MLA Abbreviated Style Guide

:“Why do I need to learn MLA style?” It is a question we sometimes hear at the Modern Language Association, and the answer is simple. Every time you write a research paper, you enter into a community of writers and scholars. The disciplines in this community all use conventions—think of the ways chemists, mathematicians, and philosophers use symbols and special terms to transmit information. MLA style represents a consensus among teachers, scholars, and librarians in the fields of language and literature on the conventions for documenting research, and those conventions will help you organize your research paper coherently. By using MLA style, you will direct your readers to the sources you consulted in arriving at your findings, and you will enable them to build on your work. (Gibaldi xiii)

MLA Abbreviated Style Guide (PDF)[edit]

MLA Video Modules[edit]

  1. Setting Paper Size
  2. Format Name Block
  3. Setting the Font
  4. Setting Setting Double Space
  5. Formatting Running Head

Formatting your Paper (see Gibaldi, pages 115 and following for examples)[edit]

  • Use 1 inch margins (or centimeter equivalent) on all sides (4.1)
  • Align document to the left margin (don’t center “justify” margins) (4.1)
  • Use 12 point serif font throughout the document (eg. Times New Roman) (4.2)
  • Begin your first page with the following heading in the upper left corner (4.3):
    • your name
    • your instructor’s name
    • class name
    • date (05 November 2011 or November 5, 2011)
  • Double space everything (4.2)
  • Number all pages consecutively throughout the paper in the upper right corner, using your last name and the page number (4.4)
  • Use italics to indicate titles of longer works (novels, textbooks) in your document and put “quotation marks” around titles of shorter works (poems, essays, articles) (3.6)
  • Do not make a title page unless specifically requested by your teacher (4.3)
  • Center the title one space below header (4.3)
  • For titles and names in foreign languages, see 3.1.4 and 3.3.2
  • For use and accuracy of quotations, see 3.7.1
  • For definitions of plagiarism, see chapter 2, p. 51 and following

In-Text Citations[edit]

  • Anything you quote or paraphrase or reference in the text must be included on the works cited list (5.3.1)
  • Generally, in-text citations contain the first item in the works cited entry, as well as the page number (5.3.1)
  • If you use the same author repeatedly, or if you reference the author’s name in your sentence, you may simply give the page numbers (3.6.6)
  • If you reference more than one work by the same author, include the first words of the title (ignoring articles “the” “a” or “an”) to distinguish between works
  • Direct quotes from the NIV Study Bible are followed by (New International Version, Gen. 1.1)
  • Indirect quotes from the NIV Study Bible are followed by (Gen. 1.1)


  • For prose citation, see 3.7.2
  • For poetry citation, see 3.7.3
  • For drama citation, see 3.7.4
  • If the quotation ends your sentence, place the period after the citation (3.6.1).
  • “If the quotation runs more than four lines in your paper, set it off from your text by beginning a new line, indenting one inch. . . . from the left margin, and typing it double spaced, without adding quotation marks” (3.7.2).

Formatting your Works Cited List (see Gibaldi, pages 123 and following for examples)[edit]

  • Begin on a new page; continue page numbers from the text of the paper (5.3.2)
  • Title the list Works Cited, centered at the top of the page (5.3.2)
  • Double-space all entries. Do not skip lines between entries (5.3.3)
  • Alphabetize all entries (5.3.3)
  • Use a ½ inch hanging indent on the second and third lines of an entry (5.3.2)

Common Citation Forms[edit]

NIV Study Bible
NIV Study Bible. Ed. Kenneth Barker. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2002. Print.

A Book

Henley, Patricia. The Hummingbird House. Denver: MacMurray, 1999. Print.

Two books by the same author

(After the first listing of the author's name, use three hyphens and a period for the author's name. List books alphabetically)
Palmer, William J. Dickens and New Historicism. New York: St. Martin's, 1997. Print.
---. The Films of the Eighties: A Social History. Carbondale: Southern Illinois UP, 1993. Print.

Book with more than one author

Gillespie, Paula, and Neal Lerner. The Allyn and Bacon Guide to Peer Tutoring. Boston: Allyn, 2000. Print.

Book with a corporate author

American Allergy Association. Allergies in Children. New York: Random, 1998. Print.

Book or article with no author named

(Start the entry with the title of the article or book)
Encyclopaedia of Indiana. New York: Somerset, 1993. Print.
"Cigarette Sales Fall 30% as California Tax Rises." New York Times 14 Sept. 1999: A17. Print.

Anthology or Compilation

Shell, Marc, ed. American Babel: Literatures of the United States from Abnaki to Zuni. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 2002. Print.

A part of a book (such as an essay in a collection)

Allende, Isabel. “Toad’s Mouth.” Trans. Margaret Sayers Peden. A Hammock beneath the Mangoes: Stories from Latin America,. Ed. Thomas Chochie. New York: Plume, 1992. 83 - 88. Print.

Article from a reference book

"Jamaica." Encyclopaedia Britannica. 1999 ed. Print

Magazine or newspaper article

Poniewozik, James. "TV Makes a Too-Close Call." Time 20 Nov. 2000: 70-71. Print.

Web site example

Felluga, Dino. Undergraduate Guide to Literary Theory. Purdue University, 17 Dec. 1999. Web. 15 Nov. 2000.
(Add URL at the end if required <>)

Article on a web site example

Poland, Dave. "The Hot Button." Roughcut. Turner Network Television, 26 Oct. 1998. Web. 28 Oct. 1998.

Online journal article example

Wheelis, Mark. "Investigating Disease Outbreaks Under a Protocol to the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention." Emerging Infectious Diseases 6.6 (2000):33 pars. Web. 5 Dec. 2000.

E-mail example

Kunka, Andrew. "Re: Modernist Literature." Message to Daniel J. Cahill. 15 Nov. 2000. E-mail.

Interview that you conducted

Purdue, Pete. Personal Interview. 1 Dec. 2000.

Sound recording

U2. All That You Can't Leave Behind. Interscope, 2000. CD.


The Usual Suspects. Dir. Bryan Singer. Perf. Kevin Spacey, Gabriel Byrne, Chazz Palminteri, Stephen Baldwin, and Benecio del Toro. Polygram, 1995. Film.

<c>Works Cited</c>

Gibaldi, Joseph. MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers. Seventh Edition. New York: Modern Language Association of America, 2009.