MLA Style Basics

MLA Style Basics

The Modern Language Association (MLA) style is a system for formatting and documenting essays for English and other humanities classes. In 2009, the system was updated to reflect new standards. Using MLA correctly increases your credibility as a writer and avoids accidental incidents of plagiarism.

These are basic MLA guidelines. For complete information, consult a recent (2009) handbook and visit the Writing Center.


  1. Apply 1-inch margins at the top, bottom, left, and right sides of the page. Use 12-point Times New Roman font.
  2. In the upper left-hand corner of the first page, list your name, your instructor's name, the course, and the date. (No separate title page.) 
  3. Use a header in the upper right-hand corner of every page, including the first page, with your last name and page number.
  4. Double-space every line including the first page headings, title, and Works Cited page.


  1. Summaries and paraphrases must be written in your own words.
  2. Cite all quotations and borrowed ideas (including summaries and paraphrases).
  3. Limit your use of quotations to instances in which the author’s wording is unique or powerful, exact working is necessary for accuracy, or the original wording adds specialized proof to the argument.
  4. Enclose all borrowed language in quotation marks.
  5. Indent quotations longer than four typed lines of prose or three lines of poetry. Double-space long quotations.
  6. Page numbers are not required for Web sources.
  7. Use signal phrases such as “According to Einstein” to integrate outside sources into your writing.
  8. MLA uses in-text parenthetical citations, not footnotes.


Citation in a Signal Phrase

According to Bacon, “the vampire is not trying to destroy the adolescent hero but is in

fact a manifestation brought into existence by him, a product of his psyche through

which to realize the true nature of his burgeoning boyhood” (157).

Parenthetical Citation

The inspiration for Bram Stoker’s Dracula may have come from a true case of tuberculosis

afflicting a family in New England (Tucker).

Indirect Citation

According to Alan Meier, a researcher with Lawrence Berkeley Laboratories, appliance

power supplies are considered “energy vampires” due to their tendency to “consume

power even when the appliance is switched off” (qtd. in Knapp).

Citations of Multiple Authors

Two or three authors: (Strielkowski, Lisin, and Welkins 829) or Strielkowski, Lisin, and Welkins note, “…” (829).
Four or more authors:  (Carter, Logsdon, Arnold, Menchaca, and Medellin 41) or (Carter et al. 41)*

* Whether you use the whole list of authors or just the lead author’s name followed by et al., make sure you are consistent with the way the information is presented on the Works Cited page.


  1. Double-space and alphabetize Works Cited entries.
  2. Use hanging indentation.
  3. Make sure to include an entry for every work cited in the body of your paper.  Do not reference works you have not cited.
  4. As of 2009, URLs are no longer required in MLA style Works Cited entries, but include them if your professor requires them.
  5. Because Web sources can change frequently, it is necessary to include the date you accessed the material in addition to a date the material was last updated.




Gordon, Karen Elizabeth. The Deluxe Transitive Vampire: The Ultimate Handbook of

Grammar for the Innocent, the Eager, and the Doomed. New York: Pantheon

Books, 1993. Print.

Article in a Magazine

Merrell, Susan Scarf. “Shirley Jackson & Her Demon Lover.” The Writer’s Chronicle

May/Summer 2012: 26-34. Print.

Article in a Journal

Bacon, Simon. "Lost Boys: The Infernal Youth of the Cinematic Teenage Vampire."

Thymos: Journal of Boyhood Studies 5.2 (2011): 152-162. Print.


Article from a Database (Journal)

Strielkowski, Wadim, Evgeny Lisin, and Emily Welkins. "Intertemporal Model of Co-

Existence of Two Rival Species: A Case Of Vampires And Humans Co-

Habitation." Modern Economy 3.7 (2012): 826-831. Business Source Complete.

Web. 11 July 2013.

Article in an Online Magazine

Tucker, Abigail. “The Great New England Vampire Panic.” Smithsonian

Media. Oct. 2012. Web. 11 July 2013.

Article in an Online Newspaper

Provano, Joel. “Teen Murder Suspect Says She’s Vampire/Werewolf.”  Atlanta

Journal Constitution, 30 Sept. 2011. Web. 24 Aug. 2013.

Short Work from a Website

Frances, Sherrin. “Grammar Literacy: How Vampires, Potlucks and Diagrams Created an

Affective Learning Community.” Academia. 2013. Web. 12 July



Reasoning with Vampires. 22 Jul. 2013. Web. 15 Aug. 2013.

Online Video Clip

Animal Planet. “Vampires of the Deep:  How to Catch a Lamprey.” YouTube. YouTube. 26

Jun. 2013. Web. 15 Aug. 2013.


Knapp, Don. "New Technology Lays 'Energy Vampires' to Rest." Cable News

Network, 1 Nov. 2000. Web. 27 Aug. 2013.


“Vampire Diaries: Getting Back to My Roots Through a Deadly Outbreak.” Centers for

Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). CDC, 20 July 2011. Web. 27 Aug.


To print a copy of this handout, please click here.