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How to Cite a Journal Article in MLA | Format & Examples

Published on April 16, 2019 by Courtney Gahan . Revised on June 16, 2022.

An MLA Works Cited entry for a journal article contains the author(s); article title; journal name; volume and issue; month and year; page range; and a DOI if accessed online. In the in-text citation, include the author’s last name and the page number.

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Table of contents, citing an online journal article, articles with multiple authors, articles in special issue journals, frequently asked questions about mla style.

When citing an online journal article, first look for a DOI , as this is more stable and less likely to change than a URL. A DOI should be formatted as a full link beginning with “https://”, even if not listed as such on the page with the article.

If there is no DOI, you can add a URL instead. If the article is in PDF form, you can optionally note this in your reference .

Citing an article in a database

For sources that you accessed via a database, include the database name along with the DOI or permanent URL.

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In MLA style, up to two authors are included in citations. List them in the order they appear in the source, separated by commas, and don’t invert the second author’s name.

If an article has three or more authors, include only the first author’s name, followed by  “ et al. ”

Special issue journals focus on a specific theme, are written by a specific group of authors, or are compiled from a special event.

In these cases, include the special issue name, the phrase “special issue of,” and the journal’s regular name. If the special issue lists editors or other contributors, their names should also be included.

The title of an article is not italicized in MLA style , but placed in quotation marks. This applies to articles from journals , newspapers , websites , or any other publication. Use italics for the title of the source where the article was published. For example:

Use the same formatting in the Works Cited entry and when referring to the article in the text itself.

If a source has two authors, name both authors in your MLA in-text citation and Works Cited entry. If there are three or more authors, name only the first author, followed by et al.

In MLA style citations , format a DOI as a link, including “” at the start and then the unique numerical code of the article.

DOIs are used mainly when citing journal articles in MLA .

Some source types, such as books and journal articles , may contain footnotes (or endnotes) with additional information. The following rules apply when citing information from a note in an MLA in-text citation :

  • To cite information from a single numbered note, write “n” after the page number, and then write the note number, e.g. (Smith 105n2)
  • To cite information from multiple numbered notes, write “nn” and include a range, e.g. (Smith 77nn1–2)
  • To cite information from an unnumbered note, write “un” after the page number, with a space in between, e.g. (Jones 250 un)

You must include an MLA in-text citation every time you quote or paraphrase from a source (e.g. a book , movie , website , or article ).

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Research Paper: MLA Citation

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MLA Handbook

The MLA 9 Handbook is the official guide of MLA citation formatting. You can find the manual on reserve behind the circulation desk and in the reference section of the library's collection.

  • EVC Library MLA Citation Guide

research paper with mla citation

  • MLA Handbook Plus This link opens in a new window MLA Handbook Plus is the online version of the Modern Language Association Handbook, the authoritative source for MLA citation formatting and research paper layout. Browse or search the book online, get citation examples for just about everything, see sample papers and lots more.

Click the image for an informative sample of a MLA research paper with explanations of formatting:  

Sample of MLA formatted paper

Additional MLA Sample Papers

Formatting the Works Cited List

MLA requires specific formatting of your paper and Works Cited List.

Watch the video below for instructions on how to set up your paper in Microsoft word:

  • MLA Template

This MS Word document template is pre-formatted according to proper MLA standards. Just insert your information and you are ready to go!

image of mla template

More Questions? MLA Resources

The Purdue OWL MLA Formattting and Style Guide is a helpful resource for MLA citation (giving credit for any quotes, facts, paraphrases, or summaries in your paper). Check here for help with your works cited page (bibliography page).

B ibMe   A guided citation builder -- entering your citation information and EasyBib will help you format your citation.

  • MLA Handout from the EVC Library

MLA Citation Video

Learn MLA Citations by watching this video tutorial by EVC librarian, Heather Ott.


Works Cited Page

The last page of your essay is called the "Works Cited" list. This is where you list the full citation of the sources you used to write your paper.

research paper with mla citation

To create the citations for your sources:

1. Use the MLA universal set of guidelines to build your citations. Here is the universal format to follow:

Author. "Title of Source". Title of Container , Other Contributors, Version, Number, Publisher, Publication date, Location.


Kunzig, Robert. "The New Europeans: Voices from a Changing Continent". National Geographic , vol. 258, no. 5, Nov. 2015, pp. 58-75.  


2. Your source may not contain information in all of these categories, so only include the information you have.  3. Pay attention to the punctuation. Put periods after the author, title of the source, and at the very end. Put commas in between everything else.

This is a basic overview of MLA Works Cited page. For more details and help with specific source formats, check out Purdue's Online Writing Lab MLA guide on:


Media and Audio/Visual sources

Electronic Sources

  MLA Format: In-Text Citation

In addition to creating the Works Cited list, you are also required to include in text citation.

This is a brief citation within your research paper that is placed after information which is quoted or paraphrased from the sources you use. In text citation for MLA generally requires two pieces of information:

1. Author's last name 2. The page number the information came from

Sample of MLA intext citation. It states: Farming’s Influence on Education. One result of the newly circulating print information  was the “need for acquiring scientific information upon which could be based a rational  technology” that could “be substituted for the current diverse, empirical practices”  (Danhof 69). In his 1825 book Nature and Reason Harmonized in the Practice of  Husbandry, John Lorain begins his first chapter by stating that “[v]ery erroneous theories  have been propagated” resulting in faulty farming methods (1). His words here create a  framework for the rest of his book, as he offers his readers narratives of his own trials and  errors and even dismisses foreign, time-tested techniques farmers had held on to: “The  knowledge we have of that very ancient and numerous nation the Chinese, as well as the  very located habits and costumes of this very singular people, is in itself insufficient to  teach us . . .” (75).

The intext citation is often included at the end of a quote or paraphase and is formatted like this:

(Author's Last Name p#).

However, the placement of the intext can change depending on whether or not you introduce the author before your quote or paraphrasing, but the same information for the citation is still required. See examples below. Example 1 (paraphrased) : Eighty percent of children in the US eat grapes ​(Jenkins 3).

Example 2 (quoted) : Jenkins states, "In the United States, grapes are consumed by 80% of children" (3). More on MLA In-Text Citations at Purdue OWL .

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MLA General Format 

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Copyright ©1995-2018 by The Writing Lab & The OWL at Purdue and Purdue University. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, reproduced, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission. Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our terms and conditions of fair use.

MLA Style specifies guidelines for formatting manuscripts and citing research in writing. MLA Style also provides writers with a system for referencing their sources through parenthetical citation in their essays and Works Cited pages. 

Writers who properly use MLA also build their credibility by demonstrating accountability to their source material. Most importantly, the use of MLA style can protect writers from accusations of plagiarism, which is the purposeful or accidental uncredited use of source material produced by other writers. 

If you are asked to use MLA format, be sure to consult the  MLA Handbook  (9th edition). Publishing scholars and graduate students should also consult the  MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing  (3rd edition). The  MLA Handbook  is available in most writing centers and reference libraries. It is also widely available in bookstores, libraries, and at the MLA web site. See the Additional Resources section of this page for a list of helpful books and sites about using MLA Style.

Paper Format

The preparation of papers and manuscripts in MLA Style is covered in part four of the  MLA Style Manual . Below are some basic guidelines for formatting a paper in  MLA Style :

General Guidelines

  • Type your paper on a computer and print it out on standard, white 8.5 x 11-inch paper.
  • Double-space the text of your paper and use a legible font (e.g. Times New Roman). Whatever font you choose, MLA recommends that the regular and italics type styles contrast enough that they are each distinct from one another. The font size should be 12 pt.
  • Leave only one space after periods or other punctuation marks (unless otherwise prompted by your instructor).
  • Set the margins of your document to 1 inch on all sides.
  • Indent the first line of each paragraph one half-inch from the left margin. MLA recommends that you use the “Tab” key as opposed to pushing the space bar five times.
  • Create a header that numbers all pages consecutively in the upper right-hand corner, one-half inch from the top and flush with the right margin. (Note: Your instructor may ask that you omit the number on your first page. Always follow your instructor's guidelines.)
  • Use italics throughout your essay to indicate the titles of longer works and, only when absolutely necessary, provide emphasis.
  • If you have any endnotes, include them on a separate page before your Works Cited page. Entitle the section Notes (centered, unformatted).

Formatting the First Page of Your Paper

  • Do not make a title page for your paper unless specifically requested or the paper is assigned as a group project. In the case of a group project, list all names of the contributors, giving each name its own line in the header, followed by the remaining MLA header requirements as described below. Format the remainder of the page as requested by the instructor.
  • In the upper left-hand corner of the first page, list your name, your instructor's name, the course, and the date. Again, be sure to use double-spaced text.
  • Double space again and center the title. Do not underline, italicize, or place your title in quotation marks. Write the title in Title Case (standard capitalization), not in all capital letters.
  • Use quotation marks and/or italics when referring to other works in your title, just as you would in your text. For example:  Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas  as Morality Play; Human Weariness in "After Apple Picking"
  • Double space between the title and the first line of the text.
  • Create a header in the upper right-hand corner that includes your last name, followed by a space with a page number. Number all pages consecutively with Arabic numerals (1, 2, 3, 4, etc.), one-half inch from the top and flush with the right margin. (Note: Your instructor or other readers may ask that you omit the last name/page number header on your first page. Always follow instructor guidelines.)

Here is a sample of the first page of a paper in MLA style:

This image shows the first page of an MLA paper.

The First Page of an MLA Paper

Section Headings

Writers sometimes use section headings to improve a document’s readability. These sections may include individual chapters or other named parts of a book or essay.

MLA recommends that when dividing an essay into sections you number those sections with an Arabic number and a period followed by a space and the section name.

MLA does not have a prescribed system of headings for books (for more information on headings, please see page 146 in the MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing , 3rd edition). If you are only using one level of headings, meaning that all of the sections are distinct and parallel and have no additional sections that fit within them, MLA recommends that these sections resemble one another grammatically. For instance, if your headings are typically short phrases, make all of the headings short phrases (and not, for example, full sentences). Otherwise, the formatting is up to you. It should, however, be consistent throughout the document.

If you employ multiple levels of headings (some of your sections have sections within sections), you may want to provide a key of your chosen level headings and their formatting to your instructor or editor.

Sample Section Headings

The following sample headings are meant to be used only as a reference. You may employ whatever system of formatting that works best for you so long as it remains consistent throughout the document.

Formatted, unnumbered:

Level 1 Heading: bold, flush left

Level 2 Heading: italics, flush left

Level 3 Heading: centered, bold

Level 4 Heading: centered, italics

Level 5 Heading: underlined, flush left

Writing with MLA Style

Congratulations to the students whose essays were selected for the 2023 edition of Writing with MLA Style! Essays were selected as examples of excellent student writing that use MLA style for citing sources. Essays have been lightly edited. 

If your institution subscribes to MLA Handbook Plus , you can access annotated versions of the essays selected in 2022 and 2023. 

Writing with MLA Style: 2023 Edition

The following essays were selected for the 2023 edition of Writing with MLA Style. The 2023 selection committee was composed of Ellen C. Carillo, University of Connecticut (chair); Rachel Ihara, Kingsborough Community College, City University of New York; and Tarshia L. Stanley, Wagner College.

Caroline Anderson (Pepperdine University)

“ L’Appel du Vide : Making Spaces for Sinful Exploration in The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde ”

Hunter Daniels (University of South Carolina, Aiken)

“Biblical Legalism and Cultural Misogyny in The Tragedy of Mariam ”

Aspen English (Southern Utah University)

“Putting the ‘Comm’ in Comics: A Communication-Theory-Informed Reading of Graphic Narratives”

Raul Martin (Lamar University)

“The Book-Object Binary: Access and Sustainability in the Academic Library”

Grace Quasebarth (Salve Regina University)

“Finding a Voice: The Loss of Machismo Criticisms through Translation in Isabel Allende’s The House of the Spirits ”

Writing with MLA Style: 2022 Edition

The following essays were selected for the 2022 edition of Writing with MLA Style. The 2022 selection committee was composed of Ellen C. Carillo, University of Connecticut; Jessica Edwards, University of Delaware (chair); and Deborah H. Holdstein, Columbia College Chicago.

Kaile Chu (New York University, Shanghai)

“Miles Apart: An Investigation into Dedicated Online Communities’ Impact on Cultural Bias”

Sietse Hagen (University of Groningen)

“The Significance of Fiction in the Debate on Dehumanizing Media Portrayals of Refugees”

Klara Ismail (University of Exeter)

“Queering the Duchess: Exploring the Body of the Female Homosexual in John Webster’s The Duchess of Malfi ”

Yasmin Mendoza (Whittier College)

“Banning without Bans”

Niki Nassiri (Stony Brook University)

“Modern-Day US Institutions and Slavery in the Twenty-First Century”

Samantha Wilber (Palm Beach Atlantic University)

“‘Pero, tu no eres facil’: The Poet X as Multicultural Bildungsroman”

Writing with MLA Style: 2019 Edition

The following essays were selected for the 2019 edition of Writing with MLA Style. The 2019 selection committee was composed of Jessica Edwards, University of Delaware; Deborah H. Holdstein, Columbia College Chicago (chair); and Liana Silva, César E. Chavez High School, Houston, Texas.

Catherine Charlton (University of King’s College, Nova Scotia)

“‘Coal Is in My Blood’: Public and Private Representations of Community Identity in Springhill, Nova Scotia”

Alyiah Gonzales (California Polytechnic State University)

“Disrupting White Normativity in Langston Hughes’s ‘I, Too’ and Toni Morrison’s ‘Recitatif’”

Meg Matthias (Miami University, Ohio)

“Prescriptions of (Living) Historical Happiness: Gendered Performance and Racial Comfort in Reenactment”

Jennifer Nguyen  (Chaminade University of Honolulu)

“The Vietnam War, the American War: Literature, Film, and Popular Memory”

Emily Schlepp (Northwest University)

“A Force of Love: A Deconstructionist Reading of Characters in Dickens’s  Great Expectations ”

Home / MLA Sample Paper

MLA Sample Paper

Mla sample paper #1.

If you’ve been wondering how to produce a research paper that is strong in both formatting and writing, you’ve come to the right place.

Check out our first sample paper below. It is a helpful and clearly labeled visual aid to refer to. Note that while these sample papers do not include MLA abstracts , you should check with your instructor to see if an abstract should be included.

Visual Sample Paper

The example research paper below is one that was written in college for a course on the Inklings. The Inklings were a group of writers in England before WWII, including C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien.

The abbreviated MLA paper below (linked here without annotations) is about J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings and how the author used myth, story, and song to link all of his works together. Tolkien is famous for creating a fantasy universe called Middle-earth, which readers can’t truly understand until they read all of the books about Middle-earth ( The Silmarillian, The Hobbit, and The Lord of the Rings ).

Since we’re here to learn how to format an essay, we’ve pointed out some important things about the paper to help you write a correctly formatted essay.

For starters, the essay is in MLA format. That means it follows the style manual of the Modern Language Association, which tells you how to format the paper itself and every source you cite. You’ll also see notes like how long a paragraph should be, how to use commas properly, and how to correctly punctuate a title. Some of these guidelines are different from those in APA format , so be sure to confirm you are using the correct style in your paper.

Pay special attention to the MLA format works cited. We only used one type of source (books), but both citations are correct according to the 9th edition of MLA, published in 2021. When you’re writing your own paper, you need to make sure you always use the most recent edition of the style manual. You’ll also want to check with your instructor to see if you need to include an MLA annotated bibliography with your paper, which contains additional information summarizing and evaluating each source after the regular citation.

Whether you need MLA, APA citations , or Chicago style notes, look up the latest edition before turning in a paper.

research paper with mla citation

MLA Sample Paper #2

See below for an example paper or click below to download it as a Word Document.

research paper with mla citation

The MLA header should be one inch from the top and left margins. The heading and the entire paper should be double spaced.

Eli YaffarabeProfessor Rapheor

28 August 2018

Privatization of Prisons in Texas

              The privatization of governmental services has increased dramatically in the past decade as local, state, and federal agencies have searched for ways to cut costs while still meeting their mandated responsibility to provide various public services. This privatizing trend has particularly affected the criminal justice system. Since the early 1990s, privatized correctional facilities have increased significantly, nationally and statewide. This policy has far-ranging consequences not only within the criminal justice system, but as an instructive example for government officials when considering the costs and benefits of privatization as a public policy option. By 2001, thirty states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico had privately-operated correctional facilities (Austin and Coventry 4). This movement has incited considerable debate and controversy, mainly because prison privatization calls for giving the private sector direct control over the lives of a captive human population.

Surprisingly, there has been little objective and concrete analysis of the privatization of prisons in the United States. This is probably for two reasons: first, ideological arguments on the matter have pushed out substantive research, and second, because this trend has only recently accelerated in the U.S. and mainly on a state level. However, case studies and statistics at the state level are more accessible. With capacity for over 30,000 prisoners in 43 facilities, the state of Texas has privatized more of its prison system than any state in the nation (McDonald and Patten Jr. iv).

Yaffarabe 2

              Public policy concerning the criminal justice system has become more daunting and important in the last decade. The problems in the system are twofold: an overcrowding prison population, mainly due to “three strikes” legislation and reducing early parole; and the costs of operating prisons with this growing population (Austin and Coventry). According to the most recent U.S. Department of Justice survey, slightly over 2.2 million people were incarcerated in correctional facilities in this country in 2003. In comparison, in 1993, 1.37 million people were imprisoned in this country (Beck and Harrison 1).

At the same time, the growth of privately operated correctional facilities has increased significantly in this country. Private prisons now hold 95,522 inmates in this country, which is 6.5 percent of total prisoners (Beck and Harrison 5). In Texas, 16,570 inmates (10 percent of its prison population) are held in private facilities, about 10,000 more than the next highest state. Furthermore, six states had at least 25 percent of their prison population housed in private prisons, led by New Mexico (44%), Alaska (31%), and Montana (29%). These current statistics show that while state governments have been forced to manage and operate overcrowded and over-capacity prisons at considerable costs, many have turned to the private sector to operate prisons (McDonald and Patten Jr.). According to the General Accounting Office, prison operating costs have grown steadily since 1980, increasing almost 550 percent since 1980 based on inflation-adjusted dollars (Austin and Coventry 1).

Prison privatization started in the early 1980s, ostensibly to ease the burden on taxpayers by offering financial relief to private companies to run state prisons. Thomas Beasley founded Corrections Corporation of America in 1983, “the nation’s leader in the construction and management of private prisons” (Darling). That year, Corrections Corporation of America set up the first privately-operated prison in Tennessee. Since then, the number of private

Yaffarabe 3

correctional facility firms has grown to 14 (Austin and Coventry 3). The privatization of prisons occurs in two ways. First, state government can contract out (or outsource) specific services in a correctional facility to a private company after a bidding process. Second, and more radically, private companies build their own privately-managed prisons and contract with state governments to house their inmates. This latter approach, giving private correctional facility firms wide latitude over inmates, is taken in the Texas criminal justice system. In fact, many of these privately operated facilities “have no relationship at all with the state governments in these states, other than an obligation to pay corporate income taxes” (McDonald and Patten Jr. v).

(Due to its length, the remainder of this sample paper is omitted).

Yaffarabe 4

Works Cited Page

Austin, James, and Garry Coventry. Emerging Issues on Privatized Prisons . Bureau of Justice Assistance, Feb. 2001,

Beck, Allen J., and Paige Harrison. Prisoners in 2003 . Bureau of Justice Statistics, Nov. 2004,

McDonald, Douglas, and Carl Patten Jr. Governments’ Management of Private Prisons . Abt Associates, 15 Sept. 2003,

Darling, Michael. “Pitt News: University of Pittsburgh Shouldn’t Lend Its Name to Prison Privatization.” CorpWatch , 15 Nov. 2004,

MLA Formatting Guide

MLA Formatting

  • Annotated Bibliography
  • Bibliography
  • Block Quotes
  • et al Usage
  • In-text Citations
  • Paraphrasing
  • Page Numbers
  • Sample Paper
  • Works Cited
  • MLA 8 Updates
  • MLA 9 Updates
  • View MLA Guide

Citation Examples

  • Book Chapter
  • Journal Article
  • Magazine Article
  • Newspaper Article
  • Website (no author)
  • View all MLA Examples

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An in-text citation is a short citation that is placed next to the text being cited. The basic element needed for an in-text citation is the author’s name . The publication year is not required in in-text citations. Sometimes, page numbers or line numbers are also included, especially when text is quoted from the source being cited. In-text citations are mentioned in the text in two ways: as a citation in prose or a parenthetical citation.

Citation in prose

Citations in prose are incorporated into the text and act as a part of the sentence. Usually, citations in prose use the author’s full name when cited the first time in the text. Thereafter, only the surname is used. Avoid including the middle initial even if it is present in the works-cited-list entry. An example of the first citation in prose for a source with one author is given below:

Doug Barry explains the status of the UK.


Parenthetical citations add only the author’s surname at the end of the sentence in parentheses. An example of a parenthetical citation is given below:

The status of the UK is explained (Barry).

Examples of in-text citations

Here are a few examples of in-text citations for works with various numbers and types of authors:

Use both the first name and surname of the author if you are mentioning the author for the first time in the prose. In subsequent occurrences, use only the author’s surname. Always use only the author’s surname in parenthetical citations.

Citation in prose:

First mention: Stephen George asserts …. (17).

Subsequent occurrences: George argues …. (17).


…. (George 17).

Two authors

Use the first name and surname of both authors if you are mentioning the work for the first time in the prose. In subsequent occurrences, use only the surnames of the two authors. Always use only the authors’ surnames in parenthetical citations. Use “and” to separate the two authors in parenthetical citations.

First mention: Kane Williams and Clark Ronald ….

Subsequent occurrences: Williams and Ronald ….

…. (Williams and Ronald).

Three or more authors

For citations in prose, use the first name and surname of the first author followed by “and others” or “and colleagues.” For parenthetical citations, use only the surname of the first author followed by “et al.”

Krishnan Sethu and colleagues…. or Krishnan Sethu and others ….

…. (Sethu et al.).

Corporate author

For citations in prose, treat the corporate author like you would treat the author’s name. For parenthetical citations, shorten the organization name to the shortest noun phrase. For example, shorten the Modern Language Association of America to Modern Language Association.

The Language Literary Association of Canada….

…. (Language Literary Association).

If there is no author for the source, use the source’s title in place of the author’s name for both citations in prose and parenthetical citations.

When you add such in-text citations, italicize the text of the title. If the source title is longer than a noun phrase, use a shortened version of the title. For example, shorten the title Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them to Fantastic Beasts .

Endgame explains …. (121).

…. ( Endgame 121).

In MLA style, two types of citations are used to cite a source: a short citation used within the text (called the in-text citation) and a full citation (called the works cited list entry) within the works cited list, which appears at the end of a paper.

The works cited list entry provides the complete details of a source. An in-text citation is a short citation that is placed next to the text being cited. The in-text citation lets the reader know that the information is derived from the cited source, and helps the reader find the full citation within the works cited list.

In order to properly cite a source in MLA style, you must have both citation types in your paper. Every in-text citation has a works cited list entry. Every works cited list entry has at least one (maybe more) corresponding in-text citation.

In-text citations

The basic element needed for an in-text citation is the author’s surname . The publication year is not required in in-text citations. Sometimes, page numbers or line numbers are also included, especially when text is quoted from the source being cited.

First mention: Sian Anderson studies ….

Subsequent occurrences: Anderson analyzes ….


or if quoting directly:

…(Anderson 9)

First mention: Paul Fin and Anna Gabriel ….

Subsequent occurrences: Fin and Gabriel ….

….(Fin and Gabriel)

…(Fin and Gabriel 27)

Paul Hill and colleagues…. or Paul Hill and others ….

….(Hill et al.)

…(Hill et al. 138)

Examples of works cited list entries

Below are a few examples of different types of works cited list entries. The examples given are for one author.

Steinman, Louise. The Knowing Body: Elements of Contemporary Performance and Dance . Shambhala Publications, 1986.

Journal article                                      

Barad, K. “Nature’s Queer Performativity.” Qui Parle , vol. 19, no. 2, 2011, pp. 121–58.

Webpage of a website

Midgelow, Vida L. “Experiences and Perceptions of the Artistic Doctorate: A Survey Report.” Artistic Doctorates in Europe,  5 Feb. 2018, .

YouTube video

“Behind the Scenes Chili’s Baby Back Ribs Spot.” YouTube , uploaded by Alvin Chea, 11 Sept. 2017, .

MLA Citation Examples

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research paper with mla citation

Guide on How to Cite a Research Paper Using MLA Format: Best Tips

research paper with mla citation

Understanding What is MLA Formatting

If you are a high school or college student, there will be a time when you find yourself in an ambiguous situation on how to cite a research paper in MLA. There are various formatting styles, but the most commonly used are the MLA, APA, and Chicago styles. In the article, our business essay writing services writers will teach you how to cite a research paper using MLA format correctly.

Created by college educators in the late 1800s, the MLA format was intended to encourage American students to study modern languages as classical languages were becoming less popular. Thus, they developed the format for MLA citing in research paper to determine if it would successfully promote learning modern languages.

In a nutshell, MLA is the formatting style of the Modern Language Association used in areas such as English studies, comparative literature, foreign language, and literature or cultural studies. This academic style guides extensively used in the United States, Canada, and other countries.

Research Paper in MLA Format

So, how to format a research paper in MLA style? There are four key components that a research paper in MLA format includes.

Except for the running head, page margins should be precisely 1 inch on both sides of the text as well as on top and bottom.

Text Formatting

When writing a research paper or another academic assignment, it is recommended to use Times New Roman typeface as it is easily readable. Set the standard size, which is usually 12 points.

Change the line spacing from single to double-spaced. That makes reading less crammed on the eye and allows the professor to make essential comments in a neat and organized manner. Also, make sure to indent the first line of a paragraph ½ inch from the left margin.

Enter the required course information on the top-left corner of the front page. The MLA format research paper title page should look like this:

Guide on How to Cite a Research Paper

  • Name of Teacher/Professor
  • Name of Course
  • Due Date for Assignment

Type your title below the date after double spacing and align it centered with no period at the end. You shouldn't make your title bold, italicized, or underlined. There is only one exception from the rule: use italics if the title of another source is included in yours. Make sure you follow the capitalization rules. Check if it's correct in MLA Handbook (67–68) .

The MLA title for an MLA format research paper looks like this:

Sarah E. Johnson

Professor Lumpur

Biology 201

How Does Human Memory Work?

Page Numbers

If you wonder how do you cite a page number in research paper in MLA format, consider setting the automatic page numbering in the top right-hand corner. That is done to keep track of the page order, and it also looks pleasing to the eye. Leave a margin of ½ inch from the top and flush with the right margin.

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How to Cite a Research Paper with In-Text Citations

In-text citations are often subordinate, meaning that information is always added to the end of the sentence in parentheses. But if you include that necessary information in the language of the sentence itself, you should not include the parenthetical citation.

For example, if the author's name is found within the in-text citation, there is no need to add it at the end; insert the page number, and you are all done referencing.

Having two sources from the same author may confuse the reader. When they check the source, they will find two different articles. To avoid this confusion, you must include a short title of the research citation so the readers know which citations to look for.

You should include all authors' last names when a source has two or three authors. Whereas, when you have four or more authors, then you have to write them all out following the last name of the first Author.

When citing a research paper in MLA style, include references within two sections:

  • The quotes used within the essay
  • The Works Cited page at the end

The citation information in the body of the paper itself is called the 'in-text citation.' The most obvious time to use it in the text is when you use a quote from a source directly or refer to it by title or author.

Generally, you must list the writer's last name and page number enclosed within parentheses straight after the quote. If the author's name is included as a feature of your sentence, you only have to add the page number in the bracket.

Example: "Two roads diverged in a wood, and I - I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference" (Frost 1).

Kenneth Burke has described human beings as "symbol-using animals" (3).

As you can see, Burke's name was included in the sentence, so there is no need for repetition in the citation.

The Works Cited page

References: When providing references in a research paper in MLA style, you must inform the readers about the sources you used to cite this information. The reference page is known as the 'Works Cited.' This page is where the author gives credit to the source. Things that are placed within a citation include alphabetical order of the author's last name, the title of the article, and the publication date.

  • Follow this format exactly: Author(s)-> 'Title of Article.' ->Title of Journal Volume.->Issue (Year): pages
  • Electronic Sources. For electronic sources, utilize the inventor's name, page number, or area number for in-substance references. This is only if the information does not have page or section numbers by any method. By then, you would include the author's name in the section after you have referred to the recorded information.

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Guide on How to Cite a Research Paper

Research Paper MLA Format Example

The human memory remains an interesting research subject for psychologists. Typically, human beings live in the present. However, the past constitutes an integral component of life, and this makes the memory a fundamental element in daily operations. According to Zimmerman and Kelley (2010)...

Also, for a better understanding in essay writing formats, we recommend that you read about the APA essay format and the difference between APA and MLA .

FAQs on MLA Format Citation in Research Paper

We realize that mastering MLA citation may require more knowledge than the information given above can supply. Therefore, we've compiled some additional details below to provide you with a deeper understanding of how to cite a research paper MLA.

What is the Basic MLA Format in a Research Paper?

If you'd rather have a simple guideline on how to cite research paper, here are the simple steps for an MLA format paper.

Guide on How to Cite a Research Paper

  • Use standard 8.5 x 11-inch paper.
  • Use a 12-point font such as Times New Roman or Arial.
  • Place a half-inch indent at the beginning of each paragraph, then double-space each phrase.
  • Set all margins to be one inch.
  • Use appropriate punctuation by ending each phrase with a period and capitalizing the first letter of each new sentence.
  • Use paper binders and staples in the top-left corner of the page to bind hard-copy assignments in accordance with your professor's instructions.

Can I Give My Opinion in a MLA Research Paper?

While you may express your viewpoint in an MLA research paper, it is imperative to do so within the boundaries of academic writing and present evidence to back up your assertions.

The perspective you take can make a substantial contribution to meeting the final objective of an MLA format citation in research paper. Including your viewpoints will offer a well-researched and well-supported argument or analysis, as long as it is presented in a precise and professional fashion. Here are some examples of when to use 'I':

  • Narrating the journey of how you found out something is noteworthy or, at the least, amusing.
  • Detailing the technique you have employed in educating and encouraging student responses.
  • You are in disagreement with another scholar and want to make clear that you are not claiming to possess the only right answer.

Lastly, if you still ask, 'Can I give my opinion in a MLA research paper?' Yes, you can as long as you want to be direct and straightforward in your writing.

How to Format a Title of a Book in a Research Paper MLA?

As set forth by the MLA style handbook, the title of a book should be italicized in research papers. Here is the correct manner of formatting the title of a book in MLA style:

  • Set the title of the book in italic font.
  • Make sure to capitalize the initial letter of the primary title and any subordinate titles, as well as any other words usually written with a capital letter in the heading.
  • Maintain Title Case for the remaining words of the title, with the exception of articles, prepositions, and conjunctive phrases.

To demonstrate the correct way to cite a title of a book in a research paper MLA - 'To Kill a Mockingbird' by Harper Lee would be:

Lee, Harper. To Kill a Mockingbird.

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MLA Citation Guide

  • MLA 9th Edition
  • In-Text Citations and Paraphrasing
  • Works Cited
  • Formatting Research Paper
  • MLA Citation Examples
  • Test Your Knowledge

MLA Sample Paper

Mla sample student research paper.

The following sample is provided to guide you with formatting your MLA Style research paper. The sample provides in-text citations, thesis statement, MLA format, and a Works Cited page.

  • MLA Student Sample

MLA Style Examples

To view more MLA Style research papers written by students visit MLA Style Center .

MLA Research Paper

In this video, we will note the major elements of an MLA Style Research paper. The video will cover, font, font size, margins, and spacing elements found in MLA research papers.

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