The Modern Language Association formatting style is used most often in the humanities and liberal arts. Learn basic rules on how to format the body of your work, in-text citations, and works cited pages in this guide. This guide is only an introduction; for detailed instructions visit the Purdue University Online Writing Lab (Purdue OWL) MLA Style Guide.
In general, the MLA requires papers to be double spaced and formatted with 1" margins all around, with a size 12 font (Times New Roman is recommended). The paper must have a header with the page number flush right. Unless your professor instructs otherwise, do not include a separate title page for MLA formatted papers. Instead, write your name, instructor's name, course name, and date flush left at the top of the first page. The title of the paper should be centered on the next line.
Whenever you refer to information gotten from an outside resource, such as a book, an entry in an anthology, a website, or a journal article, you must include an in-text citation indicating your source. This includes direct quotations as well as summaries or paraphrases of information. Your in-text citation should appear in parentheses after the quotation or paraphrase, and should follow the (Author Page) format. If the source does not list an author, use a shortened version of the title in quotes followed by the page number. If the source does not have page numbers, omit this part of the citation. For detailed instructions on how to format your in-text citation, visit the Purdue OWL MLA In-Text Citations Guide.
Every resource cited in your paper must be listed on your works cited page at the end of your work. Any source you cite in-text must be listed in full bibliographic format. Sources must be listed alphabetically by author's last name. Sources must also be formatted with a hanging indent, meaning the first line of the citation is flush left, but any subsequent line is indented by one half inch.
How the citation is formatted depends upon the type of resource used. Books, articles, other print resources, and electronic resources all have different formats. In general, citations follow the following order: author, title, publisher, year. Depending on the source, however, you may have to include other information like journal title, volume and issue numbers, website URL, page range and title for an anthology, or more. For detailed instructions on how to format your reference page citation, visit the Purdue OWL MLA Works Cited Guide.