Formatting research papers–APA and MLA in Word

Woman joyfully throwing her research paper into the air; image provided by Office.comSchool is starting, which means you’re starting to write papers again–formatted exactly in the style that’s required by your professor.

Exactly, and you might be writing these papers for a quarter, a semester, or an entire year. That’s a lot of formatting.

How to make it easier? After you have all the style-specific settings chosen in Word, save those settings as the default settings. You can set defaults for margins, line spacing, and other document elements.

If you don’t want to change the default settings, you can save your first paper as a template. Then you can open your template whenever you need to begin a new paper.

The two most common styles are APA (American Psychological Association) and MLA (Modern Language Association). In Word 2010, Service Pack 1, the Word Bibliography feature supports APA Sixth Edition and MLA Seventh Edition. (If you don’t see those choices, be sure to install the service pack.)

The Word Bibliography feature also supports Chicago Fifteenth Edition and Harvard – Anglia 2008.

For more information about bibliographies in Word, including how to choose a bibliography style, see Create a bibliography and 5 bibliography tips.

With any specific style, be sure to visit the website to catch all of that style’s details. The APA Style website has a lot of materials, including a tutorial, so you can make sure that you’re doing it right. And the MLA website has lists of frequently asked questions.

Want more tips and tools for starting back to school? Visit the Office in Education blog.

— Joannie Stangeland