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Guide to Citations

A guide for everyone explaining basics of different types of Citation: What their purposes are, how to do them, and why they are important.

When should I use MLA citation?

MLA citation is used by the humanities ("Citation Styles: APA, MLA, Chicago, Turabian, IEEE: Home"). This includes English Language and Literature, Foreign Languages and Literatures, Literary Criticism, Comparative Literature, and Cultural Studies ("MLA Overview and Workshop"). It is a very simple style of citation even if the formatting is stricter, so if you have a choice, this might be an easy style to choose.

What do citations look like?

MLA citations have two parts:

  • Parenthetical citation, which is the citation in parentheses within the essay itself.
  • Works Cited, which is a bibliography of all works used. This is where the citations will generally go.

Parenthetical Citations generally look something like this (AuthorLastName, Page#). However if you reference the same work several times in a row, you can omit the author's last name and just include the page number, like this (Page#). For more information, see the page on Parenthetical Citations.

Works Cited generally look something like this:

Burgess, Casey. "MLA Citation." Musicians Institute. 21 November 2019. Accessed 21 November 2019. 


Formatting in MLA style is a bit more strict. However, it specifies that, regardless of MLA format you should always follow your professors' instructions above all else. It specifies that a properly formatted paper should be:

  • Printed on 8.5 x 11 paper with 1 inch margins.
  • Double-spaced with a legible font. Times New Roman is the recommended font. 
  • Only one space after periods and other punctuation (which may change at the discretion of the professor)
  • Indent each paragraph 1/2-inch or 1 "Tab"
  • Create a header with your last name and the page number in Arabic numbers (1, 2, 3) in the upper right-hand corner. It must be 1/2 inch from the top and flush with the margin (which is 1-inch)
    • Professors may ask you to omit the page number on the first page
  • Use italics for two purposes:
    • For titles of longer works, like books.
    • For emphasis only when necessary.
  • Any endnotes should be included on a separate page before the Works Cited Page.

When formatting the first page, keep the following in mind:

  • In the top left-hand corner, create a header (not in the header). This should be double-spaced and include:
    • Your Name
    • Your Instructor's Name
    • The Name of Your Course
    • The Date
  • Double space and type in your title. It should be in standard capitalization rather than capitalizing every word. It should not be underlined, italicized, or have quotation marks or any kind of punctuation.
  • Put one double space between your title and the beginning of your essay (Purdue Owl, MLA General Format).

All works cited should be on a separate page.

  • The top of the page should read "Works Cited" and should be centered.
  • All entries should be listed in alphabetical order
  • If an entry goes onto the second line, it should be indented 1/2 inch

References and Citations

"Citation Styles: APA, MLA, Chicago, Turabian, IEEE: Home." University of Pittsburgh Library System. Accessed

November 21, 2019.

"MLA General Format." Purdue University Online Writing


Accessed November 21, 2019.

"MLA Overview and Workshop." Purdue Online Writing

Lab. Accessed November 21, 2019.