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MLA Guide  

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MLA Guide

Download this brief guide that explains MLA format for your paper as well as in-text citations and works cited.



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MLA Guide



MLA Format


This handout provides a quick reference to the basics of using MLA style. For complete guidelines, consult MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, 7th ed., call number: LB2369 .G53 2009.  All page numbers provided below refer to the MLA Handbook.


Major Updates from the New (7th) Edition

·         MLA no longer requires underlining. Titles, such as books and periodical titles, are now italicized rather than underlined.

·         All entries in a reference list, whether print or electronic, must now include the medium in which they have been published (Print, Web, DVD, Television, etc.)

·         URLs are no longer required in citations. MLA recommends that writers only include a web address if the audience is unlikely to find the source otherwise.

·          New Abbreviations: Some sources do not have a date, publisher or pagination. MLA advises, where applicable, to write n.d. for no date, n.p. for no publisher, and n.pag. for no pagination given.


Formatting Basics (pp. 115-122)

·         Double space throughout paper, with no extra spaces between paragraphs.   

·         Do not right justify.

·         Top, bottom, and side margins should be one inch.

·         Indent the first word of each paragraph by ½ inch or 5 spaces.

·         Do not use a title page for the research paper: instead simply type your name, instructor’s name, course number, and date. This should be flush with the left margin. 

·         Center the title of the paper. Do not underline the title, or put in “quotation marks,” or set in ALL CAPITALS. 

·         Number all pages consecutively in the upper right-hand corner, ½ inch from the top and flush with right margin.  Type your last name before the page number, and do not use “p.” before the number.




 Works Cited (pp. 123-212)


MLA style requires that the list of Works Cited start on a new page at the end of your paper.  Formatting rules include:

·         Continue page numbering from the body of your paper.

·         Center the title “Works Cited,” one inch from the top.

·         Alphabetize entries by the author’s last name. If no author, alphabetize by the title (ignore A, An,The).

·         Use a hanging indent.


For books (pp. 148-181):

·         Name(s) of authors or editors.  If only citing one chapter within a book, the author and title (in “quotation marks”) of the chapter.

·         Title of book (including subtitle) italicized.

·         City of publication, name of the publisher, and year of publication.

·         Medium of publication.

·         Edition (only if 2nd ed. or later).

·         Volume number (if there is one).

·         If citing one chapter within a book, the page numbers of the chapter.


For print journal and magazine articles (pp. 136-148):

·         Names of authors.

·         Title of article in “quotation marks.”

·         Title of journal or magazine italicized.

·         Volume number (for a journal).

·         Issue number (for a journal, if available).

·         Date of publication (for journal article, note year only).

·         Page numbers of the article.

·         Medium of publication (Print).


For journal and magazine articles acquired using a library database (pp. 192-193):

·         Names of authors.

·         Title of article in “quotation marks.”

·         Title of journal or magazine italicized.

·         Volume number and issue number (for a journal).

·         Date of publication (for journal article, note year only).

·         Page numbers of the article as originally published in print journal.

·         Name of the database italicized.

·         Medium of publication (Web).

·         Date of access (day, month, and year).



For websites (pp. 181-190):

·         Name of author or editor (if given).

·         Title of the work italicized if the work is independent; in quotation marks if it is part of a larger work.

·         Title of the overall website italicized, if distinct from above.

·         Publisher or sponsor of the site; if not available, use n.p.

·         Date of publication (day, month, and year), if not available, use n.d.

·         Medium of publication (Web).

·         Date of access (day, month, and year).


Examples of Citations

Book with one author:

Steele, Timothy. The Color Wheel: Poems. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 1994. Print.

Book with two or three authors:

Broer, Lawrence R., and Gloria Holland. Hemingway and Women: Female Critics and the Female

                Voice. Tuscaloosa: U of Alabama P, 2002. Print.

Book with four or more authors:

Jones, Terry, et al. Who Murdered Chaucer?: A Medieval Mystery.  New York: Thomas Dunne Books,

2004. Print.

Chapter in a book:

Naremore, James. "Hitchcock at the Margins of Noir." Alfred Hitchcock: Centenary Essays. 

Ed. Richard Allen and S. Ishii-Gonzales. London: BFI, 1999. 263-77.  Print.


Murasaki Shikibu. The Tale of Genji .  Trans. Royall Tyler.  New York: Viking, 2001.  Print.

Print journal article:

Levine, June Perry. “Passage to the Odeon: Too Lean.” Literature Film Quarterly  

14.3 (1986): 139-50. Print.

Journal article acquired using a library database:

Letemendia, V. C. “Revolution on Animal Farm: Orwell's Neglected Commentary.” Journal of Modern Literature 18.1 (1992): 127-37. JSTOR . Web. 6 July 2009.


Bio. A&E Television Networks, 2009. Web.  7 July 2009.

Newspaper article:

Daker, Susan.  “No Happy Holiday for Refiners.” Wall Street Journal 3 July 2009: C10.  Print.


Chocolat.  Dir. Lasse Hallstrom.  Perf.  Alfred Molina and Juliette Binoche. 2000.  Miramax, 2003.  DVD.



Parenthetical Citations (pp. 213-232)


          References in your paper must clearly point to specific sources in your list of Works Cited.

          In most cases, providing the author’s last name and the page number is sufficient: 

Medieval Europe was a place both of “raids, pillages, slavery, and extortion” and of “traveling merchants, monetary exchange, towns if not cities, and active markets in grain” (Townsend 10).

          If you have several works by the same author, also include the title (abbreviated if long):

(Frye, Double Vision 85).

          If no author is listed, use the title (shortened if long):

Voice of the Shuttle has many electronic sources.

          If using the title, remember to use correct punctuation: italicize book titles, use quotation marks for journal articles, short stories, book chapters, etc.

          The author’s name can be referred to within the sentence:

Tannen has argued this point (178-85).

        …or the author’s name can be referred to within the parenthetical reference:

This point has already been argued (Tannen 178-85).


For additional help

          Consult Joseph Gibaldi’s MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, 7th ed,
available at the Reference Desk and on Reserve.

          Refer to the Online Writing Lab (OWL) at Purdue University:

          Utilize bibliographic management tools such as…
                -RefWorks -

                        - Zotero (Firefox only) -

        - Knight Cite -

          Ask a Librarian at any public or college library, or use the AskNow 24/7 internet chat service:















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