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MLA Style Guide, 7th Edition: About MLA

About this Guide ...

Always refer to the MLA Manual for authorized examples of citations.

Some of the citations in this guide are taken from the MLA Manual; others are recommendations from IRSC librarians.

Always ask your instructor for specific directions pertaining to your assignment.

mla 7 essay

A copy of this manual is available in all IRSC campus libraries.

MLA References

The standard citation style guide for the humanities, especially languages and literature, is the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers , 7th edition, 2010. The American Modern Language Association (MLA) publishes the manual. It is commonly referred to it as the "MLA Manual".

The English departments at IRSC recommend MLA format for papers written in these fields.

Two types of citations are included in most research papers: citations within the text of the document and a list of reference citations at the end of the paper.

In-Text Citations:

In-text citations appear in the body of your paper. They identify your use of an idea from one of your sources. The MLA Manual uses the author-page citation system for in-text citations. 

Reference Citations:

Information about the sources you use in your work are included as a separate list at the end of the paper.  The MLA Manual suggests using the title, Works Cited , for the list.

Any source information that you provide in an in-text citation must correspond to a source in your Works Cited page.

Note on Web Publications

MLA no longer requires URLs in MLA citations. However, your instructor may wish you to include the URL as part of the citation so that your source may be easily located. MLA suggests that the URL appear in angle brackets after the date of access.

Potter, Michelle. "Zora Neale Hurston: A Literary Life." LiteraryTraveler.com  n.d. Web. 22 Mar 2016. <http://www.literarytraveler.com/articles/zora-neale-hurston-a-literary-life/>

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MLA Sample Paper

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Mla style (7th edition).

MLA is a citation style from the Modern Language Association and is commonly used in the humanities. When using MLA, you will cite sources both within the text (in-text citations) and at the end of the document (Works Cited page).

In-Text Citations

MLA requires citing with the author’s last name . In-text citations can appear within the sentence or at the end of the sentence.

In Williams and Jones , the data shows that citations are important.

The data shows that citations are important (Williams and Jones) .

For in-text citations in specific contexts, see our headings below:

Direct Quotations

Page numbers are required for direct quotations from sources that have numbered pages, such as books or journals. This number appears in parentheses at the end of the sentence.

According to Smith , “It is better to overcite than undercite” (2) .

Research requires the frequent use of citations: “It is better to overcite than undercite”  (Smith 2) .

Multiple Authors

When a source has two to three authors, write out all of the authors' names and combine them with "and."

William, Jones, and Smith find that citations are important.

The data shows that citations are important (Williams, Jones, and Smith) .

When a source has four or more authors, you can either write out all of the authors' names or use only the first author's name and “et al.” (meaning "and everyone else"). Write "et al." in lowercase, place a period after "al." and do not place a comma between the author's name and "et al."

Saal et al. argues that historic homes should be preserved.

Historic homes should be preserved (Saal et al.) .

When no author is listed, you have two options:

1. Use the publisher name. When citing a webpage, the publisher will appear at the bottom of the website next to the copyright date.

The data shows that citations are important (Organization for Research) .

2. Use the shortened title of the source. Note: a source without a named author or publisher might not be reliable.

The data shows that citations are important (“Using Sources”) .

Multiple Sources

When citing multiple different sources in the same citation, list them in alphabetical order (like on your Works Cited page) and separate them with semicolons.

The data shows that citations are important (Aeron; Coldwater et al.; Williams and Jones) .

When you have two or more authors with the same last name, include their first initial in your citations to differentiate the sources.

The data shows that citations are important (R. Aeron; A. Aeron) .

When you have two or more sources with the same author(s), include the shortened title of the source to differentiate them. This title will appear in parentheses at the end of the sentence. Italicize book titles and use quotation marks for article titles.

Aeron argues that citations are important ("Research") .

The data shows that citations are important (Aeron, "Research") .

Works Cited Page

The Works Cited page lists the full citation of each source used in your paper. Follow these general notes on MLA format:

The information provided in each of your Works Cited citations will be different for each type of source. Here are some examples of Works Cited citations for common types of sources:

Because all of the content in a book is written by the same author(s), you can cite the entire book on your Works Cited, even if you only used information from one chapter or a few pages. If a book has multiple copyright dates, use the most recent.

General Format

AuthorLastName, FirstName. Book Title in Caps and Italics: Subtitle . edition, if applicable. City of Publication:

Publisher Name, year of publication. Medium of Publication.

Example, with No Edition

Lord, Walter. The Night Lives On: The Untold Stories and Secrets Behind the Sinking of the" Unsinkable" Ship—Titanic .

New York: Open Road Media, 2012. Print.

Example, with Edition

Butler, Daniel Allen. "Unsinkable": The Full Story of the RMS Titanic . 2nd ed. Boston: Da Capo Press, 2012. Print.

Article or Chapter in Edited Book

Edited books contain articles or chapters written by different authors. Thus, your Works Cited must list each individual article or chapter that you used in your research.

AuthorLastName, FirstName. "Title of Article/Chapter in Quotation Marks." Book Title in Caps and Italics: Subtitle .

Ed. EditorFirstName LastName. City of Publication: Publisher Name, year of publication. Page range of

article/chapter. Medium of Publication.

Example, with One Book Editor

Beesley, Lawrence. "The Loss of the S. S. Titanic, Its Story, and Its Lessons." The Story of the Titanic: As Told

by Its Survivors . Ed. Jack Winocour. New York: Dover Publications, 1960. 1-110. Print.

Example, with Two Book Editors

Middleton, Peter, and Tim Woods. "Textual Memory: The Making of the Titanic's Archive." The Titanic in Myth

and Memory: Representations in Visual and Literary Culture . Eds. Tim Bergfelder and Sarah Street.

New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004. 63-72. Print.

Journal Article

AuthorLastName, FirstName. "Title of Article in Quotation Marks." Journal Title in Caps and Italics volume#.issue#

(year of publication): page range of article. Medium of Publication.

Frey, Bruno S., David A. Savage, and Benno Torgler. "Interaction of Natural Survival Instincts and Internalized Social

Norms Exploring the Titanic and Lusitania Disasters." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 107.11 (2010):

4862-4865. Web.

Newspaper Article

Provide the day, month, and year that the newspaper article was published. Abbreviate the month according to the following standards:

AuthorLastName, FirstName. "Title of Article in Quotation Marks." Newspaper Title in Caps and Italics Day Month

Year of Publication. Medium of Publication.

Broad, William J.  "A New Look at Nature's Role in the Titanic 's Sinking: The Iceberg Was Only Part of It."

The New York Times 9 Apr. 2012. Web.

Provide the day, month, and year that the webpage was published and that you last visited the webpage. If the webpage has no publication information, use the abbrevation "n.d." for "no date." Abbreviate the months according to the standards listed at the top of this section.

The title of the website is usually located in the top left corner of every page. The website publisher will be located at the bottom of the page, next to the copyright date.

AuthorLastName, FirstName. "Title of Webpage in Quotation Marks." Website Title in Italics . Publisher of Website,

Day Month Year of Publication. Medium of Publication. Day Month Year of Last Access.

Example, with Publication Date

Lorenzi, Rossella. "Steering Error Sank the Titanic , Says Author." Discovery News . Discovery Communications,

LLC, 23 Sept. 2010. Web. 8 Dec. 2015.

Example, with No Author or Publication Date

"Titanic." History . A+E Networks Corporation, n.d. Web. 8 Dec. 2015.

Style and Format

In MLA, quotations that extend more than 4 lines should be formatted as block quotations. This means the quotation will have no quotation marks and be completely indented one inch from the rest of the paragraph. For example:

Many scholars continue to prefer humans over computers:

The human brain, with its flexibility and capacity to imagine, is still superior in many ways to the electronic model. The computer is never tired or preoccupied or careless, so it is wonderful at remembering and observing rules. But it doesn’t have the imagination of even a very young human brain—which not only can forget the rules, but can find in them loopholes and options. Electronic intelligence can process information like a house afire, but it still can’t think . (LaRocque 52)

MLA also had standards for formatting your paper. The first page should include your name, your professor's name, your course number, and your due date in the upper left corner. The due date will be written in inverted order, with the day coming before the month. An example can be seen at Purdue OWL .

Julie Smith Dr. Sally Harris ENG 111 7 November 2013

All of the headers in your paper should have your last name and page number in the upper right corner.

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Sample Papers in MLA Style

Congratulations to the winners of the MLA Student Essay Contest! The winning essays were selected as examples of excellent student writing that use MLA style for citing sources. Essays were lightly edited. 

If your institution subscribes to MLA Handbook Plus , you can access annotated versions of the winning essays from the 2022 contest. 

Winners of the 2022 MLA Student Essay Contest

The following essays won the 2022 MLA Student Paper Contest. The judges of the 2022 contest were Ellen C. Carillo, University of Connecticut; Jessica Edwards, University of Delaware (chair); and Deborah H. Holdstein, Columbia College Chicago.

Kaile Chu (New York University, Shanghai)

“Miles Apart: An Investigation into Dedicated Online Communities’ Impact on Cultural Bias”

Sietse Hagen (University of Groningen)

“The Significance of Fiction in the Debate on Dehumanizing Media Portrayals of Refugees”

Klara Ismail (University of Exeter)

“Queering the Duchess: Exploring the Body of the Female Homosexual in John Webster’s The Duchess of Malfi ”

Yasmin Mendoza (Whittier College)

“Banning without Bans”

Niki Nassiri (Stony Brook University)

“Modern-Day US Institutions and Slavery in the Twenty-First Century”

Samantha Wilber (Palm Beach Atlantic University)

“‘Pero, tu no eres facil’: The Poet X as Multicultural Bildungsroman”

Winners of the 2019 MLA Student Essay Contest

The following essays won the 2019 MLA Student Paper Contest. The 2019 judges were Jessica Edwards, University of Delaware; Deborah H. Holdstein, Columbia College Chicago (chair); and Liana Silva, César E. Chavez High School, Houston, Texas.

Catherine Charlton (University of King’s College, Nova Scotia)

“‘Coal Is in My Blood’: Public and Private Representations of Community Identity in Springhill, Nova Scotia”

Alyiah Gonzales (California Polytechnic State University)

“Disrupting White Normativity in Langston Hughes’s ‘I, Too’ and Toni Morrison’s ‘Recitatif’”

Meg Matthias (Miami University, Ohio)

“Prescriptions of (Living) Historical Happiness: Gendered Performance and Racial Comfort in Reenactment”

Jennifer Nguyen  (Chaminade University of Honolulu)

“The Vietnam War, the American War: Literature, Film, and Popular Memory”

Emily Schlepp (Northwest University)

“A Force of Love: A Deconstructionist Reading of Characters in Dickens’s  Great Expectations ”

Home / Guides / Citation Guides / MLA Format / How to Cite an Essay in MLA

How to Cite an Essay in MLA

The guidelines for citing an essay in MLA format are similar to those for citing a chapter in a book. Include the author of the essay, the title of the essay, the name of the collection if the essay belongs to one, the editor of the collection or other contributors, the publication information, and the page number(s).

Citing an Essay

Mla essay citation structure.

Last, First M. “Essay Title.” Collection Title, edited by First M. Last, Publisher, year published, page numbers. Website Title , URL (if applicable).

MLA Essay Citation Example

Gupta, Sanjay. “Balancing and Checking.” Essays on Modern Democracy, edited by Bob Towsky, Brook Stone Publishers, 1996, pp. 36-48. Essay Database, www . databaseforessays.org/modern/modern-democracy.

MLA Essay In-text Citation Structure

(Last Name Page #)

MLA Essay In-text Citation Example

Click here to cite an essay via an EasyBib citation form.

MLA Formatting Guide

MLA Formatting

Citation Examples

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To cite your sources in an essay in MLA style, you need to have basic information including the author’s name(s), chapter title, book title, editor(s), publication year, publisher, and page numbers. The templates for in-text citations and a works-cited-list entry for essay sources and some examples are given below:

In-text citation template and example:

For citations in prose, use the first name and surname of the author on the first occurrence. For subsequent citations, use only the surname(s). In parenthetical citations, always use only the surname of the author(s).

Citation in prose:

First mention: Annette Wheeler Cafarelli

Subsequent occurrences: Wheeler Cafarelli

Parenthetical:

….(Wheeler Cafarelli).

Works-cited-list entry template and example:

The title of the chapter is enclosed in double quotation marks and uses title case. The book or collection title is given in italics and uses title case.

Surname, First Name. “Title of the Chapter.” Title of the Book , edited by Editor(s) Name, Publisher, Publication Year, page range.

Cafarelli, Annette Wheeler. “Rousseau and British Romanticism: Women and British Romanticism.” Cultural Interactions in the Romantic Age: Critical Essays in Comparative Literature , edited by Gregory Maertz. State U of New York P, 1998, pp. 125–56.

To cite an essay in MLA style, you need to have basic information including the author(s), the essay title, the book title, editor(s), publication year, publisher, and page numbers. The templates for citations in prose, parenthetical citations, and works-cited-list entries for an essay by multiple authors, and some examples, are given below:

For citations in prose, use the first name and surname of the author (e.g., Mary Strine).

For sources with two authors, use both full author names in prose (e.g., Mary Strine and Beth Radick).

For sources with three or more authors, use the first name and surname of the first author followed by “and others” or “and colleagues” (e.g., Mary Strine and others). In subsequent citations, use only the surname of the first author followed by “and others” or “and colleagues” (e.g., Strine and others).

In parenthetical citations, use only the author’s surname. For sources with two authors, use two surnames (e.g., Strine and Radick). For sources with three or more author names, use the first author’s surname followed by “et al.”

First mention: Mary Strine…

Subsequent mention: Strine…

First mention: Mary Strine and Beth Radick…

Subsequent mention: Strine and Radick…

First mention: Mary Strine and colleagues …. or Mary Strine and others

Subsequent occurrences: Strine and colleagues …. or Strine and others

…. (Strine).

….(Strine and Radick).

….(Strine et al.).

The title of the essay is enclosed in double quotation marks and uses title case. The book or collection title is given in italics and uses title case.

Surname, First Name, et al. “Title of the Essay.” Title of the Book , edited by Editor(s) Name, Publisher, Publication Year, page range.

Strine, Mary M., et al. “Research in Interpretation and Performance Studies: Trends, Issues, Priorities.” Speech Communication: Essays to Commemorate the 75th Anniversary of the Speech Communication Association , edited by Gerald M. Phillips and Julia T. Wood, Southern Illinois UP, 1990, pp. 181–204.

MLA Citation Examples

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MLA Format | Complete Guidelines & Free Template

Published on December 11, 2019 by Raimo Streefkerk . Revised on June 16, 2022 by Jack Caulfield.

The MLA Handbook provides guidelines for creating MLA citations and formatting academic papers. This quick guide will help you set up your MLA format paper in no time.

Start by applying these MLA format guidelines to your document:

Download Word template Open Google Docs template

(To use the Google Docs template, copy the file to your Drive by clicking on ‘file’ > ‘Make a copy’)

Table of contents

How to set up mla format in google docs, header and title, running head, works cited page, creating mla style citations, headings and subheadings, tables and figures, frequently asked questions about mla format.

The header in MLA format is left-aligned on the first page of your paper. It includes

After the MLA header, press ENTER once and type your paper title. Center the title and don’t forget to apply title-case capitalization. Read our article on writing strong titles that are informative, striking and appropriate.

MLA header

For a paper with multiple authors, it’s better to use a separate title page instead.

At the top of every page, including the first page, you need to include your last name and the page number. This is called the “running head.” Follow these steps to set up the MLA running head in your Word or Google Docs document:

The running head should look like this:

MLA running head

The Works Cited list is included on a separate page at the end of your paper. You list all the sources you referenced in your paper in alphabetical order. Don’t include sources that weren’t cited in the paper, except potentially in an MLA annotated bibliography assignment.

Place the title “Works Cited” in the center at the top of the page. After the title, press ENTER once and insert your MLA references.

If a reference entry is longer than one line, each line after the first should be indented ½ inch (called a hanging indent ). All entries are double spaced, just like the rest of the text.

Format of an MLA Works Cited page

Generate accurate MLA citations with Scribbr

Prefer to cite your sources manually? Use the interactive example below to see what the Works Cited entry and MLA in-text citation look like for different source types.

Headings and subheadings are not mandatory, but they can help you organize and structure your paper, especially in longer assignments.

MLA has only a few formatting requirements for headings. They should

We recommend keeping the font and size the same as the body text and applying title case capitalization. In general, boldface indicates greater prominence, while italics are appropriate for subordinate headings.

Chapter Title

Section Heading

Tip: Both Google Docs and Microsoft Word allow you to create heading levels that help you to keep your headings consistent.

Tables and other illustrations (referred to as “figures”) should be placed as close to the relevant part of text as possible. MLA also provides guidelines for presenting them.

MLA format for tables

Tables are labeled and numbered, along with a descriptive title. The label and title are placed above the table on separate lines; the label and number appear in bold.

A caption providing information about the source appears below the table; you don’t need one if the table is your own work.

Below this, any explanatory notes appear, marked on the relevant part of the table with a superscript letter. The first line of each note is indented; your word processor should apply this formatting automatically.

Just like in the rest of the paper, the text is double spaced and you should use title case capitalization for the title (but not for the caption or notes).

MLA table

MLA format for figures

Figures (any image included in your paper that isn’t a table) are also labeled and numbered, but here, this is integrated into the caption below the image. The caption in this case is also centered.

The label “Figure” is abbreviated to “Fig.” and followed by the figure number and a period. The rest of the caption gives either full source information, or (as in the example here) just basic descriptive information about the image (author, title, publication year).

MLA figure

Source information in table and figure captions

If the caption of your table or figure includes full source information and that source is not otherwise cited in the text, you don’t need to include it in your Works Cited list.

Give full source information in a caption in the same format as you would in the Works Cited list, but without inverting the author name (i.e. John Smith, not Smith, John).

MLA recommends using 12-point Times New Roman , since it’s easy to read and installed on every computer. Other standard fonts such as Arial or Georgia are also acceptable. If in doubt, check with your supervisor which font you should be using.

The main guidelines for formatting a paper in MLA style are as follows:

The fastest and most accurate way to create MLA citations is by using Scribbr’s MLA Citation Generator .

Search by book title, page URL, or journal DOI to automatically generate flawless citations, or cite manually using the simple citation forms.

The MLA Handbook is currently in its 9th edition , published in 2021.

This quick guide to MLA style  explains the latest guidelines for citing sources and formatting papers according to MLA.

Usually, no title page is needed in an MLA paper . A header is generally included at the top of the first page instead. The exceptions are when:

In those cases, you should use a title page instead of a header, listing the same information but on a separate page.

Cite this Scribbr article

If you want to cite this source, you can copy and paste the citation or click the “Cite this Scribbr article” button to automatically add the citation to our free Citation Generator.

Streefkerk, R. (2022, June 16). MLA Format | Complete Guidelines & Free Template. Scribbr. Retrieved March 11, 2023, from https://www.scribbr.com/mla/formatting/

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COMMENTS

  1. MLA Style Guide, 7th Edition: Formatting Your Paper

    Use double-spacing throughout the entire paper. Leave 1 inch margins on the top, bottom, and each side.

  2. MLA General Format

    MLA Style also provides writers with a system for referencing their sources through parenthetical citation in their essays and Works Cited pages.

  3. MLA Sample Paper

    This resource contains a sample MLA paper that adheres to the 2016 updates. To download the MLA sample paper, click this link.

  4. MLA Style (7th Edition) Handout

    When using MLA, you will cite sources both within the text (in-text citations) and at the end of the document (Works Cited page).

  5. Sample Papers in MLA Style

    Congratulations to the winners of the MLA Student Essay Contest! The winning essays were selected as examples of excellent student writing that use MLA

  6. MLA HANDBOOK, 7th edition (your professor may prefer different

    MLA generally uses the author's surname and page number to cite information within the body of the essay. Full details about your source appear at the end

  7. MLA Format: Everything You Need to Know Here

    Double Space Paragraphs in MLA. MLA research paper format requires that the entire research paper or MLA format essay includes double-spaced lines. Double-

  8. How to Cite an Essay in MLA

    MLA Essay Citation Example. Gupta, Sanjay. “Balancing and Checking.” Essays on Modern Democracy, edited by Bob Towsky, Brook Stone Publishers, 1996, pp.

  9. MLA Format

    Apply MLA format to your title page, header, and Works Cited page with our 3-minute video, template, and examples.

  10. MLA Handbook

    MLA Handbook. Essay Style Guide for students at. Winnipeg Adult Education Centre based on the MLA Handbook for Writers of. Research Papers: Seventh Edition