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MLA TIPS. Compiled from UWF Writing Lab Handouts and the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers , Seventh Edition. PowerPoint designed by Jeni Senter January 2010.

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Mla tips


Compiled from UWF Writing Lab Handouts and the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, Seventh Edition

PowerPoint designed by Jeni Senter

January 2010

Basic formatting rules

If you have been asked to write a paper using MLA format, there are numerous rules that you must follow in order to produce a paper that conforms properly to MLA format.

This PowerPoint will serve as an overview of the different requirements for formatting an MLA style research paper.

Basic Formatting Rules

Mla paper formatting rules

  • MarginsMargins should be set to one inch at the top, bottom, and both sides of the text.

  • IndentationIndent the first word of a paragraph one-half inch from the left margin. Also, indent set-off quotations, like block quotations of prose, poetry, and drama, one inch from the left margin.

MLA Paper Formatting Rules:

Mla tips

  • Text Formatting

    Text should be written in a clear and readable font; you should preferably use Times New Roman, 12 point font.

Mla tips

  • Format and Spacing

    The entire document should be double-spaced, including quotations, notes, and the list of Works Cited. If using the newest editions of MS Word or a like word processing program, you will need to reset your default settings so that the program does not automatically add extra spacing between paragraphs. Use one space after a period or other concluding punctuation mark.

Heading and title format

**According to the guidelines listed in the MLA Handbook, no title page is needed in strict MLA formatting; however, if your instructor asks for a title page, you should format it according to the instructions your instructor provides.**

Heading and Title Format

Mla tips

  • Beginning one inch from the top of the first page and flush with the left margin, type your name, your instructor’s name, the course number, and the date on separate lines, double-spacing between lines.

  • The date that is displayed on the paper is the date that the paper is due, not the day that it is written; in addition, the date is displayed in military style with no commas: 01 January 2010.

  • Double-space again and center the title.

Mla tips

  • Double-space between the lines of the title, and double-space between the title and the first line of the text.

  • Do not italicize or underline your title; do not put it in quotation marks or boldface; and do not type it in capital letters.

  • Follow the standard rules for capitalization in titles and for italicization.

  • Do not use a period after your title or after any heading in the paper.

Illustration of the top of an mla research paper

Illustration of the Top of an MLA Research Paper

Page numbering

  • Number all pages consecutively throughout the research paper in the upper right-hand corner, one-half inch from the top and flush with the right margin. Type your last name before the page number. Inserting this information into the header and using the automatic page numbering feature of your word processing program will save you the time and effort of numbering every page manually. Do not use abbreviations, periods, hyphens, or any other mark or symbol.

Page Numbering

Illustration of a running head of an mla paper

Illustration of a Running Head of an MLA Paper

Works cited formatting

  • The list of Works Cited appears at the end of the paper.

  • Begin the list on a new page and number each page, continuing the page numbers of the text. For example, if the text of your research paper ends on page 10, the Works Cited list begins on page 11.

  • The page number appears in the upper right-hand corner, half an inch from the top and flush with the right margin.

  • Center the title, Works Cited, an inch from the top of the page.

  • Double-space between the title and the first entry.

  • Begin each entry flush with the left margin; if an entry runs more than one line, indent the subsequent line or lines one-half inch from the left margin. This format is sometimes called hanging indention, and you can set your word processor to create it automatically for a group of paragraphs. Hanging indention makes alphabetical lists easier to use.

  • Double-space the entire list, both between and within entries. Continue the list on as many pages as necessary.

Works Cited Formatting

Illustration of works cited

Illustration of Works Cited

Annotated bibliographies

  • The annotated bibliography for a paper written in MLA format follows the basic format of the Works Cited page. The typical title, Annotated Bibliography, is centered one inch from the top of the page, and it is neither italicized nor surrounded by quotation marks.

  • The first entry will appear one double-spaced line below the title, and all entries should be in alphabetical order. Annotated Bibliography citations contain the same information that Works Cited citations do, and the hanging indention is used when an entry’s information exceeds one line. The entry for each citation is usually brief, a few sentences to a paragraph, and immediately follows the citation. All of the entries must be approximately equal in length.

Annotated Bibliographies

Illustration of an annotated bibliography

Illustration of an Annotated Bibliography

Quotations and citations

  • When quoting an author for the first time in your text, be sure to give the author’s first and last names as well as the full title of the work to which you are referring. From that initial point on, the author may be referred to by only his or her last name only. In addition, if you refer to the author in the sentence, you need to add only a page number at the end of the quotation, but if you do not, then you must include the author’s last name and page number in the parenthetical reference. Further, for parenthetical citations for works that do not have an author, the first few words of the title should be included in the citation:

    Book: (The Book of Common Prayer)

    Article: (“The Art of Rhetoric”)

Quotations and Citations

Prose quotations

  • Prose: If a prose quotation runs no more than four lines and requires no special emphasis, put it in quotations marks, and incorporate it into the text. You may put a quotation at the beginning, middle, or end of your sentence or, for the sake of variety or better style, divide it by your own words. Place the citation information for the quoted material in parentheses at the end of the sentence. Place the sentence period after the reference citation.

  • Author mentioned in the sentence: “He was obeyed,” writes Joseph Conrad of the company manager in Heart of Darkness, “yet he inspired neither love nor fear, nor even respect” (87).

  • Author not mentioned in the sentence: According to the narrator in Heart of Darkness, the company manager was “obeyed, yet he inspired neither love nor fear, nor even respect” (Conrad 87).

Prose Quotations

Block quotations

  • If a quotation extends to more than four lines when run into the text, set it off from your text by beginning a new line, indenting one inch from the left margin, and typing it double-spaced, without adding quotation marks:

    A colon generally introduces a quotation displayed in this way. If your quotation is lifted from the beginning of a paragraph, do not indent the quotation. The quoted material is written in 12 pt font; the period, in this instance, is positioned at the end of the quotation, with the citation after; and no quotation marks are used.

Block Quotations

Example of a block quotation

Example of a Block Quotation

Quoting poetry

  • If you quote part of all of a single line of verse that does not require special emphasis, put it in quotation marks within your text. You may also incorporate two or three lines in this way, using a slash with a space on each side ( / ) to separate them. At the end of the quotation, indicate the lines of the poetry in parentheses, not the page number.

  • Verse quotations of more than three lines should begin on a new line. Unless the quotation involves unusual spacing, indent each line one inch from the left margin and double-space between lines, adding no quotation marks that do not appear in the original. A parenthetical reference for a verse quotation set off from the text follows the last line of the quotation (as in quotations of prose); a parenthetical reference that will not fit on the line should appear on a new line, flush with the right margin of the page.

Quoting Poetry

Examples of poetry quotation

Examples of Poetry Quotation

Altering a quotation

  • If omitting material from the original sentence or sentences leaves a quotation that appears to be a sentence or a series of sentences, you must use an ellipsis to indicate that your quotation does not completely reproduce the original. Whenever you omit words from a quotation, the resulting passage—your prose and the quotation integrated into it—should be grammatically complete and correct.

  • When the ellipsis coincides with the end of your sentence, use three periods with a space before each following a sentence period—that is, four periods.

  • If a parenthetical reference follows the ellipsis at the end of your sentence, however, use three periods with a space before each, and place the sentence period after the final parenthesis.

Altering a Quotation . . .

Quotation with an ellipsis in the middle

  • In surveying various responses to plagues in the Middle Ages, Barbara W. Tuchman writes, “Medical thinking . . . stressed air as the communicator of disease, ignoring sanitation or visible carriers” (101-02).

  • Quotation with an Ellipsis at the End Followed by a Parenthetical Reference

  • In surveying various responses to plagues in the Middle Ages, Barbara W. Tuchman writes, “Medical thinking, trapped in the theory of astral influences, stressed air as the communicator of disease . . .” (101-02).  

Quotation with an Ellipsis in the Middle

Mla tips

  • Html addresses are no longer required in citations

  • The format of the source (print or web) is required in the citation

Now, Here are the Significant Changes from the Sixth Edition to the Seventh Edition of the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers:

Example of a print based source citation

Example of a Web-based Source Citation

Example of a Print-based Source Citation

Citation formats


Entries for publications in print periodicals consist of several elements in a prescribed sequence. This list shows most of the possible components of an entry for an article in a print periodical and the order in which they are normally arranged:

  • Author’s name

  • Title of the article (in quotation marks)

  • Name of the periodical (italicized)

  • Series number or name (if relevant)

  • Volume number (for a scholarly journal)

  • Issue number (if available, for a scholarly journal)

  • Date of publication (for a scholarly journal, the year; for other periodicals, the day, month, and year, as available)

  • Inclusive page numbers

  • Medium of publication consulted (Use the word Print to indicate this information)

  • Supplementary information

Citation Formats

Mla tips


Entries for nonperiodical print publications, such as books and pamphlets, consist of several elements in a prescribed sequence. This list shows most of the possible components of a book entry and the order in which they are normally arranged:

  • Name of the author, editor, compiler, or translator

  • Title of the work (italicized)

  • Edition used

  • Number(s) of the volume(s) used

  • City of publication, name of the publisher, and year of publication

  • Medium of publication consulted (Use the word Print to indicate this information)

  • Supplementary bibliographic information and annotation

Mla tips

Nonperiodical Web Publications:

An entry for a nonperiodical publication on the Web usually contains most of the following components, in sequence:

  • Name of the author, compiler, director, editor, narrator, performer, or translator of the work

  • Title of the work (italicized if the work is independent; in roman type and quotation marks if the work is part of a larger work)

  • Title of the overall Web site (italicized), if distinct from item 2

  • Version or edition used

  • Publisher or sponsor of the site; if not available, use N.p.

  • Date of publication (day, month, and year, as available); if nothing is available, use n.d.

  • Medium of publication (Web)

  • Date of access (day, month, and year)

Mla tips

Web-based Periodical Publication:

To cite a work from a periodical in an online database, such as an article, a review, an editorial, or a letter to the editor, begin the entry by following the recommendations in 5.4 for citing works in print periodicals, but drop the medium of original publication (Print). A periodical article on the Web may not include page numbers. If possible, give the inclusive page numbers or, when pagination is not continuous, the first page number and a plus sign; if pagination is not available, use n. pag. Conclude the entry with the following items:

  • Title of the database (italicized)

  • Medium of publication consulted (Web)

  • Date of access (day, month, and year)

Closing tips

  • When you have a question, look up the answer! Never just take the chance of guessing, and never, ever fabricate an answer or style!

  • If you are a student with questions and you cannot find the answer, utilize the Writing Lab or ask your professor.

Closing Tips

Any questions

Any Questions?

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