The Modern Language Association (MLA) was established in 1883 as an advocacy group for the advancement of scholarship in modern languages and literature (vii). In 1951 The MLA Style Sheet was published, the first edition of what would come to be the official standard for giving credit to sources in published writing for the academic fields of Language, Literature, and the Humanities (x). Students in these fields are often required to write academic essays in “MLA Style” or “MLA format.”
If that is why you are here, then you might be acquainted with the two main features of MLA, in-text citations and the works cited page. In-text citations, also called parenthetical citations, allow the writer to give credit to a source with minimal interruption in the flow of the text, and usually contain the author’s last name and the page number or numbers that are being cited, like this (Lastname 1-2).
A works cited page is a list at the end of the document of all the sources that have been cited within. It should contain all the pertinent information for a researcher to locate the cited text, artwork, video, etc., and should be organized alphabetically. You can see an example of a works cited page in the template on the right side of the page.
Page one: on the top left, list your name, your professor’s name, the course name, and the date. Center the title.
Every page: in the header on the top right should appear your last name and the page number. All lines double-spaced. Times New Roman 12, no underlining, and no bold.
Works Cited page: Center the words “Work Cited”—or “Works Cited,” if there is more than one entry. Alphabetize entries, indent the 2nd line of entries, and proofread everything several times!
Common In-Text Citation Examples
Writers must provide in-text citations for quoted and paraphrased material from sources. A typical in-text citation appears in parentheses at the end of the sentence containing the source information before the period, and it includes the author's/authors' last name(s) plus the page number. It might look like this:
In the author's argument about the placement of the statue, she points out that the permit did not detail the direction it faced (Smith 76).
However, if the writer mentions the author's name in the sentence, then there is no need to repeat it in the in-text citation. So a different version of that same sentence could look like this:
In Smith's argument about the placement of the statue, she points out that the permit did not detail the direction it faced (76).
Furthermore, if the Smith source was online and did not have page numbers, then a correctly cited sentence might look like one of these examples:
In the author's argument about the placement of the statue, she points out that the permit did not detail the direction it faced (Smith).
In Smith's argument about the placement of the statue, she points out that the permit did not detail the direction it faced.
Common Work Cited Examples
***Remember to double-space all lines of your works cited list and indent the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th lines but not the first (a.k.a. hanging indent). Also, note that you must provide all authors' names, not just the first one. If the source has 3 or more authors, you can just list the first one then put "et al." (meaning "and others") afterward.
A single author book looks like this:
Morrison, Toni. Paradise. Alfred A. Knopf, 1998.
A journal article looks like this:
Baron, Naomi S. “Redefining Reading: The Impact of Digital Communication Media.” PMLA, vol. 128, no.1, Jan. 2013, pp. 193-200.
A selection from an anthology looks like this:
Wei, Wang. “The Torrent Where the Birds Sang.” The Norton Anthology of World Literature, edited by Sarah Lawall, 2nd ed., vol. B, W.W. Norton & Company, 2002, p. 1375.
An article from a website looks like this (note that this source was published by a corporate author, so there is a committee listed in the author slot).
Institute of Medicine (US) Committee on Military Nutrition Research. “Caffeine for the Sustainment of Mental Task Performance: Formulations for Military Operations.” National Academies Press, 2001. National Center for Biotechnology Information, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK223808/.