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Citing Sources


Experts and students of English Language and Literature typically use MLA (Modern Language Association) citation and format. Each style usually asks for the same information. However, they each have quirks and are very specific. So, check out the guide below to learn how to cite sources using MLA. 

If you'd like to look at the MLA Handbook, you can find it on the first floor behind the reference desk.   


Pro TipPro Tip: You can save yourself time by starting your paper in a document already formatted for MLA. Download the one below to get started.

Already started your paper? No problem! Here are the requirements for MLA formatting:

  • Times New Roman 12 point font (or other easily readable font 11-13 points)
  • Double spacing throughout
  • 1 inch margins
  • A running head with your last name in the top right corner
  • Page numbers to the right of your name in the running head
  • Heading with your name, your professor’s name, the class, and the date formatted Day Month Year
  • Paper Title underneath the heading
  • Works Cited page in hanging indent format and in alphabetical order by the first element in the citation

Check out the Formatting Your Paper in MLA video for step-by-step instructions on how to set up these requirements.

Hanging Indent

MLA citations in the Works Cited list are in hanging indent format. That means the first line goes all the way to the left and subsequent lines start .5 inches to the right. You can create a hanging indent by highlighting the citation, right clicking on the highlighted portion, choosing Paragraph, and then choosing Hanging Indent in the Spacing section. 



Citation Template and Core Elements Explained

Along with showing your knowledge of the subject and credibility as an author, the point of providing a reference is to allow a reader to look up the source for themselves. So you need to provide as much information as you can. MLA Works Cited citations are made up of elements based on a single template you can apply to any source. If you learn the template and it's formatting, you'll be able to create a citation for anything without needing to find just the right example to follow. If you prefer using examples for each of your sources, you can find them on the Citation Examples page. Keep in mind that if you use the examples, you may need to combine several of them to get the best citation for your source. For example, if you have an edited book with an edition and several authors, you may need to look at the edited book example, a book with multiple authors example, and the book with an edition example. 

There are MLAs 9 basic elements:

""1. Author: The person, group, or organization responsible for the intellectual or creative work of a source.

2. Title of Source: The title of the specific piece of information you’re looking at.

3. Title of Container: The larger work that contains the smaller bit of information that you’re focusing on.

4. Contributor: Other people, such as editors, translators, directors, etc. who have put creativity and thought into the work.

5. Version: Indicates which variation of a source you are using, such as edition or director’s cut.

6. Number: Indicates where in a series your source is found.

7. Publisher: Who prepared and distributed the source to a wider audience.

8. Publication Date: When the source was published in print or online.

9. Location: Where in the source you found the information, such as page numbers of a book chapter or the url of a website.

Pro TipMost sources don't have all the elements. The idea is to include as many as the source has. Also, if the source has more than one container, such as a journal article contained in a journal contained in a database, elements 3 through 9 will appear more than once. Each source will be slightly different.

MLA Cheat Sheet

To access a larger image and PDF copy of the cheat sheet, click on the image.

Formatting In-Text Citations

To show that you're quoting or paraphrasing a resource in-text using MLA, you use parenthetical citations. Once you've used a source, you will insert the parenthetical citation at the very end of the sentence, but before the period.

Basic Format: (Author Last Name Page(s))


Curriculum audits can focus on many factors and/or aspects of strength and weakness in a given program. Diversity is the topic of examination in this research, and in other case studies throughout this literature. Diversity audits "are evaluations based on qualitative and quantitative information about the status of diversity within the organization" (Harvey 328).


If you're citing sources with more than one author, you follow these examples:

Two Authors: (Cooke & Jacobs 2)

Three or More: (Morales, et al. 445)

MLA Examples

To access the full two-pages of examples, click on the image.