MLA Formatting - Quick Guide


  • 1’’ margins
  • Times New Roman size 12 font
  • Double-spaced
  • Your last name followed by the page number in a running head


  • Use active voice.
  • Use present tense when referring to events that happen within the literature
  • Remain consistent with tense (especially important to keep in mind when writing about historic non-fiction)

Title Page

  • A title page is not included when writing in MLA because of the heading on the first page of the document (see p. 117 of the MLA manual)

Main Body

  • Follow standard capitalization rules for titles.
  • Make sure your paper includes a thesis statement, “a single sentence the formulates both your topic and your point of view…your answer to the central question or problem you have raised” (p. 42, 1.8.2).
  • Include parenthetical citations in your paper whenever you use another person's words or ideas. Usually this will include the author's last name and a page reference: (Smith 10). See p. 214, 6.1.
  • Only include necessary information in parenthetical citations (p. 216).
    If you have included a signal tag—In his article, Smith stated, “quotation;”—the author should not be restated in the parenthetical citation.
  • When referencing plays and poetry, use the line number (not the page number).
  • Use block quotes sparingly and only when the prose quotation exceeds four lines.

Works Cited Examples

  • NOTE: The second line and all subsequent lines of each item on the reference list should be indented. Please see the MLA Sample Paper for an example of a properly formatted reference page.
  • The reference list should be double spaced.
  • Book
    Last name, First name. Title of Book. City of Publication: Publisher, Year of Publication. Medium of Publication.
  • Article in a scholarly journal
    Author(s). "Title of Article." Title of Journal Volume.Issue (Year): pages. Medium of publication.
  • Web site
    (Remember to use n.p. if no publisher name is available and n.d. if no publishing date is given.)
    Editor, author, or compiler name (if available). Name of Site. Version number. Name of institution/organization affiliated with the site (sponsor or publisher), date of resource creation (if available). Medium of publication. Date of access.

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