How to Cite in MLA Format - A Complete Guide With Examples

Written by

Mark Robert

9 mins read
MLA format

When you write a research paper or essay, it is important to follow the proper citation guidelines. This includes properly citing your sources both in-text and at the end of your work in MLA format.

Different citation styles allow your reader to fully understand the information and arguments you are presenting and verify that you have done your research.

This complete guide will show you how to cite in MLA format step by step, with plenty of examples. So whether you're a beginner or already hve some knowledge about the style, you can master MLA citation style with ease!

What Is an MLA Citation Format?

The scholarly MLA format is defined in the Modern Language Association's handbook. It's used primarily by students, teachers, and researchers of literature.

Citing your sources makes it easier for your reader to navigate your paper. It also helps to keep track of the evidence you have presented.

It differs from other formats as it is intended as a source of detailed information on sources.

An MLA citation style paper does not have a title page, but some students like to include it. Unlike the APA format, MLA citations and references include the author’s last name and the page number.

It is a system for referencing your sources in parenthetical citations at appropriate points of discussion. This will help you keep track and verify information throughout each assignment so that it can be accurately cited when needed!

(back to top)

How to Do MLA Format?

MLA format is distinct from other citation and reference styles. It places emphasis on listing the author’s name and the source’s page number.

MLA Format Title Page

In contrast to other referencing styles, an MLA paper does not have a separate title or cover page.

If your professor asks you to make the title page separately, follow the example below.

MLA Format Title Page

MLA Format Heading

Since an MLA format paper does not include a separate title page, it has a header or top heading on the first page. The heading, or the header, contains:

  • The student’s full name
  • The teacher’s full name
  • The name and number of the course
  • The assignment deadline

To make the right MLA header, follow the below instructions:

  • Type your full name and position it 1 inch from the left margin and at the top of the page
  • Beneath your name, add a double space
  • Add the name of your teacher
  • Add your course name
  • Add the deadline of your assignment
  • Follow double space throughout the heading

Follow the instructions closely and make sure that you add the correct details.

MLA Format Works Cited

MLA’s page of references is regarded as ‘Works Cited’ instead of ‘References’. As of its latest 8th edition MLA handbook, you will format your MLA style paper references in the following way:

  • Author’s name
  • Website’s title
  • Journal or article’s title
  • Publishing date (if available)
  • The URL
  • Place the name of the author in the reverse order
  • The last name first
  • Follow it with a comma
  • Then the 1st name is followed by a period
  • Use italics font for writing the title of the website
  • All entries in alphabetical order

MLA Format In-Text Citation

The in-text citation is added whenever you add a quote or paraphrased content in your paper. How to do it correctly? In the case of one writer, add the last name of the writer in the parenthesis, like:


What to do if a website has more than one author? For two authors, take a look at the following example written in MLA format:

    “Wadhwa, Vivek, and Alex Salkever. “How Can We Make Technology Healthier for Humans?” Wired, Condé Nast, 26 June 2018,”

Put the name of both authors in the parenthesis.

(Wadhwa and Salkever).

How to write MLA format in-text citations for more than 2 authors? Only include the 1st author’s last name. For rest, et al. will serve the purpose.

(Wadhwa, et al.)

MLA Format Bibliography

Works Cited and MLA bibliography formats are not the same. A bibliography is a list of sources recommended by the writer for reading. However, the bibliography does not have a different referencing style of structure.

The only difference is that where the ‘References’ or ‘Works Cited’ only include the works that are used in the works. The bibliography includes all the works that the writer has consulted or read when writing the essay or the paper.

MLA Bibliography Format

MLA Format Annotated Bibliography

An annotated bibliography is different from a simple list of ‘References’ or ‘Works Cited’. Along with the references, the annotated bibliography also includes a critique of the reference. When making the said bibliography, you add the reference followed by a critique of the reference.

Often, the annotated bibliography is required before starting with the research paper. Professors want to see the sources that you are planning to use in your paper. To help you understand and write a correct and proper annotated bibliography, follow the below tips:

  1. Every annotation should comprise 6-7 sentences.
  2. Each line must be double spaced.
  3. When the list of citations is long, organize it by topic.
  4. Always use the third person voice.

Annotated bibliographies demand critical analysis. To write a good and helpful annotated bibliography, investigate the author’s point of view, search for flaws, strengths, negatives, and positives, and explain how the original source is helpful for the research.

MLA Format Margins

What makes the paper look sleek and elegant? Margins! In MLA papers, 1-inch margins are used around the page. Word processing programs set the default to the 1-inch margins.

If not, check the settings and locate the margin size.

Margins, headers, font, and spacing are the building blocks of a perfectly crafted paper in any format, including the MLA style.

MLA Format Date

The publication date and year are added in an MLA format. Besides, year and month, it also includes season.

For Example:

(27 Jan. 2018).

(Spring 2018).

If the month, year, and day are there, cite them all.

MLA Footnote Format

MLA style allows users to showcase the footnotes. Extensive notes are strictly discouraged in MLA format. Indicate footnotes in-text by Arabic number:

“They argued politics is discriminatory.6”

(back to top)

How to Cite Quotes in MLA Format?

Do you use quotes in research papers? You can directly quote or paraphrase them. However, learning the technique to use these quotes is an important part of citing. The right way of doing it is to use them to support your claims and arguments.

Many students make the mistake of adding the quotes first and adding the arguments later. Your essay is your work and quotes should only be used to support and prove your claims, not the other way around.

Do not let them eat up the majority and the main part of your paper. And to avoid plagiarism and content theft, always cite the quotes. Whether you are adding them as it is or paraphrasing them, always cite the source. It is similar to taking something from someone and not telling him about it; it's stealing.

You can cite the MLA format quotes in either of the following ways:

  1. Use the name of the person in the sentence.
  2. Add the whole quote and add the name of the person at the end, in the parenthesis.
  3. For larger quotes, use block quotes.

(back to top)

MLA Format Outline

MLA 9th edition does not have definite guidelines for the MLA format outline. If the teacher asks for one, use:

  • Roman numerals
  • Lowercase and capital letters
  • Numbers
  • For suffixes, also use Roman numerals
  • Ramses III
  • King George IV

MLA Format Essay

Once you learn the basics, you are ready to write your essay in this format. Below are some helpful tips that will keep you on track:

  • The text must be double spaced.
  • The font size for the MLA format should be 12pt. and format must be Times New Roman.
  • Leave one space after punctuation marks or periods.
  • Set 1-inch margins on all sides of the document.
  • The 1st line indent of the paragraphs should be a half-inch from the left margin. Do the same for the subsequent line. (Push the TAB key for a hanging indent)
  • For titles, use italics throughout the MLA format for your paper.
  • In the case of endnotes, mention them on another page than the Works Cited list page.

MLA Format Example

MLA style can be tricky to handle. The best technique is to follow the instructions of the professor. At times, he may give you some guidelines for proper formatting. Have a look at the example below to get a better understanding.

MLA Sample

(back to top)

MLA Format for Different Types of Sources

The following is a list of formats that can be used for various types of sources, such as books and websites.

MLA Format Book

Citations are a necessary part of academic writing. Citing books can be tricky, though! Here's what you need to know about getting it right.

  1. Author(s)
  2. Publication information
  3. The book’s title

    James, Henry. The Ambassadors. Rockville: Serenity, 2009. Google books. Web. 16 Mar. 2010.

The same MLA format is followed for each book.

While writing in-text citations, add the page number of the book with the name of the author:

(Jones 134)

MLA Format Website

To know how to cite a website in MLA format, learn from the below example:

“McNary, Dave. “Keanu Reeves, Alex Winter Returning for ‘Bill and Ted Face the Music.’” Variety, Penske Media Corporation, 8 May 2018,”

(back to top)

MLA Research Paper Format

MLA format is the most common and preferred writing style for researching in some subjects. These subjects include literature, history, and other humanities subjects. It allows students to include all their cited works with detailed explanations of how they were sourced.

The key to getting good grades is formatting. If you want your teacher's appreciation, ensure that the research paper has proper formatting and avoid any mistakes at all costs! We've given some helpful MLA research paper tips below:

  • Use 12 point font size for your paper’s font
  • Your paper font can be Times New Roman or Arial
  • To differentiate any text, use italics
  • Make use of 8½ x 11” paper, white in color
  • Keep 1-inch margins on all four sides of the paper
  • Each paragraph should be indented. This means that the first word of each paragraph should be one-half inch indented
  • Indent the quotations marks one inch from the top left side of the paper
  • Leave one space after periods and other punctuation marks
  • Use double-spacing throughout the paper, including your Works Cited page

For a paper to be perfect and A-grade worthy, it needs proper formatting.

MLA Style Research Paper Sample

When you're writing a paper, it can be difficult to figure out the best way. We know how hard this is because we've been there too! That's why our team of professionals is here for all your needs - from finding sources and formatting documents accurately. You won't regret working with us.

Let help to write academic papers that can get you top grades! We have professional writers who are highly trained and experienced in writing excellent papers. So, don't hesitate - order a well-written custom paper today according to your specified format or deadline.

© 2022 - All rights reserved