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How to Cite MLA Style


The seventh edition of the "MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers" provides students and professionals with guidelines for citing outside information. MLA style is most commonly used when writing papers related to the humanities or liberal arts. By using MLA style when citing sources within your main body and in your bibliography, you create consistency throughout your paper.

In-Text Citation

If you quote or paraphrase someone else’s work in your paper, MLA style requires that you use in-text citations. MLA format uses the author-page method within a parenthetical citation. This means you write the author’s last name and the corresponding page number within parentheses at the end of the referencing sentence. Place this parenthetical citation before the sentence’s final punctuation mark. An example of an MLA in-text citation is:

“The hand hacksaw is the most commonly used tool to cut metal (Graham 32).”

Works Cited General Format

The MLA recommends that you have a Works Cited page at the end of your paper where you list all works cited in your main text. This page should begin on a separate page following your last page of text. Center the words “Works Cited” on the first line of the page. Format this page so all your references are double-spaced and organized alphabetically by the author’s last name. For any citation that is more than a line long, indent all subsequent lines five spaces.

General Citation Format

When citing a source in MLA format, capitalize every word in a title except for articles, prepositions and conjunctions, unless they are the first word in the title. For titles of larger works, such as books and magazines, italicize the title. For shorter works, such as poems and articles, place the title in quotation marks. When you list an author’s name, write out the name, but do not include titles or degrees. MLA style requires that you include the medium of publication, which means how you accessed the information. Examples of medium include print, Web, radio and interview. Unlike other styles, MLA format does not require that you include a Web address for Internet sources.

Book Citation

The essential information needed for a MLA book citation incudes the author’s name, book title, publication date, the publisher’s name, the place of publication and medium. The basic format is the author’s last name, a comma, first name and a period. Write the title of the book in italics and then a period. Next, write the city of publication, a colon, publisher’s name, a comma, the year of publication and a period. End with the medium of publication and a period. Your citation may look like this:

Okuda, Michael, and Denise Okuda. Star Trek Chronology: The History of the Future. New York: Pocket, 1993. Print.

About the Author

Fitzalan Gorman has more than 10 years of academic and commercial experience in research and writing. She has written speeches and text for CEOs, company presidents and leaders of major nonprofit organizations. Gorman has published for professional cycling teams and various health and fitness websites. She has a Master of Arts from Virginia Tech in political science and is a NASM certified personal trainer.

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