MLA Style Formatting Guide

Basic Information

  • The format most widely accepted for research papers and citations is that of the Modern Language Association, or MLA Format. Its two published guides are the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, for high school and undergraduate students, and the MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing, for graduate students and professional writers.

  • While MLA provides formatting guidelines for many aspects of paper-writing, including spacing, margins, headers, footnotes, and first-page formatting, it is perhaps most commonly used for in-text citations and the Bibliography, or Works Cited, section.

Basic Guidelines

  • Papers should be printed in black ink on standard, white 8.5x11-inch paper.
  • Text should be double spaced, size 10-12 point, and typed in a clear font, such as Times New Roman.
  • There should be 1-inch margins on all sides of the document, and the first line of each paragraph should be indented and additional ½-inch (5 spaces, or hit the tab key once) from the left margin.
  • Make a header, located on the right-hand side ½-inch from the top of each page. The header should include your last name and the page number. (Instructors often ask that the header is omitted from the first page.)
  • Use italics or underlining for the titles of works you refer to in your paper.
  • Any endnotes should be located on a separate page, before your Works Cited page.
Create Your Works Cited


  • Editor(s), ed(s). Title. Place of Publication: Publisher, Year of Publication.
  • Morgan, Emily and Samuel Baker, eds. The Evolution of Chalkboards. New York: Maverick Inc., 2007.


  • Author’s Last name, First name. Title of Book. Place of Publication: Publisher, Year of Publication.
  • Chopin, Kate. The Awakening. St. Louis: Herbert S. Stone and Co., 1899.

Book with Editor

  • Editor. Title. Place of Publication: Publisher, Year.


If Published:
  • Author. Title. Diss. Degree-Granting School, Year Degree Was Awarded. Place of Publication: UMI, Year of Publication. AAT UMIOrderNumber.
If Unpublished:
  • Author. “Title.” Diss. Degree-Granting School, Year Degree Was Awarded.


  • Author. "Title of the message (if any)." E-mail to person's name. Date of the message.
  • Michael Roth. “New Project Info.” E-mail to Sam Baker. 5 August 2008.

Encyclopedia/Dictionary/Reference Source

  • “Entry Title.” Reference Book Title. Edition. Year.
  • "Carnivore." The Webster Dictionary. 1st ed. 1997.


  • Title. Dir. Name of Director. Perf. Names of Performers as Relevant to your Paper. Film Studio or Distributor, Year of Release.
  • Apollo 13. Dir. Ron Howard. Perf. Tom Hanks, Kevin Bacon, Bill Paxton, and Ed Harris. Universal, 1995.

Government Publication

  • Author (if identified). Name of the Government. Name of Agency. Name of Any Subdivisions. Title. Number of the Congress, number of the Session (if congressional document). Place: GPO, Year.
  • United States. Cong. House of Representatives. Judicial Committee. Hearing on Attorney General Appointment Practices. 99th Cong., 1st sess. Washington: GPO, 1996.


  • Last name, First name of Person You Interviewed. Personal Interview. Date of Interview.
  • Maverick, Ben. Personal Interview. 1 Jul. 2008.


  • Author’s Last name, First name. “Article Title.” Publication Title Volume Number (Year): Page Range.
  • Author’s Last name, First name. “Article Title.” Publication Title Volume Number.Issue Number (Year): Page Range.
  • Jones, Robert. "European History in the 20th Century." Modern History Studies 38 (2002): 213-297.
  • Doe, John. "The Evolution of Media." Pennsylvania Daily 72.4 (2006): 96-100.


  • Speaker’s Last Name, First Name. “Title of Speech” or Type of Speech. Meeting or Event where Speech was Given. Location. Date of Delivery.
  • Brown, George. Keynote Address. Engineering Conference. Wilson Hall, University of Maryland, College Park, MD. 17 April 2001.


  • Author(s). "Title of Article." Title of Periodical Day Month Year: pages.
  • Klein, Joe. "Open to Debate." Time 7 Aug. 2008: 23-25.

Musical Composition

  • Name of Group or Artist. “Title of Song.” Title of Album. Label, Year.
  • Mayer, John. "Why Georgia.” Room for Squares. Columbia Records, 2003.


  • Author(s). “Title of Article.” Title of Periodical Day Month Year: edition (if applicable): Pages.
  • Rosenbloom, Stephanie. “Giant Retailers Look to Sun for Energy Savings.” New York Times 11 August 2008: A13.


  • Artist’s Name. Title of Work. Year work was created. Institution that houses the work, City where it is located.
  • DaVinci, Leonardo. Mona Lisa. 1506. Musee du Louvre, Paris.


  • “Name of Episode.” Name of Series. Network. Station, City. Date of Broadcast.


  • Review Author. "Title of Review (if there is one)." Rev. of Performance Title, by Author/Director/Artist. Title of Periodical day month year: page.
  • Truman, Mark. "France: Where Art Thou?" Rev. of Majestic City, dir. Michael Roth and Benjamin Schwartz. San Francisco Chronicle 21 April 2006 late ed.: E1.


  • Author’s name (if available). Name of Site. Date of Posting/Revision. Name of institution/organization affiliated with the site (sometimes found in copyright statements). Date you accessed the site .
  • Benson, David. Ankle Replacement Prosthetics. 16 Nov. 2007. University of Maryland. 6 Feb. 2008 <>.