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How to Do MLA Format on Google Docs: A Step-by-Step Guide

MLA (Modern Language Association) format is a widely used style for academic writing, particularly in the fields of humanities and liberal arts. It provides guidelines for formatting research papers, essays, and other scholarly documents. In today’s digital age, Google Docs has become a popular platform for collaborative writing and document creation. If you’re wondering how to implement MLA format in Google Docs, you’ve come to the right place. This article will guide you through the process, highlighting key steps and providing helpful tips along the way.

What Is MLA Format?

Before we delve into the specifics of MLA format on Google Docs, let’s first understand what MLA format is. MLA format is a standardized method for documenting sources and presenting scholarly research within the humanities. It establishes guidelines for formatting the paper, citing sources, and creating a works cited page.

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Why MLA Format Is Used

MLA format serves several important purposes within the academic community. Understanding why MLA format is used can help you appreciate its significance and adhere to its guidelines more effectively. Let’s explore the key reasons why MLA format is widely adopted:

  1. Standardization and Consistency: MLA format provides a standardized framework for presenting academic work, ensuring consistency across different documents and publications. By following a set of established guidelines, scholars can create papers that are uniform in structure and formatting. This uniformity makes it easier for readers, researchers, and educators to navigate and evaluate academic content efficiently.
  2. Source Credibility and Integrity: MLA format emphasizes the proper citation of sources, promoting transparency and academic integrity. By acknowledging the ideas and information derived from other researchers, writers demonstrate respect for intellectual property and contribute to the scholarly conversation. MLA format’s citation guidelines enable readers to trace the sources referenced in a paper, verify the information, and explore related works.
  3. Clarity and Readability: MLA format incorporates specific rules for formatting text, headings, titles, and other elements of a document. These guidelines enhance the readability and coherence of academic writing. By using a consistent font style and size, employing proper indentation, and structuring the document with headings and subheadings, MLA format helps readers navigate the content more easily. This clarity enhances the overall impact and effectiveness of the written work.
  4. Accessibility and Inclusivity: MLA format promotes accessibility and inclusivity by establishing guidelines for document formatting that cater to diverse readers. For instance, the use of legible fonts, proper spacing, and ample margins ensures that individuals with visual impairments can read the content comfortably. Additionally, MLA format encourages writers to provide alternative text descriptions for visual elements, making the document more accessible to individuals using assistive technologies.
  5. Academic Community Recognition: MLA format is widely recognized and accepted within the academic community, especially in disciplines related to humanities and liberal arts. Adhering to MLA guidelines when submitting papers for publication or academic evaluation helps establish credibility and professionalism. It demonstrates that the writer is familiar with the established conventions of their field and is committed to upholding academic standards.

By understanding the reasons behind MLA format’s usage, you can better appreciate its importance and effectively implement it in your academic writing. Adhering to MLA guidelines not only enhances the quality and credibility of your work but also demonstrates your respect for intellectual property and your commitment to academic integrity.

In the next section, we will delve into the specifics of formatting MLA in Google Docs, including using templates and setting up headers.

How to format MLA in Google Docs with a template

Formatting your document in MLA style can be made easier with the use of templates in Google Docs. These templates are specifically designed to adhere to MLA guidelines, saving you time and effort in manually formatting your document. Follow the steps below to format MLA in Google Docs using a template:

  1. Open Google Docs: If you don’t have a Google account, create one for free. Then, access Google Docs by visiting
  2. Access the Template Gallery: On the upper-right corner of the page, click on the “Template Gallery” icon. This will open a selection of templates to choose from.
  3. Search for MLA Templates: In the search bar within the Template Gallery, type “MLA” or “MLA format” and hit enter. This will filter the available templates to show MLA-specific options.
  4. Choose a Template: Browse through the available MLA templates and select the one that best suits your needs. Take note of any specific features or instructions mentioned in the template description.
  5. Open the Template: Click on the selected MLA template to open it in a new document. You will now have a document with the MLA format pre-applied, including the necessary spacing, font style, and other formatting elements.
  6. Customize the Content: Replace the template text with your own content. Ensure that you follow the specific formatting guidelines for your MLA document, such as properly citing sources, formatting headings, and including a Works Cited page.
  7. Save and Rename the Document: Once you have finished customizing the template to fit your needs, click on the “File” menu and select “Save.” Rename the document appropriately, reflecting the title or subject of your work.
  8. Edit and Revise as Needed: Review your document for any additional formatting adjustments or content revisions. Make sure all in-text citations and references are accurately formatted according to MLA guidelines.
  9. Proofread and Finalize: Take the time to proofread your document for any spelling, grammar, or punctuation errors. Ensure that your document is error-free and presents your work in a professional manner.
  10. Share or Submit: Once you are satisfied with your MLA-formatted document, you can share it with others for collaborative purposes or submit it for academic evaluation. Use the sharing options in Google Docs to invite collaborators or export the document in the desired format for submission.

Using a template in Google Docs significantly simplifies the process of formatting your document in MLA style. It eliminates the need to manually adjust margins, fonts, and spacing, allowing you to focus more on your content. Remember to always review and follow the specific MLA guidelines for citation formatting, page layout, and other requirements to ensure that your document meets the highest standards of academic integrity.

In the next section, we will discuss how to set up an MLA format header in Google Docs, another essential aspect of MLA formatting.

How to Do MLA Format Header on Google Docs

The header is an essential component of MLA format as it provides important information about your document and ensures consistency throughout your work. In this section, we will guide you through the steps to set up an MLA format header in Google Docs:

  1. Double-click on the Top Margin: Position your cursor at the top margin of the first page of your document. Double-clicking in this area will activate the header section.
  2. Insert Your Last Name and Page Number: In the header section, align your text to the right and enter your last name, followed by a space. After the space, insert the page number. For example, “Doe 1”. The page number will automatically update for subsequent pages.
  3. Format the Header Text: Highlight the header text (last name and page number) and format it according to MLA guidelines. Typically, MLA suggests using a legible font such as Times New Roman or Arial, with a font size of 12 points.
  4. Apply the Header to All Pages: To ensure that the header appears on every page of your document, go to the “Insert” menu at the top of the Google Docs interface. Select “Header & page number” and then choose the “Header” option. This will ensure that the header is applied consistently throughout your document.
  5. Review and Adjust Header Placement: After setting up the header, review your document to ensure that the placement of the header does not interfere with the content of your pages. Adjust the top margin or header size if necessary to maintain appropriate spacing between the header and the main body of your document.
  6. Check for Proper Header Display: Scroll through your document to verify that the header appears correctly on each page, including subsequent pages after the first one. The header should display your last name and the respective page number for each page.

By following these steps, you can easily set up an MLA format header in Google Docs. The header ensures that your document is well-organized, properly identified, and compliant with MLA guidelines. Remember to maintain consistency throughout your document, including font style, font size, and positioning of the header.

How to Set Up MLA Format in Google Docs

Setting up MLA format in Google Docs involves several formatting aspects, including margins, spacing, font style, and citation formatting. Follow the step-by-step guide below to ensure your document meets the requirements of MLA style:

  1. Adjust the Document Margins:
    • Click on the “File” menu at the top left corner of the Google Docs interface.
    • Select “Page setup” from the dropdown menu.
    • In the Page Setup dialog box, under the “Margins” tab, set the margins to 1 inch on all sides. MLA format typically requires 1-inch margins for all sides of the document.
  2. Set the Font and Font Size:
    • MLA recommends using a legible font such as Times New Roman or Arial.
    • Select the text of your document by pressing Ctrl+A (or Cmd+A on Mac).
    • Choose the desired font from the formatting toolbar.
    • Set the font size to 12 points, as it is the standard size for MLA format.
  3. Adjust Line Spacing:
    • Click on the “Format” menu at the top of the Google Docs interface.
    • Select “Line spacing” from the dropdown menu.
    • Choose “Double” from the options. MLA format typically requires double-spacing throughout the document, including the body text, quotations, and the works cited page.
  4. Format Paragraph Indentation:
    • Click on the “Format” menu and select “Paragraph” from the dropdown menu.
    • In the Paragraph dialog box, under the “Indents and spacing” tab, set the indentation to 0.5 inches or use the “First line indent” option. MLA format requires the first line of each paragraph to be indented by 0.5 inches.
  5. Apply Proper Heading Formatting:
    • Use heading styles to format section headings within your document.
    • Highlight the section heading text and select a heading style from the “Styles” dropdown menu in the formatting toolbar.
    • MLA format recommends using a consistent heading hierarchy, with section headings in a larger font size and bold or italicized formatting.
  6. Format In-Text Citations and Works Cited:
    • Follow the MLA guidelines for formatting in-text citations and creating a works cited page.
    • Use parenthetical citations for in-text references, including the author’s last name and page number (e.g., “Smith 42”).
    • Create a separate page titled “Works Cited” at the end of your document and list all the sources you cited, following the MLA format for citations.
  7. Review and Proofread:
    • Carefully review your document to ensure that it adheres to MLA format guidelines.
    • Check for proper indentation, font styles, line spacing, and accurate citation formatting.
    • Proofread your content for any grammatical, spelling, or punctuation errors.

By following these steps, you can successfully set up MLA format in Google Docs. Remember to consult the official MLA style guide or your instructor’s specific requirements for any additional formatting instructions.

In conclusion, adhering to MLA format guidelines enhances the clarity, consistency, and credibility of your academic writing. Google Docs provides a convenient platform for implementing these guidelines, allowing you to focus on your content while maintaining proper formatting throughout your document.


In conclusion, understanding and implementing MLA format in your academic writing is crucial for maintaining consistency, adhering to scholarly conventions, and showcasing your professionalism. Google Docs offers a user-friendly platform for formatting your documents according to MLA guidelines, making the process more efficient and streamlined.

By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can easily format your document in MLA style using Google Docs. Starting with the proper margins, font, and line spacing, you ensure that your document meets the standard requirements of MLA format. Additionally, setting up a header with your last name and page numbers helps in organizing and identifying your document.

Remember to pay attention to other important elements of MLA format, such as proper citation formatting for in-text citations and the creation of a Works Cited page. Accurately citing your sources not only adds credibility to your work but also demonstrates your respect for intellectual property.

Utilizing MLA templates available in Google Docs can save you time and effort, as they already have the necessary formatting in place. However, always review and customize the content to fit your specific needs and ensure compliance with MLA guidelines.

Throughout your writing process, proofread your document for any errors, including spelling, grammar, or punctuation mistakes. A well-formatted and error-free document enhances readability and professionalism.

By mastering MLA format and using the tools provided by Google Docs, you can focus more on the content of your writing while maintaining the integrity and consistency required by the academic community.

Incorporating MLA format not only helps you meet the expectations of your instructors and readers but also prepares you for future academic endeavors and professional writing. The skills you develop in formatting your work properly will serve you well in various academic disciplines and beyond.

So, embrace the guidelines of MLA format, utilize the features of Google Docs, and present your academic work in a polished and professional manner. Happy writing!

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