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How to Cite an Essay in MLA


When writing on any topic, essays written by others are often a quick and easy source to use and to cite. If you use the Modern Language Association (MLA) style of writing, you will be required to format your citations of the essays you reference depending on where you found the work, such as from the web, from a magazine or from a book.

Page Layout for Works Cited Page

Before you should worry about a specific citation, you'll need to make sure your works cited page is formatted correctly. According to the seventh edition of the "MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers" and the third edition of the "MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing," the page should appear at the end of the paper, with the title 'Works Cited" capitalized and centered at the top of page. The works cited should appear in 12 point font -- typically Times New Roman -- and be double-spaced. Margins should be 1 inch on all sides. Any citations that require more than one line should utilize a hanging indent, where the second and all subsequent lines of the citation are indented five spaces. If you're asked to include annotations for your essay citations, those should also be indented.

Citing an Essay in a Magazine

To properly cite an essay that appears in a magazine, you'll need to take note of the essay's author, the page numbers that the essay appears on, the title of the essay and the published date of the magazine or journal. The format of the citation should appear as follows: Author(s). "Title of Article." Title of Periodical Day Month Year: pages. Medium of publication.

Citing an Essay in a Scholarly Journal

Citing an essay in a scholarly journal is similar to citing an essay that appears in a magazine. You'll need the same information. Here is a template of what your citation should look like: Author(s). "Title of Article." Title of Journal Volume. Issue number (Year): pages. Medium of publication.

Citing an Essay in an Online Publication

Most students turn to the Internet as their first choice in research for its simplicity in use and instant results. Many print publications are also turning to online publication. If you need to cite an essay you found online, check to see if it is part of a web magazine or online scholarly journal. Cite your source the same way you would if it appeared in print; however, in the medium of publication section, write "Web" and substitute "n. pag." for the page numbers if none can be found.

About the Author

Jackie Stark is the education reporter for a small-town newspaper. First published in 2007, she has covered a wide range of topics, from Pres. Obama's election victory to international travel. Stark holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in English from Northern Michigan University.

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