Having a proper citation can be the difference between an A on a paper and a meeting with your school‘s academic honesty advisor. Your instructor, or major, will determine which citation format that you use. Here is a short guide to MLA style citations for research papers.

Works Cited Page

The primary element for citations in MLA formatting is the works cited page. Your works cited page should be on a separate page at the end of your research, paper and have the same margins and header as the rest of your article.

Make sure your works cited page is labeled, you double space your citations, and do not skip spaces between entries.

A works cited page will have different citation styles for books, periodicals, electronic sources, and other common sources. Making use of the various formats will ensure that you are giving credit to the proper type of source.

In Text Citation

In-text citations are very important because they give credit to original source material. Sometimes the only way to make a point in a research paper is to paraphrase or use the exact phrasing of your source. MLA citation for research paper calls for in-text citations whenever using source material.


To directly quote a source MLA requires that short quotations less than four lines be kept in the original margin. Quotations that are longer than four lines are required to be indented 1-inch from the left margin. Remember all quotation sources need to be found on your works cited page.

Endnotes and Foot Notes

MLA does not encourage the use of long endnotes or footnotes for descriptive purposes. However, they recommend endnotes and footnotes to refer the reader to additional source information where support for the research paper can be found.

Now you have the basics for MLA citation requirements. Make sure that you are citing any sources that you use to avoid plagiarism charges. Even if you just glanced at a book, magazine article, website; you need to include them as part of your works cited.