5 MLA Research Paper Citation Rules You Need To Be Aware Of

When writing a research paper, you should always have a citation page at the end, as the MLA style implies. Your references made throughout the main body must coincide with the citation page.

Rule #1: Basic Guideline

There are some basic rules and guidelines to follow as you write your research paper and begin to construct the citation page.

  • Make sure your reference page looks like the rest of the paper, meaning, do not change the font or font size, do not change margins, and keep page numbers. This part should also start on a new page after the main paper.
  • Title the citation page “Work Cited” and put it in the middle of the upper portion of the page.
  • Be sure to use the “Tab” key on the second and following lines when citing sources.

Some new basic rules were created in 2009 that changed a few rules for citing references. Now, you need to find out and list what the actual source came from and list it (i.e. DVD, CD-ROM, FILM, etc.). The good news is that you no longer need to cite the URLs from website sources, unless you have instructions to do so.

Rule #2: Capitalization

The capitalization of certain words is not needed when citing the title of a reference such as prepositions, conjunctions, and articles. Sometimes this rule has an exception, e.g. when the word is at the beginning of the title it must be capitalized.

Rule #3: Listing Authors

The method used to list the names of authors in the citation page is critical. Each reference should be listed in alphabetical order with the surname listed first, followed by the first name and middle name if it is given. Any given titles or degrees isn’t necessary, but you should list any suffix included.

Rule #4: Multiple Works by an Author

Sometimes you may use more than one source, but by the same author. In this case it is fairly simple to make a list. List the first source starting alphabetically with the title then use three hyphens (---) instead of the author's name for the next references.

Rule #5: No Author Is Given

In some cases, a source has no author listed. When this occurs you can simply use the title of the work only, but make sure to list it alphabetically with the other citations. In the research paper use a shorter version of the title to cite it within the assignment.

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