MLA Format

Getting started: Making the first page

    • Do not include a separate title page (unless requested by your professor).

    • The entire page should be double spaced (unless requested by your professor).

    • Should always, always use Times New Roman or Courier Font Size 12, or whatever guidelines are given per the assignment.

    • Add Page Number. On Microsoft Word (which is on all the SAS computers as well as on the computers in the JDH computer lab) go “Insert -> Page Number -> Top->Right. Then click on the page and add your last name on the left of the number, this will replicate the number on each page.
    • On the top of the first page and flush with the left margin, include the following information on separate double-spaced lines: your name, your instructor’s name, the course name, and the date (day of month month year).

    • After the date, hit enter and type your title. The title should be centered. Do not underline or use quotation marks or use a special font. Only capitalize the first letter of important words (i.e., use Title Case).

    • After your title, hit enter and begin the body of your essay, indenting 0.5 inches (5 spaces) from the left margin by using the tab button.

    • All your margins should be one inch, and the page number should be half an inch from the top.

The first page of your MLA-formatted essay should look like this:

As you write: Citations

  • The general rule is that whenever you use a fact or a concept you did not think of yourself, you should put in a citation. Cite early and cite often. As soon as you introduce an idea, you should cite it. This does two things for you. First, it prevents you from being accused of plagiarism which is taken very, very seriously at STU. Second, it proves that your thoughts and ideas are informed and that you have done research. This shows you can synthesis ideas and analyze them.
  • For MLA format, a typical citation goes in parentheses at the end of a sentence, before the period. Typically it includes the author’s last name and page number.
  • Purdue Owl has a very in depth, accurate summary of how to do cite all different sources, from books, to interviews, to power points, most things you can imagine. Access this resource at here.
  • Citations go at the end of the first sentence you introduce a new idea in.
  • You do not have to cite common knowledge or sayings, but it is up to you do assume the knowledge base of your reader. For most undergraduate papers, you are writing to prove to the professor what you have learned, so explain as much as you can, to prove you understand the concepts. Usually, you should not assume your reader is educated on your subject matter.

While you write: Direct quotes

  • Direct quotes should not be used to explain your point. Do not use them to explain things that you could explain yourself if you reworded it.
  • Direct quotes can be used to prove that the point you already made is supported by other academics. You are on the right track if you start the sentence with “That is supported by ___ when they said “whatever”.”
  • If a quote appears as less than 4 lines in the source you are taking it from, just put it as part of the paragraph. For instance “This is what a quote would look like” (Name page). A direct quote should always be followed by a citation.
  • If a quote is more than 4 lines in the place you are taking it from, it should be a block in the middle of your text. All lines should be indented 2 tabs. For block quotes, the citation comes after the period.
  • If it is less than 4 lines, and you want to indicate a line break, you can choose to use a /. For example, you might want to quote a poem like this “Roses are red/ Violets are blue” (Gray 21).
  • For examples, click here for a sample website.

When you finish: Works Cited

  • The last page of your document should list the sources you used. This page is entitled the "Works Cited" page.
  • Begin the Works Cited on a new page. The page should be titled Works Cited and, just like the title on the first page, should be centered but not italicized or in quotations.
  • List your sources in alphabetical order, using format shown here.
  • The First line of each entry should not be indented but every line after this should. The easiest way to do this, using Microsoft Word, is to highlight the entry, click on the "Page Layout" tab at the top and click on the bottom right hand button under the "Paragraph" section. Under special select "hanging" and click okay. This should do the indenting for you and make it easier if you have to change anything.

The best resource on campus for writing information is the Writing Center, coordinated by Linnet Humble. It is free to all students and offers help with all aspects of the writing process.

To book an appointment using Google Calendar, visit


OWL. Purdue U Writing Lab, 2010. Web. 05 December 2012.

Last modified: Monday, 4 April 2016, 10:48 AM