The MLA Style Manual, published by the Modern Language Association, is a style guide widely used in academia for writing and documentation of research in the humanities.
MLA style uses a Works Cited Page listing works cited in one's text and notes (either footnotes and/or endnotes), which is placed after the main body of a term paper, article, or book. Brief parenthetical citations, including the name or names of author(s) and/or short titles (as needed) and numbers of pages (as applicable), are used within the text. These are keyed to and direct readers to a work or works by author(s) or editor(s) and sometimes titles, as they are presented on the list of works cited (in alphabetical order), and the page(s) of the item where the information is located (e.g. (Smith 107) refers the reader to page 107 of the cited work by an author whose surname is Smith).
If there are more than one author of the same name and/or more than one title of works by that author or authors being cited, then a first name or initial and/or titles or short titles are also used within the text's parenthetical references. There are also other possible headings for lists such as "Selected Bibliography" or "Works Consulted" suggested following MLA style.
There are two official publications of the MLA presenting MLA style, which have been published in revised editions.
- The MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing, third edition (ISBN 978-0-87352-297-7), is addressed primarily to academic scholars, professors, graduate students, and other advanced-level writers of scholarly books and articles in humanities disciplines such as English and other modern languages and literatures. Many journals and presses in these disciplines require that manuscripts be submitted following MLA style.
- The MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, seventh edition (ISBN 978-1-60329-024-1), is addressed primarily to secondary-school and undergraduate college and university students; its conventions pertain to students' writing of reports and research papers as required by teachers in those disciplines.
The MLA suggests that, when creating a document on a computer, the writer should try to maintain a series of guidelines that make it easier for people to read a composition without causing the style to distract from the content.
Choose a standard, easy-to-read font. Times New Roman 12 pt. is suggested.
Align text to the left and do not justify. Center titles.
Indent the first word of each paragraph.
Put only one space after a period at the end of a sentence unless at the end of a paragraph or if your instructor says otherwise.
Put one space after other punctuation marks.
Turn off your word processor's automatic hyphenation feature.
Turn off your word processor's automatic hyperlink feature (URLs on your works cited page should neither be underlined nor hyperlinked).
Website addresses should be placed between angle brackets to set them apart from the rest of the text.
Print on only one side of each piece of paper.
Although underlining is rendered in print through italicization, MLA style recommends that writers of research papers and scholars preparing manuscripts for publication by presses use underlining, unless directed that italicization is permissible or preferred.
MLA format uses just the author(s) last name(s) and the page number for all citations within the paper. You do not need first names, initials, initials, or suffixes like Jr. For example,
Walker compared reaction times (178-85)
In a recent study of reaction times (Walker 178-85).
Walker and Smith (210-15) compared reaction times
In a recent study of reaction times compared (Walker and Smith 210-15)
When you cite a work by more than 2 authors, you must cite all of the authors the first time, like this
Smith, Jones, Rosen, Brown, and Rock (210-15) found that
In a recent study of schizophrenia (Smith, Jones, Rosen, Brown, and Rock 210-15)
For all subsequent citations of this reference, you can use "et al." (which means "and others"), like this:
Smith et al. (210-15) also showed that
It has also been suggested that schizophrenia...(Smith et al. 210-15)
Groups as authors:
You usually spell out the whole group name (for example, an agency) for every citation, but you may spell out the name the first time with an abbreviation for subsequent citations. For example:
First citation: (National Institute of Mental Health [NIMH] 110-18)
Subsequent citations: (NIMH 110-18)
If you have 2 or more works by the same author, put a comma after the author's last name and add a short title of the work in italics followed by the page number, like this:
(Walker, Reaction Times 210)
(Walker, The Science of Nature 155)
The works cited page should be headed "Works Cited," centered in normal font. Entries should be double-spaced, alphabetized, and use a hanging indent of 0.5 inches (beginnings of entries are not indented, but wrapped text is). Author names should appear last name first (example: Smith, John). Dates should be written with the day of the month first, the three letter abbreviation of the month and the year (example: 1 Jan. 2000). The title can either be underlined or italicized. It does not matter which style is chosen, but it should be consistent throughout the page.
Author. Book title. Edition number. Place of publication:Publisher, Year of publication. Print.
Conway, John Horton. On Numbers and Games. 2nd ed. Natick : Peters, 2001. Print.
Author. "Title of entry." Title of reference book. Edition number. Year of publication. Print.
Mohanty, Jitendra M. "Indian Philosophy." The New Encyclopædia Britannica: Macropædia. 15th ed. 1987. Print.
Author. "Article title." Title of periodical Date of periodical (or, if a journal, volume number, followed by year in parentheses): Pages. Print.
Brophy, Mike. "Driving Force." Hockey News 21 Mar. 2006: 16-19. Print.
Kane, Robert. "Turing Machines and Mental Reports." Australasian Journal of Philosophy 44 (1966): 344-52. Print.
Author. "Article Title." Title of webpage. Date of publication (or last modified date). Institution associated with (if not cited earlier). Web. Date of retrieval <url>.
(Note: When citing Wikipedia, it may be preferable to link directly to the revision you used, the URL of which can be seen by clicking "Permanent link" in the Toolbox. This makes it easier for instructors or editors to check the article just as the writer saw it.)
"Plagiarism." Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 19 Oct. 2006. Web. 20 Oct. 2006 <http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Plagiarism&oldid=82555694>.
Person interviewed. Personal interview. Date interviewed.
Bashuk, Mark. Personal interview. 10 Dec. 2006.