Writing with MLA Style
Congratulations to the students whose essays were selected for the 2023 edition of Writing with MLA Style! Essays were selected as examples of excellent student writing that use MLA style for citing sources. Essays have been lightly edited.
If your institution subscribes to MLA Handbook Plus , you can access annotated versions of the essays selected in 2022 and 2023.
Writing with MLA Style: 2023 Edition
The following essays were selected for the 2023 edition of Writing with MLA Style. The 2023 selection committee was composed of Ellen C. Carillo, University of Connecticut (chair); Rachel Ihara, Kingsborough Community College, City University of New York; and Tarshia L. Stanley, Wagner College.
Caroline Anderson (Pepperdine University)
“ L’Appel du Vide : Making Spaces for Sinful Exploration in The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde ”
Hunter Daniels (University of South Carolina, Aiken)
“Biblical Legalism and Cultural Misogyny in The Tragedy of Mariam ”
Aspen English (Southern Utah University)
“Putting the ‘Comm’ in Comics: A Communication-Theory-Informed Reading of Graphic Narratives”
Raul Martin (Lamar University)
“The Book-Object Binary: Access and Sustainability in the Academic Library”
Grace Quasebarth (Salve Regina University)
“Finding a Voice: The Loss of Machismo Criticisms through Translation in Isabel Allende’s The House of the Spirits ”
Writing with MLA Style: 2022 Edition
The following essays were selected for the 2022 edition of Writing with MLA Style. The 2022 selection committee was composed of Ellen C. Carillo, University of Connecticut; Jessica Edwards, University of Delaware (chair); and Deborah H. Holdstein, Columbia College Chicago.
Kaile Chu (New York University, Shanghai)
“Miles Apart: An Investigation into Dedicated Online Communities’ Impact on Cultural Bias”
Sietse Hagen (University of Groningen)
“The Significance of Fiction in the Debate on Dehumanizing Media Portrayals of Refugees”
Klara Ismail (University of Exeter)
“Queering the Duchess: Exploring the Body of the Female Homosexual in John Webster’s The Duchess of Malfi ”
Yasmin Mendoza (Whittier College)
“Banning without Bans”
Niki Nassiri (Stony Brook University)
“Modern-Day US Institutions and Slavery in the Twenty-First Century”
Samantha Wilber (Palm Beach Atlantic University)
“‘Pero, tu no eres facil’: The Poet X as Multicultural Bildungsroman”
Writing with MLA Style: 2019 Edition
The following essays were selected for the 2019 edition of Writing with MLA Style. The 2019 selection committee was composed of Jessica Edwards, University of Delaware; Deborah H. Holdstein, Columbia College Chicago (chair); and Liana Silva, César E. Chavez High School, Houston, Texas.
Catherine Charlton (University of King’s College, Nova Scotia)
“‘Coal Is in My Blood’: Public and Private Representations of Community Identity in Springhill, Nova Scotia”
Alyiah Gonzales (California Polytechnic State University)
“Disrupting White Normativity in Langston Hughes’s ‘I, Too’ and Toni Morrison’s ‘Recitatif’”
Meg Matthias (Miami University, Ohio)
“Prescriptions of (Living) Historical Happiness: Gendered Performance and Racial Comfort in Reenactment”
Jennifer Nguyen (Chaminade University of Honolulu)
“The Vietnam War, the American War: Literature, Film, and Popular Memory”
Emily Schlepp (Northwest University)
“A Force of Love: A Deconstructionist Reading of Characters in Dickens’s Great Expectations ”
Home / MLA Sample Paper
MLA Sample Paper
Mla sample paper #1.
If you’ve been wondering how to produce a research paper that is strong in both formatting and writing, you’ve come to the right place.
Check out our first sample paper below. It is a helpful and clearly labeled visual aid to refer to. Note that while these sample papers do not include MLA abstracts , you should check with your instructor to see if an abstract should be included.
Visual Sample Paper
The example research paper below is one that was written in college for a course on the Inklings. The Inklings were a group of writers in England before WWII, including C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien.
The abbreviated MLA paper below (linked here without annotations) is about J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings and how the author used myth, story, and song to link all of his works together. Tolkien is famous for creating a fantasy universe called Middle-earth, which readers can’t truly understand until they read all of the books about Middle-earth ( The Silmarillian, The Hobbit, and The Lord of the Rings ).
Since we’re here to learn how to format an essay, we’ve pointed out some important things about the paper to help you write a correctly formatted essay.
For starters, the essay is in MLA format. That means it follows the style manual of the Modern Language Association, which tells you how to format the paper itself and every source you cite. You’ll also see notes like how long a paragraph should be, how to use commas properly, and how to correctly punctuate a title. Some of these guidelines are different from those in APA format , so be sure to confirm you are using the correct style in your paper.
Pay special attention to the MLA format works cited. We only used one type of source (books), but both citations are correct according to the 9th edition of MLA, published in 2021. When you’re writing your own paper, you need to make sure you always use the most recent edition of the style manual. You’ll also want to check with your instructor to see if you need to include an MLA annotated bibliography with your paper, which contains additional information summarizing and evaluating each source after the regular citation.
Whether you need MLA, APA citations , or Chicago style notes, look up the latest edition before turning in a paper.
MLA Sample Paper #2
See below for an example paper or click below to download it as a Word Document.
The MLA header should be one inch from the top and left margins. The heading and the entire paper should be double spaced.
Eli YaffarabeProfessor Rapheor
28 August 2018
Privatization of Prisons in Texas
The privatization of governmental services has increased dramatically in the past decade as local, state, and federal agencies have searched for ways to cut costs while still meeting their mandated responsibility to provide various public services. This privatizing trend has particularly affected the criminal justice system. Since the early 1990s, privatized correctional facilities have increased significantly, nationally and statewide. This policy has far-ranging consequences not only within the criminal justice system, but as an instructive example for government officials when considering the costs and benefits of privatization as a public policy option. By 2001, thirty states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico had privately-operated correctional facilities (Austin and Coventry 4). This movement has incited considerable debate and controversy, mainly because prison privatization calls for giving the private sector direct control over the lives of a captive human population.
Surprisingly, there has been little objective and concrete analysis of the privatization of prisons in the United States. This is probably for two reasons: first, ideological arguments on the matter have pushed out substantive research, and second, because this trend has only recently accelerated in the U.S. and mainly on a state level. However, case studies and statistics at the state level are more accessible. With capacity for over 30,000 prisoners in 43 facilities, the state of Texas has privatized more of its prison system than any state in the nation (McDonald and Patten Jr. iv).
Public policy concerning the criminal justice system has become more daunting and important in the last decade. The problems in the system are twofold: an overcrowding prison population, mainly due to “three strikes” legislation and reducing early parole; and the costs of operating prisons with this growing population (Austin and Coventry). According to the most recent U.S. Department of Justice survey, slightly over 2.2 million people were incarcerated in correctional facilities in this country in 2003. In comparison, in 1993, 1.37 million people were imprisoned in this country (Beck and Harrison 1).
At the same time, the growth of privately operated correctional facilities has increased significantly in this country. Private prisons now hold 95,522 inmates in this country, which is 6.5 percent of total prisoners (Beck and Harrison 5). In Texas, 16,570 inmates (10 percent of its prison population) are held in private facilities, about 10,000 more than the next highest state. Furthermore, six states had at least 25 percent of their prison population housed in private prisons, led by New Mexico (44%), Alaska (31%), and Montana (29%). These current statistics show that while state governments have been forced to manage and operate overcrowded and over-capacity prisons at considerable costs, many have turned to the private sector to operate prisons (McDonald and Patten Jr.). According to the General Accounting Office, prison operating costs have grown steadily since 1980, increasing almost 550 percent since 1980 based on inflation-adjusted dollars (Austin and Coventry 1).
Prison privatization started in the early 1980s, ostensibly to ease the burden on taxpayers by offering financial relief to private companies to run state prisons. Thomas Beasley founded Corrections Corporation of America in 1983, “the nation’s leader in the construction and management of private prisons” (Darling). That year, Corrections Corporation of America set up the first privately-operated prison in Tennessee. Since then, the number of private
correctional facility firms has grown to 14 (Austin and Coventry 3). The privatization of prisons occurs in two ways. First, state government can contract out (or outsource) specific services in a correctional facility to a private company after a bidding process. Second, and more radically, private companies build their own privately-managed prisons and contract with state governments to house their inmates. This latter approach, giving private correctional facility firms wide latitude over inmates, is taken in the Texas criminal justice system. In fact, many of these privately operated facilities “have no relationship at all with the state governments in these states, other than an obligation to pay corporate income taxes” (McDonald and Patten Jr. v).
(Due to its length, the remainder of this sample paper is omitted).
Works Cited Page
Austin, James, and Garry Coventry. Emerging Issues on Privatized Prisons . Bureau of Justice Assistance, Feb. 2001, www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/bja/181249.pdf.
Beck, Allen J., and Paige Harrison. Prisoners in 2003 . Bureau of Justice Statistics, Nov. 2004, www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/p03.pdf.
McDonald, Douglas, and Carl Patten Jr. Governments’ Management of Private Prisons . Abt Associates, 15 Sept. 2003, www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/grants/203968.pdf.
Darling, Michael. “Pitt News: University of Pittsburgh Shouldn’t Lend Its Name to Prison Privatization.” CorpWatch , 15 Nov. 2004, corpwatch.org/article/pitt-news-univeristy-pittsburgh-shouldnt-lend-its-name-prison-privatization.
MLA Formatting Guide
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- Magazine Article
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- Website (no author)
- View all MLA Examples
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An in-text citation is a short citation that is placed next to the text being cited. The basic element needed for an in-text citation is the author’s name . The publication year is not required in in-text citations. Sometimes, page numbers or line numbers are also included, especially when text is quoted from the source being cited. In-text citations are mentioned in the text in two ways: as a citation in prose or a parenthetical citation.
Citation in prose
Citations in prose are incorporated into the text and act as a part of the sentence. Usually, citations in prose use the author’s full name when cited the first time in the text. Thereafter, only the surname is used. Avoid including the middle initial even if it is present in the works-cited-list entry. An example of the first citation in prose for a source with one author is given below:
Doug Barry explains the status of the UK.
Parenthetical citations add only the author’s surname at the end of the sentence in parentheses. An example of a parenthetical citation is given below:
The status of the UK is explained (Barry).
Examples of in-text citations
Here are a few examples of in-text citations for works with various numbers and types of authors:
Use both the first name and surname of the author if you are mentioning the author for the first time in the prose. In subsequent occurrences, use only the author’s surname. Always use only the author’s surname in parenthetical citations.
Citation in prose:
First mention: Stephen George asserts …. (17).
Subsequent occurrences: George argues …. (17).
…. (George 17).
Use the first name and surname of both authors if you are mentioning the work for the first time in the prose. In subsequent occurrences, use only the surnames of the two authors. Always use only the authors’ surnames in parenthetical citations. Use “and” to separate the two authors in parenthetical citations.
First mention: Kane Williams and Clark Ronald ….
Subsequent occurrences: Williams and Ronald ….
…. (Williams and Ronald).
Three or more authors
For citations in prose, use the first name and surname of the first author followed by “and others” or “and colleagues.” For parenthetical citations, use only the surname of the first author followed by “et al.”
Krishnan Sethu and colleagues…. or Krishnan Sethu and others ….
…. (Sethu et al.).
For citations in prose, treat the corporate author like you would treat the author’s name. For parenthetical citations, shorten the organization name to the shortest noun phrase. For example, shorten the Modern Language Association of America to Modern Language Association.
The Language Literary Association of Canada….
…. (Language Literary Association).
If there is no author for the source, use the source’s title in place of the author’s name for both citations in prose and parenthetical citations.
When you add such in-text citations, italicize the text of the title. If the source title is longer than a noun phrase, use a shortened version of the title. For example, shorten the title Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them to Fantastic Beasts .
Endgame explains …. (121).
…. ( Endgame 121).
In MLA style, two types of citations are used to cite a source: a short citation used within the text (called the in-text citation) and a full citation (called the works cited list entry) within the works cited list, which appears at the end of a paper.
The works cited list entry provides the complete details of a source. An in-text citation is a short citation that is placed next to the text being cited. The in-text citation lets the reader know that the information is derived from the cited source, and helps the reader find the full citation within the works cited list.
In order to properly cite a source in MLA style, you must have both citation types in your paper. Every in-text citation has a works cited list entry. Every works cited list entry has at least one (maybe more) corresponding in-text citation.
The basic element needed for an in-text citation is the author’s surname . The publication year is not required in in-text citations. Sometimes, page numbers or line numbers are also included, especially when text is quoted from the source being cited.
First mention: Sian Anderson studies ….
Subsequent occurrences: Anderson analyzes ….
or if quoting directly:
First mention: Paul Fin and Anna Gabriel ….
Subsequent occurrences: Fin and Gabriel ….
….(Fin and Gabriel)
…(Fin and Gabriel 27)
Paul Hill and colleagues…. or Paul Hill and others ….
….(Hill et al.)
…(Hill et al. 138)
Examples of works cited list entries
Below are a few examples of different types of works cited list entries. The examples given are for one author.
Steinman, Louise. The Knowing Body: Elements of Contemporary Performance and Dance . Shambhala Publications, 1986.
Barad, K. “Nature’s Queer Performativity.” Qui Parle , vol. 19, no. 2, 2011, pp. 121–58.
Webpage of a website
Midgelow, Vida L. “Experiences and Perceptions of the Artistic Doctorate: A Survey Report.” Artistic Doctorates in Europe, 5 Feb. 2018, www.artisticdoctorates.com/2017/12/28/experiences-and-perceptions-of-the-artistic-doctorate-survey-report/ .
“Behind the Scenes Chili’s Baby Back Ribs Spot.” YouTube , uploaded by Alvin Chea, 11 Sept. 2017, www.youtube.com/watch?v=gTDLh7gNRYA .
MLA Citation Examples
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MLA Style specifies guidelines for formatting manuscripts and citing research in writing. MLA Style also provides writers with a system for referencing their sources through parenthetical citation in their essays and Works Cited pages.
Writers who properly use MLA also build their credibility by demonstrating accountability to their source material. Most importantly, the use of MLA style can protect writers from accusations of plagiarism, which is the purposeful or accidental uncredited use of source material produced by other writers.
If you are asked to use MLA format, be sure to consult the MLA Handbook (9th edition). Publishing scholars and graduate students should also consult the MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing (3rd edition). The MLA Handbook is available in most writing centers and reference libraries. It is also widely available in bookstores, libraries, and at the MLA web site. See the Additional Resources section of this page for a list of helpful books and sites about using MLA Style.
The preparation of papers and manuscripts in MLA Style is covered in part four of the MLA Style Manual . Below are some basic guidelines for formatting a paper in MLA Style :
- Type your paper on a computer and print it out on standard, white 8.5 x 11-inch paper.
- Double-space the text of your paper and use a legible font (e.g. Times New Roman). Whatever font you choose, MLA recommends that the regular and italics type styles contrast enough that they are each distinct from one another. The font size should be 12 pt.
- Leave only one space after periods or other punctuation marks (unless otherwise prompted by your instructor).
- Set the margins of your document to 1 inch on all sides.
- Indent the first line of each paragraph one half-inch from the left margin. MLA recommends that you use the “Tab” key as opposed to pushing the space bar five times.
- Create a header that numbers all pages consecutively in the upper right-hand corner, one-half inch from the top and flush with the right margin. (Note: Your instructor may ask that you omit the number on your first page. Always follow your instructor's guidelines.)
- Use italics throughout your essay to indicate the titles of longer works and, only when absolutely necessary, provide emphasis.
- If you have any endnotes, include them on a separate page before your Works Cited page. Entitle the section Notes (centered, unformatted).
Formatting the First Page of Your Paper
- Do not make a title page for your paper unless specifically requested or the paper is assigned as a group project. In the case of a group project, list all names of the contributors, giving each name its own line in the header, followed by the remaining MLA header requirements as described below. Format the remainder of the page as requested by the instructor.
- In the upper left-hand corner of the first page, list your name, your instructor's name, the course, and the date. Again, be sure to use double-spaced text.
- Double space again and center the title. Do not underline, italicize, or place your title in quotation marks. Write the title in Title Case (standard capitalization), not in all capital letters.
- Use quotation marks and/or italics when referring to other works in your title, just as you would in your text. For example: Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas as Morality Play; Human Weariness in "After Apple Picking"
- Double space between the title and the first line of the text.
- Create a header in the upper right-hand corner that includes your last name, followed by a space with a page number. Number all pages consecutively with Arabic numerals (1, 2, 3, 4, etc.), one-half inch from the top and flush with the right margin. (Note: Your instructor or other readers may ask that you omit the last name/page number header on your first page. Always follow instructor guidelines.)
Here is a sample of the first page of a paper in MLA style:
The First Page of an MLA Paper
Writers sometimes use section headings to improve a document’s readability. These sections may include individual chapters or other named parts of a book or essay.
MLA recommends that when dividing an essay into sections you number those sections with an Arabic number and a period followed by a space and the section name.
MLA does not have a prescribed system of headings for books (for more information on headings, please see page 146 in the MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing , 3rd edition). If you are only using one level of headings, meaning that all of the sections are distinct and parallel and have no additional sections that fit within them, MLA recommends that these sections resemble one another grammatically. For instance, if your headings are typically short phrases, make all of the headings short phrases (and not, for example, full sentences). Otherwise, the formatting is up to you. It should, however, be consistent throughout the document.
If you employ multiple levels of headings (some of your sections have sections within sections), you may want to provide a key of your chosen level headings and their formatting to your instructor or editor.
Sample Section Headings
The following sample headings are meant to be used only as a reference. You may employ whatever system of formatting that works best for you so long as it remains consistent throughout the document.
Level 1 Heading: bold, flush left
Level 2 Heading: italics, flush left
Level 3 Heading: centered, bold
Level 4 Heading: centered, italics
Level 5 Heading: underlined, flush left
Citation & Documentation
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- MLA Sample Paper This is a performative sample essay that talks you through the proper formatting of your paper in MLA 9th citation style.
- MLA Sample Paper #2 Click on the document above to open a sample paper in MLA format from the DSC Writing Center's MLA Guide.
- MLA Sample Paper #3 This is a MLA-selected example paper with great usage of in-text citations, pictures, research, and thoughtful writing.
- More Sample Papers Additional high-quality sample papers from the MLA Style Blog demonstrating MLA formatting, usage of sources, and organizing an argument.
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MLA Sample Papers
Causal Argumentative Essay (9th edition)
Classification and Division Essay From a Beginning Writing Class (8th edition)
Compare and Contrast Essay From a Beginning Writing Class (9th edition)
Compare and Contrast Essay From a Literature Course (8th edition)
Definition Argumentative Essay (9th edition)
Definition Essay From a Literature Course (8th edition)
Description Essay From a Beginning Writing Class (8th edition)
Multiple Rhetorical Styles Within One Essay From an Introductory Writing Course (8th edition)
Narrative Argumentative Essay (8th edition)
Narrative Essay From a Beginning Writing Class (8th edition)
Rhetorical Analysis (8th edition)
Toulmin Argumentative Essay (8th edition)
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MLA Format | Complete Guidelines & Free Template
Published on December 11, 2019 by Raimo Streefkerk . Revised on June 16, 2022 by Jack Caulfield.
The MLA Handbook provides guidelines for creating MLA citations and formatting academic papers. This quick guide will help you set up your MLA format paper in no time.
Start by applying these MLA format guidelines to your document:
- Times New Roman 12
- 1″ page margins
- Double line spacing
- ½” indent for new paragraphs
- Title case capitalization for headings
Download Word template Open Google Docs template
(To use the Google Docs template, copy the file to your Drive by clicking on ‘file’ > ‘Make a copy’)
Table of contents
How to set up mla format in google docs, header and title, running head, works cited page, creating mla style citations, headings and subheadings, tables and figures, frequently asked questions about mla format.
The header in MLA format is left-aligned on the first page of your paper. It includes
- Your full name
- Your instructor’s or supervisor’s name
- The course name or number
- The due date of the assignment
After the MLA header, press ENTER once and type your paper title. Center the title and don’t forget to apply title-case capitalization. Read our article on writing strong titles that are informative, striking and appropriate.
For a paper with multiple authors, it’s better to use a separate title page instead.
At the top of every page, including the first page, you need to include your last name and the page number. This is called the “running head.” Follow these steps to set up the MLA running head in your Word or Google Docs document:
- Double-click at the top of a page
- Type your last name
- Insert automatic page numbering
- Align the content to the right
The running head should look like this:
The Works Cited list is included on a separate page at the end of your paper. You list all the sources you referenced in your paper in alphabetical order. Don’t include sources that weren’t cited in the paper, except potentially in an MLA annotated bibliography assignment.
Place the title “Works Cited” in the center at the top of the page. After the title, press ENTER once and insert your MLA references.
If a reference entry is longer than one line, each line after the first should be indented ½ inch (called a hanging indent ). All entries are double spaced, just like the rest of the text.
Generate accurate MLA citations with Scribbr
Prefer to cite your sources manually? Use the interactive example below to see what the Works Cited entry and MLA in-text citation look like for different source types.
Headings and subheadings are not mandatory, but they can help you organize and structure your paper, especially in longer assignments.
MLA has only a few formatting requirements for headings. They should
- Be written in title case
- Be left-aligned
- Not end in a period
We recommend keeping the font and size the same as the body text and applying title case capitalization. In general, boldface indicates greater prominence, while italics are appropriate for subordinate headings.
Tip: Both Google Docs and Microsoft Word allow you to create heading levels that help you to keep your headings consistent.
Tables and other illustrations (referred to as “figures”) should be placed as close to the relevant part of text as possible. MLA also provides guidelines for presenting them.
MLA format for tables
Tables are labeled and numbered, along with a descriptive title. The label and title are placed above the table on separate lines; the label and number appear in bold.
A caption providing information about the source appears below the table; you don’t need one if the table is your own work.
Below this, any explanatory notes appear, marked on the relevant part of the table with a superscript letter. The first line of each note is indented; your word processor should apply this formatting automatically.
Just like in the rest of the paper, the text is double spaced and you should use title case capitalization for the title (but not for the caption or notes).
MLA format for figures
Figures (any image included in your paper that isn’t a table) are also labeled and numbered, but here, this is integrated into the caption below the image. The caption in this case is also centered.
The label “Figure” is abbreviated to “Fig.” and followed by the figure number and a period. The rest of the caption gives either full source information, or (as in the example here) just basic descriptive information about the image (author, title, publication year).
Source information in table and figure captions
If the caption of your table or figure includes full source information and that source is not otherwise cited in the text, you don’t need to include it in your Works Cited list.
Give full source information in a caption in the same format as you would in the Works Cited list, but without inverting the author name (i.e. John Smith, not Smith, John).
MLA recommends using 12-point Times New Roman , since it’s easy to read and installed on every computer. Other standard fonts such as Arial or Georgia are also acceptable. If in doubt, check with your supervisor which font you should be using.
The main guidelines for formatting a paper in MLA style are as follows:
- Use an easily readable font like 12 pt Times New Roman
- Set 1 inch page margins
- Apply double line spacing
- Include a four-line MLA heading on the first page
- Center the paper’s title
- Indent every new paragraph ½ inch
- Use title case capitalization for headings
- Cite your sources with MLA in-text citations
- List all sources cited on a Works Cited page at the end
The fastest and most accurate way to create MLA citations is by using Scribbr’s MLA Citation Generator .
Search by book title, page URL, or journal DOI to automatically generate flawless citations, or cite manually using the simple citation forms.
The MLA Handbook is currently in its 9th edition , published in 2021.
This quick guide to MLA style explains the latest guidelines for citing sources and formatting papers according to MLA.
Usually, no title page is needed in an MLA paper . A header is generally included at the top of the first page instead. The exceptions are when:
- Your instructor requires one, or
- Your paper is a group project
In those cases, you should use a title page instead of a header, listing the same information but on a separate page.
Cite this Scribbr article
If you want to cite this source, you can copy and paste the citation or click the “Cite this Scribbr article” button to automatically add the citation to our free Citation Generator.
Streefkerk, R. (2022, June 16). MLA Format | Complete Guidelines & Free Template. Scribbr. Retrieved November 30, 2023, from https://www.scribbr.com/mla/formatting/
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MLA Format: A Complete Guide with Examples
Written by Scribendi
Your instructor has asked you to format your term paper using Modern Language Association (MLA) style. You feel confident enough to produce the paper, but you have never heard of MLA style. Don't panic—we've got you covered.
This article will explain MLA style citation, give examples of MLA formatting for specific aspects of references, provide an MLA format example for each category of source material, and share essay formatting tips that our editors have learned over the years.
You'll even find a free, downloadable MLA Works Cited example page for easy reference. So, if you have a general understanding of what MLA style is and are just looking for examples of MLA citations, we can help with that too!
Free MLA Cheat Sheet
What Is MLA Style?
MLA style is an accepted way to document source material for many types of humanities documents. Some would say it is simpler than other style guides, such as the APA Style Guide or the Chicago Manual of Style .
An MLA citation has two basic requirements:
Brief parenthetical citations in the text
An alphabetical list of the works cited that corresponds to the in-text citations and appears at the end of the paper
In simple terms, you refer to your source material in parentheses throughout the main text—then, at the end of your paper, you list all the sources to which you have referred, in alphabetical order.
Of course, there is so much more to MLA style and MLA formatting than just that. Indeed, the current version of the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers (7th Edition) runs to 292 pages! But here are the essential style and formatting points.
MLA Format Citation Example
To start, let's look at a basic example of how to format a citation in MLA.
Last Name, First Name. "Title of Webpage/Chapter/Article." Website/Book Title/Journal Title , edition used, vol. X, no. Y, Publisher,
Day Month Year of Publication, URL/location/page number.
This is MLA format at its simplest.
Why Use MLA Format (or Any Other)?
The main reason for carefully citing source material is to avoid allegations of plagiarism, which—derived from the Latin word for "kidnapping"—refers to stealing someone else's work. The MLA Handbook explains plagiarism in detail. You should feel free to use another person's words, facts, and thoughts in your research paper, but the material you borrow must not be presented as if it were your own creation.
When you write your research paper, remember that you must document everything that you borrow—not only direct quotations and paraphrases but also information and ideas. Our MLA citation guide will walk you through how to properly cite your sources using MLA style.
Who Uses MLA Citation Format?
MLA-style citation is commonly used by writers and students who create content in the humanities.
You'll often see it used for the following subject areas:
Language and literature
Using MLA's citation guide in these fields of study gives readers an easier option for navigating through your paper. In addition to making you look credible by neatly organizing your sources, MLA citation lends consistency to your work. It provides readers with the opportunity to easily find sources in your paper that interest them.
How to Use MLA Format
The early stages of producing a paper involve copious amounts of reading, research, and note-taking. At this point, it's easy to get confused about who said what. The best way to avoid getting confused right from the start is to keep your ideas, your summary of others' ideas, and direct transcriptions of text clearly marked and separate. Throughout our guide, we'll provide examples of MLA citation to give you a hand.
Make notes on the following elements for ease of reference and proper MLA citation later on:
Full title of each publication (from the title page, not the front cover)
City of publication (cite only the first city if there is more than one)
Date of publication
Volume and issue numbers, if available (for journals)
Page numbers you have referenced
Medium of publication or reception (print, web, radio, television, etc.)
Laying the groundwork during your research will make the citation process much easier later on.
MLA Citation Format
Because we know there are many ways to cite a reference in MLA, depending on what source you're using, we've compiled an extensive list of MLA citation examples below.
You'll find MLA citation examples for articles, books, images, interviews, journals, movies, and more to ensure you are citing your sources correctly.
We've done our best to be as thorough as possible. Review how to use in-text citations in MLA below or skip to the ones you need most!
How to Cite Two to Three Authors
If you're citing a book in MLA format with two or three authors, use the examples below to format your citation:
Bringham, Darrin E., and Sally Knope. Resting Heartbeat Science . 12th ed., Wiley, 2001.
Christopherson, Charles, Ronald Swanson, and Roger Koltz. Fog Pirates: On Board the USS Hammerhead . Putters, 2001.
Only the first author is listed by their last name followed by their first name. Any subsequent authors are written normally (first name then last name).
How to Cite More than Three Authors
When there are more than three authors to reference in MLA, format your citation using et al., as shown below:
Niderbacher, Leslie A., et al. Penne and the Jets: A Love Story . Partridge, 2003.
Note that only the first author is fully named, followed by et al.
Related: Learn more about How to Use Et Al. here.
How to Cite No Author
An MLA in-text citation with no author begins with the title . If your in-text citation has no author in MLA, you can also use the title in addition to the page number.
( Encyclopedia of Football 54)
How to Cite a Journal Article
Correct MLA article citation starts with finding good, credible articles. Try looking for peer-reviewed scholarly journal articles in free research databases such as CORE and ScienceOpen.
When searching for the best journals for your topic, try to steer clear of regular search engines like Google or Yahoo. Academic databases like JSTOR and Google Scholar are the best sources for scholarly, peer-reviewed articles .
MLA journal citation elements include the title of the work, author(s), and publication date. While this information is usually found on the first page of an article, its placement can vary. It may be at the top or bottom of the first page or, in the case of database articles, on the results page or the description page.
Related: Check out our list of 17 Research Databases for Free Articles .
MLA Citation for an Article
MLA Article Citation Examples
Lau, Frank. "Vitamin D Insufficiency is Prevalent in Severe COVID-19." Journal of Health , vol. 2, no. 5, Aug. 2020, pp. 34–27.
Kuehn, Bridget. "Hospitals Turn to Housing to Help Homeless Patients." JAMA , Feb. 2019, pp. 5–9.
MLA Website Article Citation Examples
Tomky, Naomi. "Explore the Oregon Coast—but don't touch the 'dragon toes.'" National Geographic , 23 Mar. 2022,
Gateley, Cheyne. "Netflix's Password Crackdown Will Be Tougher Than It Seems." Variety , 21 Mar. 2022,
Book Citation in MLA
If you're citing passages from a book using MLA, look at the title page of the book to find the information you need to cite the source. The title page can usually be found a couple of pages into the book. This is where you'll find the author(s), date, edition, title, editors (if any), place of publication, and publisher.
MLA Book Citation Examples
Schucman, Helen. A Course in Miracles. Edited by Robert Perry, The Circle of Atonement, Inc., 2017.
MLA Textbook Citation Examples
How to Cite an Image
Image citation in MLA requires you to first define what type of image you're sourcing. Is it an image you saw in person or an image from a website?
Asking yourself this question first will help you decide which format to use to cite your image. Let's look at a few examples below.
MLA Image Citation Examples
How to Cite an Image from a Website
To cite an image from a website in MLA, start with the image creator's last and first name, then add the image title, the website name , day, month, and year published, and the URL.
In the example below, there is no image title, so we're using a description of the image:
Yam, Marcus. Photograph of a man hurrying away from a building hit by Russian bombs. Los Angeles Times , 25 Mar. 2022,
Here is an example with an image title:
Clancy, Pat. "Foggy Sunrise." Flickr , 10 Mar. 2022,
MLA Citation: Interview
When citing an interview in MLA, the information you need can vary depending on the type of interview.
For example, if you're citing an interview printed in a magazine, you can find relevant citation information in the title or subtitle of the interview page.
For online interviews, the relevant information can be found on the site where the interview was published. Typically, in the title or near the name of the person who published the interview, you'll find the names of the interviewer and interviewee, as well as the date the interview was published.
Here are a few elements you'll need if you're citing an interview in MLA:
Interviewee's first and last name
Interviewer's first and last name
Periodical or journal title (if any)
Type of interview
Date the interview was conducted/published
URL of the interview (if online)
Page numbers of the interview (if in print)
In MLA, if you can't find the author of an interview you're trying to source, this information can be skipped. Instead, you can start your citation with the title of the interview in quotation marks. You can also skip the date of the interview if it is missing, but you should still include the access date if the interview is online.
If, for any reason, you also can't access the title of the interview, MLA allows you to replace the title with a short description. Let's look at a couple of examples below.
MLA Interview Citation Examples
How to Cite a Lecture
When citing a lecture in MLA, start with the speaker's last and first names, followed by the lecture title in quotes, then the course or event name, the day, month, and year, the institution, the location, and the word "Lecture." Below is an example of how to cite a lecture in MLA.
MLA Lecture Citation Example
How to Cite a Movie in MLA
If you need to cite a movie in MLA style, you'll need the title of the film, the director, any relevant contributors, the company that produced/distributed the film, and the release year. Be sure to add the words "Directed by" before the director's name, as you'll see in the examples below.
MLA Movie Citation Examples
How to Cite a Poem
To cite a poem in MLA, begin with listing the author's last name and first, then the poem's title in quotes, followed by the title of the book the poem was found in, and the publisher, year, and page number(s).
MLA Poem Citation Examples
Quotes in MLA Format
When you're using a quote, you're taking the exact words from an original source, so you need to make sure you're citing that source correctly.
In MLA format, quotes should be cited in the main text and on the Works Cited page. Your in-text citation will need the author's last name and the page number where you found the quote , while the Works Cited page will include the full citation. We've included examples of both MLA quote citation formats below.
MLA Short Quote Citation Examples
In-text citation example:
It appears that creating "businesses that diminish the quality of life and well-being of our citizens" (Williamson 109) will only make things worse.
Works Cited example:
Williamson, Marianne. A Politics of Love . Harper One, 2019.
MLA Format for Long Quotes
If you have to cite quotes longer than four lines in your paper, you'll want to use a block quote. The MLA format is the same on the Works Cited page for long and short quotes, but block quotes look different in the main text.
Block quotes are placed in a separate paragraph, indented 1 inch from the left margin. When using a block quote in text, include the last name of the author and page number(s) in parentheses after the closing punctuation at the end of the quote.
Note that block quotes are not enclosed in quotation marks.
How to Cite a Song in MLA
When citing a song in MLA, pay close attention to the medium you used to access it. If you heard the song on a CD or on a streaming service like Spotify, you'll want to include this in your reference.
For in-text citations of songs, you'll include your citation at the end of your paraphrased portion with the last name of the performer and the specific time stamp of the song. Other elements needed for the citation on the Works Cited page include the album name, label, and release date.
MLA Song Citation Examples
How to Cite a Video
An MLA citation for a YouTube video requires a few pieces of information, including the video creator's name, the title of the video, the website hosting the video, the name of the channel or uploader, the day, month , and year the video was published, and its URL.
Regardless of the platform from which you cite a video, MLA requires the same standard information, including the creator of the video, the title, where it was found, who uploaded it, the day, month, and year it was uploaded, and the URL.
How to Cite a Website in MLA
The MLA format for websites requires a few core elements, including the author, title of the source and container, relevant contributors, version, publisher, publication date in day-month-year format, and DOI or URL .
Some of this information can be omitted if it isn't available. See the examples below.
MLA Format for Websites
More about MLA Style and Format
Mla heading format.
When you're writing a paper in MLA format, headings go on the first page . Your heading should include the following information:
Course name or number
Your MLA heading goes in the upper left corner of your paper, double-spaced. Try not to confuse an MLA heading with an MLA header, which is in the upper right corner of every page of your paper and includes your last name and the page number.
MLA Format Heading Examples
Here are two example headings in MLA format for reference. Keep in mind that these should be double-spaced in your paper.
23 March 2022
25 February 2021
MLA In-Text Citation
In the next few sections, we'll look at MLA formatting for sources cited within the main text of your paper, also called in-text citations. In-text citations give your reader a clue about where to find the source you referenced in the Works Cited section at the end of your paper.
MLA format for books requires that you briefly acknowledge your sources in the main body of the text by using the author's name and the page number in parentheses.
Note the following example:
The reader knows to consult page 440 of Clinton's book.
If you refer to the title of a large published work in your paper, such as a novel or movie, it should appear as follows:
John Clinton's A Study of Life.
Please note the use of capital letters and italics.
Titles of smaller works, such as poems, short stories, chapters, and articles, should be written in the text as follows:
Raymond Carver's "Cathedral."
Please note that smaller works are put in quotation marks and are not italicized.
MLA Works Cited
To obtain further information, the reader can refer to the alphabetical references section, called the Works Cited page, at the end of the paper. There, the reader can find the full details of each cited publication.
Note the following MLA Works Cited example:
Clinton, John. A Study of Life . London: Hodder, 1998. Print.
Our John Clinton example is MLA style referencing in its simplest form: one author and one book. MLA citation for multiple authors of a single book and MLA citation for multiple books by a single author tend to complicate matters. However, if you have the basics right and have made good notes for all your source material, these problems are manageable.
Multiple Books by One Author
When citing two or more books by one author in your Works Cited section, MLA requires the author's name in the first entry only. In the next entry, replace the author's name with an em dash (—), a period, and the second book title. The em dash takes the place of the author's name. In terms of the order of the books by one author on your Works Cited page, alphabetize the list by title.
Brunson, Russell. DotCom Secrets . Morgan James Publishing, 2015.
—. Traffic Secrets . Hay House, Inc., 2020.
MLA Format with Multiple Authors
When citing three or more authors in MLA, you'll want to use "et al.," which means "and others."
Levine, Robert S., et al. The Norton Anthology of American Literature . 9th ed., W.W. Norton & Company, 2022.
If you're trying to cite a source in MLA with missing information, you have a few options available to you depending on what information is missing.
If you're missing the author of a source, use the title of the work in its place for both in-text citations and citations in the Works Cited in MLA format. If your title is also missing, use the source instead.
If your source has no page numbers, you can omit these in your citations and use paragraph or line numbers if they are available.
If the date of the publication is missing, you don't have to include it. But if it's a resource you accessed online, include the access date at the end of the citation—for example, "Accessed 14 Sep. 2021."
You can also omit the publisher if this information is missing.
MLA Format Works Cited Page Tips
When formatting your Works Cited page in MLA format, be sure to pay close attention to all the guidelines. MLA requires all lines to be double-spaced with a hanging indent. A hanging indent is when the first line of your reference starts at the beginning of the line while the next lines are indented by an inch and a half from the left.
To keep all of these MLA examples in one sheet for easy reference, we've compiled a free download. This way, you can review MLA citation examples anytime you need them, either for your Works Cited page or in-text citations, for multiple types of work.
Once downloaded, you'll have all of the MLA citation examples you need in your back pocket. This guide will give you examples of MLA citations for the following types of sources:
Books (with one author, multiple authors, or no author)
Download our free MLA downloadable here.
Writing a paper in mla format.
When writing a paper in MLA format, you'll need to cover your bases when it comes to citing your sources. Not only do your sources need to be correct to account for wherever you're pulling information from, but they also need to follow MLA paper formatting basics .
So far, we've covered how to cite sources in your Works Cited list and in-text citations. Now, let's talk about how to use footnotes in an MLA paper with a couple of examples.
As a general rule, footnotes should be used sparingly in MLA. However, when they are used, there are two types: bibliographical footnotes and content footnotes.
Bibliographical footnotes allow you to add more relevant sources. Content footnotes allow you to add commentary or explanations about your topic. We'll look at examples of both of these below.
MLA Footnote Examples
1 See Clinton, John. A Study of Life . Hodder, 1998. Additional references are for this edition and appear within the text.
1 In a lecture from 2013, Peters mentions his love of science and how science will shape our future.
MLA Title Page Format
The MLA format cover page is not an entirely separate page. It begins with a 1-inch margin, flush left with your name, your instructor's name, the course name or number, and the date typed on separate, double-spaced lines.
The title of your research paper should then be centered on the MLA format title page. There is no need for it to be presented in bold, italics, or capital letters.
MLA Parenthetical Citation
When citing a source in your text in MLA, use a parenthetical citation.
Parenthetical citations in MLA should include the author's last name and the page number where you found the information.
For example: (Lars 86).
MLA Page Number Format
In MLA format, page numbers appear in the top right-hand corner with a 0.5-inch margin from the top and a flush right margin. It is good practice to include your last name before the page number in case pages go astray. Do not use the abbreviation p. before the page number or add any other mark or symbol. You may not need to include a page number on the front page—check with your instructor.
Sometimes, it is appropriate to draw attention to particular words in your paper, but using italics for emphasis ("He really ate a lot ") is inappropriate in research writing and inconsistent with MLA style. Generally, in MLA format, italics should be reserved for titles of longer works (e.g., books, films), non-English words, and words and letters referred to as words and letters.
MLA Format Essay Tips
Your instructor may issue particular instructions if you are to use MLA citation in an essay—if so, follow them. Otherwise, the following MLA essay formatting tips will help you set out your research paper in MLA style.
The MLA Style Guide recommends using a clear typeface (Arial or Times New Roman) in a readable size (at least 11 point).
Justify the text to the left margin, leaving the right margin ragged. Leave 1-inch margins on the top, bottom, left, and right of the page.
Indent the first word in each paragraph by 0.5 inches. Indent set-off block quotations by 1 inch.
Use double-spacing throughout. In accordance with the MLA guide, use single spaces after periods, commas , exclamation marks, etc.
Good grammar, punctuation , and spelling are essential parts of your research paper—not just when using MLA style citation. There is no room for typos at this level.
Our advice is to check and check again, and don't just rely on your word processor's spell-checker. Get a second pair of eyes to look over your paper. T ry our essay editors to ensure that the MLA formatting is consistent throughout your paper and there are no grammatical errors.
Related: Avoid These Common Mistakes in Academic and Scientific Writing
The importance of citing your references in your essay cannot be understated. Any time you include a piece of information in your essay that you didn't write yourself, MLA requires two forms of citation: one in the main text and one at the end of your paper in the Works Cited section.
MLA Format Essay Example
To see how all these formatting elements come together to make an MLA paper, see the example below.
Electronic Sources and MLA Formatting
In this computerized age, electronic publications are widely used as source materials for essays. However, electronic texts are prone to frequent and rapid change—one minute you see them online, and the next they are gone. Therefore, it is important to provide more information when references to electronic works are made.
When accessing electronic information, note the following elements:
Name of the author, editor, etc.
Title of the work
Title of the website (if distinct from the title of the work)
Version/edition used, if applicable
Publisher or sponsor of the site (if not available, use n.p.)
Date of publication (day, month, and year, if available; if no date is available, use n.d.)
Medium of publication (web)
Date of access (day, month, and year)
Note the following example of MLA citation:
Smith, George. "Trees of the Southern Hemisphere." The International Leaf. Barker University, 2008. Web. 6 Feb. 2009.
Please note that the MLA formatting and style guide no longer recommends including the URL of a document. Nevertheless, the URL can be included if it is required by your instructor or if your readers will have difficulty locating the source without it.
MLA Format Letter
Below, you'll find examples of how to apply the MLA letter format. Much of the formatting will be similar to that of MLA-style papers, including using double-spaced lines in your text.
MLA Letter Heading Format
Start your MLA-formatted letter with your two-line mailing address in the upper left-hand corner, an inch from the top of the page. Skip to the next line and add the date in day-month-year format.
On the next line, include the addressee's information, starting with the recipient's title, such as Mr., Ms., or Dr. You can also include their address and contact information.
On yet another line, include your salutation—for example, "Dear Ms. Smith"—followed by a colon. If you don't have a name for the person you're writing to, use the person's title—for example, "Dear Director of Operations."
When writing a letter in MLA format, be sure to use double-spacing throughout as you would in an MLA paper.
Chicago vs. MLA vs. APA Citation
The formatting of citations varies among style guides like Chicago, MLA, and APA. While each style guide has its own way of formatting sources and cover pages, one of the biggest differences is in how they format in-text citations. Let's look at how they differ.
MLA stands for the Modern Language Association and is a style used for papers in the humanities. In-text citations in MLA use the author's last name and page number in parentheses: (Smith 15).
APA stands for the American Psychological Association and is a style used for scientific papers. In-text citations in APA style include a bit more information than those in MLA style. For example, APA uses the author's last name, year of publication, and page number: (Smith, 2021, p. 15).
Chicago style is used mainly for manuscripts by writers, designers, and publishers. In-text citations in this style include the last name of the source, the publication year, and the page number in parentheses, with slightly different formatting than APA: (Smith 2021, 15).
Frequently Asked Questions
How do i cite a website in mla.
To cite a website in MLA, start with the author's last name and first name separated by a comma and punctuated with a period. Next, include the title of the article or page in headline case and in quotes with a period, followed by the title of the website in italics. After that, add a comma, the name of the publisher, the publication date in day-month-year format, and the URL.
Shields, Ronan. "'The Threat is Hollow': True Transparency is Some Way Off for Scaled Advertisers." Digiday , Digiday Media, 25
Mar. 2022, https://digiday.com/marketing/the-threat-is-hollow-true-transparency-is-some-way-off-for-scaled-advertisers/.
Basu, Tyler. "How to Build a Personal Brand (Complete Guide)." Thinkific , Thinkific, 7 Sep. 2021,
For an MLA website in-text citation, simply put the last name of the author in parentheses: (Shields).
How Do I Cite a Journal Article in MLA?
The MLA citation for a journal article begins with the author's last name and first name separated by a comma. Next, include the title of the article in quotes, punctuated by a period, then the journal title in title case and italics, and then a comma before the volume or issue number. This is followed by the date of publication, the page range, and the DOI or URL (without https://). Finally, add the access date if no publication date is listed.
How Do I Write In-Text Citations in MLA?
In-text citations allow readers to identify which of the items on your Works Cited page you're referencing. MLA requires the source's last name to be set in parentheses, followed by the page number where you found the information. Below are a few examples of how to use in-text citations in MLA format.
(Smith and Jones 53)
(Smith et al. 33)
(Smith 56–58, 73)
How Do I Cite a YouTube Video in MLA?
For MLA YouTube citation, start with the video creator's last name and first name, separated by a comma and punctuated by a period. Next, include the title of the video in quotes, also punctuated by a period (inside the quotation marks).
Add the website hosting the video in italics (in this case, YouTube), the name of the channel or uploader, and the day, month, and year the video was published. Include the URL at the end of the MLA video citation.
Forleo, Marie. "Can You Age in Reverse? Tony Robbins Says Yes." YouTube , uploaded by Marie Forleo, 14 Feb. 2022,
Snipes, Doc. "15 Tips to Stop Ruminating and Get Out of Your Head." YouTube , uploaded by Doc Snipes, 23 Mar. 2022,
How Do I Use MLA Format for Headings?
Put your MLA heading in the upper left-hand corner of the first page of your paper , double-spaced. It should have your name, your instructor's name, the course name or number, and the date. Here are two examples of how to format your headings in MLA:
How Do I Cite a Movie in MLA Format?
To cite a movie in MLA style, start with the title of the film in italics, then the name of the director, followed by any relevant contributors. Next, include the company that produced or distributed the film and the release year.
Jaws . Directed by Steven Spielberg, performances by Roy Scheider and Robert Shaw, Universal Pictures, 1975.
To cite a movie from a streaming service such as Netflix, use the following format:
Jaws . Directed by Steven Spielberg, performances by Roy Scheider and Robert Shaw, Universal Pictures, 1975. Netflix app.
How Do I Format My Paper Using MLA?
To recap the most important MLA formatting guidelines, be sure to use 1-inch margins all around your paper, set the font to 12-point Times New Roman (or another easy-to-read font), and double-space the lines in your text. Make sure each word at the start of your paragraphs is indented half an inch from the left margin, and do the same for any block quotations.
You must cite all your sources in MLA, both in the text and on the Works Cited page found at the end of your paper. Use the examples and guidelines above to make sure you're formatting your paper and citations according to MLA guidelines.
How Do I Cite a Person in MLA?
If you're citing an interview, use the last and first name of the person interviewed at the start of your MLA Works Cited citation. Then, add the interview title, periodical title, type of interview, date, and URL of the interview (if online).
If the person you're referencing was interviewed in print, include the page numbers.
For an in-text citation of an interview, use the last name of the person being interviewed—for example: (Smith).
Download our free MLA format PDF for more examples of how to cite a person in MLA for an interview, either one you've conducted yourself or one you found elsewhere.
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Have You Read?
"The Complete Beginner's Guide to Academic Writing"
Examples of MLA Citations
MLA Citations: A How-To Guide
MLA Formatting and MLA Style: An Introduction
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