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MLA Style Guide

What is MLA?

MLA (Modern Language Association) style is a method of formatting an academic research paper. It is a set of rules for the layout of pages and citations. These rules keep research formatting consistent across millions of different researchers, students, and professors. It also helps your readers understand how to find information in your paper, and find your sources.

  • MLA is most commonly used to write papers and cite sources within the liberal arts and humanities.

If your paper is in MLA style, this guide will help you understand the rules of MLA and how to apply them to your paper.

MLA Citation

Works Cited Page

A works cited page is included at the end of your research paper. This is a list of citations for all the sources used in your writing. Citations differ depending on the type of source you are citing and the information available.


To create a citation for a book, locate certain pieces of information about your source and put them in the following format:

Author Last Name, First Name. Title. Publisher, Year Published.

Notice that title is italicized, and there are periods and commas after certain parts of the citation. Copy this format exactly to create your own citation, like this example:

Salinger, J.D. The Catcher in the Rye. Little, Brown and Company, 1951.

Breakdown of citation, showing last name with a comma, first name with a period, title italicized with a period, publisher with comma, and year published with period.


The format for MLA can change depending on the type of source.

BOOK: Author Last Name, Fist Name. Title. Publisher, Year Published.

WEBSITE: Author Last Name, Fist Name. "Title." Publisher/Website, Year Published, URL. Date Accessed.

JOURNAL: Author Last Name, Fist Name. "Title." Publisher/Journal Title, Volume, Number, Year Published, URL/DOI.

Look at the MLA Citation Style Examples list below to see all these citation styles and more.


If parts of a citation cannot be found, such as an author's name from a website, start your citation with the title and include all the parts you can find. On your citation page, list your citations in Alphabetical Order with a hanging indent.

See an example of this here in a sample paper from Purdue OWl.


In-Text Citation

An in-text citation indicates where a source is used in your paper. This citation comes at the end of a sentence and is housed inside parentheses. Include the author's last name and a page number (if a page number is available and applies to your source).

(Author Last Name Page #)

(Salinger 210)

Breakdown of in-text citation. Shows a parentheses, then the author's last name, page number, and the ending parentheses.

Unless the sentence is an exact quote, you do not need to put an in-text citation at the end of every sentence. Introduce the ideas from your source with the citation, then continue to write about the information. If a source is used for multiple paragraphs, cite it roughly once per paragraph.

See more information on in-text citations here on Purdue OWL.

MLA Citation Style Examples

Type of Source In-Text Citation Works Cited Page Citation More Information
Book, one author (Salinger 50) Salinger, J.D. The Catcher in the Rye. Little, Brown and Company, 1951. Book Citations
Book, two authors (Patterson and De Jonge 161-62)

Patterson, James, and Peter De Jonge. Beach Road. Little, Brown and Company, 2006.

Book Citations
Article from a reference book (encyclopedia or dictionary) (“Women’s Suffrage Movement” 197)

“Women’s Suffrage Movement.” Encyclopedia of Cuba: Volume 1. 1st ed., 2003.

Book Citations
EBook (Goldstein 202)

Goldstein, Jack. 101 Amazing Facts about Dogs. Andrews UK, 2014. ProQuest Ebook Central,

Electronic Sources
Journal article from a library database (Edwards and O’Connell)

Edwards, Sharon L., and Claire F. O'Connell. "Exploring Bullying: Implications for Nurse Educators." Nurse Education in Practice, vol. 7, no. 1, 2007, pp. 26-35. ProQuest,, doi:


Electronic Sources
Newspaper article from a library database (Ranford) Ranford, Chloe. "From no Dogs to show Dogs." The Marlborough Express, Oct 26, 2018, pp. 2. ProQuest, Electronic Sources
Page/Article from a website (Athlete’s Foot) "Athlete's Foot - Topic Overview." WebMD, 25 Sept. 2014, Accessed 1 Nov. 2018. Electronic Sources
Personal Interview (Edwards) Edwards, Linda. Personal Interview. 15 Oct. 2018. Other Common Sources


MLA Citation Tips - Purdue Owl