The following guidelines are based on information found in the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, 5th Edition, which is published by the Modern Language Association of America. If you need information that is not covered in this handout, please refer to the MLA Handbook or ask an English Coach at the English Center.

Paper Format

  • Margins: one inch on all sides
  • Double-spaced
  • 12 points type font size
  • Indent (or five spaces) the first word of each paragraph
  • Provide a double-spaced entry in the top left corner of the first page that lists your name, your instructor’s name, the course, and the date
  • The title of your paper should be centered two lines below the date. Do not underline or quote the title
  • Header: Each page must have consisted your last name and the page number

Always check with your instructor to see if he or she has any different requirements or specifications for your paper.

In-text Citations

MLA guidelines require that credit must be given for all information whether it be a direct quote or a paraphrase. Generally you are required to give the following information: author’s last name and page number, in parenthesis directly after the quote or paraphrase.

Direct Quote

“The protest provided a wonderful opportunity for those interpreters to assist the deaf community” (Gannon 94).


The DPN protest was a great opportunity for deaf people to bond with interpreters (Gannon 94).

If the author’s name is included as part of your sentence, you do not need to put the author’s last name in parenthesis, only the page number(s).

Direct Quote with author’s name in sentence

According to I. King Jordan, “Deaf people can do anything but hear” (19).

Paraphrase with author’s name in sentence

I. King Jordan asserts that Deaf people can succeed in life (19).

Multiple Authors

When a source has two or three authors, you should give both (all) authors’ last names.

Source with two authors

The Oxford English Dictionary was written “specifically for learners of English as a foreign or second language” (Hornby and Ruse 82).

Source with three authors

The American Red Cross draws negative B blood because it is greatly needed (Kelsa, Becker, and Shultner 44).

For a source with four or more authors, you cite in the following way:

Source with four or more authors

The American Red Cross draws negative B blood because it is greatly needed (Kelsa et al. 44).

Works with no Authors

For a book with no listed author, you should cite the full title if it is short, or an abbreviated title if it is too long to use the entire name. You should underline the book’s title, and put the page number after it. When abbreviating titles, you should use the main word by which it would be alphabetized in your Works Cited page.

Books with no author listed

Many people are affected by stress, but don’t even realize it (Stress 126).

For publications, internet articles, magazines, newspapers, and encyclopedias that have no author(s) or that have no listed author, you include the name of the article (in quotation marks) and the page number(s) of your source(s).

Articles with no author listed

Allergies may be caused by dust, dust mites, pollen, and/or certain medications (“Allergic” 243).

Literary Works

Classic Prose (like a novel or a play): Since classic works are generally available in several different books, you will need to include more than just page numbers in a reference. You may also want to include the chapter number, book number, act number, scene number, stanza number and/or line number. You should give the page number first, followed by a semi-colon, then give other identifying information with commas separating each item.

Classic Prose (Ex.1)

“Our purpose is to consider what form of political community is best of all for those who are most able to realize their ideal of life” (Aristotle 503; bk.2, pt. 1).

Classic Prose (Ex.2)

“The statue had all the appearance of a real girl, so that it seemed to be alive, to want to move, did not modesty forbid” (Ovid 388; bk.10).

Poetry and Classic Verse Plays (like Shakespeare’s plays): For poems, you should omit the page number altogether. You should instead cite by using the division number (act, scene, canto, book, part) and the line number, with periods separating all the numbers. If there are no line numbers in the poem, simply cite the title of the poem in quotation marks.

Classic Verse

“Now the hungry lion roars/And the wolf behowls the moon” (Midsummer 5.1.341-2).


Robert Hayden poses the question, “…what did I know/of love’s austere and lonely offices?” (“Those Winter Sundays”).

Poetry without line numbers

“Maybe it just sags like a heavy load” (“Harlem”).

Electronic Sources

Basically, you cite information from electronic sources the same way that you would cite from a book, article, or interview. If the author is identified, use the author’s name for in-text citations. If the electronic source provides page numbers, use those in your in-text citation as well.

Electronic Source with author and page info

The weather in Ireland tends to be rainy in June (Kelsea 82).

If an electronic source has paragraph numbers instead of page numbers, use them for in-text citations as you would use page numbers, but with two differences: use a comma followed by one space after the name and use the abbreviation par. for a reference to one paragraph (or pars. for a reference to two or more paragraphs).

Electronic Source with author and paragraph info

The weather in Ireland tends to be rainy in June (Kelsea, par. 2).

You may find electronic information that does not have page or paragraph numbers at all. In this situation, you would simply cite the author’s name in parenthesis after your quoted or paraphrased information.

Electronic Source with author, but no page or paragraph info

The weather in Ireland tends to be rainy in June (Kelsea).

If you are citing from an electronic source that does not provide an author’s name, use the title of the source for your in-text citations instead of the author’s name. Put the title in quotation marks, and abbreviate long titles to one main word of the title according to how it is listed in your Works Cited page.

Electronic Source with no author info

The weather in Ireland tends to be rainy in June (“Traveling” 82).

Quotes of 40 Words

If your quote is more than 40 words, indent the entire paragraph 5 spaces on a separate line and then begin the quote. Continue the double space rule. Do not use quotation marks. Cite it without the period.

Gallaudet University received a lot of publicity during the 1988 DPN Rallies. It was a time when deaf people learned the strength of their community.

The student protest that shut down Gallaudet University the week of March 6-13, 1988, accomplished far more than just the selection of the world’s first deaf university president. It proved, convincingly, that deaf people could band together effectively for a common cause and succeed. The protest experience taught deaf people the need and value of being more assertive (Gannon 15).

It also reaffirmed that the deaf population has a voice worth listening to, and that they will fight to be heard by Gallaudet’s board of trustees.

Personal Interviews

To cite a person that you interviewed yourself, you put just the last name of the person you are quoting, referring it to the appropriate entry in your Works Cited list.

Personal Interview

“Growing up in poverty really made me the sympathetic person that I am today” (Burgess).

Your related Works Cited entry will look like either one of these:

E-mail Interview

Burgess, Carl. E-mail interview. 3 Feb. 2000.

TTY Interview

Burgess, Carl. TTY interview. 3 Feb. 2000.

Reference Format

For a paper done in MLA documentation style, the reference page is called and will be titled as “Works Cited.” Here on your Works Cited page, you acknowledge your sources by listing them in an alphabetical order by author’s last name on the last page of your paper. Although the Works Cited page appears at the end of your paper, you will draft this section in advance, so that you will have the appropriate information to cite your paper properly.

The general formatting rules for your Works Cited page are as follows:

  • List your sources in an alphabetical order according to the author’s last name.
  • If no author is listed, begin with the main word of the article or book title (ignoring A, An, or The).
  • Underline the title of books, magazines, or journals.
  • Quote the title of articles, or any other work that appears within a publication.
  • Format each entry with a hanging indent. A hanging indent means that the first line of the entry remains flush with the left margin, and the subsequent lines are indented 5 spaces to the right. Your word processing software will provide this feature easily.
  • The order of each entry is as follows: — Author. “Article.” Title of Book. City Published: Publisher, Year of Publication.

REF: Articles

General format for citing articles and other publications from periodicals is as follows:

Author. “Article.” Title of Publication Issue/Volume # (Date of Publication): page(s).

Magazine Article

Comptell, Augustine. “Are We So Beautiful?” Beauty Center 3 Dec. 1995: A3.

Newspaper Article

Grosslyn, Jessica. “Plane Crash Raises Fears on Safety of Airplanes.” Philadelphia News 14 Feb. 1994: A10, col. 3.

Encyclopedia Article

Krueber, Alfred L. “The Concept and Components of Cell Cultures.” Britannica: Micropedia. 1998 ed.

If an article has no author or by an anonymous author, begin the entry with the title. Alphabetize the entry by the main word of the title, ignoring any initial A, An, or The.

Magazine Article with no author

“What’s a Prozin?” Health News. 22 Oct. 1994: 32-36.

Newspaper Article with no author

“U.S. Troops Go Home Today.” The World News 25 Nov. 1993: A5.

Encyclopedia Article with no author

“Making Money.” Compton’s Encyclopedia. 1974 ed.

REF: Books

If a book has one author, list by last name, first name and middle initial (if any). If a book has two or three authors, the subsequent authors will be listed by first name, middle initial, and last name, each name separated by a comma.

Book with one author

Clawfed, Marilyn. America’s Richest People. Baltimore: BelAir, 1976.

Book with two authors

Jonessey, Vivian R., and Martin O. Engle. Deaf History: Triumphs and Tragedies. Washington, DC: Deaf Club, 1989.

Book with three authors

Jonessey, Vivian R., Martin O. Engle, and Cybil B. Forrester. Deaf History: Triumphs and Tragedies. Washington, DC: Deaf Club, 1989.

If a book has more than three authors, you list the first author normally as above, and add et al. (meaning “and others”). Optionally, you may give all names in full in order in which they appear on the title page.

Book with more than three authors

Jonessey, Vivian R., et al. Deaf History: Triumphs and Tragedies. Washington, DC: Deaf Club, 1989.

If a book has no author or by an anonymous author, begin the entry with the title. Alphabetize the entry by the main word of the title, ignoring any initial A, An, or The.

Book with no or anonymous author

A Guide to Buying an Economical Car. Philadelphia: Auto Center, 1989.

REF: Electronic Sources

If you are citing from an online book or publication, you should include all of the information that you would include for printed books. After this standard information, you should include the date you found the information on the world wide web (the date of access) and the web address (URL) where you found the information.

The basic citing format for electronic sources is as follows:

Author. “Article.” Publication Title. Date of Publication. Retrieval date.

Online book

Fuller, Jennifer. Cat Phobia. 1977. 18 Jan. 1999.

Online newspaper article

Reid, T.R. “Druids Return to Stonehenge.” Washington Post 23 Nov. 1993. 25 Nov. 1993.

Online Article with no author

“Fleeting Consciousness.” US News Online 29 June 1998. 25 October 1999.

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