necessary information for a heading in one line, then separate each item by pressing the Enter key after each one. 

Adding a Title

Press the Enter key once more so there is a space between your heading and what will be your title.

Modify title settings in Microsoft Word
Modify the Title setting to create your MLA title style.

In the Home menu, select the Title style from the Styles panel. Open up the Styles menu and click the Paragraph button to the right of the Title option and select Modify Style.

Select paragraph formatting in Microsoft Word
Select the Paragraph option from the Format drop-down.

Select the Paragraph option from the Format drop-down. 

Change title spacing in Microsoft Word
Change After to 0 pt.

Under Spacing, change After to 0 pt. Click OK to save your changes and return to the main Modify Style menu.

Change border options in Microsoft Word
Select the Border option from the Format drop-down. 

Return to the Format drop-down, and select the Border option. 

Turn off border in Microsoft Word
Change the border setting to None

There, select None from the Setting column, and press OK to save your changes.

Set title font in Microsoft Word
Change font to 12 pt Times New Roman, and center align the title.

Keep all Properties the same. Change the font to 12 pt Times New Roman, and toggle center alignment on. Press OK to save the style. 

Add placeholder text in Microsoft Word
Add a placeholder title using proper title case.

Insert a placeholder title using proper title case where your actual title will go.

Adding Body Text

Press the Enter key so that there is a space between your title and what will become the body of your template. By pressing enter, Word should default to the Normal text style, which is what you want to use for your body text.

Modify the normal text style settings in Microsoft Word
Modify the Normal setting to create your body text style.

Open the Styles menu from the Home menu, then click the Paragraph button to the right of the Normal text style and select Modify Style

Select paragraph formatting in Microsoft Word
Select the Paragraph option from the Format drop-down.

Select the Paragraph option from the Format drop-down. 

Add indent settings in Microsoft Word
Indent the First line by 0.5".

Under the Indentation field, change Special to First line, and enter 0.5" in the By box. This will automatically indent new paragraphs in your paper. Click OK to save this option and return to the main Modify Style menu.

Change font and spacing in Microsoft Word
Change the font to 12 pt Times New Roman and turn on double spacing.

Keep all Properties the same. Change the font to 12 pt Times New Roman, and toggle double spacing on. Make sure the Add to template and Add to Quick Style list boxes are checked off before pressing OK to save your style.

Add filler text in Microsoft Word
Insert random text to create placeholder paragraphs.

Insert random text to create placeholder paragraphs where the body of your paper will be.

Adding a Block Quote

Modify quote style in Microsoft Word
Modify the Quote style to create your block quote setting.

Press Enter once more so there is a space between your body text and where your block quote will be. From the Styles panel, select the Quote option. Open the Styles menu, and click the Paragraph button to the right of the Quote option and select Modify Style.

Change text indents in Microsoft Word
Change the Left indent to 1".

From the Format drop-down, select the Paragraph option. Under Indentation, change Special to (none), then insert 1" in the Left box. This will indent your block quote 1" from the left margin. Press OK to save these changes and return to the main Modify Style menu.

Change quote font settings in Microsoft Word
Change the font to 12 pt Times New Roman and enable double spacing.

Keep all Properties the same. Change the font to 12 pt Times New Roman, and toggle double spacing on. Make sure the Add to template and Add to Quick Style list boxes are checked before pressing OK to save the style. 

Add placeholder text in Microsoft Word
Insert random text to serve as a placeholder block quote.

Insert random text to serve as a placeholder block quote.

Exporting as a Template

Save Word Template in Microsoft Word
Save your document as a Word Template.

Once you have finished setting up your document, go to File > Save As, and change your Format to Word Template (.dotx). By selecting that option, the file should save to My Templates, which is the proper directory for this file. Rename your file to something along the lines of MLA Template so you can easily find it. Press Save to save your template.

Choose your own templates in Microsoft Word
Your template should appear under the My Templates section of the Word Document Gallery.

Now, your template should be easily accessible under the My Templates section of the Word Document Gallery for use whenever creating a new document.

And you're done!

You have now successfully made MLA style templates in both Pages and Microsoft Word, which you can use to easily set up an MLA style paper whenever you need. If your essay also needs a works cited page, you can use sites such as Easybib to easily set up MLA style bibliographies. And, if you need to make another document template—say, to make it easier to make documents formatted the way your employer wants—you can use these same steps to make any template you need, as long as you substitute the settings in this tutorial for the template you need.

If you're using an online or mobile word processor, such as Pages for iCloud or on your iPad, Microsoft Word Online, Google Docs, or QuickOffice, you won't be able create your own template to quickly reproduce the same way you can in Word or Pages. But, you could follow most of these steps and make your own template document, save it, and then just duplicate that document any time you want to make a MLA formatted document. It's not a perfect solution, but it'll still be better than tweaking all these settings every time.

It's always best to follow along with the tutorials so you'll learn how to get the most out of your own apps, but if you're in a hurry, we've included MLA style templates for both Microsoft Word and Pages crafted with this tutorial as well. You can download them from the link at the beginning of the tutorial, and then save them directly in your copy of Word or Pages for easy access.

If you have any further questions, feel free to leave them in the comments section down below!

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