There are several websites that provide in-depth guides on how to properly cite in MLA format; however, this guide attempts to provide a brief universal system for citing any source in your research paper. The most important thing you have to keep in mind when citing in MLA is: have you provided enough information for your reader to find the source you have referenced?

Research paper citation example

Because MLA typically references literary works, finding enough information for a complete citation can be difficult. Ideally, you will want to include the author’s last name, first name, title, journal name (if applicable), volume number (if applicable), issue number (if applicable), publication month and year, page numbers, URL or DOI (if applicable). There are very few sources you find that have all this information readily available. If all else fails you need to include the title, publication year, and the web URL if it’s an online source.

Here is an example for an MLA research paper citation that shows the correct formatting rules:
Last, First. “Title of Source.” Name of Journal, vol. #, no. #, Nov. 2016, pp. ##-##, Publisher, doi:XXXX

Rare exceptions to the template

The above example will be sufficient for the majority of source types that you will use with few exceptions. Some unorthodox sources like news articles, magazines, or videos require slightly different pieces of information but can easily be adapted with this template. Other sources like interviews follow the same format but require a less lengthy citation.

The last thing you need to be wary of is the specific formatting rules included in the template. Notice that the title, journal and publisher names are italicized, and each word is capitalized except for articles and prepositions like “of.” Another citation rule specific to MLA is the abbreviation of months; all months with the exception of May, June, July need to be abbreviated.

In-text citations are relatively simple in MLA format. They are placed at the end of the sentence and are closed off in parentheticals. For most sources, you will need to include the author’s last name and page number.
That concludes this guide to citing in MLA format. If you follow the MLA example citation provided in this article, citations will be made quick and easy for all kinds of sources.