Outside Links: | The MLA Handbook 7th Edition | Style: MLA Updated, March 11, 2009 |

Page Links: | Guidelines for Writing a Paper | Sample Entries: Books Articles Other Sources | Citing or Documenting or Quoting Sources | Avoiding Plagiarism | MLA Style Citation of this Web Page |

Site Links: | Appendices: Index | Alphabetical List | Table Of Contents | Home Page |


Note: The 7th Edition states that the inclusion of url or web page address is now optional; also print is no longer the default; each citation should identify the medium: print, web page, video, pdf, etc. Follow your instructor's expectations.

Citing Online Sources

Provide author's last and first names (if available), title of the web page, title of the online book (if applicable), the address of the page beginning with http, and page date (if available) or date of your access or login)

Guidelines for Writing a Paper (in the MLA style)

Also read General Guidelines
There are three major features of the Modern Language Association (MLA) style of formatting papers: Works Cited at the end of the paper; material borrowed from another source is cited or documented within the text by a brief parenthetical reference that directs readers to the full citation in the list of works cited; footnotes or endnotes to document two types of supplementary information: 1. commentary or explanation that the text cannot accommodate and 2. bibliographical notes containing several source citations (for formating details on document notes, consult The MLA Handbook, Appendix B).

Papers should be typed double-spaced, on one side of a sheet, with margins of 1" on top and bottom and 1" on right and left. Indent beginning of a paragraph a half-inch from the left margin. Page numbers should appear centered or to the right in the top margin; the first page is either not numbered or, if numbered, the number should appear centered in the bottom margin. Paginate the Endnotes(if any) and Works Cited sections as a continuation of your text. Make a title or cover sheet (this is my preference) with the following information (centered and with a minimum of double-spacing): title of your paper, your name, course number and title, semester and year, and the name of the course instructor. Use italics or underline titles of books, magazines, newspapers, and shorter works published independently. Use quotation marks ( " " ) for titles of short stories, poems, magazine and newspaper articles.

Works Cited and Selected Bibliography (if required): Double-space between successive lines of an entry and between entries; begin the first line of an entry flush left, and indent successive lines half an inch. List entries in alphabetical order according to the last name of the author. If an author's name is unavailable, begin the entry alphabetically, with the title of the work.

Underline or use italics for titles of books (The Scarlet Letter), magazines (Modern Drama), newspapers (New York Times), long and independently published poems (Poe's The Raven), and ship-names (Titanic).

Use quotation marks for titles of short stories ("Young Goodman Brown"), poems ("The Road Not Taken"), magazine and newspaper articles, interviews, letters, and e-mail.

Printing: Use a high-quality inkjet or laser printer, a standard typeface or font (size 12), and 8.5 by 11-inch paper; keep a copy of the paper on a disk or as a photocopy.

| Top | Sample Entries: Books
(Note: To conserve space, sample entries here are single spaced and second and successive lines are unindented)

A Book by One Author

Clawson, Marion. America's Land and Its Uses. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 1972.

Two or More Books by the Same Author

Hirsch, E. D., Jr. Cultural Literacy: What America Needs to Know . Boston: Houghton, 1987.

---. The Philosophy of Composition . Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1977.

A Book by Two or Three Authors

Vare, Ethlie Ann, and Greg Ptacek. Mothers of Invention: From the Bra to the Bomb: Forgotten Women and Their Unforgettable Ideas. New York: Morrow, 1988.

Atwan, Robert, Donald McQuade, and John W. Wright. Edsels, Luckies, and Frigidaires: Advertising the American Way. New York: Dell, 1979.

A Book by Three or More Authors

Belenky, Mary Field, et al. Women's Ways of Knowing: The Development of Self, Voice, and Mind. New York: Basic, 1986.

A Book by a Corporate Author or Anonymous Author

The Boston Women's Health Book Collective. Our Bodies, Ourselves: A Book by and for Women. New York: Simon, 1973.

Literary Market Place: The Directory of American Book Publishing. 1985 ed. New York: Bowker, 1984.

A Book with an Editor

Hall, Donald, ed. The Oxford Book of American Literary Anecdotes . New York: Oxford UP, 1981.

| Top | A Book with an Author and an Editor

Toomer, Jean. Cane . Ed. Darwin T. Turner. New York: Norton, 1988.

An Anthology or Compilation

Valdez, Luis, and Stan Steiner, eds. Aztlan: An Anthology of Mexican American Literature . New York: Vintage-Knopf, 1972.

A Work in an Anthology

Thomas, Lewis. "A Long Line of Cells." Inventing the Truth: The Art and Craft of Memoir . Ed. William Zinsser. Boston: Houghton, 1987. 125-48.

An Introduction, Preface, Foreword, or Afterword

Bernstein, Carl. Afterword. Poison Penmanship: The Gentle Art of Muckraking . By Jessica Mitford. New York: Vintage-Random, 1979. 275-77.

A Multivolume Work

Blotner, Joseph. Faulkner: A Biography . 2 vols. New York: Random, 1974.

A Book Other Than the First

Chaucer, Geoffrey. The Riverside Chaucer . Ed. Larry D. Benson. 3rd ed. Boston: Houghton, 1987.

A Book in a Series

McClave, Heather, ed. Women Writers of the Short Story . Twentieth Century Views. Englewood Cliffs: Spectrum-Prentice, 1980.

Published Proceedings of a Conference

Griggs, John, ed. AIDS: Public Policy Dimensions . Proceedings. of a conference. 16-17 Jan. 1986. New York: United Hospital Fund of New York, 1987.

A Translation

Giroud, Francoise. Marie Curie: A Life . Trans. Lydia Davis. New York: Holmes, 1986.

An Unpublished Dissertation

Boyle, Anthony T. "The Epistemological Evolution of Renaissance Utopian Literature, 1516-1657." Diss. New York U, 1983.

A Published Dissertation

Ames, Barbara. Dreams and Painting: A Case Study of the Relationship between an Artist's Dreams and Painting . Diss. U of Virginia, 1978. Ann Arbor: UMI, 1979. 7928021.

| Top | Sample Entries: Articles
(Note: To conserve space, sample entries here are single-spaced and second and successive lines are unindented)

An Article in a Journal

Scotto, Peter. "Censorship, Reading, and Interpretation: A Case Study from the Soviet Union." PMLA 109 (1994): 61-70.

A Signed Article in a Reference Book

Tobias, Richard. "Thurber, James." Encyclopedia Americana . 1987 ed. 110-113.

An Unsigned Article in a Reference Book

"Tharp, Twyla." Who's Who of American Women . 15th ed. 1987-88: 23-25.

An Article from a Monthly or Bimonthly Periodical

Edsall, Thomas Byrne. "The Return of Inequality." Atlantic June 1988: 86-94.

An Article from a Weekly or Biweekly Periodical

McPhee, John. "The Control of Nature: Cooling the Lava - 1." New Yorker 22 Feb. 1988: 43-77.

A Signed Article from a Daily Newspaper

Darst, Guy. "Environmentalists Want Hotels, Concessions Removed from US Parks." Boston Globe 25 May 1988: 17.

An Unsigned Article from a Daily Newspaper

"Hospitals, Competing for Scarce Patients, Turn to Advertising." New York Times 20 Apr. 1986, sec. 1, 47.

An Editorial

"Young, Gifted, Black - and Inspired." Editorial. Washington Post 18 May 1988: 20.

A Review

Petersen, William. "Wanted: Democratic Babies." Rev. of The Birth Dearth: What Happens When People in Free Countries Don't Have Enough Babies ? by Ben J. Wattenberg. American Scholar 57 (1988): 312-14.

An Article Whose Title Contains a Quotation or Title within a Quotation

Hurley, C. Harold. "Cracking the Secret Code in Oates's 'Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?' " Studies in Short Fiction 24 (1987): 62-66.

An Abstract from Dissertation Abstracts or Dissertation Abstracts International

Creek, Mardena Bridges. "Myth, Wound, Accommodation: American Literary Response to the War in Vietnam." DAI 43 (1982): 3593A. Ball SU.

| Top | Sample Entries: Other Sources

(Note: To conserve space, sample entries are single spaced and second and successive lines are unindented)

Lectures, Speeches, and Addresses

Cuomo, Mario. "Keynote Address." Opening Session. Democratic Natl. Convention. San Francisco, 16 July 1984.

Films; Radio, and Television Programs

The Last Emperor . Dir. Bernardo Bertolucci. With John Lone and Peter O'Toole. Columbia, 1987.

"If God Ever Listened: A Portrait of Alice Walker." Horizons . Prod. Jane Rosenthal. NPR. WBST, Muncie. 3 Mar. 1984.

"The Hero's Adventure." Moyers: Joseph Campbell and the Power of Myth . Prod. Catherine Tatge. PBS WNET, New York. 23 May 1988.


Diamond, Carol. "Telephone Interview." 27 Dec. 1988.

Material Accessed from a Periodically Published Database on CD-ROM

Angier, Natalie. "Chemists Learn Why Vegetables Are Good for You." New York Times 13 Apr. 1993, late ed.: Cl. New York Times Ondisc. CD-ROM. UMI-Proquest. Oct. 1993.

Guidelines for Family Television Viewing . Urbana: ERIC Clearinghouse on Elementary and Early Childhood Educ., 1990. ERIC CD-ROM. SilverPlatter. June 1993.

"Time Warner, Inc.: Sales Summary, 1988-1992." Disclosure/Worldscope. CD-ROM. Oct. 1993.

"Bronte, Emily." Discovering Authors . Vers. 1.0. CD-ROM. Detroit: Gale, 1992.

A Publication on Diskette

"Ellison, Ralph." Disclit: American Authors. Diskette. Boston: Hall, 1991.

| Top | A Publication on Magnetic Tape

English Poetry Full-Text Database . Rel. 2. Magnetic tape. Cambridge, Eng.: Chadwyck, 1993.

A Work in More than One Publication Medium

Perseus 1.0: Interactive Sources and Studies on Ancient Greece. CD-ROM, videodisc. New Haven: Yale UP, 1992.

Citing Online Databases

Angier, Natalie. "Chemists Learn Why Vegetables Are Good for You." New York Times 13 Apr. 1993, late ed.: Cl. New York Times Online Online. Nexis. 10 Feb. 1994..

Alston, Robin. "The Battle of the Books." Humanist 7.0176 (10 Sept. 1993): 10 pp. Internet. 10 Oct. 1993.

Octovian.. Ed. Frances McSparran. Early English Text Soc. 289. London: Oxford UP, 1986. Online. U of Virginia Lib. Internet. 6 Apr. 1994. Available FTP: etext.virginia.edu.

Reuben, Paul P. "Chapter 9: Harlem Renaissance." PAL: Perspectives on American Literature- A Research and Reference Guide. URL: http://www.paulreuben.website/home.htm (provide page date or date of your login).

| Top | Citing or Documenting or Quoting Sources


1. Cite the author's last name and the page number(s) of the source in parentheses: (Postman 3-4).

2. Use the author's last name in your sentence, and place only the page number(s) of the source in parenthesis: (3-4). Note: MLA recommends placing the parenthetical reference at the end of the sentence but before the final period.

3. The same rules apply for poems and articles.

4. For quotations longer than three lines, use blockquotes. To create blockquotations, use twice the number of spaces you use to indent paragraphs (example: five spaces for paragraph indent, ten spaces to begin a blockquote; if your blockquote is a paragraph, begin the firstline indented five spaces, or fifteen spaces from the left margin); indent from both left and right margins. Do not use quotation marks to begin or end a blockquote (the quotation will be visibly obvious). Blockquotes are typed double-spaced.


1. Work the quoted passage into the syntax of your sentence:

Morrison points out that social context prevented the authors of slave narratives "from dwelling too long or too carefully on the more sordid details of their experience" (109).

2. Introduce the quoted passage with a sentence and a colon.

Commentators have tried to account for the decorum of most slave narratives by discussing social context: " . . . popular taste discouraged the writers from dwelling too long or too carefully on the more sordid details of their experience" (Morrison 109).

3. Set off a quoted passage with an introductory sentence followed by a colon. This is for longer quotations (four or more lines of prose; three or more lines of poetry). Double-space the quotation, and indent it ten spaces from the left margin; do not enclose it within quotation marks; the final period goes two spaces before the parenthetical reference.

Toni Morrison, in "The Site of Memory," explains how social context shaped slave narratives:

. . . no slave society in the history of the world wrote more--or more thoughtfully--about its own enslavement. The milieu, however, dictated the purpose and the style. The narratives are instructive, moral and obviously representative. Some of them are patterned after the sentimental novel that was in vogue at the time. But whatever the level of eloquence or the form, popular taste discouraged the writers from dwelling too long or too carefully on the more sordid details of their experience. (109) 

Avoiding Plagiarism (academic cheating)

Plagiarism is using someone else's words or ideas without giving proper credit - or without giving any credit at all - to the writer of the original. Whether plagiarism is intentional or unintentional, it is a serious offense that you can avoid by citing or docue or the form, popular taste discouraged the writers from dwelling too long or too carefully on the more sordid details of their experience. (109) 

(From Trimmer, Joseph F. A Guide to MLA Documentation. Palo Alto: Houghton, 1989. Heffernan, James, and John Lincoln. A Guide to the New MLA Style. NY: Norton, 1984. Gibaldi, Joseph. MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers. 4th ed. NY: MLA, 1995.)

MLA Style Citation of this Web Page

Reuben, Paul P. "Appendix I: The Modern Language Association (MLA) Style." PAL: Perspectives in American Literature- A Research and Reference Guide. URL: http://www.paulreuben.website/pal/append/axi.html (provide page date or the date of your login).
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