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MLA Formatting – Quick Guide

MLA 8th Edition Sample Paper

MLA 8th Template

MLA Annotated Bibliography Sample

Choosing Appropriate Resources for Academic Papers


MLA Formatting

  • 1’’ margins
  • An easily readable font (most professors prefer Times New Roman.)
  • Size 12 font
  • Double-spaced


Voice & Verb Tense

  • 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)


First Page

  • Create a running header with your last name and page number in the upper right-hand corner 0.5″ from the top
  • In the upper left-hand corner, type your name, professor’s name, course name, and date
  • Center the title of your paper just below following standard capitalization rules for titles


Main Body

  • Your paper should include 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”
  • Use only one space after a period unless your professor prefers two
  • Indent the first line of each paragraph ½ of an inch
  • Use block quotes sparingly and only when the prose quotation exceeds four lines
  • 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 with no punctuation: (Smith 10)
  • When referencing plays and poetry, use the line number (not the page number)


Works Cited Examples

Your works cited page should have the words “Works Cited” center at the top. Your entries should begin right after and should be left-aligned with hanging indents. Eighth edition MLA citations operate on the model. The model is a one-size-fits-all approach that asks for nine different elements and takes whatever are available.


Elements & Proper Punctuation in a Citation

  • Generic example for all citations:
    • Author. “Title of Source.” Title of Container, Other Contributors, Version, Number, Publisher, Publication Date, Location.
  • Book:
    • Model: Last name, First name. Title of Book. Publisher, Publication Date.
    • Example: Smith, John. Hunting for Peace. Mifflin Publishing, 2004.
  • Work in an anthology:
    • Model: Last name, First name. “Title of Source.” Title of Container, Other Contributors, Publisher, Publication Date. Location.
    • Example: Smith, Joanna. “The Squirrel Poem.” Poems about Wildlife, edited by John Smith, Harvard UP, 2016, pp. 122-23.
  • Journal article retrieved from database:
    • Model: Author. “Title of Source.” Title of Container, Number, Publication Date, Location.
    • Example: Smith, Sara. “Squirrel Habitat Reduction.” The Journal of the Environment, vol. 30, no. 2, 2009, pp. 127-56. JSTOR, jstor.org/stable/10/1086/000001
  • Website:
    • Model: Author (if available). “Title of Source.” Title of Container, Other Contributors, Publisher, Publication Date, Location.
    • Example: “Human and Animal Relations.” Wildlife Details, edited by John Smith, Turtles Inc., 26 May 2011, www.turtlelist.com/squirrels.


Information courtesy of MLA 7th edition and MLA 8th edition handbooks.