Essays Mla Style
MLA style specifies guidelines for formatting manuscripts and using the English language in writing. MLA style also provides writers with a system for referencing their sources through parenthetical citation in their essays and Works Cited pages.
Writers who properly use MLA also build their credibility by demonstrating accountability to their source material. Most importantly, the use of MLA style can protect writers from accusations of plagiarism, which is the purposeful or accidental uncredited use of source material by other writers.
If you are asked to use MLA format, be sure to consult the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers (7th edition). Publishing scholars and graduate students should also consult the MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing (3rd edition). The MLA Handbook is available in most writing centers and reference libraries; it is also widely available in bookstores, libraries, and at the MLA web site. See the Additional Resources section of this handout for a list of helpful books and sites about using MLA style.
The preparation of papers and manuscripts in MLA style is covered in chapter four of the MLA Handbook, and chapter four of the MLA Style Manual. Below are some basic guidelines for formatting a paper in MLA style.
- Type your paper on a computer and print it out on standard, white 8.5 x 11-inch paper.
- Double-space the text of your paper, and use a legible font (e.g. Times New Roman). Whatever font you choose, MLA recommends that the regular and italics type styles contrast enough that they are recognizable one from another. The font size should be 12 pt.
- Leave only one space after periods or other punctuation marks (unless otherwise instructed by your instructor).
- Set the margins of your document to 1 inch on all sides.
- Indent the first line of paragraphs one half-inch from the left margin. MLA recommends that you use the Tab key as opposed to pushing the Space Bar five times.
- Create a header that numbers all pages consecutively in the upper right-hand corner, one-half inch from the top and flush with the right margin. (Note: Your instructor may ask that you omit the number on your first page. Always follow your instructor’s guidelines.)
- Use italics throughout your essay for the titles of longer works and, only when absolutely necessary, providing emphasis.
- If you have any endnotes, include them on a separate page before your Works Cited page. Entitle the section Notes (centered, unformatted).
Formatting the First Page of Your Paper
- Do not make a title page for your paper unless specifically requested.
- In the upper left-hand corner of the first page, list your name, your instructor’s name, the course, and the date. Again, be sure to use double-spaced text.
- Double space again and center the title. Do not underline, italicize, or place your title in quotation marks; write the title in Title Case (standard capitalization), not in all capital letters.
- Use quotation marks and/or italics when referring to other works in your title, just as you would in your text: Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas as Morality Play; Human Weariness in “After Apple Picking”
- Double space between the title and the first line of the text.
- Create a header in the upper right-hand corner that includes your last name, followed by a space with a page number; number all pages consecutively with Arabic numerals (1, 2, 3, 4, etc.), one-half inch from the top and flush with the right margin. (Note: Your instructor or other readers may ask that you omit last name/page number header on your first page. Always follow instructor guidelines.)
Here is a sample of the first page of a paper in MLA style:
Image Caption: The First Page of an MLA Paper
Writers sometimes use Section Headings to improve a document’s readability. These sections may include individual chapters or other named parts of a book or essay.
MLA recommends that when you divide an essay into sections that you number those sections with an arabic number and a period followed by a space and the section name.
- Early Writings
- The London Years
- Traveling the Continent
- Final Years
MLA does not have a prescribed system of headings for books (for more information on headings, please see page 146 in the MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing, 3rd edition). If you are only using one level of headings, meaning that all of the sections are distinct and parallel and have no additional sections that fit within them, MLA recommends that these sections resemble one another grammatically. For instance, if your headings are typically short phrases, make all of the headings short phrases (and not, for example, full sentences). Otherwise, the formatting is up to you. It should, however, be consistent throughout the document.
If you employ multiple levels of headings (some of your sections have sections within sections), you may want to provide a key of your chosen level headings and their formatting to your instructor or editor.
Sample Section Headings
The following sample headings are meant to be used only as a reference. You may employ whatever system of formatting that works best for you so long as it remains consistent throughout the document.
1. Soil Conservation
2. Water Conservation
3. Energy Conservation
Level 1 Heading: bold, flush left
Level 2 Heading: italics, flush left
Level 3 Heading: centered, bold
Level 4 Heading: centered, italics
Level 5 Heading: underlined, flush left
MLA In-Text Citations: The Basics
Guidelines for referring to the works of others in your text using MLA style are covered in chapter six of the MLA Handbook and in chapter seven of the MLA Style Manual. Both books provide extensive examples, so it’s a good idea to consult them if you want to become even more familiar with MLA guidelines or if you have a particular reference question.
Basic In-Text Citation Rules
In MLA style, referring to the works of others in your text is done by using what is known as parenthetical citation. This method involves placing relevant source information in parentheses after a quote or a paraphrase.
- The source information required in a parenthetical citation depends (1.) upon the source medium (e.g. Print, Web, DVD) and (2.) upon the source’s entry on the Works Cited (bibliography) page.
- Any source information that you provide in-text must correspond to the source information on the Works Cited page. More specifically, whatever signal word or phrase you provide to your readers in the text, must be the first thing that appears on the left-hand margin of the corresponding entry in the Works Cited List.
In-Text Citations: Author-Page Style
MLA format follows the author-page method of in-text citation. This means that the author’s last name and the page number(s) from which the quotation or paraphrase is taken must appear in the text, and a complete reference should appear on your Works Cited page. The author’s name may appear either in the sentence itself or in parentheses following the quotation or paraphrase, but the page number(s) should always appear in the parentheses, not in the text of your sentence. For example:
Wordsworth stated that Romantic poetry was marked by a “spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings” (263).
Romantic poetry is characterized by the “spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings” (Wordsworth 263).
Wordsworth extensively explored the role of emotion in the creative process (263).
Both citations in the examples above, (263) and (Wordsworth 263), tell readers that the information in the sentence can be located on page 263 of a work by an author named Wordsworth. If readers want more information about this source, they can turn to the Works Cited page, where, under the name of Wordsworth, they would find the following information:
Wordsworth, William. Lyrical Ballads. London: Oxford U.P., 1967. Print.
In-text Citations for Print Sources with Known Author
For Print sources like books, magazines, scholarly journal articles, and newspapers, provide a signal word or phrase (usually the author’s last name) and a page number. If you provide the signal word/phrase in the sentence, you do not need to include it in the parenthetical citation.
Human beings have been described by Kenneth Burke as “symbol-using animals” (3). Human beings have been described as “symbol-using animals” (Burke 3).
These examples must correspond to an entry that begins with Burke, which will be the first thing that appears on the left-hand margin of an entry in the Works Cited:
Burke, Kenneth. Language as Symbolic Action: Essays on Life, Literature, and Method. Berkeley: U of California P, 1966. Print.
In-text Citations for Print Sources with No Known Author
When a source has no known author, use a shortened title of the work instead of an author name. Place the title in quotation marks if it’s a short work (e.g. articles) or italicize it if it’s a longer work (e.g. plays, books, television shows, entire websites) and provide a page number.
We see so many global warming hotspots in North America likely because this region has “more readily accessible climatic data and more comprehensive programs to monitor and study environmental change . . . ” (“Impact of Global Warming” 6).
In this example, since the reader does not know the author of the article, an abbreviated title of the article appears in the parenthetical citation which corresponds to the full name of the article which appears first at the left-hand margin of its respective entry in the Works Cited. Thus, the writer includes the title in quotation marks as the signal phrase in the parenthetical citation in order to lead the reader directly to the source on the Works Cited page. The Works Cited entry appears as follows:
“The Impact of Global Warming in North America.” GLOBAL WARMING: Early Signs. 1999. Web. 23 Mar. 2009.
We’ll learn how to make a Works Cited page in a bit, but right now it’s important to know that parenthetical citations and Works Cited pages allow readers to know which sources you consulted in writing your essay, so that they can either verify your interpretation of the sources or use them in their own scholarly work.
Author-Page Citation for Classic and Literary Works with Multiple Editions
Page numbers are always required, but additional citation information can help literary scholars, who may have a different edition of a classic work like Marx and Engels’s The Communist Manifesto. In such cases, give the page number of your edition (making sure the edition is listed in your Works Cited page, of course) followed by a semicolon, and then the appropriate abbreviations for volume (vol.), book (bk.), part (pt.), chapter (ch.), section (sec.), or paragraph (par.). For example:
Marx and Engels described human history as marked by class struggles (79; ch. 1).
Citing Authors with Same Last Names
Sometimes more information is necessary to identify the source from which a quotation is taken. For instance, if two or more authors have the same last name, provide both authors’ first initials (or even the authors’ full name if different authors share initials) in your citation. For example:
Although some medical ethicists claim that cloning will lead to designer children (R. Miller 12), others note that the advantages for medical research outweigh this consideration (A. Miller 46).
Citing a Work by Multiple Authors
For a source with three or fewer authors, list the authors’ last names in the text or in the parenthetical citation:
Smith, Yang, and Moore argue that tougher gun control is not needed in the United States (76).
The authors state “Tighter gun control in the United States erodes Second Amendment rights” (Smith, Yang, and Moore 76).
For a source with more than three authors, use the work’s bibliographic information as a guide for your citation. Provide the first author’s last name followed by et al. or list all the last names.
Jones et al. counter Smith, Yang, and Moore’s argument by noting that the current spike in gun violence in America compels law makers to adjust gun laws (4).
Legal experts counter Smith, Yang, and Moore’s argument by noting that the current spike in gun violence in America compels law makers to adjust gun laws (Jones et al. 4).
Jones, Driscoll, Ackerson, and Bell counter Smith, Yang, and Moore’s argument by noting that the current spike in gun violence in America compels law makers to adjust gun laws (4).
Citing Multiple Works by the Same Author
If you cite more than one work by a particular author, include a shortened title for the particular work from which you are quoting to distinguish it from the others.
Lightenor has argued that computers are not useful tools for small children (“Too Soon” 38), though he has acknowledged elsewhere that early exposure to computer games does lead to better small motor skill development in a child’s second and third year (“Hand-Eye Development” 17).
Additionally, if the author’s name is not mentioned in the sentence, you would format your citation with the author’s name followed by a comma, followed by a shortened title of the work, followed, when appropriate, by page numbers:
Visual studies, because it is such a new discipline, may be “too easy” (Elkins, “Visual Studies” 63).
Citing Multivolume Works
If you cite from different volumes of a multivolume work, always include the volume number followed by a colon. Put a space after the colon, then provide the page number(s). (If you only cite from one volume, provide only the page number in parentheses.)
. . . as Quintilian wrote in Institutio Oratoria (1: 14-17).
Citing the Bible
In your first parenthetical citation, you want to make clear which Bible you’re using (and underline or italicize the title), as each version varies in its translation, followed by book (do not italicize or underline), chapter and verse. For example:
Ezekiel saw “what seemed to be four living creatures,” each with faces of a man, a lion, an ox, and an eagle (New Jerusalem Bible, Ezek. 1.5-10).
If future references employ the same edition of the Bible you’re using, list only the book, chapter, and verse in the parenthetical citation.
Citing Indirect Sources
Sometimes you may have to use an indirect source. An indirect source is a source cited in another source. For such indirect quotations, use “qtd. in” to indicate the source you actually consulted. For example:
Ravitch argues that high schools are pressured to act as “social service centers, and they don’t do that well” (qtd. in Weisman 259).
Note that, in most cases, a responsible researcher will attempt to find the original source, rather than citing an indirect source.
Citing Non-Print or Sources from the Internet
With more and more scholarly work being posted on the Internet, you may have to cite research you have completed in virtual environments. While many sources on the Internet should not be used for scholarly work (reference the OWL’s Evaluating Sources of Information resource), some Web sources are perfectly acceptable for research. When creating in-text citations for electronic, film, or Internet sources, remember that your citation must reference the source in your Works Cited.
Sometimes writers are confused with how to craft parenthetical citations for electronic sources because of the absence of page numbers, but often, these sorts of entries do not require any sort of parenthetical citation at all. For electronic and Internet sources, follow the following guidelines:
- Include in the text the first item that appears in the Work Cited entry that corresponds to the citation (e.g. author name, article name, website name, film name).
- You do not need to give paragraph numbers or page numbers based on your Web browser’s print preview function.
- Unless you must list the website name in the signal phrase in order to get the reader to the appropriate entry, do not include URLs in-text. Only provide partial URLs such as when the name of the site includes, for example, a domain name, like CNN.com or Forbes.com as opposed to writing out http://www.cnn.com or http://www.forbes.com.
Miscellaneous Non-Print Sources
Werner Herzog’s Fitzcarraldo stars Herzog’s long-time film partner, Klaus Kinski. During the shooting of Fitzcarraldo, Herzog and Kinski were often at odds, but their explosive relationship fostered a memorable and influential film.
During the presentation, Jane Yates stated that invention and pre-writing are areas of rhetoric that need more attention.
In the two examples above “Herzog” from the first entry and “Yates” from the second lead the reader to the first item each citation’s respective entry on the Works Cited page:
Herzog, Werner, dir. Fitzcarraldo. Perf. Klaus Kinski. Filmverlag der Autoren, 1982. Film.
Yates, Jane. “Invention in Rhetoric and Composition.” Gaps Addressed: Future Work in Rhetoric and Composition, CCCC, Palmer House Hilton, 2002. Print.
One online film critic stated that Fitzcarraldo is “…a beautiful and terrifying critique of obsession and colonialism” (Garcia, “Herzog: a Life”).
The Purdue OWL is accessed by millions of users every year. Its “MLA Formatting and Style Guide” is one of the most popular resources (Stolley et al.).
In the first example, the writer has chosen not to include the author name in-text; however, two entries from the same author appear in the Works Cited. Thus, the writer includes both the author’s last name and the article title in the parenthetical citation in order to lead the reader to the appropriate entry on the Works Cited page (see below). In the second example, “Stolley et al.” in the parenthetical citation gives the reader an author name followed by the abbreviation “et al.,” meaning, “and others,” for the article “MLA Formatting and Style Guide.” Both corresponding Works Cited entries are as follows:
Garcia, Elizabeth. “Herzog: a Life.” Online Film Critics Corner. The Film School of New Hampshire, 2 May 2002. Web. 8 Jan. 2009.
Stolley, Karl. “MLA Formatting and Style Guide.” The OWL at Purdue. 10 May 2006. Purdue University Writing Lab. 12 May 2006 .
To cite multiple sources in the same parenthetical reference, separate the citations by a semi-colon:
. . . as has been discussed elsewhere (Burke 3; Dewey 21).
When a Citation Is Not Needed
Common sense and ethics should determine your need for documenting sources. You do not need to give sources for familiar proverbs, well-known quotations or common knowledge. Remember, this is a rhetorical choice, based on audience. If you’re writing for an expert audience of a scholarly journal, for example, they’ll have different expectations of what constitutes common knowledge.
MLA Formatting Quotations
When you directly quote the works of others in your paper, you will format quotations differently depending on their length. Below are some basic guidelines for incorporating quotations into your paper. Please note that all pages in MLA should be double-spaced.
To indicate short quotations (fewer than four typed lines of prose or three lines of verse) in your text, enclose the quotation within double quotation marks. Provide the author and specific page citation (in the case of verse, provide line numbers) in the text, and include a complete reference on the Works Cited page. Punctuation marks such as periods, commas, and semicolons should appear after the parenthetical citation. Question marks and exclamation points should appear within the quotation marks if they are a part of the quoted passage but after the parenthetical citation if they are a part of your text. For example:
According to some, dreams express “profound aspects of personality” (Foulkes 184), though others disagree.
According to Foulkes’s study, dreams may express “profound aspects of personality” (184).
Is it possible that dreams may express “profound aspects of personality” (Foulkes 184)?
Mark breaks in short quotations of verse with a slash, /, at the end of each line of verse: (a space should precede and follow the slash)
Cullen concludes, “Of all the things that happened there / That’s all I remember” (11-12).
For quotations that extend to more than four lines of verse or prose: place quotations in a free-standing block of text and omit quotation marks. Start the quotation on a new line, with the entire quote indented one inch from the left margin; maintain double-spacing. Only indent the first line of the quotation by a half inch if you are citing multiple paragraphs. Your parenthetical citation should come after the closing punctuation mark. When quoting verse, maintain original line breaks. (You should maintain double-spacing throughout your essay.) For example:
Nelly Dean treats Heathcliff poorly and dehumanizes him throughout her narration:
They entirely refused to have it in bed with them, or even in their room, and I had no more sense, so, I put it on the landing of the stairs, hoping it would be gone on the morrow. By chance, or else attracted by hearing his voice, it crept to Mr. Earnshaw’s door, and there he found it on quitting his chamber. Inquiries were made as to how it got there; I was obliged to confess, and in recompense for my cowardice and inhumanity was sent out of the house. (Bronte 78)
When citing long sections of poetry, keep formatting as close to the original as possible:
In his poem “My Papa’s Waltz,” Theodore Roethke explores his childhood with his father:
The whiskey on your breath
Could make a small boy dizzy;
But I hung on like death:
Such waltzing was not easy.
We Romped until the pans
Slid from the kitchen shelf;
My mother’s countenance
Could not unfrown itself. (quoted in Shrodes, Finestone, Shugrue 202)
When citing two or more paragraphs, use block quotation format, even if the passage from the paragraphs is less than four lines. Indent the first line of each quoted paragraph an extra quarter inch:
In “American Origins of the Writing-across-the-Curriculum Movement,” David Russell argues:
Writing has been an issue in American secondary and higher education since papers and examinations came into wide use in the 1870s, eventually driving out formal recitation and oral examination. . . .From its birth in the late nineteenth century, progressive education has wrestled with the conflict within industrail society between pressure to increase specialization of knowledge and of professional work (upholding disciplinary standards) and pressure to integrate more fully an ever-widerning number of citizes into intellectually meaningful activity within mass society (promoting social equity). . . . (3)
Adding or Omitting Words in Quotations
If you add a word or words in a quotation, you should put brackets around the words to indicate that they are not part of the original text.
Jan Harold Brunvand, in an essay on urban legends, states: “some individuals [who retell urban legends] make a point of learning every rumor or tale” (78).
If you omit a word or words from a quotation, you should indicate the deleted word or words by using ellipsis marks, which are three periods ( . . . ) preceded and followed by a space. For example:
In an essay on urban legends, Jan Harold Brunvand notes that “some individuals make a point of learning every recent rumor or tale . . . and in a short time a lively exchange of details occurs” (78).
Please note that brackets are not needed around ellipses unless adding brackets would clarify your use of ellipses.
When omitting words from poetry quotations, use a standard three-period ellipses; however, when omitting one or more full lines of poetry, space several periods to about the length of a complete line in the poem:
These beauteous forms, Through a long absence, have not been to me As is a landscape to a blind man’s eye:
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Felt in the blood, and felt along the heart; And passing even into my purer mind, With tranquil restoration. . . (22-24, 28-30)
MLA Footnotes and Endnotes
Because long explanatory notes can be distracting to readers, most academic style guidelines (including MLA and APA) recommend limited use of footnotes/endnotes; however, certain publishers encourage or require note references in lieu of parenthetical references.
MLA discourages extensive use of explanatory or digressive notes. MLA style does, however, allow you to use endnotes or footnotes for bibliographic notes, which refer to other publications your readers may consult:
1. See Blackmur, especially chapters three and four, for an insightful analysis of this trend.
2. On the problems related to repressed memory recovery, see Wollens 120-35; for a contrasting view, see Pyle 43; Johnson, Hull, Snyder 21-35; Krieg 78-91.
3. Several other studies point to this same conclusion. See Johnson and Hull 45-79, Kather 23-31, Krieg 50-57.
Or, you can also use footnotes/endnotes for occasional explanatory notes (also known as content notes), which refers to brief additional information that might be too digressive for the main text:
4. In a 1998 interview, she reiterated this point even more strongly: “I am an artist, not a politician!” (Weller 124).
Numbering Endnotes and Footnotes in the Document Body
Endnotes and footnotes in MLA format are indicated in-text by superscript Arabic numbers after the punctuation of the phrase or clause to which the note refers:
Some have argued that such an investigation would be fruitless.6
Scholars have argued for years that this claim has no basis,7 so we would do well to ignore it.
Note that when a long dash appears in the text, the footnote/endnote number appears before the dash:
For years, scholars have failed to address this point8—a fact that suggests their cowardice more than their carelessness.
Do not use asterisks (*), angle brackets (>), or other symbols for note references. The list of endnotes and footnotes (either of which, for papers submitted for publication, should be listed on a separate page, as indicated below) should correspond to the note references in the text.
Formatting Endnotes and Footnotes
MLA recommends that all notes be listed on a separate page entitled Notes (centered, no formatting). (Use Note if there is only one note.) The Notes page should appear before the Works Cited page. This is especially important for papers being submitted for publication.
The notes themselves should be listed by consecutive arabic numbers that correspond to the notation in the text. Notes are double-spaced. Each endnote is indented five spaces; subsequent lines are flush with the left margin. Place a period and a space after each endnote number. Provide the appropriate note after the space.
Footnotes (below the text body)
In the case that you need to format footnotes on the same page as the main text, begin footnotes four lines (two double-spaced lines) below the main text. Footnotes are single-space with a hanging indent. (Each footnote is indented five spaces; subsequent lines are flush with the left margin.) Place a period and a space after each footnote number. Provide the appropriate note after the space.
For more information on using endnotes and footnotes, consult “Using Notes with Parenthetical Documentation” in the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, 7th edition (sec. 6.5, 230-32), or the MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing, 3rd edition (sec. 7.5, 259-60).
MLA Works Cited Page: Basic Format
According to MLA style, you must have a Works Cited page at the end of your research paper. All entries in the Works Cited page must correspond to the works cited in your main text.
- Begin your Works Cited page on a separate page at the end of your research paper. It should have the same one-inch margins and last name, page number header as the rest of your paper.
- Label the page Works Cited (do not italicize the words Works Cited or put them in quotation marks) and center the words Works Cited at the top of the page.
- Double space all citations, but do not skip spaces between entries.
- Indent the second and subsequent lines of citations five spaces so that you create a hanging indent.
- List page numbers of sources efficiently, when needed. If you refer to a journal article that appeared on pages 225 through 250, list the page numbers on your Works Cited page as 225-50.
Additional Basic Rules New to MLA 2009
- For every entry, you must determine the Medium of Publication. Most entries will likely be listed as Print or Web sources, but other possibilities may include Film, CD-ROM, or DVD.
- Writers are no longer required to provide URLs for Web entries. However, if your instructor or publisher insists on them, include them in angle brackets after the entry and end with a period. For long URLs, break lines only at slashes.
- If you’re citing an article or a publication that was originally issued in print form but that you retrieved from an online database, you should type the online database name in italics. You do not need to provide subscription information in addition to the database name.
Capitalization and Punctuation
- Capitalize each word in the titles of articles, books, etc, but do not capitalize articles (the, an), prepositions, or conjunctions unless one is the first word of the title or subtitle: Gone with the Wind, The Art of War, There Is Nothing Left to Lose.
- New to MLA 2009: Use italics (instead of underlining) for titles of larger works (books, magazines) and quotation marks for titles of shorter works (poems, articles)
Listing Author Names
Entries are listed alphabetically by the author’s last name (or, for entire edited collections, editor names). Author names are written last name first; middle names or middle initials follow the first name:
Levy, David M.
Wallace, David Foster
Do not list titles (Dr., Sir, Saint, etc.) or degrees (PhD, MA, DDS, etc.) with names. A book listing an author named “John Bigbrain, PhD” appears simply as “Bigbrain, John”; do, however, include suffixes like “Jr.” or “II.” Putting it all together, a work by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. would be cited as “King, Martin Luther, Jr.,” with the suffix following the first or middle name and a comma.
More than One Work by an Author
If you have cited more than one work by a particular author, order the entries alphabetically by title, and use three hyphens in place of the author’s name for every entry after the first:
Burke, Kenneth. A Grammar of Motives. […]
—. A Rhetoric of Motives. […]
When an author or collection editor appears both as the sole author of a text and as the first author of a group, list solo-author entries first:
Heller, Steven, ed. The Education of an E-Designer. ?Heller, Steven and Karen Pomeroy. Design Literacy: Understanding Graphic Design.
Work with No Known Author
Alphabetize works with no known author by their title; use a shortened version of the title in the parenthetical citations in your paper. In this case, Boring Postcards USA has no known author:
Baudrillard, Jean. Simulacra and Simulations. […]
Boring Postcards USA. […]
Burke, Kenneth. A Rhetoric of Motives. […]
MLA Works Cited Page: Books
When you are gathering book sources, be sure to make note of the following bibliographic items: author name(s), book title, publication date, publisher, place of publication. The medium of publication for all “hard copy” books is Print.
For more information, consult “Citing Nonperiodical Print Publications” in the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, 7th edition (sec. 5.5, 148-81), or the MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing, 3rd edition (sec. 6.6, 185-211).
The author’s name or a book with a single author’s name appears in last name, first name format. The basic form for a book citation is:
Lastname, Firstname. Title of Book. Place of Publication: Publisher, Year of Publication. Medium of Publication.
Book with One Author
Gleick, James. Chaos: Making a New Science. New York: Penguin, 1987. Print.
Henley, Patricia. The Hummingbird House. Denver: MacMurray, 1999. Print.
Book with More Than One Author
The first given name appears in last name, first name format; subsequent author names appear in first name last name format.
Gillespie, Paula, and Neal Lerner. The Allyn and Bacon Guide to Peer Tutoring. Boston: Allyn, 2000. Print.
If there are more than three authors, you may choose to list only the first author followed by the phrase et al. (Latin for “and others”) in place of the subsequent authors’ names, or you may list all the authors in the order in which their names appear on the title page. (Note that there is a period after “al” in “et al.” Also note that there is never a period after the “et” in “et al.”).
Wysocki, Anne Frances, et al. Writing New Media: Theory and Applications for Expanding the Teaching of Composition. Logan, UT: Utah State UP, 2004. Print.
Wysocki, Anne Frances, Johndan Johnson-Eilola, Cynthia L. Selfe, and Geoffrey Sirc. Writing New Media: Theory and Applications for Expanding the Teaching of Composition. Logan, UT: Utah State UP, 2004. Print.
Two or More Books by the Same Author
List works alphabetically by title. (Remember to ignore articles like A, An, and The.) Provide the author’s name in last name, first name format for the first entry only. For each subsequent entry by the same author, use three hyphens and a period.
Palmer, William J. Dickens and New Historicism. New York: St. Martin’s, 1997. Print.
—. The Films of the Eighties: A Social History. Carbondale: Southern Illinois UP, 1993. Print.
Book by a Corporate Author or Organization
A corporate author may include a commission, a committee, or a group that does not identify individual members on the title page. List the names of corporate authors in the place where an author’s name typically appears at the beginning of the entry.
American Allergy Association. Allergies in Children. New York: Random, 1998. Print.
Book with No Author
List by title of the book. Incorporate these entries alphabetically just as you would with works that include an author name. For example, the following entry might appear between entries of works written by Dean, Shaun and Forsythe, Jonathan.
Encyclopedia of Indiana. New York: Somerset, 1993. Print.
Remember that for an in-text (parenthetical) citation of a book with no author, provide the name of the work in the signal phrase and the page number in parentheses. You may also use a shortened version of the title of the book accompanied by the page number. For more information see In-text Citations for Print Sources with No Known Author section of In-text Citations: The Basics, which you can link to at the bottom of this page.
A Translated Book
Cite as you would any other book. Add “Trans.”—the abbreviation for translated by—and follow with the name(s) of the translator(s).
Foucault, Michel. Madness and Civilization: A History of Insanity in the Age of Reason. Trans. Richard Howard. New York: Vintage-Random House, 1988. Print.
Books may be republished due to popularity without becoming a new edition. New editions are typically revisions of the original work. For books that originally appeared at an earlier date and that have been republished at a later one, insert the original publication date before the publication information. For books that are new editions (i.e. different from the first or other editions of the book), see An Edition of a Book below.
Butler, Judith. Gender Trouble. 1990. New York: Routledge, 1999. Print.
Erdrich, Louise. Love Medicine. 1984. New York: Perennial-Harper, 1993. Print.
An Edition of a Book
There are two types of editions in book publishing: a book that has been published more than once in different editions and a book that is prepared by someone other than the author (typically an editor).
A Subsequent Edition
Cite the book as you normally would, but add the number of the edition after the title.
Crowley, Sharon, and Debra Hawhee. Ancient Rhetorics for Contemporary Students. 3rd ed. New York: Pearson/Longman, 2004. Print.
A Work Prepared by an Editor
Cite the book as you normally would, but add the editor after the title.
Bronte, Charlotte. Jane Eyre. Ed. Margaret Smith. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1998. Print.
Anthology or Collection (e.g. Collection of Essays)
To cite the entire anthology or collection, list by editor(s) followed by a comma and “ed.” or, for multiple editors, “eds” (for edited by). This sort of entry is somewhat rare. If you are citing a particular piece within an anthology or collection (more common), see A Work in an Anthology, Reference, or Collection below.
Hill, Charles A., and Marguerite Helmers, eds. Defining Visual Rhetorics. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2004. Print.
Peterson, Nancy J., ed. Toni Morrison: Critical and Theoretical Approaches. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 1997. Print.
A Work in an Anthology, Reference, or Collection
Works may include an essay in an edited collection or anthology, or a chapter of a book. The basic form is for this sort of citation is as follows:
Lastname, First name. “Title of Essay.” Title of Collection. Ed. Editor’s Name(s). Place of Publication: Publisher, Year. Page range of entry. Medium of Publication.
Harris, Muriel. “Talk to Me: Engaging Reluctant Writers.” A Tutor’s Guide: Helping Writers One to One. Ed. Ben Rafoth. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 2000. 24-34. Print.
Swanson, Gunnar. “Graphic Design Education as a Liberal Art: Design and Knowledge in the University and The ‘Real World.'” The Education of a Graphic Designer. Ed. Steven Heller. New York: Allworth Press, 1998. 13-24. Print.
Note on Cross-referencing Several Items from One Anthology: If you cite more than one essay from the same edited collection, MLA indicates you may cross-reference within your works cited list in order to avoid writing out the publishing information for each separate essay. You should consider this option if you have several references from a single text. To do so, include a separate entry for the entire collection listed by the editor’s name as below:
Rose, Shirley K., and Irwin Weiser, eds. The Writing Program Administrator as Researcher. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 1999. Print.
Then, for each individual essay from the collection, list the author’s name in last name, first name format, the title of the essay, the editor’s last name, and the page range:
L’Eplattenier, Barbara. “Finding Ourselves in the Past: An Argument for Historical Work on WPAs.” Rose and Weiser 131-40. Print.
Peeples, Tim. “‘Seeing’ the WPA With/Through Postmodern Mapping.” Rose and Weiser 153-67. Print.
Poem or Short Story Examples:
Burns, Robert. “Red, Red Rose.” 100 Best-Loved Poems. Ed. Philip Smith. New York: Dover, 1995. 26. Print.
Kincaid, Jamaica. “Girl.” The Vintage Book of Contemporary American Short Stories. Ed. Tobias Wolff. New York: Vintage, 1994. 306-07. Print.
If the specific literary work is part of the an author’s own collection (all of the works have the same author), then there will be no editor to reference:
Whitman, Walt. “I Sing the Body Electric.” Selected Poems. New York: Dover, 1991. 12-19. Print.
Carter, Angela. “The Tiger’s Bride.” Burning Your Boats: The Collected Stories. New York: Penguin, 1995. 154-69. Print.
Article in a Reference Book (e.g. Encyclopedias, Dictionaries)
For entries in encyclopedias, dictionaries, and other reference works, cite the piece as you would any other work in a collection but do not include the publisher information. Also, if the reference book is organized alphabetically, as most are, do not list the volume or the page number of the article or item.
“Ideology.” The American Heritage Dictionary. 3rd ed. 1997. Print.
A Multivolume Work
When citing only one volume of a multivolume work, include the volume number after the work’s title, or after the work’s editor or translator.
Quintilian. Institutio Oratoria. Trans. H. E. Butler. Vol. 2. Cambridge: Loeb-Harvard UP, 1980. Print.
When citing more than one volume of a multivolume work, cite the total number of volumes in the work. Also, be sure in your in-text citation to provide both the volume number and page number(s). (See Citing Multivolume Works on the In-Text Citations – The Basics page, which you can access by following the appropriate link at the bottom of this page.)
Quintilian. Institutio Oratoria. Trans. H. E. Butler. 4 vols. Cambridge: Loeb-Harvard UP, 1980. Print.
If the volume you are using has its own title, cite the book without referring to the other volumes as if it were an independent publication.
Churchill, Winston S. The Age of Revolution. New York: Dodd, 1957. Print.
An Introduction, Preface, Foreword, or Afterword
When citing an introduction, a preface, a foreword, or an afterword, write the name of the author(s) of the piece you are citing. Then give the name of the part being cited, which should not be italicized or enclosed in quotation marks.
Farrell, Thomas B. Introduction. Norms of Rhetorical Culture. By Farrell. New Haven: Yale UP, 1993. 1-13. Print.
If the writer of the piece is different from the author of the complete work, then write the full name of the principal work’s author after the word “By.” For example, if you were to cite Hugh Dalziel Duncan’s introduction of Kenneth Burke’s book Permanence and Change, you would write the entry as follows:
Duncan, Hugh Dalziel. Introduction. Permanence and Change: An Anatomy of Purpose. By Kenneth Burke. 1935. 3rd ed. Berkeley: U of California P, 1984. xiii-xliv. Print.
Other Print/Book Sources
Certain book sources are handled in a special way by MLA style.
Give the name of the specific edition you are using, any editor(s) associated with it, followed by the publication information. Remember that your in-text (parenthetical citation) should include the name of the specific edition of the Bible, followed by an abbreviation of the book, the chapter and verse(s). (See Citing the Bible on the In-Text Citations – The Basics page, which you can access by following the appropriate link at the bottom of this page.)
The New Jerusalem Bible. Ed. Susan Jones. New York: Doubleday, 1985. Print.
A Government Publication
Cite the author of the publication if the author is identified. Otherwise, start with the name of the national government, followed by the agency (including any subdivisions or agencies) that serves as the organizational author. For congressional documents, be sure to include the number of the Congress and the session when the hearing was held or resolution passed. US government documents are typically published by the Government Printing Office, which MLA abbreviates as GPO.
United States. Cong. Senate. Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. Hearing on the Geopolitics of Oil. 110th Cong., 1st sess. Washington: GPO, 2007. Print.
United States. Government Accountability Office. Climate Change: EPA and DOE Should Do More to Encourage Progress Under Two Voluntary Programs. Washington: GPO, 2006. Print.
Cite the title and publication information for the pamphlet just as you would a book without an author. Pamphlets and promotional materials commonly feature corporate authors (commissions, committees, or other groups that does not provide individual group member names). If the pamphlet you are citing has no author, cite as directed below. If your pamphlet has an author or a corporate author, put the name of the author (last name, first name format) or corporate author in the place where the author name typically appears at the beginning of the entry. (See also Books by a Corporate Author or Organization above.)
Women’s Health: Problems of the Digestive System. Washington: American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, 2006. Print.
Your Rights Under California Welfare Programs. Sacramento, CA: California Dept. of Social Services, 2007. Print.
Dissertations and Master’s Theses
Dissertations and master’s theses may be used as sources whether published or not. Cite the work as you would a book, but include the designation Diss. (or MA/MS thesis) followed by the degree-granting school and the year the degree was awarded.
If the dissertation is published, italicize the title and include the publication date. You may also include the University Microfilms International (UMI) order number if you choose:
Bishop, Karen Lynn. Documenting Institutional Identity: Strategic Writing in the IUPUI Comprehensive Campaign. Diss. Purdue University, 2002. Ann Arbor: UMI, 2004. Print.
Bile, Jeffrey. Ecology, Feminism, and a Revised Critical Rhetoric: Toward a Dialectical Partnership. Diss. Ohio University, 2005. Ann Arbor: UMI, 2006. AAT 3191701. Print.
If the work is not published, put the title in quotation marks and end with the date the degree was awarded:
Graban, Tarez Samra. “Towards a Feminine Ironic: Understanding Irony in the Oppositional Discourse of Women from the Early Modern and Modern Periods.” Diss. Purdue University, 2006. Print.
Stolley, Karl. “Toward a Conception of Religion as a Discursive Formation: Implications for Postmodern Composition Theory.” MA thesis. Purdue University, 2002. Print.
MLA Works Cited: Citing Periodicals
Periodicals (e.g. magazines, newspapers, and scholarly journals) that appear in print require the same medium of publication designator—Print—as books, but the MLA Style method for citing these materials and the items required for these entries are quite different from MLA book citations.
For more information on citing periodicals, consult “Citing Periodical Print Publications” in the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, 7th edition (sec. 5.4, 136-48), or the MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing, 3rd edition (sec. 6.5, 174-85).
Article in a Magazine
Cite by listing the article’s author, putting the title of the article in quotations marks, and italicizing the periodical title. Follow with the date of publication. Remember to abbreviate the month. The basic format is as follows:
Author(s). “Title of Article.” Title of Periodical Day Month Year: pages. Medium of publication.
Poniewozik, James. “TV Makes a Too-Close Call.” Time 20 Nov. 2000: 70-71. Print.
Buchman, Dana. “A Special Education.” Good Housekeeping Mar. 2006: 143-48. Print.
Article in a Newspaper
Cite a newspaper article as you would a magazine article, but note the different pagination in a newspaper. If there is more than one edition available for that date (as in an early and late edition of a newspaper), identify the edition following the date (e.g., 17 May 1987, late ed.).
Brubaker, Bill. “New Health Center Targets County’s Uninsured Patients.” Washington Post 24 May 2007: LZ01. Print.
Krugman, Andrew. “Fear of Eating.” New York Times 21 May 2007 late ed.: A1. Print.
If the newspaper is a less well-known or local publication, include the city name and state in brackets after the title of the newspaper.
Behre, Robert. “Presidential Hopefuls Get Final Crack at Core of S.C. Democrats.” Post and Courier [Charleston, SC] 29 Apr. 2007: A11. Print.
Trembacki, Paul. “Brees Hopes to Win Heisman for Team.” Purdue Exponent [West Lafayette, IN] 5 Dec. 2000: 20. Print.
To cite a review, include the title of the review (if available), then the abbreviation “Rev. of” for Review of and provide the title of the work (in italics for books, plays, and films; in quotation marks for articles, poems, and short stories). Finally, provide performance and/or publication information.
Review Author. “Title of Review (if there is one).” Rev. of Performance Title, by Author/Director/Artist. Title of Periodical day month year: page. Medium of publication.
Seitz, Matt Zoller. “Life in the Sprawling Suburbs, If You Can Really Call It Living.” Rev. of Radiant City, dir. Gary Burns and Jim Brown. New York Times 30 May 2007 late ed.: E1. Print.
Weiller, K. H. Rev. of Sport, Rhetoric, and Gender: Historical Perspectives and Media Representations, ed. Linda K. Fuller. Choice Apr. 2007: 1377. Print.
An Editorial & Letter to the Editor
Cite as you would any article in a periodical, but include the designators “Editorial” or “Letter” to identify the type of work it is.
“Of Mines and Men.” Editorial. Wall Street Journal east. ed. 24 Oct. 2003: A14. Print.
Hamer, John. Letter. American Journalism Review Dec. 2006/Jan. 2007: 7. Print.
Cite the article title first, and finish the citation as you would any other for that kind of periodical.
“Business: Global Warming’s Boom Town; Tourism in Greenland.” The Economist 26 May 2007: 82. Print.
“Aging; Women Expect to Care for Aging Parents but Seldom Prepare.” Women’s Health Weekly 10 May 2007: 18. Print.
An Article in a Scholarly Journal
In previous years, MLA required that researchers determine whether or not a scholarly journal employed continuous pagination (page numbers began at page one in the first issue of the years and page numbers took up where they left off in subsequent ones) or non-continuous pagination (page numbers begin at page one in every subsequent issue) in order to determine whether or not to include issue numbers in bibliographic entries. The MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers 7th edition (2009) eliminates this step. Always provide issue numbers, when available.
Author(s). “Title of Article.” Title of Journal Volume.Issue (Year): pages. Medium of publication.
Bagchi, Alaknanda. “Conflicting Nationalisms: The Voice of the Subaltern in Mahasweta Devi’s Bashai Tudu.” Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature 15.1 (1996): 41-50. Print.
Duvall, John N. “The (Super)Marketplace of Images: Television as Unmediated Mediation in DeLillo’s White Noise.” Arizona Quarterly 50.3 (1994): 127-53. Print.
An Article in a Special Issue of a Scholarly Journal
When an article appears in a special issue of a journal, cite the name of the special issue in the entry’s title space, in italics, and end with a period. Add the descriptor “Spec. issue of” and include the name of the journal, also in italics, followed by the rest of the information required for a standard scholarly journal citation.
Web entries should follow a similar format.
Burgess, Anthony. “Politics in the Novels of Graham Greene.” Literature and Society. Spec. issue of Journal of Contemporary History 2.2 (1967): 93-99. Print.
Case, Sue-Ellen. “Eve’s Apple, or Women’s Narrative Bytes.” Technocriticism and Hypernarrative. Spec. issue of Modern Fiction Studies 43.3 (1997): 631-650. Web. 10 Feb. 2010.
Electronic Sources (Web Publications)
MLA lists electronic sources as Web Publications. Thus, when including the medium of publication for electronic sources, list the medium as Web.
It is always a good idea to maintain personal copies of electronic information, when possible. It is good practice to print or save Web pages or, better, using a program like Adobe Acrobat, to keep your own copies for future reference. Most Web browsers will include URL/electronic address information when you print, which makes later reference easy. Also, you might use the Bookmark function in your Web browser in order to return to documents more easily.
Important Note on the Use of URLs in MLA
MLA no longer requires the use of URLs in MLA citations. Because Web addresses are not static (i.e., they change often) and because documents sometimes appear in multiple places on the Web (e.g., on multiple databases), MLA explains that most readers can find electronic sources via title or author searches in Internet Search Engines.
For instructors or editors that still wish to require the use of URLs, MLA suggests that the URL appear in angle brackets after the date of access. Break URLs only after slashes.
Aristotle. Poetics. Trans. S. H. Butcher. The Internet Classics Archive. Web Atomic and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 13 Sept. 2007. Web. 4 Nov. 2008. ‹http://classics.mit.edu/›.
Abbreviations Commonly Used with Electronic Sources
If publishing information is unavailable for entries that require publication information such as publisher (or sponsor) names and publishing dates, MLA requires the use of special abbreviations to indicate that this information is not available. Use n.p. to indicate that neither a publisher nor a sponsor name has been provided. Use n.d. when the Web page does not provide a publication date.
When an entry requires that you provide a page but no pages are provided in the source (as in the case of an online-only scholarly journal or a work that appears in an online-only anthology), use the abbreviation n. pag.
Basic Style for Citations of Electronic Sources (Including Online Databases)
Here are some common features you should try and find before citing electronic sources in MLA style. Not every Web page will provide all of the following information. However, collect as much of the following information as possible both for your citations and for your research notes:
- Author and/or editor names (if available)
- Article name in quotation marks (if applicable)
- Title of the Website, project, or book in italics. (Remember that some Print publications have Web publications with slightly different names. They may, for example, include the additional information or otherwise modified information, like domain names [e.g. .com or .net].)
- Any version numbers available, including revisions, posting dates, volumes, or issue numbers.
- Publisher information, including the publisher name and publishing date.
- Take note of any page numbers (if available).
- Date you accessed the material.
- URL (if required, or for your own personal reference).
Citing an Entire Web Site
It is necessary to list your date of access because web postings are often updated, and information available on one date may no longer be available later. Be sure to include the complete address for the site.
Remember to use n.p. if no publisher name is available and n.d. if no publishing date is given.
Editor, author, or compiler name (if available). Name of Site. Version number. Name of institution/organization affiliated with the site (sponsor or publisher), date of resource creation (if available). Medium of publication. Date of access.
The Purdue OWL Family of Sites. The Writing Lab and OWL at Purdue and Purdue U, 2008. Web. 23 Apr. 2008.
Felluga, Dino. Guide to Literary and Critical Theory. Purdue U, 28 Nov. 2003. Web. 10 May 2006.
Course or Department Websites
Give the instructor name. Then list the title of the course (or the school catalog designation for the course) in italics. Give appropriate department and school names as well, following the course title. Remember to use n.d. if no publishing date is given.
Felluga, Dino. Survey of the Literature of England. Purdue U, Aug. 2006. Web. 31 May 2007.
English Department. Purdue U, 20 Apr. 2009. Web. 14 May 2009.
A Page on a Web Site
For an individual page on a Web site, list the author or alias if known, followed by the information covered above for entire Web sites. Remember to use n.p. if no publisher name is available and n.d. if no publishing date is given.
“How to Make Vegetarian Chili.” eHow.com. eHow, n.d. Web. 24 Feb. 2009.
An Image (Including a Painting, Sculpture, or Photograph)
Provide the artist’s name, the work of art italicized, the date of creation, the institution and city where the work is housed. Follow this initial entry with the name of the Website in italics, the medium of publication, and the date of access.
Goya, Francisco. The Family of Charles IV. 1800. Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid. Museo National del Prado. Web. 22 May 2006.
Klee, Paul. Twittering Machine. 1922. Museum of Modern Art, New York. The Artchive. Web. 22 May 2006.
If the work is cited on the web only, then provide the name of the artist, the title of the work, the medium of the work, and then follow the citation format for a website. If the work is posted via a username, use that username for the author.
brandychloe. “Great Horned Owl Family.” Photograph. Webshots. American Greetings, 22 May 2006. Web. 5 Nov. 2009.
An Article in a Web Magazine
Provide the author name, article name in quotation marks, title of the Web magazine in italics, publisher name, publication date, medium of publication, and the date of access. Remember to use n.p. if no publisher name is available and n.d. if not publishing date is given.
Bernstein, Mark. “10 Tips on Writing the Living Web.” A List Apart: For People Who Make Websites. A List Apart Mag., 16 Aug. 2002. Web. 4 May 2009.
An Article in an Online Scholarly Journal
For all online scholarly journals, provide the author(s) name(s), the name of the article in quotation marks, the title of the publication in italics, all volume and issue numbers, and the year of publication.
Article in an Online-only Scholarly Journal
MLA requires a page range for articles that appear in Scholarly Journals. If the journal you are citing appears exclusively in an online format (i.e. there is no corresponding print publication) that does not make use of page numbers, use the abbreviation n. pag. to denote that there is no pagination for the publication.
Dolby, Nadine. “Research in Youth Culture and Policy: Current Conditions and Future Directions.” Social Work and Society: The International Online-Only Journal 6.2 (2008): n. pag. Web. 20 May 2009.
Article in an Online Scholarly Journal That Also Appears in Print
Cite articles in online scholarly journals that also appear in print as you would a scholarly journal in print, including the page range of the article. Provide the medium of publication that you used (in this case, Web) and the date of access.
Wheelis, Mark. “Investigating Disease Outbreaks Under a Protocol to the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention.” Emerging Infectious Diseases 6.6 (2000): 595-600. Web. 8 Feb. 2009.
An Article from an Online Database (or Other Electronic Subscription Service)
Cite articles from online databases (e.g. LexisNexis, ProQuest, JSTOR, ScienceDirect) and other subscription services just as you would print sources. Since these articles usually come from periodicals, be sure to consult the appropriate sections of the Works Cited: Periodicals page, which you can access via its link at the bottom of this page. In addition to this information, provide the title of the database italicized, the medium of publication, and the date of access.
Note: Previous editions of the MLA Style Manual required information about the subscribing institution (name and location). This information is no longer required by MLA.
Junge, Wolfgang, and Nathan Nelson. “Nature’s Rotary Electromotors.” Science 29 Apr. 2005: 642-44. Science Online. Web. 5 Mar. 2009.
Langhamer, Claire. “Love and Courtship in Mid-Twentieth-Century England.” Historical Journal 50.1 (2007): 173-96. ProQuest. Web. 27 May 2009.
E-mail (including E-mail Interviews)
Give the author of the message, followed by the subject line in quotation marks. State to whom to message was sent, the date the message was sent, and the medium of publication.
Kunka, Andrew. “Re: Modernist Literature.” Message to the author. 15 Nov. 2000. E-mail.
Neyhart, David. “Re: Online Tutoring.” Message to Joe Barbato. 1 Dec. 2000. E-mail.
A Listserv, Discussion Group, or Blog Posting
Cite Web postings as you would a standard Web entry. Provide the author of the work, the title of the posting in quotation marks, the Web site name in italics, the publisher, and the posting date. Follow with the medium of publication and the date of access. Include screen names as author names when author name is not known. If both names are known, place the author’s name in brackets. Remember if the publisher of the site is unknown, use the abbreviation n.p.
Editor, screen name, author, or compiler name (if available). “Posting Title.” Name of Site. Version number (if available). Name of institution/organization affiliated with the site (sponsor or publisher). Medium of publication. Date of access.
Salmar1515 [Sal Hernandez]. “Re: Best Strategy: Fenced Pastures vs. Max Number of Rooms?” BoardGameGeek. BoardGameGeek, 29 Sept. 2008. Web. 5 Apr. 2009.
MLA Works Cited: Other Common Sources
Several sources have multiple means for citation, especially those that appear in varied formats: films, DVDs, videocassettes; published and unpublished interviews, interviews over email; published and unpublished conference proceedings. The following section groups these sorts of citations as well as others not covered in the print, periodical, and electronic sources sections.
Interviews typically fall into two categories: print or broadcast published and unpublished (personal) interviews, although interviews may also appear in other, similar formats such as in email format or as a Web document.
Personal interviews refer to those interviews that you conduct yourself. List the interview by the name of the interviewee. Include the descriptor Personal interview and the date of the interview.
Purdue, Pete. Personal interview. 1 Dec. 2000.
Published Interviews (Print or Broadcast)
List the interview by the name of the interviewee. If the name of the interview is part of a larger work like a book, a television program, or a film series, place the title of the interview in quotation marks. Place the title of the larger work in italics. If the interview appears as an independent title, italicize it. Determine the medium of publication (e.g., print, Web, DVD) and fill in the rest of the entry with the information required by that medium. For books, include the author or editor name after the book title.
Note: If the interview from which you quote does not feature a title, add the descriptor Interview (unformatted) after the interviewee’s name. You may also use the descriptor Interview by to add the name of the interview to the entry if it is relevant to your paper.
Gaitskill, Mary. Interview with Charles Bock. Mississippi Review 27.3 (1999): 129-50. Print.
If your instructor has specific requirements for the format of your research paper, check them before preparing your final draft. When you submit your paper, be sure to keep a secure copy.
The most common formatting is presented in the sections below:
Except for the running head (see below), leave margins of one inch at the top and bottom and on both sides of the text. If you plan to submit a printout on paper larger than 8½ by 11 inches, do not print the text in an area greater than 6½ by 9 inches.
Always choose an easily readable typeface (e.g., Times New Roman) in which the regular type style contrasts clearly with the italic, and set it to a standard size (e.g., 12 points). Do not justify the lines of text at the right margin; turn off any automatic hyphenation feature in your writing program. Double-space the entire research paper, including quotations, notes, and the list of works cited. Indent the first line of a paragraph half an inch from the left margin. Indent set-off quotations half an inch as well (for examples, see 76–80 in the MLA Handbook). Leave one space after a period or other concluding punctuation mark, unless your instructor prefers two spaces.
Heading and Title
Beginning one inch from the top of the first page and flush with the left margin, type your name, your instructor’s name, the course number, and the date on separate lines, double-spacing the lines. On a new, double-spaced line, center the title (fig. 1). Do not italicize or underline your title, put it in quotation marks or boldface, or type it in all capital letters. Follow the rules for capitalization in the MLA Handbook (67–68), and italicize only the words that you would italicize in the text.
Do not use a period after your title or after any heading in the paper (e.g., Works Cited). Begin your text on a new, double-spaced line after the title, indenting the first line of the paragraph half an inch from the left margin.
A research paper does not normally need a title page, but if the paper is a group project, create a title page and list all the authors on it instead of in the header on page 1 of your essay. If your teacher requires a title page in lieu of or in addition to the header, format it according to the instructions you are given.
Running Head with Page Numbers
Number all pages consecutively throughout the research paper in the upper right-hand corner, half an inch from the top and flush with the right margin. Type your last name, followed by a space, before the page number (fig. 2). Do not use the abbreviation p. before the page number or add a period, a hyphen, or any other mark or symbol. Your writing program will probably allow you to create a running head of this kind that appears automatically on every page. Some teachers prefer that no running head appear on the first page. Follow your teacher’s preference.
Placement of the List of Works Cited
The list of works cited appears at the end of the paper, after any endnotes. Begin the list on a new page. The list contains the same running head as the main text. The page numbering in the running head continues uninterrupted throughout. For example, if the text of your research paper (including any endnotes) ends on page 10, the works-cited list begins on page 11. Center the title, Works Cited, an inch from the top of the page (fig. 3). (If the list contains only one entry, make the heading Work Cited.) Double-space between the title and the first entry. Begin each entry flush with the left margin; if an entry runs more than one line, indent the subsequent line or lines half an inch from the left margin. This format is sometimes called hanging indention, and you can set your writing program to create it automatically for a group of paragraphs. Hanging indention makes alphabetical lists easier to use. Double-space the entire list. Continue it on as many pages as necessary.
Tables and Illustrations
Place tables and illustrations as close as possible to the parts of the text to which they relate. A table is usually labeled Table, given an arabic numeral, and titled. Type both label and title flush left on separate lines above the table, and capitalize them as titles (do not use all capital letters). Give the source of the table and any notes immediately below the table in a caption. To avoid confusion between notes to the text and notes to the table, designate notes to the table with lowercase letters rather than with numerals. Double-space throughout; use dividing lines as needed (fig. 4).
Any other type of illustrative visual material—for example, a photograph, map, line drawing, graph, or chart—should be labeled Figure (usually abbreviated Fig.), assigned an arabic numeral, and given a caption: “Fig. 1. Mary Cassatt, Mother and Child, Wichita Art Museum.” A label and caption ordinarily appear directly below the illustration and have the same one-inch margins as the text of the paper (fig. 5). If the caption of a table or illustration provides complete information about the source and the source is not cited in the text, no entry for the source in the works-cited list is necessary.
Musical illustrations are labeled Example (usually abbreviated Ex.), assigned an arabic numeral, and given a caption: “Ex. 1. Pyotr Ilich Tchaikovsky, Symphony no. 6 in B, opus 74 (Pathétique), finale.” A label and caption ordinarily appear directly below the example and have the same one-inch margins as the text of the paper (fig. 6).
Paper and Printing
If you print your paper, use only white, 8½-by-11-inch paper of good quality. If you lack 8½-by-11-inch paper, choose the closest size available. Use a high-quality printer. Some instructors prefer papers printed on a single side because they’re easier to read, but others allow printing on both sides as a means of conserving paper; follow your instructor’s preference.
Corrections and Insertions on Printouts
Proofread and correct your research paper carefully before submitting it. If you are checking a printout and find a mistake, reopen the document, make the appropriate revisions, and reprint the corrected page or pages. Be sure to save the changed file. Spelling checkers and usage checkers are helpful when used with caution. They do not find all errors and sometimes label correct material as erroneous. If your instructor permits corrections on the printout, write them neatly and legibly in ink directly above the lines involved, using carets (⁁) to indicate where they go. Do not use the margins or write a change below the line it affects. If corrections on any page are numerous or substantial, revise your document and reprint the page.
Binding a Printed Paper
Pages of a printed research paper may get misplaced or lost if they are left unattached or merely folded down at a corner. Although a plastic folder or some other kind of binder may seem an attractive finishing touch, most instructors find such devices a nuisance in reading and commenting on students’ work. Many prefer that a paper be secured with a simple paper or binder clip, which can be easily removed and restored. Others prefer the use of staples.
There are at present no commonly accepted standards for the electronic submission of research papers. If you are asked to submit your paper electronically, obtain from your teacher guidelines for formatting, mode of submission (e.g., by e-mail, on a Web site), and so forth and follow them closely.
Designed to be printed out and used in the classroom. From the MLA Handbook, 8th ed., published by the Modern Language Association.