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Guide to MLA StyleWriter's Web
(printable version here)

The Modern Language Association (MLA) style is the most commonly used format for citing research sources in academic writing. Here are the guidelines for formatting a paper according to MLA style.


  • Printed on standard 8.5 x 11-inch paper
  • Legible text (typically Times New Roman, at least 12 pt. font)
  • 1 inch margins on each side of the document
  • The first line of each paragraph should be indented a half inch (MLA recommends using the TAB button rather than the space bar)
  • Italicize or underline larger works referenced throughout the essay; put smaller works, such as journal article titles, in quotations; poems and other short works should be placed in quotations as well
  • Do not include a title page unless specifically requested to do so
  • When referring to other literary works in your title be certain to employ proper citation methods; for example in the following title, the literary work "Goblin Market" is properly cited in quotations: Desire and Sin in Christina Rossetti's "Goblin Market"
  • Include a header in the upper right hand corner of the page, listing your name followed by a space with the page number
  • Headings may be included between different sections of the paper to improve clarity and flow

If your paper does not include a title page, your first page should resemble the following model from Purdue OWL

Example MLA page


Formatting in Microsoft Word 2007

Featured below is a tutorial explaining how to properly format Microsoft Word 2007 to MLA style. Note that the default settings of Microsoft Word 2007 are not in accordance with MLA requirements and must be edited in order to fit this format.

Work Cited Format

MLA style formatting demands that a work cited page be included at the end of a research paper. Before jumping into the specifics of different source type formatting, note the following general rules:

  • The Work Cited page should always begin on a separate page at the end of the research paper
  • This page should be labeled Work Cited (centered, not italicized or in quotations)
  • If the citation extends beyond one line, the second and subsequent lines should be indented five spaces (using the TAB button)
  • The first letter of every word should be capitalized unless the word is an article (a, an, the), conjunction (and, but, or) or short preposition (of, to)
  • Italicize or underline longer works, such as books, and put smaller works, such as article titles, in quotations
  • URLs are not required for web entries, unless the teacher specifies otherwise
  • If citing an article available in print but accessed via an internet database, cite both the journal and the database

Formatting Source Citations


(a) Single Author

  • Author's last name should be listed first, followed by first name and possible middle initial
  • The title of the work may be italicized or underlined depending on preference
  • If the citation extends to a second line, indent five spaces before continuing citation (MLA recommends using the TAB button rather than the space bar)
  • The 8th Edition of The MLA Handbook drops the requirement to state format ("print" or "online" earlier).

General Format:

Author. Title of Book. City of Publication: Publisher, Year.


Hasset, Constance W. Christina Rossetti: Patience of Style. Charlottesville: University of Virginia, 2005.

(b) Two or More Authors

  • List author names in accordance with how they appear on the title page of the work.
  • Only the first author's name should be listed in inverted order (i.e. Last, First).
  • Authors names should be divided by a comma, include "and" between the last two authors' names.


Majors, Richard M, and Janet M. Billson. Cool Pose: The Dilemmas of Black Manhood in America. New York: Macmillan Inc., 1992.

Smaller Works in Anthologies

  • Need the author, title, and (if relevant) translator of the piece.
  • Need the name of the editor(s), translator(s), or compiler(s) of the book being cited.Using the 8th Edition of the handbook, formats have changed to "Translated by" or "Edited by" (from "Ed." or "Eds." in earlier editions).
  • The edition number and/or editor may not be given.
  • Book title may be either italicized or underlined.

General Format:

Author of Smaller Work (Last name, First name). "Title of Smaller Work." Title of Book. Name of Editor. Edition. City of Publication: Publisher, Year. Page number range of smaller work.


Hill, Marylu. "Eat Me, Drink Me, Love Me: Eucharist and the Erotic Body." Augustine and Literature. Edited by John Doody, Kim Paffenroth, and Robert F. Kennedy. Oxford: Lexington Books, 2006. 215-232.

Article in a Scholarly Journal (Print)

  • Need author's name, title of the article, and all relevant publication information.
  • Note that formatting has changed for the 8th Edition of the handbook; we now include "pp." before page numbers and other elements have changed as well.

General Format:

Author. "Title of Article." Title of Journal, Volume Number, Issue number, Date of Issue, Page number range.


Peterson, Randall S. and Charlan J. Nemeth. "Focus Versus Flexibility: Majority and Minority Influence Can Both Improve Performance."Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, vol. 22, no. 1, 1996, pp. 14-23.

Article in a Scholarly Journal (Online-Only Journal)

  • Follow the same format as a print journal, but include the Web address for the source. You can omit the "http" or "https" part of an address.
  • Provide a DOI for your source if you have it.
  • Date of access appeared in earlier editions of the handbook. Check with your professor if this final elment will be needed. We provide it both ways in the example below.

General Format:

Author. "Title of Article." Title of Journal, Volume Number, Issue number, Date of Issue, Page number range. URL or DOI (if available). Date of access.


Grass, Sean C. "Nature's Perilous Variety in Rossetti's 'Goblin Market.'" Nineteenth-Century Literature, Vol.
51, no. 3, 2009, pp.129-54. doi:10.2307/2934015

Grass, Sean C. "Nature's Perilous Variety in Rossetti's 'Goblin Market.'" Nineteenth-Century Literature, Vol.
51, no. 3, 2009, pp.129-54. doi:10.2307/2934015. Accessed 11 February 2021.


Herzog, Werner, director. Grizzly Man. Real Big Films, 2005.

Useful Resources for MLA Style Citations

Above is listed the general format of the most commonly cited source types. For further clarification on how to cite a variety of different source types visit the Writer's Web page on MLA Citation Style; to access a citation generator visit EasyBib. Note that for the second site you will need to create a user name and password in order to use its services. If you do choose to use a citation generator, be certain to review the citations and correct any mistakes the automatic generator may have made--DO NOT simply copy and paste the information without checking its accuracy.

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Content updated to reflect MLA 8th Edition, Spring 2021