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Format mla style research paper microsoft word 2007

May 29, 2018

MLA style research paper

Does your research or term paper require MLA style? Use this accessible template to help you follow the proper guidelines. Includes instructional text to assist you in easily creating your report.



Laughter is the closest distance between two people. Victor Borge

[Author’s note: Office 2010 Service Pack 1 includes updates to the Word 2010 Citations & Bibliography group. After installing the service pack you’ll notice the new bibliography styles: APA 6th Edition, MLA 7th Edition, Harvard- Anglia 2008, and IEEE 2006. Screenshots in this blog post have been updated to reflect these changes. Download Office 2010 Service Pack 1 to update your computer.]

Did you know that it’s easy to create a bibliography based on common citation formats in Microsoft Word? I describe how, below.

But first, let me share one student’s story… the inspiration for this post.

A few months ago, we were asking students about how they write a research paper. Jon, a freshman at a local community college, had just completed a huge term paper that counted for a large percentage of his overall grade in a class. While describing how he wrote this paper, he told me he hated writing bibliographies because he couldn’t remember the proper format for citing sources. Unaware that Word has a built-in solution to his problem, he had turned to an online alternative.

When I told him about the citation generator in Word he said, “Word does what? Where’s that at?” Ouch.

In Microsoft Word 2007 and Word 2010, you can automatically generate a bibliography of the sources you used to write your paper. Basically, every time you add a new citation to the document, you also create a new source that will appear in the bibliography.

Since it’s that time of year, again, and students are busy researching, gathering references, and writing papers, I thought I’d share this information with you. So, if you’re like Jon and don’t like writing bibliographies, here’s how you can insert citations into Word and format bibliographies using common formats, such as MLA, APA, and Chicago-style.

To add a citation after a quote:

  1. In your Word document, click on the References tab in the Ribbon.
    Image of Citations & Bibliography group 
  2. In the Citations & Bibliography group, click the arrow next to Style.
    Image of supported citation styles 
  3. Click the style that you want to use for the citation and source. 
  4. Click at the end of the sentence or phrase that you want to cite. 
  5. Click Insert Citation and then select Add New Source
  6. Type in the citation details and then click OK.
    Image of Create Source dialog box 

When you’ve completed these steps, the citation is added to the Insert Citation button, so the next time you quote this reference, you don’t have to type it all out again.

Image of Insert Citation button

If you want to create a bibliography from your sources, do the following:

  1. Click where you want to insert a bibliography. Typically they are at the end of a document. 
  2. On the References tab, in the Citations & Bibliography group, click Bibliography
  3. Much like the Table of Contents builder in Word, you can select a predesigned bibliography format that includes a title or you can just click Insert Bibliography to add the citation without a title.
    Image of Insert Bibliography button 

If you want to learn more about using citation placeholders and editing sources, have a look at Creating a bibliography in Word 2010 or Creating a bibliography in Word 2007. Or if you want to export your bibliography sources to another computer, check out this post on the Microsoft Word blog.

There’s one issue with the APA 5th Edition citation style I want to call out. APA style uses the author’s name and publication date. If you have multiple citations from the same author, there is a known Word 2010 bug where the citation generator fills in the publication title when it’s not supposed to. If this happens to you, here’s how to fix the problem:

1. In the Word document, click the citation.

 Image of citation

2. Click the down-arrow and then click Edit Citation.

Image of Edit Citation button

3. Click the Title checkbox and then click OK.

Image of Edit Citation dialog box

— Jennifer Bost

Many things will format automatically, but make sure you check the easy gotchas, like spelling errors (words with a red squiggly line under it).

To get a correctly formatted paper, Go to FILE > New and search for “APA” or “MLA” depending on what style you want.

Formatting papers in the MLA or APA style is tricky. Downloading a free template does some of the heavy lifting, automating some formatting.

If you are in college and you are writing research papers, then you are most likely basing your formatting on this, the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers.

Now, when I say "Research Papers” I mainly mean papers for English comp, Literature, History, Political Science.

Other papers might use other handbooks, like the APA or Chicago, but the MLA is probably the most common, and it is easy to adhere to this handbook when you use Microsoft Word.

So let me show you how.

I am here with the start screen, right, where it gives you all sorts of fun templates to choose from.

I am going to search for the keyword MLA and then press Enter, and here we go.

We have the MLA style research paper, okay? I'm going to open that up in just a second.

There's also the APA here, okay.

It's also helpful if your Professor wants you to use that guideline or that handbook, but the MLA is the one we are going to use today.

I'm going to double-click that, and open it. And this is just a template, right? You've probably made templates before.

Select fields and fill them out. I put my course number in here, English Composition 100.

Now, look, I made a spelling mistake.

Actually when I asked a bunch of College Professors what their biggest pet peeves were. Surprisingly, the number one thing was students aren't using Spellcheck.

So if you see a red squiggle, right-click that, and replace it with the correct spelling.

The other thing about Spellcheck is that people are using it, but not being careful in replacing the suggested words with the right word. So, use Spellcheck and use it carefully.


The Date. You can go ahead and you can choose this little Content Control arrow here, and choose the due date.

This date is automatically formatted in the MLA style, so there's the day first, the month, and then, the year, okay? That little automation for you happens throughout this template. It's great.

For example, you have got a one-inch margin on the left, which is what the MLA specifies as, should be your left margin.

You have got a one-inch margin on the right. You have got a one-inch margin on the top.

You have got a half-inch margin here before your header, okay? This is all pre-built for you and ready for you to use, okay?

There's no need to type this out manually and build all these margins manually.

And then the template has all sorts of awesome instructions for particulars of your paper, okay? I'm going to go ahead and type in a title here, “Of Zombies in American Fiction.” Okay, and I'll remove the subtitle. I don't really need that. And so just go ahead and read the instructions.

Capitalize the first and last words of the title and all principal words.

One way I like to do this quickly is, I'll select a line, I'll do Shift+F3 until I get the initial caps for every word, and then I'll go through here and uncap the non-principal words here, like conjunctions and prepositions.

Okay, there we go. So use this template. It's a real boon. It's a real treasure. If you keep on going through here, it'll give you more particulars, like for quotes of more than four lines, use the Quote Style up here.

Okay, for long quotes of more than one paragraph — let's say there's a really long quote and it has two paragraphs or three paragraphs — use the Long Quote Style. It's really good stuff.

You have got a pre-made table here that has all the formatting that the MLA recommends, and you have even got things like this chart and a caption here, with a figure number, which is helpful.

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