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MLA: General Style Guidelines

General Guidelines for MLA Style

"When the work of others informs your ideas, give credit by summarizing or paraphrasing that work or by accurately quoting it--and always cite your source" (p. 98) with a parenthetical reference (in text citation). 

           Example:  (Baron 194)

"When the citation includes a title in addition to the author's name, place a comma between the name of the author and the title."

           Example:  (Wollstonecraft, Vindication 185)

Citations in Text

How to Cite a Direct Quote (p. 229)

           According to Naomi Baron, reading is "just half of literacy.  The other half is writing" (194).

"A quotation that runs more than four lines in your prose should be set off from the text as a block indented half an inch from the left margin.  Do not indent the first line an extra amount of add quotation marks not present in the source" (p. 254)

           In Moll Flanders, Defoe follows the picaresque tradition by using a pseudoautobiographical narration:

My true name is so well known in the records, or registers, at Newgate and in the Old Bailey, and there

are some things of such consequence sill depending there relating to my particular conduct, that it is not

to be expected I should se my name or the account of my family to this work...

       It is enough to tell you, that ....some of my worst comrades, who are out of the way of doing me

harm...know me by the name of Moll Flanders....(1)


How to Cite Summaries or Paraphrases (pp. 98-100)

"Paraphrasing allows you to maintain your voice while demonstrating that yo understand the source because you can restate its points in your own words and with your own sentence structure" (p. 98).  Include an intext citation at the end of the paraphrased section.


How to Cite Sources With Multiple Authors (pp. 111 - 112)

For a source with two authors, list the authors’ last names in the text OR in the parenthetical citation:

Baker and Smith state that education is of primary importance (9).

Education is of primary importance (Baker and Smit 9). 

For a source with three or more authors, list only the first author’s last name, and replace the additional names with et al.:

According to Taylor et al., "The meaning is clearly stated  in the first paragraph" (45).

"Internet safety has become a hot topic with the rise of social media" (Myers et al. 127).


For other specific examples see the MLA Handbook 9th Edition or check the Purdue Owl Online Writing Lab's MLA Formatting and Style Guide.  


Works Cited Page

Every paper must have a Works Cited page.  Included on this page is every source you cited within your paper.  Begin on a new page with the same one-inch margins and last name, page number header as the rest of your paper. 

Center the title, Works Cited.  The following entries should be in alphabetical order, double spaced, but do not skip spaces between entries.  Indent the second and subsequent lines of citations by 0.5 inches to create a hanging indent.

If you're citing an article or a publication that was originally issued in print form but that you retrieved from an online database, you should type the online database name in italics. You do not need to provide subscription information in addition to the database name.

For online sources, you should include a location to show readers where you found the source. Many scholarly databases use a DOI (digital object identifier). Use a DOI in your citation if you can; otherwise use a URL. Delete “http://” from URLs. The DOI or URL is usually the last element in a citation and should be followed by a period.  If a DOI is unavailable, use a stable URL or permalink

See the MLA Style Center's Works Cited:  A Quick Guide for how to build a proper MLA citation.