MLA Style What is MLA Style?

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Modern Language Association
MLA Style
What is MLA Style?
MLA style represents the format sanctioned for the citation and the presentation of research by the Modern
Language Association. MLA is mostly used by the humanities, and the citation style is recognized
internationally. For more information on MLA, please refer to the MLA Handbook, now in its 7th edition or
Why do people use MLA?
MLA allows essays to be formatted in a similar fashion so that papers reflect individuality through writing
rather than format. MLA style also facilitates easy access for researchers constructing papers or developing
Formatting a Paper
Use 12 point, Times New Roman
Font, and use only 8½ by 11 inch
Use Left Justification for
everything except the header at the
top of each page and the title.
Use Right Justification for the
header on the top right hand side
of each page.
The header with the writer’s last
name and page number should sit
one half inch from the top margin.
Use one space after concluding
Center the title of the paper. Title
should be same size, font, format,
and spacing as rest of paper.
Use one inch margins, and double
space all text.
Use a ½ inch indention for each
Write the date European style.
Ex. 12 Aug. 2004
Last name and page # in header
Student’s Name
Professor’s Name
Date (DD Month YYYY)
colon for
for Any
any subtitles
The first line of every paragraph should be indented a half inch. From
should allow the text to wrap around naturally. Hard
new paragraphs or block quotations.
Writers should not place extra spaces between paragraphs and only need one hard return
between each piece of the above information.
Basic Terms
Internal Citations: When citing sources within an essay, the internal citation provides readers with basic
information about a source. Ex: (Whitman 151).
Parenthetical Citations: This term is another name for internal citations when the information is presented in
External Citations: When citing sources at the end of an essay, the external citation provides readers with the
information for locating a source. Ex: See External Citation Formats.
How to Cite?
When quoting in MLA, writers need to look for set criteria. For prose, writers need to find the author and page
number of a work (Smith 76), but for poetry, writers need the author and the line numbers (Poe 15-17). When
working with dramas, writers need to introduce the author in the text before a quotation and need to provide
the play title and line numbers in the parenthetical citation (Hamlet 15-17). As writers incorporate quotations
into their work, they also need to consider if they have a short or long (block) quote.
Short Quotations (4 typed lines or less)
Place the quote within the text of the paper. Introduce the quote with comma, and place the period after the
parenthetical citation. Use quotation marks to show all borrowed material. Include author and page number.
In literature, children often represent minor but important characters. In The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne writes, “Weeks, it
is true, would sometimes elapse, during which Pearl’s gaze might never once be fixed upon the scarlet letter; but then, again, it
would come at unawares, like the stroke of sudden death, and always with that peculiar smile, and odd expression in her eyes”
(1299). Pearl, Hester’s daughter, represents . . .
Block Quotations (More than 4 typed lines)
Place the quote one inch from the left margin, and omit quotation marks. Introduce the quote with a colon, and
place the period before the parenthetical citation.
In The Scarlet Letter, Hawthorne discusses the impact of social code on the next generation as he writes:
Pearl saw, and gazed intently, but never sought to make acquaintance. If spoken to, she would not speak again. If
the children gathered about her, as they sometimes did, Pearl would grow positively terrible in her puny wrath,
snatching up stones to fling at them, with shrill, incoherent exclamations that made her mother tremble, because
they had so much the sound of a witch’s anathemas in some unknown tongue. (1297)
Pearl’s experience shows the reader the impact of the scarlet letter. The author uses this example to make his . . .
Short Quotation (3 lines or less)
Place the quote within the text of the paper. Introduce the quote with a comma, and place the period after the
parenthetical citation. Use quotation marks to show all borrowed material, and use slashes to denote lines.
She writes, “The greatest gift that ev’n a God can give, / He freely offered to the numerous throng, / That on his lips with listening
pleasure hung” (Wheatley 25-27).
Block Quotation (More than 3 lines)
Place the quote one inch from the left margin, and omit quotation marks. Introduce the quote with a colon, and
place the period before the parenthetical citation. Use one hard return at the end of every line.
In “On the Death of the Rev. Mr. George Whitefield, 1770,” Phillis Wheatley writes:
Hail, happy saint, on thine immortal thorne,
Possessed of glory, life, and bliss unknown;
We hear no more the music of they tongue,
Thy wonted auditories cease to throng. (1-4)
Italics v. Quotation Marks
Basically, quotation marks go around parts of a whole. Italics are reserved for longer, complete works.
So you can “do this to a song or chapter” and do this to the album or book. Quotation marks should be used
around titles of articles, essays in a book, short stories, poems, chapters in books, Web site page titles, episodes
of TV shows, songs, and lecture titles. Italics should be used for the names of books, journals, magazines, films,
albums, long musical/dance performances, and ships.
Footnotes and Endnotes
Although footnotes and endnotes can be used with MLA, the style prefers the use of parenthetical citations,
especially for citation purposes. For more information on the use of these notations, please see the MLA
External Citation Formats
Author. Title. Publishing City: Publishing Co, Year.
Medium of Publication.
Diamant, Anita. The Red Tent. New York: Picador
USA, 1998. Print.
Book with Multiple Authors
First author’s name, and second author’s name. Title.
Publishing City: Publishing Co, Year. Medium
of Publication.
Caldwell, Ian, and Dustin Thomason. The Rule of Four.
New York: Dial Books, 2004. Print.
A Work in an Anthology
Original Author. “Title of Piece.” Title of Composite
Text. Ed. Editor’s Name. Publishing City:
Publishing Co, Year. Page Numbers of the
Piece. Medium of Publication.
Hawthorne, Nathaniel. “Young Goodman Brown.” The
Norton Anthology of American Literature to
1865. 6th ed. Ed. Nina Baym. New York: W.W.
Norton and Company, 2002. 1198-1207. Print.
An Introduction, Preface, a Forward or an Afterward
Author. Introduction. Title of Composite Text. Ed.
Editor’s Name. Publishing City: Publishing
Co, Year. Page Numbers of the Piece. Medium
of Publication.
Rosenthal, Lisa. Introduction. The Writing Group
Book: Creating and Sustaining a Successful
Writing Group. Ed. Lisa Rosenthal. Chicago:
Chicago Review Press, 2003. xiii-xviii. Print.
A Translation
Author. Title. Trans. Translator’s Name. Publishing
City: Publishing Co, Year. Medium of
Christine de Pizan. The Book of the City of Ladies.
Trans. Earl Jeffrey Richards. New York: Persea
Books, 1982. Print.
Article from a Periodical
Author. “Title of Article.” Title of Periodical Date:
Page numbers. Medium of Publication.
Yakir, Dan. “The Sorcerer.” Film Comment 17 May
1981: 49-53. Print.
Article from a Newspaper
Author. “Title of Article.” Title of Newspaper Date,
edition abbreviated.: Page Numbers. Medium
of Publication.
Mills, Nancy. “Half-Mortal Merlin Full of Heart.”
Chicago Tribune TV Week 26 May 1998,
Sunday ed.: 3+. Print.
Scholarly Journal
Author. “Title of Article.” Journal Title Volume
Number. Issue Number (Year): Page Numbers.
Medium of Publication.
Mark, Elizabeth Wyner. “The Four Wives of Jacob:
Matriarchs Seen and Unseen.”
Reconstructionist 63.1 (1998): 22-35. Print.
Title. Dir. Director’s Name. Perf. List 2-3 of the main
actors. Production Company, Year. Medium
of Publication.
Spider-Man 2. Dir. Sam Raimi. Perf. Tobey Maguire,
Kirsten Dunst, and Alfred Molina.
Sony Pictures, 2004. Film.
Artist. Title. Publication Company, Year. Medium of
Outlandish. Bread and Barrels of Water. BMG
Denmark, 2003. CD.
An Article in a Reference Book
“Item looked up.” Title. Ed. Editor’s Name. Edition.
Publication City: Publication Company, Year.
Medium of Publication.
“Violin.” Webster’s New World College Dictionary.
Ed. Michael Agnes. 4th ed. New York:
Macmillan, 1999. Print.
Personal Interview
Name of Person being Interviewed. Personal
Interview. Date.
Knodel, Judy. Personal Interview. 8 May 2004.
The Bible
Title. Ed. Editor’s Name. Publication City: Publication
Company, Year. Medium of Publication.
The Oxford Study Bible: Revised English Bible with the
Apocrypha. Ed. M. Jack Suggs, Katherine Doob
Sakenfeld, and James R. Mueller. New York:
Oxford University Press, 1992. Print.
Map or Chart
Title. Map. Publication City: Publication Company,
Year. Medium of Publication.
Japanese Fundamentals. Chart. Hauppauge: Barron,
1992. Print
Work Cited Only on the Web
*Author. “Title of Work.” Title of Website if different
from Title of Work. Version of edition if one.
Publisher. Publication Date. Medium of
Publication. Date Accessed.
McWard, Jim. “McWard’s English Home Page.”
Johnson County Community College. n.d. Web.
12 July 2004.
* If no publisher, use N.p. If no date of publication, use n.d. Only include URL if your reader could not find the site easily without it.
Work on a Website with Print Publication Data
Start with the information you would use if the work was in print form. Then add (1) Title of database or Web
site italiczed, (2) Medium of publication (Web), and (3) Date accessed. If the original page numbers do not
appear in the online version of the work, use N. pag.
Print Journal Accessed Online
Author. “Title of Article.” Journal Title. Volume
Number. Issue Number (Year): page numbers.
Title of Database. Medium of Publication.
Date Accessed.
Myers, Sharon A. “Reassessing the ‘Proofreading
Trap’: ESL Tutoring and Writing Center
Instruction.” The Writing Center Journal. 24.1
(2003): N. pag. The Writing Center Journal
Online. Web. 24 July 2004.
Print Book Accessed Online
Author. Title. Publishing City: Publishing Co, Year.
Title of Database. Medium of Publication.
Date Accessed.
Dumas, Alexandre. Camille (La Dame Aux Camelias).
New York: Atlantic Books, 1852. The Online
Books Page. Web. 21 July 2004.
Same author of multiple works: When this occurs, group the works by the same author together, and alphabetize
by the first word of the title. At the beginning of the second work, use three dashes instead of writing the author’s
name. Ex. - - -. In the paper, distinguish between the works by putting the first few words of the title in the
parenthetical citation before the page number.
No author: If no author is available, leave it out and alphabetize the works cited list by the first key word in the
title. (Key words do not include “A,” “An,” and “The.”) In the paper, use the first key word of the title when
citing. Ex. (Art 76).
Missing Information: In MLA, if a piece of information is not available, skip that piece, and move on to
remaining information. Exceptions to this rule are pagination, publication date, etc. For a full list, see the MLA
Handbook. Electronic sources often lack page numbers. Often writers encounter questions when incorporating
electronic sources because these sources do not have page numbers, but if a source uses paragraph numbers (par.
or pars.) or screens numbers (screens), use this information in place of a page number.
Documents on Websites or in Databases: When citing sources from the Internet, always check the credibility of
the information, and make sure to determine which type of online source is needed. Sometimes, writers need to
combine or adapt entries to meet their needs. For example, if a writer finds an article posted on a personal website
not written by the author of the website, the writer needs to adapt the website with a known author entry to fit his
or her needs.
Multiple authors: When citing multiple authors internally, use a semicolon between internal citations. Ex. (Smith
45; Logan 22-23).
Newspaper: Newspapers often have articles that continue over multiple pages. When citing a newspaper, use a
+ after the first page to indicate whether an article continues. Ex. A-2+ or 13+
The Bible: When citing specific books in the bible, refer to the MLA Handbook for a list of abbreviations.
Works Cited v. Bibliography
A works cited is a list of works referenced in the paper. A writer often researches more works than they cite. A
bibliography is a list of all works read during the course of the paper. When constructing a bibliography, writers
need to include everything they read associated with a project, not just the works cited. Works cited lists and
bibliographies are a source of information for writers. When doing research, writers should use the works cited
lists and bibliographies of their sources to find more information on a given subject.
Formatting and Organizing the Works Cited/Bibliography
Alphabetize works cited lists and bibliographies by author’s last name and/or first key word of the title. Indent all
entries as the text wraps around.
Smith 12
Works Cited
Atwood, Margaret. The Handmaid’s Tale. New York: Fawcett Crest, 1985. Print
North, Steven M. “The Idea of a Writing Center.” The St. Martin’s Sourcebook for Writing
Tutors. Ed. Christina Murphy and Steve Sherewood. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s,
2003. 31-46. Print