Skip to main content

Citation Guides

Scholars use style guidelines to properly credit sources used in their writings and to build credibility. Proper use of style formats can also protect students from accusations of plagiarism or unintended copyright infringement.

Purdue OWL: MLA Formatting and Style Guide

The Purdue OWL (Online Writing Lab) provides a useful guide to proper MLA formatting. This document will answer many of your questions.  Be sure to include the entire legal notice at the bottom of the page when printing this resource.

Getting Started

Begin by formatting your paper:

  • Set margins at 1" on all sides.  You can do this by clicking on file>page set up. and entering 1.0 for all margins.  The paper orientation should be portrait. Click ok to save your settings.
  • All typing should be double-spaced, including your Works Cited Page. Set this by clicking on the format tab and then the drop down paragraph option.  The body of the paper should have 1/2" paragraph indentations.  The Works Cited page should be formatted with 1/2" hanging indentations. 
  • The suggested font is 12 pt. Times New Roman.  You can set this by going to the Format tab and clicking on font from the drop down box. 
  • Title pages are not required in MLA, although some professors may request them.  Always check with your professor.
  • Page one should be set up with a heading, flush with left margin that includes the following information.  Headings should be double spaced.  Some professors may specify other information be included in your heading.  Always check!

            Deanna Day

            Dr. Elizabeth Haynes

            LIS 506

            21 September 2011

  • Double space after your heading and center the title on the next line.  Do not underline, italicize or use bold.  Use standard upper and lower case letters.
  • Your last name followed by a space and the page number (example: Day 2) should be printed at the top of each page beginning with page 2. (Some professors may want this information printed on page 1.  Be sure to check the syllabus or ask your professor.) This should be formatted by using the edit>view>header/footer.  Choose header. From this combination you will be able to enter your last name and push it flush with the right margin.  Then go to tools and choose the option for page number.  From this screen you can specify where the page number should be located.  Highlight both the name and the page number and reduce to 8 point font.  Make sure it is also Times New Roman. 
  • Leave only one space after punctuation at the end of sentences. 

Works Cited Page

The Works Cited page should be placed at the end of your document and include detailed bibliographic information about each of the resources you cited in your paper.  The page should be double spaced and printed in 12 point Times New Roman font.  Your name and continuing page number should appear in the top right hand corner.  You should use a hanging indent format with a 1/2" indentation for all lines after the first one.

There are specific formatting rules for different types of resources.  Specific information about resource formatting can be found in the MLA Style Manual or through the Purdue OWL: Formatting and Style Guide.

Some examples follow:

Note that BOOK titles are printed in italics; "Articles" from magazines, academic journals, or web-sites are enclosed in quotation marks.

The latest edition of MLA does not require the writer to provide a URL when citing items retrieved from the internet; however, it does require that authors list the medium or format of materials (e.g. Print, Web, CD, Radio, Interview, Television).  It also requires the writer to include the titles of databases and the date they were accessed.

Even though MLA does not require you to provide a URL, some professors do.  Be sure to ask how Web based resources should be cited.

Setting up the Works Cited Page

  • The works cited page should be located as a separate page at the end of your document. 
  • Set it up with 1" margins on all sides. 
  • The page number in the upper right corner should continue from the paper.
  • Works Cited should be centered on the top line in regular font.  (Do not italicize, bold or underline.)
  • Double-space and begin listing sources in alphabetical order.  Your entry on the Works Cited page should match the parenthetical citation in the main body of rhe paper,
  • Double space all citations. Do not double return between citations.
  • Use a hanging indent.  (From the tool bar choose format>paragraph>hanging ident.
  • ALL indentations should be one half inch from left margin.  It is suggested that you use the tab or set it up under formatting.  Donot use the space bar.


Book with a single author:

   Day, Deanna M. Life of An Aging Student. Daphne, AL: Writer's Press, 2011. Print.

When a book is available in print and as an e-book, list the electronic source where it was retrieved from, and the date.

   Day, Deanna M. Life of an Aging Student. Daphne, AL: Writer's Press, 2011. Netlibrary. Web. 21 Sept. 2011.

For information how the following works should be cited, refer to the MLA Style Guide, 7th Ed., or the Purdue OWL MLA Formatting and Style Guide available from the link above.

Citing more than one work by the same author

---, Deanna M. A Cat's Life. Daphne, AL: Imaginary Press, 2011.Print

Book by two or three authors

      Mundy, Bradford P., Michael G. Ellerd, and Frank G. Favolaro Jr.. Name Reactions and Reagents in Organic Synthesis. 2nd ed.Hoboken, NJ: Wiley, 2005. Print.

Book by three or more authors

   You may either name the first author followed by et al. or list all authors.

   Beringer, Richard E., et al. Why the South Lost the Civil War. Athens, GA:  University of Georgia Press, 1986. Print

Corporate authors

A corporate author can be a business, commission, association or committee.  Very often, the corporate publisher and the author are the same.  In this case the corporate author's name will appear in the author position as well as in the publisher position.

   Girl Scouts of America. The Brownie Cookbook. Savannah, GA: Girl Scouts of America, 2000. Print.

No author listed

   If no author is listed, then the first title is used, omit the definate or indefinate articles for alphabetization purposes.

Short work from an edited collection, anthology, short stories, etc.

When you are citing a short work that was puvlished in an anthology or edition of collected works, and are referring to the specific chapter, poem, etc. then your entry should begin with the author of the referenced test. 

   Norton, Melanie J. "Information Retrieval." Introduction to Information Science. 2nd ed. Medford, NJ: Information Today, 2010. 45-67. Print.

Reference work such as a dictionary or encyclopedia

   "Old Norse." Webster's New World Dictionary. 3rd college ed. 1994. Print.

   "Olympic Games." The New Encyclopaedia Britannica, 15th ed. Vol. 25. Chicago: Encyclopaedia Britannica, 2007. Print.

Book in a series

Brochure, pamphlet or press release

   Treat as you would a book.  If no date is given, use n.d.

Personal Interview

Tominello, Rosie. Personal interview. 22 Sept. 2011.

Breslin, Jimmy. Interview by Neal Conan. Talk of the Nation. Natl. Public Radio. WBUR, Boston. 26 Mar 2002. Radio.

Villalobos, Joaquin. Interview. Mother Jones July 1992: 8-10. Print

Legal Cases

When retrieved from a print source:

   Brown v. Board of Educ. 347 US 483-96. Supreme Court of the US. 1954. Supreme Court Collection. Legal Information Inst., Cornell U Law                School, n.d. Web. 3 Aug. 2007.

When retrieved from a database:

   Brown vs. Board of Educ. 347 US 483-96. Supreme Court of the US. 1954. Lexis-Nexis. Web 3 Aug 2007.

Legal acts or legislation

   To cite an act or an ordinance, state the name of the act, the Public Law (Pub. L.) number, ists Statues at Large (Stat.) volume number and page numbers, the date it was enacted, and its medium of publication.  Nothing is italizicized.

Article from a subscription database (such as EBSCO or JSTOR)



Reference article from a journal on the Web

Reference article from a subscription database

Smith, Charlotte. "User Based indexing: a leap of faith or a descent into the abyss?" Catalogue & Indes 17-19. Library Lit & Inf Full Tex.t Web. 23 Sep. 2011.

Article from a magazine or newspaper

Films, Videos

Begin with the title in italics, followed by the director's name. Include information you find pertinant and close with the distributor, year, and medium.  For DVD and videos include the original publication date and the re-release date.

   A Beautiful Mind. Dir. Ron Howard. Perf. Russell Crowe. Universal, 2002, DVD.


Give the name of the writer, the title of the message from the subject line enclosed in quotes, the recipient, the date, and the medium.

   Day, Deanna. "" Re:  Assignment due October 4." Message to Dr. Welsh. 28 Sept. 2011. E-mail.

Refer to the latest edition of the MLA Style Guide for more information on citing the following sources.

Digital Files

Government publications

Conference proceedings

Lectures and speeches

Articles from a print source

Articles from a Web site

Sound recordings

Television or radio broadcasts

Scholarly projects

Personal Web sites

Professional Web sites


Disclaimer:  This handout is provided for informational puporses only.  We cannot guarantee that these interpretations are the most current and cannot provide suggestions about citations.  For clarification purposes, consult the MLA guide or your professor.

Some Important Information

  • There should only be one space after most punctuation and between sentences.
  • End of sentance punctuation is nornally AFTER theclosing parentheses in the parenthetical citation.
  • There is NO comma between the author and the page number in a parenthetical citation. Example: (Day 56).
  • Quotations of four lines or less should be enclosed in quotation marks and kept within the body of the text.  The closing punctuation should follow the parentheses at the end of the parenthetical citation.  Example:  According to Ms. Prim, " I have never seen such a horrific example of shameless behavior" (Day 5).
  • In text quotations of more than 40 words should be started on a new line.  All lines of the quotation should be indented 1/2 inch from the original margin.  When a new paragraph begins within the quote, the first line should be indented an additional 1/2 inch ( or 1 inch from original margin.)  Omit the quotation mark at the beginnin of the quotation.
  • If there is no page, use the abbreviation n.p. Example: (Day n.pag.).
  • If there is no date, use the abbreviation n. d.

Style Guide Call Numbers

This handbook provides specific guidelines for using MLA format.

Common Questions

What is a parenthetical citation?

MLA uses 'in-text' citations, called parenthetical citations to credit sources that are quoted or paraphrased within a document.  Parenthetical citations should always be used to document referenced work unless it is considered general knowledge.  The citation will then direct the reader to a full bibliographic citation on the Works Cited page at the end of the document. 

Use of author's names:

   Always use an author's name--either in the parenthetical citation or in the text itself.  If the author's name is mentioned, only insert the page number in parentheses. 

   Generally, the the in-text citation will be enclosed within parentheses and include the author's last name and the specific page number of the information being cited (Day 24).  The sentence ending punctuation will follow the closing parentheses. NOTE:  There is NO comma between the author's name and the page number!

If the author's name is mentioned in the text preceding the citation, only the page number is required.

   Day noted that her cat Willie had never missed a class in the library science program (7).

When a direct quotation is included the quotation marks should be placed before the parentheses marking the in-text citation:

   In her biography, Day noted that "Willie never missed a class once he started the LIS program" (7).  As a result he became a successful library cat.

When there is more than one author...

If a source has two or three authors , all of the authors' last names should be included in the parenthetical citation:

   A recent study on organizational development found that seniors were more likely to be laid off in favor of younger workers during the economic downturn (Bates, Young, and Dawson 27).

When there are four or more authors...

   Include the first author's last name followed by et al. (Latin for and others) in the text or in the parenthetical citation. (NOTE: There is NO period after et in et al.)

    Studies have indicated that eating a full meal every morning may help you lose weight (Jones et al. 47).