MLA Formatting, Quote Citations, and Works Cited

General Paper Format According to MLA Formatting Rules

Type your paper on a computer and print it out on standard, white 8.5 x 11-inch paper,
Double-space the entire paper, and use a legible font like Times Roman. The font size should be 11 or 12 pt font.  NO larger than 12 point font.
Leave only one space after periods or other punctuation marks (unless otherwise instructed by your instructor).
Set the margins of your document to 1 inch on all sides. Indent the first line of a paragraph one half-inch (five spaces or press tab once) from the left margin.
Create a header that numbers all pages consecutively in the upper right-hand corner, one-half inch from the top and flush with the right margin and make sure the header includes your last name.Go to insert, page number – top of page, right side, then type in your last name before the number
Use either italics throughout your essay for the titles of longer works and, only when absolutely necessary, providing emphasis.  CHANGE:  No more underlining major works (books, journals, newspapers, movies, etc.)– only italicize!
Do not make a title page for your paper unless specifically requested.
In the upper left-hand corner of the first page, list your name, your instructor’s name, the course, and the date. Again, be sure to use double-spaced text.
Double space again and center the title. Don’t underline your title or put it in quotation marks; write the title in Title Case, not in all capital letters.

Sample Paper with MLA annotation: MLA Paper example

MLA Guidelines download: MLA General Guidelines


What is a Quote?

There are three basic ways to quote:

*Summary – Summarize large chunks of what you read by recording the general idea of the material. Cite the information with an in-text parenthetical citation.
*Paraphrase – Read the work and restate all of the material in your own words. Cite the information with an in-text parenthetical citation.
*Quotation – If what the speaker or author said was important in the exact order that he or she stated it, record the sentence(s) word-for-word as a direct quotation. Remember to put quotation marks around the sentence(s) to remind you later that it is a direct quotation. If you copy and paste phrases from an article, you should put quotation marks around what you copied to remind yourself that it’s a direct quote. Cite the information with an in-text parenthetical citation.

How to Quote a Source in Your Paper

Integrating Quotes handout: 07-Integrating-Quotations

1.    Always introduce the quote.
2.    If it is a direct quote, use beginning and ending quotation marks.
3.    If you are paraphrasing, you still need to cite your source.
4.    Always cite the quote using parentheses, author’s last name and pg #.  In the case there is no author, use a shortened   version of the title (the first 3-4 words of the title).  If it is a short piece (like a webpage title), the title is in quotation marks; if it is a long piece (like a book or journal) the title is italicized.
5.    For quotations that are four or more lines of verse or prose: place quotations in a free-standing block of text and omit quotation marks. Start the quotation on a new line, with the entire quote indented one inch from the left margin; maintain double-spacing. Only indent the first line of the quotation by a half inch if you are citing multiple paragraphs. Your parenthetical citation should come after the closing punctuation mark. If your quote is more than 4 lines long, you must indent the entire quote three times.  The quote is still double spaced.
6.    Period are placed after the parenthetical citation, however question marks, commas, and exclamation points are placed within the quotation marks followed by a period after the parenthetical citation.
7.   Always explain, argue with, or reference the quote you use directly after the quote.

In-text Parenthetical Citations

Immediately following a quotation from a source or a paraphrase of a source’s ideas, you place the author’s last name followed by a space and the relevant page number(s).  ** Parenthetical citations can vary depending on what information is included in the introduction of the quote.  If you are writing the source’s ideas word for word, you MUST include quotation marks around those words; if you are summarizing or paraphrasing, you do NOT use quotation marks.  Either way, you MUST include parenthetical citation.
When a source has no known author, use a shortened title of the work instead of an author name. Place the title in quotation marks if it’s a short work, or italicize it if it’s a longer work.
If the source is from the internet and has no page number, omit the page number.  Cite the author’s last name only.  If there is no given author, use the shortened article title.  NEVER cite the URL.  Don’t cite the website.  Cite the author’s name, or if no author, the article title.
Secondary Sources:  Sometimes you may have to use an indirect source. An indirect source is a source cited in another source. For such indirect quotations, use “qtd. in” to indicate the source you actually consulted. For example:Jenkins discusses the advantages to of fine arts in schools as a “method to teach children to thing critically and creatively”(qtd. in Stephenson 42).
 paraphrase sample
block quote
 quote sample

Works Cited

1. The Works Cited is its own page and must have the title centered at the top. See the example for assistance.
2. Include a header on the right-hand side. (Your last name and appropriate page number.)
3. Double-space the page.
4. Indent the second line of the citation. This is called a hanging indent.If you are using Google Docs, place the cursor in front of the second (and third if there is a third) line and hit “enter” and then “tab.” If you are using Word, highlight the source entry, go to paragraph arrow; under Indentation go to special and click hanging indent.
5. Put the citations in alphabetical order.
6. Use italics instead of underlining for titles of larger works (books, journals, newspapers, whole websites, movies, album titles).
7. Capitalize each major word in the titles of articles, books, etc.
8. Do not include the URL.
9. State the medium of publication (Print, Web, jpg, pdf, etc.).
 WC sample
second WC sample

Online Citation Makers

You can use an online citation maker, but remember that it will only work if you type the correct information in the correct places, and that you capitalize correctly.


For MLA formatting


For MLA formatting

Citation Machine

MLA formatting for websites.  You can choose other formats, however.



4 Responses to MLA Formatting, Quote Citations, and Works Cited

  1. Mona Pellerin says:

    Not clear about citing secondary sources.

  2. Mona Pellerin says:

    Please show how to cite secondary sources within the text. Do the author of the paper and the secondary source go together?

    • admin says:

      I will put this on my site, but it works like this:
      Sometimes you may have to use an indirect source. An indirect source is a source cited in another source. For such indirect quotations, use “qtd. in” to indicate the source you actually consulted. For example:

      Ravitch argues that high schools are pressured to act as “social service centers, and they don’t do that well” (qtd. in Weisman 259).
      – Purdue OWL

  3. admin says:

    Snarky, but true. Note that the instructions were correct even as the picture was incorrect due to the quotation marks.

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