NIC English Department
MLA Typing and Attribution Guidelines for all English Classes

Note: Please refer to textbooks and to individual teachers’ instructions for specific assignments.

Name heading: Type your whole name, the instructor’s name, the class, and the date in the upper left-hand corner of the page.

Title: Center the title of your paper after the name heading.

Margins and Spacing: Set one-inch margins (not Word’s default of 1.25). Double-space the entire paper, including the name heading and works cited pages. Do not add extra space between the heading, title, text of the paper, or between paragraphs.

Page numbers: Type your last name and the page number in the upper right-hand corner of all pages.
Font: Choose Times-Roman 12-point, for easiest reading (though some preferences are changing to a more business-style, non-seraph font for computer screens). Do not reduce or increase the type size, and do not bold, underline, or italicize any words unless specific titles require such formatting.

In-Text Citations:

All college students in all subject areas must acknowledge their research. Using research without citing sources is plagiarism. The process simply requires a clear reference to the author whenever summarizing, paraphrasing, or quoting from sources.

When using MLA’s method for in-text citations, name the author and cite the page number (for most sources) in one of two ways: 1. The first time using a source—and at the exact place where you begin to use the source—write a signal phrase that introduces the author’s full name and credentials or title. For example,
According to Full Name of Author or Group, whose expertise is, this idea is strong (page#).

You may also include the title of the work if it supports your point. This method of using signal phrases allows readers to understand and evaluate the source. Since the works cited list does not include information about authors (for instance, whether an author is a doctor, social worker, or biologist) the text should clarify such details. If readers want more information, the author’s name will lead to the works cited, where authors are alphabetized and the full source is shown.

2. After citing the full source for the first time, then use the author’s last name (or shortened form of a group’s name) either in signal phrases or in parentheses. For example,
In addition to showing statistics, Last Name argues by saying, “quote” (page#).

This specific evidence demonstrates that this topic is significant (Last Name page#).

Parenthetical citations as in #2 above are the minimum required, but MLA recommends avoiding the clutter of too many parentheses, instead using signal phrases that integrate sources seamlessly. Show how the research supports your ideas by informing readers about sources’ reliability.

Note on Internet sources without authors or page numbers:

Since the Internet has changed the way that we conduct research, finding web sites’ authors and page numbers can be challenging. Search for authors’ names and details on home pages, “About” pages, ends of pages, or even in top banners. When determining whether or not to cite page numbers, determine if the text prints out uniformly. Full-text PDF files are formatted exactly like original sources and have page numbers. However, many web sites shift on different screens or printers. In these cases, you do not need to report page numbers, or you may choose to show paragraph numbers (par. #).

Works Cited:

Refer to the department policy and NIC’s Student Handbook on avoiding plagiarism. Use a handbook carefully to determine how to list specific sources, but in general, the examples below show typical types of sources. Make sure to capitalize all main words in all titles, place shorter works that are part of larger works in quotations, and italicize whole-publication or whole-website titles (changed from underlining in the new MLA). Here are a few changes from older MLA rules:

  • If the authors’ and sponsors’ names are exactly the same as the main web site title, you need only to report the main site title. 
  • If citing an entire web site with all linked pages, you do not need to include a single page title. 
  • Indicate whether the source is “print” or “web” at the end of a print source or between dates for a web source. 
  • For URLs, err on the side of reporting the URL when it’s not a recognizable site. For instance, government (.gov) and education (.edu) sites, standard media sites, and well-known nonprofits (.org) would not require a URL. However, an obscure .com, .net, .org, or international site requires a URL to allow readers to evaluate the information and to find the source. Likewise, blogs, discussion boards, wikis, mailing lists, and so forth, require URLs. 

Book: Author’s Last Name, First Name. Book Title. City: Publisher, Year. Print. 

Newspaper or Magazine: Author’s Last Name, First Name. “Article Title.” Periodical Day Month Year: Pages. Print. 

Academic/Peer-Reviewed Journal: Author’s Last Name, First Name. “Article Title.” Periodical Volume.issue (Year): pages. Print.

Database Subscriptions: newspaper, magazine, or journal found through one of NIC library’s databases, such as

Proquest or EBSCOHost: Follow the above up to just before “print,” which will not be included, and then add the following: [Above periodical information] Specific Database Name. General Database Name. Web. Day Month Year of Retrieval.

General Internet Source: Author (may be a person, organization, or corporation). “Single Page Title.” Web Site Title. Sponsoring organization if not the author. Day Month Year of Site’s Last Revision or Copyright. Web. Day Month Year of Retrieval <URL if not obvious>.

Government Source on the Internet: United States (or Idaho State). Specific Agency Name. Any Other Specific Offices (in descending order of importance). “Page Title.” Web Site Title. Day Month Year of Site’s Last Revision or Copyright. Web. Day Month Year of Retrieval.