MLA Basics for a Bible Student at CAJ Using Apple’s Pages

I’m writing this post for a friend who isn’t familiar with MLA format for Bible classes at CAJ, due to the fact that he entered his Junior year in a school where we’ve been practicing MLA since at least middle school, if not earlier.

A template for Pages that has everything of Part One to Four set up. Just open the file and Pages should recognize it as a template.

Part One: Page Setup

First, you need to set up your paper to use A4 so that it doesn’t get fudged up when it’s printed on A4 when your computer’s assuming that it’s printing in US Letter. In Pages, do a (command-shift-p) to bring up this dialog:

Screen Shot 2013-03-07 at 12.13.07To keep it in A4, go to System Preferences, Print & Scan, then change the default paper size:

Screen Shot 2013-03-07 at 12.17.56That was fun… maybe. Last step for this part: page margins. The MLA standard has rules for margin sizes, with enforcement of the standard depending on the teacher. Might as well play it safe. Bring up the Inspector dialog by either clicking “Inspector” in the toolbar or hitting (command-option-i):

Screen Shot 2013-03-07 at 12.22.01Then change the margin settings to 1 inch all over, with half an inch for headers and footers.

Part Two: Name Block and Header

The second part consists of making your paper identifiable by the teacher. This includes your name, teacher’s name, class, and due date. In the header would be your last name and page number of the paper. We can even have Pages set up your date automatically, but I like the control I have manually, so I don’t do that. This is my header:

Screen Shot 2013-03-07 at 12.32.37


I have Pages set up to automatically insert page numbers for every page of my paper.

The date standard is (day month year), with the month being spelled out in its entirety, while the date and year are typed out in numbers. Set up the header’s automatic page number insertion like so:

Screen Shot 2013-03-07 at 12.41.52


Under the “Insert” menu item, select “Auto Page Numbers.” The following dialog should show up:

Screen Shot 2013-03-07 at 12.42.56


Change the settings to account for the MLA standard, with the position being in the header, aligned to the right, then click the big blue “Insert” button.

Part Three: Body

In your paper’s content, the MLA standard wants you to use 12pt Times New Roman. If your paper isn’t already so, change this now. Do the same for the header, as Pages doesn’t adjust the font of your header unless you explicitly tell it to do so.

MLA papers are all double-spaced, meaning that there are huge margins between two lines of text, often so there is space to write notes. Do this in the format bar, where there is a double-arrow line pushing vertically against two parallel lines:

Screen Shot 2013-03-07 at 12.49.08


Finally, using the blue sliders in the ruler right below the format bar, move the horizontal bar to the half-inch position—this makes it so that you have a half-inch indentation with each new paragraph.

Part Four: Works Cited

The MLA standard wants you to cite where you get your information on a separate page—which makes sense, as the MLA standard is for academic papers.

Insert a page break, then center the title as “Works Cited.” The indentation style for the works cited page is a bit different—it’s a “hanging indent” where the first line of your citation isn’t indented, while every line after the first is. Do this simply by reversing the sliders from Part Three:

Screen Shot 2013-03-07 at 12.55.37


Part Five: Actually Citing the Bible

The most confusing thing about MLA is the citation style, as how you need to cite an article or passage of the Bible changes depending on the context of the article or your paper. For now, let’s stick to citing the Bible.

If you paraphrase a part of the Bible, you don’t need to say the version, only the passage it came from. This, too, is tricky, because you have to

  1. Find the correct abbreviation for the book of the Bible you’re citing
  2. Use periods instead of semicolons for chapter and verse separation

If you’re quoting directly from the Bible and it’s the first time doing so from that version in your paper, you have to cite which version the passage is from in full, which should be italicized. For the second time and onwards, if you’re using the same edition, there is no need to cite the edition, only the book, chapter, and verse(s).

The final product should look something like this:

Screen Shot 2013-03-07 at 13.00.57That’s it for citing the Bible. Good luck with your paper!


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