How to Format a Paper

Here are some resources to help you format your paper:

Computer with coffee cup 8522
Photo Credit: SLB 2017
  • I have created a template you can use in Microsoft Word (MLA Paper).  Save this file to your computer and then modify it for you — update the student’s name in the paper’s heading and “Last” in the page header.   Be sure to save your modified version to use in writing your papers.
  • Check out the Online Writing Lab at Purdue University (link).  It has lots information, including a sample paper with annotations (link to sample paper).

The following guidelines will keep you from losing points because of your formatting:

MLA Handbook, 8th Ed.
All of the rules for formatting your paper can be found in the MLA Handbook, 8th ed.

First, always include a heading with your name, the teacher’s name, the class name, and the due date of the paper.  Notice that the date uses the DMY format common in Europe.  (Now you know why I use this format in class.)   The paper’s heading is double-spaced, just like the text of your paper.  Below the heading, include a title.  The title does not need quotation marks or italics, and it can be the assignment information if your paper is a formal answer to a question in the homework.

Second, make sure you have page numbers!  In MLA, the first page is numbered.  The correct format for page numbers is your last name and the page number in the upper right-hand corner.  You should not lose points for this, because I have included the page number in the header of the MLA template I created.  (Change “Last” to your last name.)

Third, always include a works cited page for the non-Biblical sources you cite.  If you have only one source, the page is titled “Work Cited.”   Use the MLA Handbook or the Purdue OWL to help you use the correct format for your entries on this page.  They should be double-spaced with a hanging indention.  Again, the template has this formatted for you, but if you need help, please ask.  (That’s the point of HELP CLASS!)

Finally, don’t deviate from the standards.  Using a creative font or colored ink will invite penalties.  The standards are standards for a reason.  I didn’t set them; I simply follow them.  Learn the rules of academic writing and follow them; we are preparing for college, remember?!

If you need help, ask.  Your teachers are accessible on campus and by phone and email.  We want you to get it right because we want you to succeed in our classes and in the classes you will take later.

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