How to MLA Format Google Docs

To MLA format a document in Google Docs, you start by setting the correct margins, choosing the appropriate font, and organizing your header with your last name and page numbers. Then, you’ll format the title, headings, and citations according to MLA guidelines. This will ensure that your document adheres to the standards for academic papers.

After completing the MLA formatting on Google Docs, you’ll have a document that meets the guidelines required for many academic papers. This includes proper citation of sources, which helps to avoid plagiarism, and a professional appearance that can improve the credibility of your work.


Ever stared at your screen, the cursor blinking, as you grapple with the task of making your Google Doc look “just right” for your teacher’s strict MLA format requirements? We’ve all been there. MLA, or Modern Language Association, format is a standard way of formatting academic papers. It’s a set of rules that scholars follow to ensure consistency and clarity in their work.

But why does this matter to you? Well, if you’re a student, nailing the MLA format is essential not just for your grades but also to learn academic conventions that you’ll likely use throughout your college career and beyond. For educators and professionals, it’s about credibility and making sure your work is taken seriously. We live in an age where information is abundant and attention spans are short, so the clarity and readability that MLA formatting brings to your document can make all the difference. Now, let’s take the frustration out of formatting and turn your document into a sleek, MLA-approved masterpiece.

Related: Can I Change My Google Docs Margins?

A Step by Step Tutorial

This step-by-step guide will take you through the MLA formatting process in Google Docs, ensuring your document looks polished and professional.

Setting Up the Page

Open a new Google Doc and set the margins to 1 inch on all sides.

MLA format requires one-inch margins around the page, which is the default in Google Docs. However, if you need to adjust them, click on “File,” then “Page Setup,” and enter 1 inch for the top, bottom, left, and right margins.

Choosing the Font

Select “Times New Roman” as your font and set the size to 12pt.

This font and size are the MLA standard. To change the font in Google Docs, click on the font menu drop-down at the top and find “Times New Roman,” then click on the font size drop-down and select 12.

Adding a Header

Create a header that includes your last name and page number.

To add a header in Google Docs, double-click the top of the page or go to “Insert” > “Header.” Check the box that says “Different first page” if your title page will not include a header. Then, click on “Insert” again, hover over “Page number” and select the option to insert the page number at the top right.

Formatting the Title

Center the title of your document and ensure it follows standard capitalization rules without any special formatting.

The title should not be bolded, underlined, or italicized. To center your title, highlight it and click the “Center align” button. Ensure it’s in the same font and size as your text (Times New Roman, 12pt).

Creating Citations

Properly format your in-text citations and Works Cited page according to MLA guidelines.

When you need to create a citation, include the author’s last name and the page number without a comma between them. For the Works Cited page, use a tool like EasyBib or consult the MLA Handbook to ensure each source is cited correctly.


Improved Readability

Proper MLA formatting makes your document easier to read.

When you use a consistent format, it guides the reader’s eye and allows them to follow your argument without being distracted by unusual fonts, varying margins, or incorrect spacing.

Academic Credibility

Adhering to MLA standards boosts the professional appearance of your document.

By following a recognized academic format, you show respect for your reader and the academic community, which in turn enhances your own credibility as a writer or researcher.

Avoidance of Plagiarism

Correct MLA formatting and citation prevent plagiarism.

By properly citing your sources, you are giving credit to the original authors and avoiding the serious academic offense of plagiarism.



Learning and applying MLA format can be time-consuming.

For beginners, it can be quite a detail-oriented and meticulous task to get every part of the formatting correct, from margins to Works Cited.

Initial Complexity

MLA guidelines can be complex and hard to remember.

The rules around in-text citations, especially for sources with no author or multiple authors, can be particularly tricky to master without practice.

Constant Updates

MLA guidelines can change, requiring you to stay updated.

The MLA Handbook is updated regularly, and keeping track of these changes can be an additional task for students and professionals alike.

Additional Information

While the basics of MLA formatting are straightforward, there are always those little quirks and edge cases that can trip you up. For instance, did you know that your Works Cited page should be alphabetized by the authors’ last names? And what about those pesky electronic sources, especially now when citing tweets and podcasts is becoming more common? For those, MLA provides a standard format too, but they can be slightly more complicated to get right.

Don’t forget about aligning your paragraphs to the left and indenting the first line of each paragraph by half an inch. You can do this easily by hitting the “Tab” key on your keyboard at the start of each paragraph. And speaking of paragraphs, MLA format prefers double spacing throughout the document—that includes your Works Cited page as well!

And one last pro tip: if you’re working on a research paper that includes many citations, consider using a citation management tool. These tools can help you organize your sources and generate citations and bibliographies automatically, which can save you a ton of time and ensure accuracy.


  1. Set one-inch margins on all sides.
  2. Select “Times New Roman” font, size 12pt.
  3. Create a header with your last name and page numbers.
  4. Center your document’s title and apply standard capitalization.
  5. Format in-text citations and the Works Cited page correctly.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need a title page for MLA format?

Not necessarily. Unless your instructor specifically asks for one, you can start with the title on the first page of your text.

Can I use fonts other than Times New Roman?

Times New Roman is the standard, but you can also use other legible fonts like Arial or Calibri, as long as they’re size 12pt.

Should I double-space my Works Cited page?

Yes, the Works Cited page should be double-spaced, just like the rest of your document.

How do I handle citations for sources with no author?

For sources without a known author, you would use a shortened title of the work in place of the author’s name in your in-text citation.

What if my source doesn’t have a page number?

For sources without page numbers, like many online sources, just use the author’s last name without a page number for your in-text citation.


Mastering MLA format in Google Docs can seem daunting at first, but it’s like riding a bike—once you get the hang of it, it becomes second nature. By following the steps outlined, you can transform your document into a pristine, MLA-formatted paper that will surely impress. Remember, it’s not just about making your paper look good; it’s about upholding the standards of academic integrity and contributing to the scholarly conversation. So, next time you’re faced with a blank Google Doc, don’t sweat it. You’ve got the tools and knowledge to format your paper like a pro. And if you’re ever in doubt, the MLA Handbook is your holy grail. Keep it close, and happy writing!