Guideline to MLA Formatting Standards

The MLA Style is derived from the Modern Language Association from which it gets its name. It is used when citing sources in the arts such as cultural studies, humanities, and language arts. There are several iterations of the MLA formatting style, but here, we shall focus on the 8th edition of MLA formatting outlining the format of MLA research papers, citations in-text, and works cited.

General format of Research Papers

  • Text typed should be double spaced using a legible font like Times New Roman which clearly distinguishes between regular and italicized font. Font size should be 12 pt.
  • The first line of a paragraph should be indented one a half-inch from the left margin. The “Tab Key” automatically does that for you. Additionally, all sides of your paper should be set to a 1-inch margin.
  • Your headers and accompanying page number should be inserted at the top-right of your document, half an inch from the top, and aligned to the right margin.
  • Use italics when stating the titling longer works or when deemed necessary, for emphasis.
  • Unless requested, there is no need for a stand-alone title page.
  • Your name, your instructor’s, the course, and date should be listed on the upper left corner of the first page. Be sure to double space this part.
  • The Title should also be double spaced and centered. I should not be placed in ‘quotation marks’, underlined, or italicized. Also, use Title Case for your title.

In-text citations

MLA in-text citations are written in the author-page format enclosed in parentheses. The author’s last name is used followed by quoted or paraphrased page number (s). The corresponding completed reference is included in the Works Cited page. The author’s name may be mentioned in a sentence or enclosed in parentheses after paraphrasing or quoting their work. On the other hand, the page number(s) must always be in parentheses.

Works Cited Page

  • Should begin on a new page, after the research paper with a 1-inch margin on all sides. Include the header and page number like the preceding pages.
  • The ‘Works Cited’ title should be centered while the complete citations should begin from the left margin, double spaced with no spaces in between. Any subsequent lines of the citations should have a hanging indent.
  • Citation of one page and a span of pages should be abbreviated “p.” and “pp.” respectively.
  • List citation entries alphabetically using authors’ last names, then first and middle names or initials respectively. Titles like Dr., Sir, and degrees like PhD, MA should be excluded. However, suffixes like Jr. and senior are included.
  • When citing different works from the same author, list titles alphabetically then use three hyphens instead of the author’s name for every subsequent entry after the first.
  • Where the author appears both as the only author of an entry and first author in a group, write the former then the latter.
  • Works with unknown authors are alphabetized by titles. Shortened titles are used for in-text citations.

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