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MLA Handbook

MLA Citations and Formatting

Formatting Any Typed Assignments

General Format:

  • Double-space the text of your paper
  • Use a legible font (e.g. Times New Roman).
  • 12 pt. font
  • 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.

Headers and Page Numbers:

  • Create a header that numbers all pages consecutively in the upper right-hand corner (Note: Your instructor may ask that you omit the number on your first page. Always follow your instructor's guidelines.)
  • 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. Note the date format (3 August 2009).


  • 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.
  • *Only use quotation marks and/or italics when referring to other works in your title, just as you would in your text (i.e. Modern Themes in To Kill a Mockingbird)


Opening of a paper (heading, title, first paragraph) sample:


John Student

Mr. Teacher

English 9CP Period 6

15 September 2010

Romeo and Juliet Review

            Now a common reference for a type of love, Romeo and Juliet has captivated its audience for hundreds of years. However, some may say … 

MLA Citation Information


  • Any title of a novel, newspaper, magazine, book of poems, website, etc. must be italicized in typed work. (They are underlined in handwritten work.) 
  • Any poem or article (print or web) require quotation marks.
  • “The Road Not Taken” or “Man Saves Baby from Drowning”

In-text citations:

  • All in-text citations are at the end of the sentence, no matter where the quote(s) end.
  • After reading Darcy’s letter, Elizabeth realizes she acted “blind, prejudiced, absurd,” which makes her judge Wickham and Darcy incorrectly (Austen 185-6).
  • The first citation must have the author and page number (Lee 59). Any consecutive quotes from the same author only need the page number (59).
  • New source in the same paper? Then it needs the author’s name again! Any consecutive citations from that author will only have a page number.
  • More than one quote from different pages appearing in same sentence, cite in order of appearance: (37; 58).
  • More than one source in the same sentence, give citations in alphabetical order. 
  • (Cahill 42; Leduc 114; Vasquez 73).
  • For all verse plays give act, scene, and line numbers and separate with periods
  •  Though Lady Macbeth admits her “hands are of [Macbeth’s] color,” she also points out the very difference between herself and Macbeth (2.2.64).


Works Cited Rules:

  • The Works Cited is the last page of any paper/essay.
  • All the above MLA formatting applies!
  • The title is “Works Cited” or “Works Consulted” and follows MLA title guidelines.
  • “Works Cited” vs. “Works Consulted”:
  • You most likely will have both for any given paper! 
  • If you have both, they are on separate pieces of paper!
  • In a “Works Cited” page you only list the source(s) you actually cited in the body of your paper (with in-text citations). That includes words and/or ideas from any source! Otherwise you can be accused of plagiarism! In a “Works Consulted” page you list any source you consulted while researching, but did not actually use or cite in the body of your paper. This gives you credit for all your research!
  • The entire page is double spaced, so do not add unnecessary spaces between lines or entries.
  • List entries in alphabetical order according to the first word listed in the citation (usually the last name of the author).
  • More than one work by same author, alphabetize by title (excluding article a, an, and the). Then do not repeat author’s name, but type three hyphens and a period, and then the title.
  • Indent all successive lines (hit tab). 
  • Have as much information as possible in your citation. You may have to do a little digging to find it all. Often times for web sources you will have to return to the main page of the website to find the organization supporting the website, the last time it was updated, etc.


Here is a sample of a Works Cited page.

Jane Student

Mrs. Teacher

English 12CP Period 3

7 May 2010

Works Cited

Dickinson, Emily. “If I should die.” The Complete Poems. Boston: Little, Brown, 1924.

   Web. 31 Mar. 2009.

– – –. “Success is counted sweetest.” The Complete Poems. Boston: Little, Brown, 1924. Web. 31 Mar. 2009.

"MLA: Web Page." Citation Machine. April 2006. The Landmark Project. Web. 21 Feb. 2009.

Smith, Sally. "Citing is Fun." MLA Information Website. February 2007. Web. 21 Feb. 2009.    

Trimmer, Joseph F. A Guide to MLA Documentation. Boston: Wadsworth, 2010. Print.


Here is how the sources in the above Works Cited page are cited in a paper.


With Known Author/Direct Quote/Web

After conferring with other teachers about citation, it was decided that more should be done about citation.  There is often confusion about citation since “there are two types of citation: MLA and ABA style. Generally, the English discipline uses MLA style” (Smith).


With Known Author/Paraphrased/Web

After conferring with other teachers about citation, it was decided that more should be done about citation.  There is often confusion about citation. Citing is done in both MLA and ABA style, however, English classes use MLA style (Smith).

*If print, such as The Essentials of MLA Styleabove, you would include a page number (Trimmer 12)or numbers (Trimmer 12-14)in the parenthesis.  


With Unknown Author/Direct Quote

After conferring with other teachers about citation, it was decided that more should be done about citation.  There is often confusion about citation. Citation websites have said, “There are many nuances to how MLA and APA citations are formed,” which could lead to incorrect formatting (“MLA: Web Page”).

*Like above, if you are paraphrasing the information, you would cite (“MLA: Web Page”) at the end of the information.  That could be one sentence or a whole paragraph.  Make sure you do not copy anything directly without using quotation marks and citing it!