MLA Format FAQs

by Stephen on January 21, 2013 · 9 comments

1. On my first page, do I enter my paper’s due date or the day I turn my paper in?

You enter your paper’s due date, not the day you turn in your paper.

2. Does my paper need a cover page?

No. The Modern Language Association (MLA) does not require you to create a cover page when you complete your research paper. If your instructor requires a cover page, simply follow the instructions here: MLA cover page.

3. Should I bold, italicize, or underline my research paper’s title?

Your research paper’s title should not be bold, italicize or underline. It should be in the same text as your paper. Visit here for an example, under “the opening page”.

4. Do I have to put my last name and page number on every page?

Yes, you must put your last name and page number on every page, including the first page (the opening page) and your Works Cited pages.

5. Do I have to double-space the whole paper?

Yes, you must double-space the whole paper, including the heading, the title and the Works Cited pages. Simply double-space everything, but do not add extra spaces besides the double-space.

6. Do I have to use Times New Roman font?

No. The MLA does not require you to use Times New Roman as long as the font you choose is easily readable.

7. How do I handle the citation when one author quotes another?

This happens frequently. As in Donald Kagan’s book, The Peloponnesian War, which often quotes Thucydides. Using MLA format, you may write:

Kagan approvingly quotes Thucydides, who says that Athens acquired this vital site “because of the hatred they already felt toward the Spartans” (qtd. in Kagan 14).

In your Works Cited, you include Kagan but not Thucydides.

8. Some MLA citations, such as newspaper articles, use the names of months. Which ones should I abbreviate and which ones should I spell out?

Use three-letter abbreviations for all but the short names: May, June and July.

9. Instead of Works Cited, can I use Bibliography?

No. The MLA requires your Works Cited page to begin with Works Cited, centered, one inch top margin. Visit here for an example, under #3, the Works Cited page.

10. Can I use a question as the title of my paper?

Yes, you can. Just make sure the question is answered, conclusion is drawn and recommendations are made. Here is a sample paper with the title as a question.

11. I have to include a cover page with my research paper, do I still need to include my full name and title on the opening page?

Please visit here => see under “Alternate First Page”

12. For the heading on page one, must the date be formatted day month year?

You can use either “day-month-year” style or “month-day-year” style. Whichever style you use, be consistent throughout your paper.

If you begin with the month, be sure to add a comma after the day. Example: December 12, 2012

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

1 What if my quotation contains a mistake? January 29, 2013 at 2:56 pm

If your source makes a “mistak”, you copy the mistake because direct quotations are copied verbatim. However, you indicate that the mistake is not yours by using [sic], which means “thus” and tells the reader that the error appears in the original.


The professor stressed that “if your source makes a mistak [sic], you should copy the mistake because direct quotations are copied verbatim.”

2 How do I use partial quotations to liven up my writing? January 29, 2013 at 3:01 pm

Be sure to introduce the author from the source work within the sentence itself and use quotation marks. No comma is necessary to introduce the quoted phrase.


Margaret Reardon points out that today’s economy cars are “better equipped” to handle accidents than the smaller cars of the past.

3 If my source quotes somebody else, how do I indicate this? January 29, 2013 at 3:02 pm

When you have a quotation within a quotation, handle it this way:

Indented original (article by David Fricke appearing in Rolling Stone):

Clapton [Eric] got the chills when he listened to that material recently. It was the first time he had done so in over fifteen years. “It got too much for me,” he says. “Old memories started coming back; old issues raised their head. I think of the people in that band and what happened to them.” (qtd. in Fricke 26)

Notice that this quotation is indented because it is longer than four lines. Therefore, no quotation marks are used at the beginning or the end. The quotation marks that appear at the end are the result of needing quotation marks around Clapton’s remark, not because the entire paragraph is a quotation. Notice also that the first line is indented an additional five spaces. That’s because it’s the first sentence in the paragraph in the original. If you begin a quotation in mid-paragraph, there is no indention.

Clapton’s name does not appear on your Works Cited page as he is not your source. Fricke is the source. Therefore, Fricke’s name should appear. Since Clapton is speaking, however, use “qtd. in” (quoted in) for clarification.

4 What are block quotations and how are they handled? January 29, 2013 at 6:36 pm

Block, or indent, quotations longer than four lines of type. When a quotation is indented, the use of quotation marks is not necessary, and the page number is included outside the ending punctuation.


Jordan stated:

Like many people who enjoy a leisurely pace of living with such attendant activities as reading, painting, or gardening, I often long for a simpler time, a time when families amused themselves by telling stories after supper, as opposed to watching Baghdad get bombed. (1)

Block quotes are indented by one inch, and should be used sparingly.

5 How do I punctuate shorter quotations? January 29, 2013 at 6:38 pm

For a quotation shorter than four lines, quotation marks are used and the page numbers fall inside the ending punctuation.


According to DR. Shannon Marcus: “Many of our student’s personal decisions will have the inherent dangers of instant gratification, and so will their political decisions,” (548).

6 Michelle March 17, 2014 at 9:13 am

How do I do a citation from a Website with no page numbers? Also, how do I continue to cite within the essay if I use this same source back-to-back before switching to another cited work?

7 Stephen March 17, 2014 at 10:43 am
8 Florence May 7, 2015 at 9:38 am

Is it appropriate to put tables, figures etc at the end of the research paper in lieu of placing them near the text? Is it up to the writer?

9 Sarah May 8, 2015 at 1:57 pm

Does it matter what font size I use when typing the title page? And if so, what size should the font be for the title?

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