Guidelines for MLA Documentation

Internal (parenthetical) documentation

  • Use internal documentation for any material taken from another source, including summarized and paraphrased, as well as quoted material.
  • If you use a source by one author, place the author's name and page number right after the material. Put the period outside the parentheses. Do not use a comma.
    • Ex: The comic strip is one of the primary sources of pop art (Rose 184).
    • Note: If you have already mentioned the author in your sentence, you only have to put the page number in parentheses.
    • Ex: According to art critic Barbara Rose, the comic strip is one of the primary sources of pop art (184).
  • If you are citing a source with two or three authors, use all last names and page number.
    • Ex: Because of life sentences without parole, the geriatric population of Pennsylvania's prisons is growing rapidly (Johnson and Smith 457). Ex: The poverty rate in developing countries continues to worsen (Truit, Peterson, and Jones 231).
  • If you cite a work that has no named author, use the work's title and page number. If the title is excessively long, use only the first few words.
    • Ex: Every year 20,000 people die of receiving the wrong medications ("A Crisis in Prescription Medicine" 78).
  • If the material you are citing comes from an electronic source and there is no page number, use the author's last name. If there is no author, use a short reference to the work's title.
    • Ex: The online encyclopedia explained that the sandwich owes its name to an English Earl ("Earl of Sandwich").
  • If you are directly quoting material of more than four typed lines, indent the material ten spaces from the left margin, double space and do not use quotation marks. Do not change the right margin.
    • Note: In this case, the period goes before the parentheses.
    • Ex: Researchers into the fate of Czar Nicholas II revealed the following.

      In 1918 Bolshevik revolutionaries executed all seven members of the Russian royal family, the Romanovs. But many have insisted that two of the five children survived the slaughter. They argue that two of the children were protected by their corsets of jewels and were secreted away by sympathetic servants. (Lawrence 398)

Writing a Works Cited List

  • The Works Cited page comes at the end of your essay and is an alphabetical listing of the sources you used in your paper. Double-space each entry and double-space (ONLY) between each entry. The first line begins at the margin. Subsequent lines are indented 5 spaces. MLA recommends shortened forms for publishers' names: Holt for Holt, Rinehard and Winston: Harcourt Brace Publishers; UP for University Press. Also omit Inc., Co., Press, or House. New guidelines recommend one space following punctuation marks.
  • Sample Entries
    • Book with one author: Godwin, Gail. A Mother and Two Daughters. New York: Viking, 1992.
    • Book with two or three authors: Lunsford, Harold, Peter Mulligan, and John Conners. The History of Literature. Boston: St. Martin's, 1995.
    • Signed article in a magazine: Weil, Andrew. "The New Politics of Coca." New Yorker 15 May 1995: 70.
    • Unsigned article in a newspaper: "Blackhawks Shut Down Gretsky." Washington Post 11 Mar. 1994:A9.
    • A personal interview: Roskin, Michael. Personal interview. 4 Sept.1998.

For information on other types of entries: Consult the MLA Handbook- copies on reserve at the library and at the Academic Resource Center.

For electronic sources: The Electronic Style Manual is available at the ARC. See the MLA handbook, check the Snowden Library MLA Style Guide, or consult http://www.mla.org.

MLA Essay Format Type Rules

  • There should be one inch margins at top, bottom and sides of page.
  • Last name and page number should appear one-half inch from the top right-hand corner of each page, including the first one.
  • Everything in the essay, including long quotes and the Works Cited list, should be double spaced.
  • In the essay itself, the following spacing rules for punctuation apply:
    • 2 spaces between sentences
    • 1 space after commas
    • 2 spaces after a colon
    • 1 space between words in a sentence
    • 1 space between word and parentheses (Ex: Williams was not a typical addict (31).)
  • In the Works Cited list, there is only one space after any punctuation mark (new 1998 rule).

First Page Format

  • In the upper left-hand corner, one inch from the top, you need the following information:
    • your first name and last name
    • your professor's name
    • course name and section number
    • due date of essay
  • Note: Your name appears twice on the first page, as noted above and in the upper right-hand corner with the page number (strange, but true).
  • Title:
    • centered
    • 2 spaces below the information given above; then double space only below the title to begin the essay
    • capitalize the first letter only of the first, last and main words
    • do not use quotation marks around the title, or underline it, unless it contains the title of another work