MLA Style Guide

For the MLA style of citation, there are two places where you will include a reference to your sources:

  1. In the body of your essay at the end of the sentence containing the quote or reference. This is called a “Parenthetical Reference” and the reference is included in the body of your essay.

2.  In a WORKS CITED list at the end of your essay.  The entries in your WORKS CITED list must be entered in a specific format depending on your source material.

See below for useful information on parenthetical references and how to set up your WORKS CITED list.

Parenthetical References:

If you use a quote, fact, or idea from someone else, include a brief parenthetical reference to the source using the author’s last name and the page number at the end of the sentence.

Here’s an essay excerpt that uses a quote from The Lovely Bones and shows a parenthetical reference at the end of the sentence:

Jack Salmon is the parent who turns towards his family for healing.   For Jack, in order “to get the blood back in his heart, he needed his child”, and this is why Buckley helps him the most in the wake of Susie’s death  (Sebold 68).

Notice that the reference is inside the end punctuation.

The name listed at the beginning of the parenthetical reference (in this case ‘Sebold’) is what the reader will look for in on the Works Cited page (entries are listed alphabetically) at the end of the paper.

You can see ‘Sebold’ listed in the sample ‘Works Cited’ list below:

Works Cited

Anderson, Laurie Halse. Speak. New York: Farrar Straus Giroux, 1999. Print.

Dallaire, Rome, and Brent Beardsley. Shake Hands with the Devil: The Failure of Humanity in Rwanda. Toronto: Random House Canada, 2003. Print.

Sebold, Alice. The Lovely Bones. Boston: Little, Brown, and Company, 2002. Print.

Viner, Katharine. “Above and Beyond.” The Guardian. 24 Aug. 2002. Web. 21 May 2015. <>.


More on ‘Works Cited’:

At the end of your essay, you need to provide a list of the resources you used (your ‘citations’) under the heading ‘Works Cited’.

Different resources will have different requirements for their citation, so be sure to check your format is correct.

As you create your ‘Works Cited’ list, remember to list your sources alphabetically and leave a space between each.


General Rules for Citation:

  • The list of Works Cited must be on a new page at the end of your essay or paper.
  • Entries are arranged alphabetically by the author’s last name or by the title if there is no author
  • Titles are italicized (not underlined) and all important words should be capitalized
  • Entries are double-spaced (for the purposes of this page, single-spacing is used)
  • Each entry must include the publication medium. Examples include: Print, Web, DVD, and Television.


Looking for More Information?

You can check the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers or you can use this Getting Started Guide from the University of British Columbia:

MLA Style: Getting Started