Modern Language Association (MLA) style is one of the most common formats for college research papers. This guide covers the most requested formatting and citation information for this style, but it is not a complete list. Visit the Purdue Owl MLA Guide for the full list of MLA guidelines, and always refer to your syllabus or assignment sheet to make sure you're following the formatting requested by your professor. Contact the library staff if you need any assistance.
To get started, download our MLA template paper on the right.
Formatting the Paper Itself
MLA papers have several important features. Unless otherwise instructed by your professor, follow these guidelines:
Formatting Your In-Text Citations
We're frequently asked questions about citing books, journal articles, and websites, so those are covered in this guide. If the resource you need to cite isn't listed here, visit the MLA In-Text Guide from Purdue Owl.
Information, "Quote" or Paraphrase (Author's Last Name Page Number).
Jim observes prejudice throughout his time in town, stating "There was not a man in Black Hawk who had the intelligence or cultivation... of Antonia's father. Yet people saw no difference between her and the three Marys; they were all Bohemians" (Cather 201).
Information, "Quote" or Paraphrase ("Short Title of Article or Website")
If an author's name is included within the sentence, an in-text citation can end with just the page number ("MLA Style Guide").
Formatting Your Works Cited Page
Your Works Cited page should immediately follow the last page of your paper. Instead of a first line indent, the Works Cited page uses a hanging indent (every consecutive line is indented, but not the first one). The Works Cited page should always be kept in alphabetical order, based on the first letter that appears in the entry. Formatting the Works Cited page can be tricky, so double check your work using the MLA Guide from Purdue Owl and find the resource you want to cite on the left hand side.
Remember that many online resources found on our website can automatically generate citations for the article you're on. Just double check them against the Purdue Owl guide to make sure they're correct before submitting your paper.
Author Last Name, First Name. Title of Book. Publisher Name, Year Printed.
Cather, Willa. My Antonia. Houghton Mifflin, 1954.
Author Last Name, First Name. “Title of Journal Article.” Journal Name, volume number, issue number, issue date/year, page range. Database, DOI/Permalink. Access date.
Smith, Jennifer M., and Marla K. Robertson. “Navigating Award‐Winning Nonfiction Children’s Literature.” Reading Teacher, vol. 73, no. 2, Sept. 2019, pp. 195–204. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1002/trtr.1811. Accessed 11 November 2019.
“Name of Webpage/Article if Available.” Name of Website. Version number (if available), Name of institution/organization affiliated with the site (if available), date of resource creation (if available), URL/DOI. Access date.
"MLA Formatting and Style Guide." The Purdue OWL, 2 Aug. 2016, owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/747/01/. Accessed 11 November 2019.