MLA Paper Formatting and In-text Citation

This sheet summarizes Modern Language Association (MLA) style for paper formatting and in-text citation, as published in the seventh edition of MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers. MLA is only one of a number of popular styles for formatting, which are generally used according to discipline, but you should always use the methods and variations preferred by your professor.

For more complete style information, refer to seventh edition of the MLA Handbook or visit the OWL at Purdue (new tab) and refer to the MLA 2009 Formatting and Style Guide.

Paper Formatting

An MLA-formatted paper should be:

  • Typed and printed on 8.5”x11” white paper.
  • Double-spaced between lines (including the first page heading), with a single space between sentences
  • In a standard 12 pt. font (e.g. Times New Roman, Helvetica, Arial)
  • Set to 1” margins
  • Indented ½” at the beginning of each paragraph
  • Labeled with a header that includes the page number
  • Include in-text parenthetical citation with a Works Cited page at the end of your paper.

Starting your paper:

  • On the first page, type your full name, instructor’s name, course, and the date in the upper left corner (you should NOT create a separate title page) unless your professor specifies otherwise.
  • Double-space after your heading and type your title (centered) using Title Case (do not add any underlining, quotes, or italics except to denote the title of another work, as you would in your text).
  • Your paper should have a header on every page that includes your last name, followed by a space and the page number, set even with the right margin, ½” from the top of the paper.
  • Double space again before beginning your first paragraph.

In-text Citation

MLA requires the use of parenthetical citation to indicate the use of ideas or direct quotes from others.

  • Insert a parenthetical citation that includes the author’s last name and the page number at the end of the relevant sentence (or clause), inside the end punctuation. However, if the author’s name appears in the sentence (e.g. Daniels argues that…), you only need to cite the page number at the end of the sentence.

Author(s) It may be true that “in the appreciation of medieval art the attitude of the observer is of primary importance. . .” (Robertson 136)

Author(s) and source when using multiple sources by same author
Shakespeare’s King Lear has been called a “comedy of the grotesque” (Frye, Anatomy 237).

Source alphabetized by title in the Works Cited (e.g. the author is unknown)
…for “every moment we have lived through we have also died out of into another order” (Double Vision 85).

MLA Works Cited

This sheet summarizes Modern Language Association (MLA) style for Works Cited citations, as published in the seventh edition of MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers. MLA is only one of a number of popular styles for formatting, which are generally used according to discipline, but you should always use the methods and variations preferred by your professor.

Works Cited Formatting

In-text citations in MLA documents refer to full source citations in Works Cited, an alphabetical list of sources that appears on a separate page at the end of a paper.

  • All sources should be alphabetized by author last name. If the author is not known, alphabetize by title (not including the words “a,” “an,” or “the”—e.g. alphabetize The Journal of Immunology under “J”).
  • Center title one inch from top, followed by a double-space, and then begin your entries.
  • Entries should also be double-spaced, with all lines after the first indented by five spaces (1/2”).
  • Within the Works Cited, each source entry should be formatted according to the type and medium of the source. The 2008 MLA update requires that each entry include the medium (print, web, etc.). In the interest of space, the examples below are not double-spaced.
Print Sources

Book with one author

Franke, Damon. Modernist Heresies: British Literary History, 1883-1924. Columbus: Ohio State UP, 2008. Print.

Book with more than one author

Booth, Wayne C., Gregory G. Colomb, and Joseph M. Williams. The Craft of Research. 2nd ed. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 2003. Print.

Corporate Author

National Research Council. Beyond Six Billion: Forecasting the World’s Population. Washington: Natl. Acad., 2000. Print.

Two or more works by same author: For entries after the first one, replace the name with three hyphens

Borroff, Marie. Language and the Poet: Verbal Artistry in Frost, Stevens, and Moore. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1979. Print.

– – –. “Sound Symbolism as Drama in the Poetry of Robert Frost.” PMLA 107.1 (1992): 131-44. JSTOR. Web. 13 May 2008.


Spafford, Peter, comp. and ed. Interference: The Story of Czechoslovakia in the Words of its Writers. Cheltenham: New Clarion, 1992. Print.

Book with more than one edition

Baker, Nancy L., and Nancy Huling. A Research Guide for Undergraduate Students: English and American Literature. 6th ed. New York: MLA, 2006. Print.


Homer. The Odyssey. Trans. Robert Fagles. New York: Viking, 1996. Print.

If the translator is the more pertinent part of the citation (i.e. you are citing the translator’s comments or process), put the translators name first:

Seidensticker, Edward G., trans. The Tale of Genji. By Murasaki Shikibu. New Yrok: Knopf, 1976. Print.

Reference Article

“Japan.” The Encyclopedia Americana. 2004 ed. Print.

Journal Article

Piper, Andrew. “Rethinking the Print Object: Goethe and the Book of Everything.” PMLA 121.1 (2006): 124-38. Print.

Magazine Article

If the magazine is printed monthly or less frequently, include the month and year. If it is published more frequently, include the entire date.

McEvoy, Dermot. “Little Books, Big Success.” Publishers Weekly 30 Oct. 2006: 26-28. Print.

Newspaper Article

Jeromack, Paul. “This Once, a David of the Art World Does Goliath a Favor.” New York Times 13 July 2002, late ed.: B7+. Print.


Gergen, David. “A Question of Values.” Editorial. US News and World Report 11 Feb. 2002: 72. Print.

Online Resources

For online resource citations, the latest version of MLA no longer requires a URL, but “web” must be added to citations, followed by the access date. However, if the URL is necessary to locate the source, do include it.

Citations for resources accessed on the web should include the following items as completely as possible, in order.

  • Author, compiler, director, editor, narrator, performer, and/or translator
  • Title (if you are citing part of a larger work or site, put the subsection in quotations and the larger work in italics, as with the citations types above). If there is no title, put the genre of page (e.g. home page).
  • Version or edition
  • Publisher or sponser, or N.p. if not applicable
  • Publication date (day, month, year), or n.d. if no date
  • Medium (“Web”)
  • Date of access (day, month, year)

Web–only Resources

Quade, Alex. “Elite Team Rescues Troops Behind Enemy Lines.” Cable News Network, 19 Mar. 2007. Web. 15 May 2008.

Liu, Alan, ed. Home page. Voice of the Shuttle. Dept. of English, U of California, Santa Barbara, n.d. Web. 15 May 2008.

“Verb Tenses.” Chart. The OWL at Purdue. Purdue U Online Writing Lab, 2001. Web. 15 May 2008.

Armstrong, Grace. Rev. of Fortune’s Faces. The Roman de la Rose and the Poetics of Contingency, by Daniel Heller-Roazen. Bryn Mawr Review of Comparative Literature 6.1 (2007): n. pag. Web. 5 June 2008.

Print Sources Reproduced on the Web

If a source accessed on the web was originally published in print form (e.g. journal articles or texts scanned into a database), include the publishing information as in print entries, but also include “web” and the access date.

Bown, Jennifer M. “Going Solo: The Experience of Learning Russian in a Non-traditional Environment.” Diss. Ohio State U, 2004. OhioLINKI. Web. 15 May 2008.

Child, L. Maria, ed. The Freedmen’s Book. Boston, 1866. Google Book Search. Web. 15 May 2008.

Ovid. Metamorphoses. Trans. Arthur Golding. London, 1567. The Perseus Digital Library. Ed. Gregory Crane. Tufts U. Web. 12 Mar. 2007.

Citation examples in this page taken from:
Modern Language Association of America. MLA Handbook for Writer of Research Papers. New York: Modern Language Association of America, 2009. Print.