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Research Guides

Citation Styles & Tools: Formatting Guidelines

Quick help on citing sources and tools for storing and organizing sources.

Parenthetical Citations

Rule of thumb: The briefer the better. Try to incorporate most information into the text. In-text references must clearly point to corresponding entry in the Works Cited list.


Basic Forms:

According to Gullans in his book Poetic Form, the importance of structure...(23).
(Page number only, when author/work cited is evident from context)

...In the book Poetic Form, importance of structure... (Gullans 23).
(Author and Page, when author work needs to be identified)

…importance of structure... (Gullans, Poetic Form 23).
(Author and Title and Page, when work is not identified in text)


**For more examples, please see the MLA Handbook.

Formatting Guidelines for Works Cited Page

MLA style provides writers with a system for referencing sources through parenthetical citations, but also specifies guidelines for formatting papers. Below find basic guidelines for formatting your paper and creating a Works Cited page. For more in-depth information on formatting, check out the OWL MLA Formatting and Style Guide

Works Cited title page: Center the words Works Cited at the top of the page.

  • Order: List entries alphabetically by author's last name. List sources without authors alphabetically by title. If listing more than one work by the same author, order the entries by author then alphabetically by title.
  • Authors: Reverse only the first author's name. If there are more than 3 authors, give the first author's name and add "et al."
  • Capitalization: Capitalize the first word, the last word and all principal words in the source's title and sub-title. 
  • Type/Medium: Designate the resource type or medium in each citation.
  • Titles: Use italics rather than underlining for titles, etc.
  • Indentation: First line of each citation is flush with the left margin; Indent the second and subsequent lines of citations five spaces so that you create a hanging indent. 
  • Issue Numbers for Journals: Include both volume and issue numbers for all journals. 
  • URLs: URLS are no longer required in online source citations. URLs can be included if there is an expectation that readers will have difficulty finding the source. Put URL after the period following the date of access.
  • Database Location: When citing an article or publication originally published in print but found in an online database the name of the database should be in italics but the location of the database [e.g. name of library] & the subscription information is not required.  
  • Online Source Information: Publisher or sponsor is required for online sources; if none listed, use the abbreviation N.p. (no publisher) in the sponsor area.
  • Date: For online sources with no date of publication or update, use n.d. (e.g. no date) after the sponsor/publisher.
  • Date of Access. Give the most recent date you accessed the source.
  • Pagination: Include page numbers for an online journal or an article from a database when available. If not available, use the abbreviation “n.pag.”
  • Quotation Marks: Enclose the title of articles, book chapters, presentations etc. in quotation marks and end with a period inside the closing quotation mark