MLA Citation

MLA (Modern Language Association) Citation

The following information will help you properly cite your sources while writing a research paper.  It is important to avoid plagiarism and give people credit for their thoughts and ideas. 

Always follow your teacher’s guidelines!  They may differ from the following information.


MLA Style of Citation (using parenthetical references): 

The MLA style of citation states that you cite your source within the body of your research paper (using parenthetical references).  Typically, you would cite your source by using the author's last name with a page number within parentheses.  For example, (Smith 23).  You should place this information directly after discussing the author's ideas or information.  Usually, this would occur at the end of a sentence.

There are many different ways to properly cite something.  For example, a book that you are using may have more than one author.  For this citation you would list both authors' names as well as the page number.  For example, (Miller and Clark 112).  Sometimes it will become necessary for you to research how to properly cite something (the links below will help you).  You might also have to research how to properly cite a website or a newspaper article.

This information was taken from:

The Purdue OWL is an excellent resource for MLA citation. 
They also have sample papers for you to review.  This shows you exactly how to format your paper!


There are three main components to a research paper: 

1. The body of your paper (with in-text citations, in parenthesis)

2. The "Notes" page (This is a separate page goes directly after your paper—you will have to set this up in Word on the References tab.)  Endnotes are different from footnotes that are placed on the bottom of your paper.  MLA format places notes directly after your paper instead of at the bottom of your paper.

3. The "Works Cited" page (List of resources used in your paper—this is a separate page that is placed after your paper and after the endnotes page.  This is sometimes called a bibliography.  MLA uses the title "Works Cited" instead of bibliography.)


Current MLA style:

No title page

Do not underline titles—italicize them

Double-space everything

Use 12 pt. Times New Roman font

Leave only ONE space after punctuation

Set all margins to 1 inch on all sides

Indent the first line of all paragraphs one half-inch

Include a header with the page number in the upper right corner (your name and number- example:  Minckler 1. You can set this up on the Insert tab in Word.


How to format the first page of your paper (remember there is no title page):

In the upper left of your paper list: your name, your teacher’s name, the class title, and date.

Center the title of your paper. Use standard capitalization—Do not underline, use “quotes”, bold, or italicize your title.  Do not use all CAPITAL LETTERS—use caps just for the first letter of each word (with the exception of articles: a, an, and the).

Create a header in the upper right corner a half inch from the top and one inch from the right of your page (your last name and page number-- create this on the insert tab in Word).

How to format the "Notes" page of your paper:
You will have to go to the Reference tab in Word to set this up.  Use the title Notes in the center top of your page.  Notes are double spaced.  The first line of all endnotes are indented five spaces.  Subsequent lines are flush left with the margin.
How to format "Works Cited" page of your paper:
Use one inch margins and the same header as you used in your paper (your name and page number in the upper right corner).  
Label your page Works Cited in the center at the top of your page.  Do not italicize, bold, underline, place in quotes or use all caps.
Double-space all citations.  Do not skip lines between entries.
Indent the second line of your citation by 0.5 inches to create a hanging indent.
**Please look at the sample paper link above to get a visual of how to properly use the MLA style of citation.**
About Plagiarism:
While conducting research, it is important that you avoid plagiarizing another person's thoughts or ideas.  According to Merriam-Webster's dictionary the definition of plagiarism is: to steal and pass off (the ideas or words of another) as one's own.  There are different kinds of plagiarism.  Two types are called "word-for-word plagiarism" and "paraphrase plagiarism." Word-for-word plagiarism is exactly how it sounds-- the person conducting the research uses the exact words of their source without giving the source credit.  Paraphrase plagiarism occurs when the researcher says basically the same thing as the source and only changes a few words-- and they do not give the source credit (Kemper, Meyer and Sebranek  179).  You need to avoid both forms of plagiarism.
How do you avoid plagiarizing another person's thoughts and ideas?  Here are some tips:
  • Always give credit to your sources by using proper citation!
  • It is okay not to cite information that is considered "common knowledge."
  • To use references in your paper you must either: 1) quote your source directly by using quotation marks, or 2) paraphrase the author's ideas by using your own words.  Either way, you must cite your source.


How do you correctly paraphrase while researching?

  • Find a credible source.
  • Skim the information and get a general idea of what the author is trying to say.
  • Read the information in greater detail.  Pay attention to important words and phrases.
  • After you have read the information, try to write about its main ideas by jotting down some notes on a separate piece of paper.  Make sure that you use your own words!
  • Reread the author's information one more time.  Make sure you understand what the author is trying to convey.
  • Now it is time to paraphrase the author's information:  include key information; clearly state important information; use quotation marks if you are using direct words or phrases from the source.
  • Properly cite your source using a method of citation such as the MLA style of citation.

Helpful Links 
These links will help you how to properly cite many different types of sources:
Purdue OWL Online Writing Lab   (MLA citation style- commonly used for the Liberal Arts and Humanities such as languageliteraturehistoryphilosophyreligionmusic, theater, social sciences and history) 

Cornell University Library   (MLA citation style- easy to follow examples)
Modern Language Association (Frequently asked questions) 
American Psychological Association (APA citation style- commonly used for sciences)

Cornell University Library.  "MLA Citation Style."  Cornell University Library.  Cornell University, 2012.  Web.  12 July 2012.
Kemper, Dave, Verne Meyer, and Patrick Sebranek.  "Writers INC:  A Student Handbook for Writing and Learning."  Massachusetts: 1996. Print.
Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary.  "Plagiarize."  Web.  12 July 2012.