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Format Your Paper & Cite Your Sources

Learn to format your papers and cite your sources in MLA, APA, Chicago, and other styles.

What is MLA Style?

Created by the Modern Language Association, MLA is most often used by the Humanities, which includes languages, literature, philosophy, visual & performing arts.

MLA Style (8th/9th ed.)

MLA Citation Style Video

Watch this short but excellent video from Hayden Memorial Library at Citrus College, It walks you through creating an MLA citation and the corresponding in-text citation

Formatting Your Paper

The Rules:

  • Margins: 1" all around (except for the page number)
  • Font:  Easily readable typeface set to a standard size (Times-New Roman 12pt is always safe)
  • Line-spacing: Double-space throughout the paper, including heading, title, block quotes, and Works Cited. 
  • Page Numbers: All pages are numbered in right hand corner, 1/2" from top. Last name appears before the page numbers.
  • Heading: Top left corner. Your name, your instructor's name, course number, date. Date must be written dd Month yyyy. 
  • Title: Centered. Plain (no italics, underlining, or font variation). Standard double-spacing between heading/title, and title/first line of paper.

Use Word to Format Your Paper:

This brief video will show you how to use Word 2010 to format your paper.


Use Google Docs to Format Your Paper:

This brief video will show you how to set up your document in MLA format using Google Docs.

Sample MLA Papers:

Formatting Your Works Cited Page

Placement: The Works Cited list appears at the end of the paper, on its own page(s). For example, If your research paper ends on page 8, your Works Cited begins on page 9. 

Arrangement: Alphabetize entries by author's last name. If source has no named author, alphabetize by the title, ignoring A, An, or The.

Spacing: Like the rest of the MLA paper, the Works Cited list is double-spaced throughout. Be sure NOT to add extra spaces between citations.

Indentation: To make citations easier to scan, add a hanging indent to any citation that runs more than one line.


Citation Examples

Citation Examples and Template:

 MLA Core ElementsEach citation in your list of works cited is composed of elements common to most works -- author, title, publication date, etc. These are called the MLA core elements. The core elements are assembled in a specific order as shown to the left.

Use the links below to see examples of source citations and practice using one of the templates.

If you don't find what you need below, check out the MLA's, Ask the MLA.


Citation Examples by Format:

In-Text Citation Basics

What Are In-Text Citations?

In-text citations are brief references within the body of your paper that tell your readers that a) you've used an outside source, and b) point them toward that source in your Works Cited list. Where relevant, the in-text citation also points your reader to the location in the source being cited (e.g. page number).

The in-text citation can appear within the body of your paper, within a parentheses, or a combination of the two.

You need to cite all direct quotations, paraphrased information, and summarized ideas.

What To Include in an In-Text Citation

  • An in-text citation begins with the shortest piece of information that di­rects your reader to the entry in the Works Cited list. Therefore, it begins with what ever comes first in the entry: the author’s name or the title of the work.
  • Most often, an MLA in-text citation begins with the author's last name followed by the page number: (Jones 14).
  • If there is no author, use the "Title" of the source:  ("Global Warming" 129).

If page numbers are available, they MUST be listed. This often means examining the pdf version of database articles to locate page numbers.

Detailed Rules

  • For most citations, the parenthetical reference is placed BEFORE the punctuation:

Magnesium can be effective in treating PMS (Haggerty 42).

  • Direct quotes longer than 4 lines are indented an extra 1/2 inch, the quotation marks are removed, and the parenthetical comes AFTER punctuation.

A preliminary study presented recently at the American College of Cardiology annual meeting found that getting enough sleep was associated with greater protection of death from all causes.If magnesium does work to help someone get a little shuteye, that may be because it is acting on certain receptors on the surface of brain cells to quiet down brain cell activity.The nutrient acts on the benzodiazepine receptor, which is the same receptor used by Valium-type drugs and the sleep medication Ambien. (Gurubhagavatula)

  • If author name or title is used within the text, do NOT list it again within parenthesis. 

Haggerty notes magnesium is effective at relieving some symptoms of PMS (42).

Learn More

MLA Annotated Bibliography Example

MLA Style

MLA tells us that, you should cite a source in an annotated bibliography just as you would in a list of works cited and then append an annotation to the end of the entry. Annotations describe and/or evaluate sources. Further, annotations should not rehash minor details, cite evidence, quote the author, or recount steps in an argument. Writing an effective annotation requires reading the work, understanding its aims, and clearly summarizing them.

To learn more about annotated bibliographies click on the link below from Purdue OWL

Sample Annotated Bibliography Using MLA

Annotated Bibliography Template

You may also want to use the template below. Just type over the words in the template with your own information, citations, and annotations.


Use NoodleTools to help you create your citations.

It's easy; it's a form you fill out with the information about your source; it helps you catch mistakes.

NoodleTools image

NoodleTools Help: