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MLA and APA Formatting


When doing academic research, you will need to cite evidence and research according to the appropriate formatting. Your instructor will tell you which set of guidelines are required: Usually either MLA or APA.


For questions on MLA and APA formatting, go to The Purdue OWL Writing Lab (link below).



More on MLA: 

By: Ian Schoultz


What does an MLA paper look like?


Every MLA 9 paper should follow some basic formatting rules:

  • The paper should use 12pt times new roman font.
  • The paper should have one-inch margins
  • Your last name and the page number should be in the upper right-hand corner. Use the insert page number tool on your word processor.
  • All text should be double spaced.
  • A left aligned heading that includes, your name, your professor’s name, the course number, and the due date in the order of day, month, and year i.e. 15 September 2021
  • A title that is centered on the page and below the header. The title should not use special formatting such as being bolded, underlined, or italicized.

Note: This is not an exhaustive list. Of course, your professor may have additional formatting requirements. Rules for documenting research will be covered below.


Documenting Research in MLA 9

The purpose of standardizing formatting across disciplines is to clearly show your sources and to be a friend to your readers. Upon seeing an in-text citation, your readers should be able to quickly flip to the Bibliography or Work Cited page and find the listing for that source. Obviously, this is meant to promote intellectual honesty, but part of what it means to “be a friend to your readers” is to assist them in their research. By providing the in-text citation, and then the Bibliographic listing, which includes the author’s name, the title, and publication information, you are giving your readers the information they need to find the source themselves.


A Variety of Sources

There are many kinds of sources that you may use in your papers. MLA updates every few years and with most updates come clarifying information on new kinds of sources. For example, Youtube videos and Podcasts were given specific rules for when the update for MLA 9 came out in 2016. MLA 9, released in…  Below you will learn the basic MLA guidelines for how to use in-text citation and formatting bibliographic entries.


The in-text citation

An in-text citation should be used whenever you are either quoting or paraphrasing information from another source. The in-text citation should come at the end of the quoted or paraphrased section. The in-text citation has two parts, the last name of the author and a page number.



Explanation: To quote another text, quotation marks must be used to indicate that this text belongs to a different author or speaker. This is followed by a parenthetical which includes the author’s last name and (if applicable) a page number. Additionally, notice that the quote is integrated into the writer’s language. We might call this framing the quote or a signal phrase. Signal phrases do not have to be complex. A phrase such as “[author’s last name] suggests” is sufficient.



On the subject of the uncanny, we learn that that it “is in reality nothing new or alien, but something which is familiar and old-established in the mind and which has becomes alienated from it only through the process of repression” (Freud 833).




Explanation: A paraphrase is when you use information or an idea from another author and convey that information or idea in your own words. A paraphrase allows you to present information or ideas from elsewhere while maintaining the consistency and momentum of your writing.


Paraphrase vs. Direct Quotation

In deciding whether to quote or paraphrase, consider the importance of the language of the author you are quoting. If you (the writer) can convey the information more efficiently and want to maintain the flow of your language and voice, then you should consider a paraphrase. Paraphrases are especially good for conveying the essential pieces of a paper or study in a single condensed sentence or two. A direct quotation is appropriate when there is a quality or aspect of the author’s language that you want to highlight, or when it is appropriate to allow another voice to speak.



Name of author in sentence (page number only in parentheses)

Explanation: Here we see that the author has already been identified. In this case, the authors name in the parenthetical is not needed. A page number will be the only thing to appear in the parenthetical. If the source lacks page numbers, then no parenthetical is required.


The objects suddenly gain control of time and Bennett describes how she becomes attuned to them: “[t]his window onto an eccentric out-side was made possible by the fortuity of that particular assemblage, but also by a certain anticipatory readiness on my in-side, by a perpetual style open to the appearance of thing-power” (5).



Two Authors


Explanation: If the source has two authors, then you write include both names in the parenthetical. The order of the authors in the parenthetical must be the same in the parenthetical as it is in the book. Notice that an “and” comes between the two author’s last names.


 “…multiplicity has neither subject nor object, only determinations, magnitudes, and dimensions that cannot increase in number with the multiplicity changing in nature” (Deleuze and Guattari 8).


Three Authors


Explanation: When the authors are identified, either in the sentence or the parenthetical, an “et al.” (Latin for and others) is included.


In their research, Herd et al. seek to elucidate “why race is not a valid biological or genetic construct, the ways that environments powerfully shape genetic influence, and risks linked to this field of research” (419).


Organizational Author


Explanation: If the source’s author is a group or organization as opposed to a person (or multiple people), the name of the organization takes the place of the author. In this case the source is the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Because this is a web source, no page number is provided and therefore not needed in the parenthetical.


Asthma is a diseases that “causes repeated episodes of wheezing, breathlessness, chest tightness, and nighttime or early morning coughing” (CDC).


Block quote


Explanation: Quotations that are longer than 4 lines follow different formatting rules. These longer quotations are called block quotes. To indicate a block quote, the signal phrase ends with a colon. The block quote itself is indented by a full inch. Block quotes should not have quotation marks as the 1 inch indent indicates a new speaker.




… However, when the things push back and force a re-orientation on Bennett, which is what she refers to as thing-power. Bennett, affected by the encounter, rethinks and adjusts to the assemblage of the items:

When the materiality of the glove, the rat, the pollen, the bottle cap, and the stick started to shimmer and spark, it was in part because of the contingent tableau that they formed with each other, with the street, with the weather that morning, with me. For had the sun not glinted on the black glove, I might not have seen the rat; had the rat not been there, I might not have noted the bottle cap, and so on. (5)

I find the use of “contingent tableau” compelling in that it suggests a kind of idiosyncrasy beyond the mere description. Bennett codes the interaction with a kind of intimacy among objects.



Relationship between the in-text citation and the bibliographic entry: An in-text citation should align with its entry in the Bibliography or Works Cited. The text that appears first in the in-text citation (almost always the author’s name)


Print Sources



Basic Format for a book



Last name, First name. Title. Publisher, Year publication year.



This is the basic format for a book. Notice that the author’s last name comes before the



Bennett, Jane. Vibrant Matter: A Political Ecology of Things. Duke University Press, 2010.



     Author                                        Title                                       Publication Information



Notice the categories of author, title, and publication information. In general, you can think of the information you need for your sources as falling into one of these categories. In order to make this more intuitive, we might amend the first two categories to author(s) and title(s). Additionally, there is often further information that we need to add, such as the edition, editor(s), and/or translator(s). This will be covered below.



Article in a Book


Explanation: A helpful kind of source, especially for research on particular topics, are academic books that compile resources on a topic. The below example is one of these. Notice the title of the article is in quotations. This is followed by the title of the book in italics. Additionally, the page numbers are identified.


Ahmed, Sarah. “Happy Objects.” The Affect Theory Reader. Eds. Melissa Gregg and Gregory J. Seigworth.

        Duke University Press, 2010, pp. 29 – 51.


Article in a Scholarly Journal


Explanation: This is similar to the Article in a Book example. The only difference is that the volume and number of the issue follows the italicized title of the journal. Note the punction with volume and number.



Ryan, Susan M. “Stowe, Byron, and the Art of Scandal.” American Literature, vol. 83, no. 1, 2011, pp. 59 –



Multiple authors


2 authors

Explanation: For a source with 2 authors, give the first author’s last name followed by a comma and their first name. Note that there is a comma and an “and” separating the first and second author. The second author’s name is written with their first name appearing before their last name.


Deleuze, Gilles, and Feliz Guattari. A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. trans. Brian

      Massumi. Minnesota University Press. 1987.


3 or more authors


Explanation: For sources that have three or more authors write the name of the first author as usual. This is followed by a comma and the abbreviation “et al.,” which is Latin for “and others.”




Herd, Pamela, et al. “Reconstructing Sociogenomics Research: Dismantling Biological Race and Genetic

    Essentialism Narratives.” Journal of Health and Social Behavior, vol. 62, no. 3, Sept. 2021, pp. 419–435,




Additional Important Information


You may have noticed above that some of the sources included other names or information that we have yet to cover, in this section we will go over editors, translators, and editions.





Explanation: Notice that the editor (or editors in this case) are indicated by “Ed.” This follows the title of the book. In this case “Eds.” is used because there are two editors. The names of the editors follow the “Ed.” or “Eds.”


Nesvadba, Josef. “Speaking Science Fiction—Out of Anxiety.” Speaking Science Fiction: Dialogues and

    Interpretations. Eds. Andy Sawyer and David Seed. Liverpool University Press, 2000. pp. 32-39. Print.



Explanation: Notice that the identification of the translator follows the title of work and is indicated by the abbreviation “trans.” The translator is then identified by their first and last name.


Kristeva, Julia, “From Revolution in Poetic Language.” trans. Margaret Waller. The Norton Anthology of

    Theory and Criticism. Ed. Leitch et al. 2nd ed. W. W. Norton and Company, 2010. pp. 2071-2080. Print.





Explanation: The edition follows the title. In this case, because the source has an editor, the edition follows the editor.


Barthes, Roland. “The Death of the Author.”  The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism. Ed. Leitch et al.

    2nd ed. W. W. Norton and Company, 2010, pp. 1322-26. Print.



For Other Print Sources, see the MLA Guide from Purdue University’s Online Writing Lab



Electronic sources


You can think of electronic sources similarly to print sources. They have authors and titles of course. Frequently, you will cite articles that are part of a website or academic journal. The name of the organization (who owns the website), or the name of the journal will also appear. Frequently, this is followed by additional information that identifies the issue or volume and number of the



Electronic Scholarly Journal that does not appear in print

Explanation: This kind of citation is similar to an article in a book example above. It also includes the volume and number of the issue, which follow the title of the journal. Following the year, the page range of the article is identified. After this we have the doi. A doi (Digital object Identifier) is essentially a library catalogue for internet based academic sources.


Hodder, Ian, and Craig Cessford. “Daily Practice and Social Memory at Çatalhöyük.” American Antiquity,

    vol. 69, no. 1, 2004, pp. 17–40., doi:10.2307/4128346.


Electronic Scholarly Journal that also appears in print


Explanation: This is the same as an article in a print academic journal. The only additions here are URL and the date of access. The addition of “JSTOR” is due to this particular source being accessed through a database. This is covered below.


Jocson, Korina. “Poetry in a New Race Era.” Daedalus, vol. 140, no. 1, The MIT Press, 2011, pp. 154–62,

    JSTOR, Accessed Dec 8, 2021


An Article through an Online Database

            Explanation: You may have noticed the “JSTOR” following the page number in the previous entry, an explanation is provided here. If you find a source through a database, then you should add the name of that database in italics.


Long, Leroy L., and Christopher S. Travers. “Brotherly Bond: A Collaborative Autoethnographic Analysis of

    Black Male Scholars.” The Journal of Negro Education, vol. 90, no. 2, Journal of Negro Education, 2021,

    pp. 183–94, JSTOR, Accessed Sept. 13,



A Webpage

Explanation: Provide the author’s name, the title of the page in quotations, the name of the publication in italics, the date of access, and the URL. Take note of the placement and use of punctuation.


Chiasson, Dan. “Bet the Farm.” The New Yorker, 3 Feb. 2014, Accessed Sept. 20, 2021.



For Other Electronic Sources including multimedia and social media amongst others: See the MLA Guide from Purdue University’s Online Writing Lab