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MLA FORMAT. Modern Language Association Crash Course. What if there were no rules in golf?. What if there were no rules in hockey?. Even worse, what if there were no rules for playing Guitar Hero ???. WORST OF ALL, what if there were no rules for writing research papers?!. GASP!.

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mla format


Modern Language Association

Crash Course


People would write all kind of gobbledygook and it would be different in California and Arkansas and Maine and Minnesota . . . Plagiarism would be rampant because no one would know how to give credit . . . What a mess!

mla crash course for your paper
MLA Crash Course for your Paper:

Setting Up Your Paper

In-Text Citations

Works Cited Page

1 mla paper setup
1. MLA Paper Setup

No title page

4-line header in upper left corner

1-inch margins

12-point font (Arial or Times, please)

Double-spacing throughout

Last Name and Page numbers in upper right corner

2 mla in text citations
2. MLA In-Text Citations

You can summarize (condense).

You can paraphrase (put in your own words).

You can quote word-for-word using quotation marks.

plagiarism can happen accidentally it s still plagiarism always give credit to your sources
Plagiarism can happen accidentally. It’s still plagiarism!Always give credit to your sources!

Let’s say a fellow student has researched and written a book about taking standardized tests. You especially like a short section of the book that claims schools should follow hakuna matata when it comes to testing. How could you use this info in your paper without plagiarizing?

you have three options for in text citations
You have three options for in-text citations:

QUOTATION: Most students find standardized tests to be “no more taxing than a trip to the doctor’s office” (Burkel 23).

SUMMARY: The results of the study show that students may become nervous right before the test; however, the effects of testing are short-lived and are not a cause for concern (Burkel 27).

PARAPHRASE: Well-known writer Beth Burkel reports that standardized testing in today’s high schools should not worry school officials (23).


Can you identify where the punctuation goes in a citation? Try it on this direct quotation:

Simply slowing down helps many to do better on tests (Burkel 28)

If your work does not have a listed author, you can use a shortened form of the title in quotations instead, like this:

Students who use neon pink pencils often score higher than those who use pastel pink (“MCA Success” 17).


If you use a direct quotation that is longer than four lines, you’ll need a block quote. A block quote is indented one tab from the left margin (this replaces the quotation marks you would usually use) and the end punctuation is BEFORE the citation rather than after:

Motivational speaker Brandon Parker suggests the following tips for testing:

What you need to do first, gang, is get enough sleep. I always clock 10 hours before a big test. Then I get up and eat a balanced breakfast complete with orange juice, a banana, and two bran muffins. I also think positive thoughts as I drive to school. (67)

if your source has no page numbers
If your source has no page numbers…

Sometimes there are not page numbers on electronic sources that you print out (do not use the ones the printer puts on).

For these sources, you can count paragraphs instead and use “par.” preceded by a comma in your citation, like this:

“Filling in bubbles well is a skill” (Parker, par. 5).


These are the common questions about in-text citations. If you run into more questions, we’ll look them up together in an MLA handbook. Believe me, it covers everything!

3 works cited page
3. Works Cited Page

This page is the last page (yes, on its own page) of your paper and contains full reference info for your sources.

You include this page so readers can match up in-text citations with full citations and find your sources!

To appear on the list, sources MUST be cited within your paper.

works cited page con t
Works Cited Page (con’t)

Begin with the centered heading “Works Cited” in normal, 12-point font.

Everything is double-spaced, just like within your paper.

Alphabetize your entries by the author’s last name (or by the title you used in the text if there is no author).

works cited page con t1
Works Cited Page (con’t)

There is a special format for each entry, depending on what kind of a source it is. Magazines, newspapers, music, interviews, DVDs, books … they’re all cited differently!

shanenko orlo personal interview 17 april 2008

Let’s do the personal interview citation for your works cited page together. Let’s say I interviewed my husband’s grandfather, Orlo Shanenko, to learn his story of stowing away from Russia. It would look like this:

Shanenko, Orlo. Personal Interview. 17 April 2008.


Well, that was easy! How about citing a magazine? Hey, did you read that article about wrestling the other day in Sports Illustrated?

Lane, Dusty. “Easy Moves for the Beginner.” Sports Illustrated.17 April 2008: 24-30.

wait i think noah gable was also an author how do you do two authors

Wait, I think Noah Gable was also an author! How do you do TWO authors?

Lane, Dusty, and Noah Gable. “Easy Moves for the Beginner.” Sports Illustrated. 17 April 2008: 24-30.


So far, so good. Did you see how every line after the first was indented in that last entry? And did you notice the date format begins with the day, then month, then year? That’s MLA for ya.

what about citing an internet source on your works cited page
What about citing an internet source on your works cited page?

Note: Only use reputable sources from school-recommended databases. I will not count wikipedia or most websites as sources.

You will need to include as much reference information as you can so your reader can get back to the site you used.


Shhhh…..the secret’s out! Many professional databases will provide you with an MLA citation that you can copy down! Copy away, but be sure to add any missing pieces. Here’s a typical online citation:Cariveau, Hallie, and Amy Thompson. “Making Orange Juliuses Without Ice.” Easy Blending 15 April 2008: 11-12. Proquest. Senior High Library, East Grand Forks, MN. 17 April 2008 <>.


MLA is a picky format, but it is easy to follow. Don’t try to memorize it; instead, keep a handout or trusty handbook by your side and look things up when you have questions!