Tutorial On How To Cite Sources In An MLA Research Paper

MLA style formatting is often used in different humanities disciplines. It regulates your research paper format, in-text citations, and a list of works cited. To get a complete information about the style and its application, visit your school library or the writing center and find an MLA handbook. However, to get started, it’s a good idea to read the basic tutorial on how to cite sources below.

MLA Research Paper Citation Principles: Vital Nuances

  • Always learn the guidelines given by your instructor.
  • Usually, all the text, including citations, should be double-spaced and typed in Times New Roman, 12 pt. Notes should be placed on a separate page before the works cited page. Write the correct abbreviations, e.g. “n.p.” stands for “no publisher given.” However, your professor may provide you with slightly different requirements.

  • Use parenthetical citations within the text.
  • The format of such citations depends on the publication medium, e.g. web, print, DVD, etc., and on the source’s entry in the works cited page. If you provide a signal word or phrase, like the author’s last name, don’t include that information in the corresponding citation. It’s recommended to study a few examples before you start writing your paper.

  • Remember to cite the sources with no known author.
  • You should use the title of the work and the page number to cite a source with an unknown author. Keep in mind that the title should be written in the quotes. Typically, you also need to capitalize the meaningful words in the title.

MLA Notes and Quotations: The Basics

  • Limit the use of explanatory notes.
  • It’s recommended to apply footnotes and endnotes only if necessary because they can be distracting to readers. Either way, your professor may encourage you to use them instead of parenthetical references.

  • Include bibliographic information in notes.
  • MLA style allows you to use endnotes or footnotes to refer to publications that your readers may find helpful for some reason. You should be specific and give the relevant page numbers or chapter numbers.

  • Number notes in the document body.
  • Footnotes and endnotes in MLA format are numbered in-text by superscript Arabic numbers. You need to place that number after the punctuation of the clause to which the note refers, but notice that it appears before the dash.

  • Format the quotations carefully.
  • In MLA style, you can add and/or omit words in quotations. To add something, use the square brackets. To omit some words, put the ellipsis. You should leave only one space after punctuation. Remember that the style requires you to use italics, not underlining if necessary.

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