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Guide on How to Cite a Research Paper Using MLA Format: Best Tips

cite research paper

Understanding What is MLA Formatting

If you are a high school or college student, there will be a time when you find yourself in an ambiguous situation on how to cite a research paper in MLA. There are various formatting styles, but the most commonly used are the MLA, APA, and Chicago styles. In the article, our business essay writing services writers will teach you how to cite a research paper using MLA format correctly.

Created by college educators in the late 1800s, the MLA format was intended to encourage American students to study modern languages as classical languages were becoming less popular. Thus, they developed the format for MLA citing in research paper to determine if it would successfully promote learning modern languages.

In a nutshell, MLA is the formatting style of the Modern Language Association used in areas such as English studies, comparative literature, foreign language, and literature or cultural studies. This academic style guides extensively used in the United States, Canada, and other countries.

Research Paper in MLA Format

So, how to format a research paper in MLA style? There are four key components that a research paper in MLA format includes.


Except for the running head, page margins should be precisely 1 inch on both sides of the text as well as on top and bottom.

Text Formatting

When writing a research paper or another academic assignment, it is recommended to use Times New Roman typeface as it is easily readable. Set the standard size, which is usually 12 points.

Change the line spacing from single to double-spaced. That makes reading less crammed on the eye and allows the professor to make essential comments in a neat and organized manner. Also, make sure to indent the first line of a paragraph ½ inch from the left margin.


Enter the required course information on the top-left corner of the front page. The MLA format research paper title page should look like this:

Guide on How to Cite a Research Paper
  • Full Name
  • Name of Teacher/Professor
  • Name of Course
  • Due Date for Assignment

Type your title below the date after double spacing and align it centered with no period at the end. You shouldn't make your title bold, italicized, or underlined. There is only one exception from the rule: use italics if the title of another source is included in yours. Make sure you follow the capitalization rules. Check if it's correct in MLA Handbook (67–68).

The MLA title for an MLA format research paper looks like this:

Sarah E. Johnson

Professor Lumpur

Biology 201

2 Apr 2019

How Does Human Memory Work?

Page Numbers

If you wonder how do you cite a page number in research paper in MLA format, consider setting the automatic page numbering in the top right-hand corner. That is done to keep track of the page order, and it also looks pleasing to the eye. Leave a margin of ½ inch from the top and flush with the right margin.

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How to Cite a Research Paper with In-Text Citations

In-text citations are often subordinate, meaning that information is always added to the end of the sentence in parentheses. But if you include that necessary information in the language of the sentence itself, you should not include the parenthetical citation.

For example, if the author's name is found within the in-text citation, there is no need to add it at the end; insert the page number, and you are all done referencing.

Having two sources from the same author may confuse the reader. When they check the source, they will find two different articles. To avoid this confusion, you must include a short title of the research citation so the readers know which citations to look for.

You should include all authors' last names when a source has two or three authors. Whereas, when you have four or more authors, then you have to write them all out following the last name of the first Author.

When citing a research paper in MLA style, include references within two sections:

  • The quotes used within the essay
  • The Works Cited page at the end


The citation information in the body of the paper itself is called the 'in-text citation.' The most obvious time to use it in the text is when you use a quote from a source directly or refer to it by title or author.

Generally, you must list the writer's last name and page number enclosed within parentheses straight after the quote. If the author's name is included as a feature of your sentence, you only have to add the page number in the bracket.

Example: "Two roads diverged in a wood, and I - I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference" (Frost 1).

Kenneth Burke has described human beings as "symbol-using animals" (3).

As you can see, Burke's name was included in the sentence, so there is no need for repetition in the citation.

The Works Cited page

References: When providing references in a research paper in MLA style, you must inform the readers about the sources you used to cite this information. The reference page is known as the 'Works Cited.' This page is where the author gives credit to the source. Things that are placed within a citation include alphabetical order of the author's last name, the title of the article, and the publication date.

  • Follow this format exactly: Author(s)-> 'Title of Article.' ->Title of Journal Volume.->Issue (Year): pages
  • Electronic Sources. For electronic sources, utilize the inventor's name, page number, or area number for in-substance references. This is only if the information does not have page or section numbers by any method. By then, you would include the author's name in the section after you have referred to the recorded information.

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Guide on How to Cite a Research Paper

Research Paper MLA Format Example

Research Paper Example in an MLA Format
Research Paper Example in an MLA Format
The human memory remains an interesting research subject for psychologists. Typically, human beings live in the present. However, the past constitutes an integral component of life, and this makes the memory a fundamental element in daily operations. According to Zimmerman and Kelley (2010)...

Also, for a better understanding in essay writing formats, we recommend that you read about the APA essay format and the difference between APA and MLA.

FAQs on MLA Format Citation in Research Paper

We realize that mastering MLA citation may require more knowledge than the information given above can supply. Therefore, we've compiled some additional details below to provide you with a deeper understanding of how to cite a research paper MLA.

What is the Basic MLA Format in a Research Paper?

If you'd rather have a simple guideline on how to cite research paper, here are the simple steps for an MLA format paper.

Guide on How to Cite a Research Paper
  • Use standard 8.5 x 11-inch paper.
  • Use a 12-point font such as Times New Roman or Arial.
  • Place a half-inch indent at the beginning of each paragraph, then double-space each phrase.
  • Set all margins to be one inch.
  • Use appropriate punctuation by ending each phrase with a period and capitalizing the first letter of each new sentence.
  • Use paper binders and staples in the top-left corner of the page to bind hard-copy assignments in accordance with your professor's instructions.

Can I Give My Opinion in a MLA Research Paper?

While you may express your viewpoint in an MLA research paper, it is imperative to do so within the boundaries of academic writing and present evidence to back up your assertions.

The perspective you take can make a substantial contribution to meeting the final objective of an MLA format citation in research paper. Including your viewpoints will offer a well-researched and well-supported argument or analysis, as long as it is presented in a precise and professional fashion. Here are some examples of when to use 'I':

  • Narrating the journey of how you found out something is noteworthy or, at the least, amusing.
  • Detailing the technique you have employed in educating and encouraging student responses.
  • You are in disagreement with another scholar and want to make clear that you are not claiming to possess the only right answer.

Lastly, if you still ask, 'Can I give my opinion in a MLA research paper?' Yes, you can as long as you want to be direct and straightforward in your writing.

How to Format a Title of a Book in a Research Paper MLA?

As set forth by the MLA style handbook, the title of a book should be italicized in research papers. Here is the correct manner of formatting the title of a book in MLA style:

  1. Set the title of the book in italic font.
  2. Make sure to capitalize the initial letter of the primary title and any subordinate titles, as well as any other words usually written with a capital letter in the heading.
  3. Maintain Title Case for the remaining words of the title, with the exception of articles, prepositions, and conjunctive phrases.

To demonstrate the correct way to cite a title of a book in a research paper MLA - 'To Kill a Mockingbird' by Harper Lee would be:

Lee, Harper. To Kill a Mockingbird.

Extra Academic Assistance

Crafting an MLA citation in a research paper is a time-consuming endeavor. All these minor and bothersome regulations can be disheartening for a student. We have invested a lot of effort in familiarizing ourselves with different formatting styles, and we have a thorough understanding of each one. It can often be simpler to shell out a nominal cost for a professionally made sample research paper in MLA style instead of having to do it yourself. Feel free to leave it to our essay writing company. Just send us your request, and we will solve your formatting problems swiftly and efficiently!

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