Modern Language Association (MLA) Format is a writing style used mainly by English classes. The MLA publishes and regularly updates The MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, the official guide to using MLA format. The MLA Handbook is now in its 8th edition (2016), so if you refer to any books or Web sites to help you formulate your paper, make sure the source is using the most up-to-date edition to avoid penalties from your instructor. An updated print copy of the handbook is available in all campus libraries.
MLA style does not require a cover page, but does require a specific heading on the front page, as well as the student's last name and page number listed in the top right corner of every page.
Example of the first page of a paper in MLA format, including name, instructor name, course, date, and header, courtesy of OWL at Purdue
You will also have to leave in-text citations throughout your paper each time you make a reference to a source. Usually these will consist of an author name (or title if no author is given) and page number within parenthesis. For example, (Smith 5) would be an appropriate citation for a reference found on the fifth page of a book written by an author with the last name Smith. The citation goes at the end of the appropriate sentence, after quotation marks but before the period or punctuation ending the sentence. If no author is given, you will simply use the title of the article, book, or web site followed by page number. There are a number of different ways to create in-text citations depending on the number of authors and the type of source, so be sure to choose the correct format.
At the end of your paper, a Works Cited page is required. This means you will have to make a list of all the books, articles, and web sites you referred to within the body of your paper. This list must also be formatted in a specific way.
Book with One Author
Last name, First name. Title of Book. Publisher, Year.
Book with More than One Author
Last name, First name, and First name Last name. Title of Book. Publisher, Year.
Book with No Author
Title of Book. Publisher, Year.
Two or More Books by the Same Author
When you list more than one book by the same author on your Works Cited page, replace the author's name in the second, third, etc., entries with three dashes and a period.
First citation: Last name, First name. Title of Book. Publisher, Year.
Second citation: ---. Title of Book. Publisher, Year.
Article in a Magazine
Last name, First name. "Title of Article." Title of Magazine or Journal, vol., issue, Month, Year, pages.
Article in a Newspaper
Last name, First name. "Title of Article." Title of Newspaper, Day Mo. Year, pages.
If the newspaper is lesser known, include the city and state in brackets following the title.
Last name, First name. "Title of Article." Title of Newspaper [City, State], Day Mo. Year, pages.
Article from an Online Database
Last name, First name. "Title of Article." Title of Journal, vol., issue, Date of Publication, pages. Name of Database. Permalink. Date of Access.
Gamsa, Mark. "Traces of Russian Libraries in China." Library History, vol. 22, no. 3, 2006, pp. 201-212. Academic Search Complete. http://db29.linccweb.org/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=lih&AN=23561851&site=eds-live. Accessed 8 Sept. 2010.
When citing Web sites, try to find and list as much information on the source as possible!
Last name, First name. Web site Title. Name of Institution/Sponsor/Publisher, Date published (again in Day Mo. Year format). URL. Date you accessed the site (Day Mo. Year).
If no publisher is mentioned, use n.p.
If no published date is listed, use n.d.
NOTE: When your citation carries over to a second line, indent the second line by five spaces, or one tab.
Or, right click on where you would like to indent, click on “paragraph”, look for “indentation”, look for “special,” click on “hanging,” click on “OK.”