MLA Style: A Brief Overview*

MLA style is used when writing and formatting papers. It is mainly used for those writing within the liberal arts and humanities. Below is a brief overview of formatting and citations within the MLA style. While these are MLA requirements, always follow your instructor’s guidelines.

 

Paper Format

General Paper Format: Double-spaced in a legible 12 pt. font (i.e. Times New Roman); only use one space after periods and other punctuation; format with one inch margins; indent using the tab key for the first line of paragraphs; create a header with your last name and consecutive page number in the upper right hand corner.

First Page Format: No title page, unless requested. In the upper left hand corner, put your name, instructor’s name, course title, and the date—double-spaced. Center the title with no underlining or italicization, unless you refer to a title of another work in your title.

 

Citations

  • In-text—used when paraphrasing or directly quoting another source, such as a book, article, webpage, etc.
    • The Parenthetical Citation
      • Citing the source in parentheses at the end of a quote or paraphrase. The parentheses go before the period at the end of the sentence and after any quotation marks, unless you are using a block quote (http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/747/03/ ).
      • Each citation will directly correspond to the source’s entry on the Works Cited page based on signal word(s)—the first word(s) that appear in the Works Cited entry.
      • Each citation will include the page number, if provided, where the information was found.
    • Examples
      • Author-Page Style: Author’s name must appear in the text or in parentheses following the quote or paraphrase.
        • As Henze points out, Don Pedro’s deception to unite Benedick and Beatrice is “pleasantly designed to end another deception” (188). 
        • Don Pedro’s lie would not have worked if the masks of dislike and love were easily removed (Henze 189). 
      • No Known Author: Use a shortened title of the work and the page number in parentheses following the quote or paraphrase.
        • The play was performed at the theater on 45th Street (“Much Ado” 1).
      • Multiple Authors: For more than three sources, use the first author’s name followed by “et al.” and the page number in the parenthetical citation, or list all the names in the text.
        • Zebra hairs have been under observation for the past twenty years (Cook et al. 3).
        • Cook, Smith, Miller, and Long (or Cook et al.) have pointed out that zebra hairs have been under scientific observation for the past twenty years (3).
      • Indirect Sources: For a source quoted in another source, use “qtd. in” and the page number. This is usually not recommended, so try to find the original source.
        • Happy Miller stated zebras are the coolest animal in the world (qtd. in Smith 25).
      • Internet Citations: Include the first item that appears in the Works Cited list. You do not need paragraph numbers or page numbers depending on the web browser’s page view. Also, you should not include URLs in the text, unless it is a partial URL, such as CNN.com.

 

  • Works Cited—placed separately as the last page of your paper.
    • Label as Works Cited centered at the top of the page (no underlining or italicization).
    • List entries in alphabetical order by the author’s last name or the title if no author is known.
    • Indent the second and following lines of the citations five spaces.
    • Determine the medium of your source (such as Print, Web, Film, etc.).
    • Do not need to provide URLs for Web entries, unless instructor requires them.

Book Basic Format:

Last name, First name. Title. City of Publication: Publisher, Year

            of Publications. Medium of Publication.

Journal Basic Format:

              Last name, First name. “Title.” Title of Journal Volume.Issue

                           (Year): pages. Medium of Publication.

Article Basic Format:

Last name, First name. “Title of Article.” Title of Periodical Day

             Month Year: pages. Medium of Publication.

Webpage Basic Format:

Author/editor(s). “Article Name.” Title of website, project, or book.

            Version number. Publisher (Name of institution/organization

            affiliated with the site), date of publishing. Page numbers.

            Medium of Publication. Date of access. <URL (if required)>.

(Notes: If citing a whole site, you do not have to include individual page names. You may not find all of the information listed in the above citation, but collect as much as you can. Use n.p. if no publisher is available and n.d. if no publishing date is given.)

 

Example

In-text: In the act of killing young Rutland, Clifford becomes an “automaton of revenge” (Keyishian 72).

Works Cited:

Keyishian, Harry. “The Progress of Revenge in the First Henriad.” Henry VI: Critical Essays.

          Ed. Thomas A. Pendleton. New York: Taylor & Francis Group, 2001. 67-77. Print.

 

 

*This is not a complete guide to MLA style and formatting. For more complete information, find the most recent MLA Handbook or use the Purdue OWL website: http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/section/2/11/ .