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MLA Citation Guide (8th Edition): Sample Paper

Sample Paper & Works Cited List

This sample paper shows you how to format your document and how to include your student information, in-text citations, and a Works Cited list in MLA format. It can be used as a template to set up your assignment.

The sample paper reflects the following general formatting rules for MLA: 

  • Use the same font set at the same size throughout your paper. Recommended fonts include 12-point Times New Roman or Arial.
  • Use 1-in. (2.54 cm) margins on all sides (top, bottom, left, and right) of each page.
  • Double-space the entire paper, including the Works Cited page.
  • Insert your surname followed by one space and a page number in the top-right corner of your document’s header, beginning on the first page (i.e., Surname 1). 
  • Align the text of the paper to the left and leave the right margin uneven; do not use full justification.
  • Indent the first line of every paragraph 0.5 in. (hit “Tab” on your keyboard).
  • Do not underline or set in boldface your title, headings/subheadings, or “Works Cited.” 


If you are adding an appendix to your paper there are a few rules to follow that comply with MLA guidelines:

  • The Appendix appears before the Works Cited list
  • If you have more than one appendix you would name the first appendix Appendix A, the second Appendix B, etc.
  • The appendices should appear in the order that the information is mentioned in your essay
  • Each appendix begins on a new page

How to Alphabetize Titles in Works Cited List

If there is no author given, your citation will start with the title of the work. You must put these citations in correct alphabetical order in your Works Cited list.

When putting works in alphabetical order, ignore initial articles such as "the," "a," or "an." For example, the title The Best of Vancouver would be alphabetized as if it started with the word Best instead of the word The.

If the title begins with a number, alphabetize it as if the number were spelled out. For example, the title 5 Ways to Succeed in Business would be alphabetized under F as if it had started with the word Five.

For example, this is how the following titles would be alphabetized:

Anthropology in Action [A]
The Best of Vancouver [B... ignore "The"]
Easy Plant Care [E]
5 Ways to Succeed in Business [F... 5=Five]
A Special Kind of Madness [S... ignore "A"]

End-of-Paper Checklist

Finished your assignment? Use this checklist to be sure you haven't missed any information needed for MLA style.

MLA Practice Template

MLA 8th ed. Core Principles

MLA 8th edition follows these three principles: 

  1. Cite simple traits shared by most works
  2. There is often more than one correct way to cite a source
  3. Make your citations useful to readers 

Core Elements of an MLA Citation

MLA 8th edition provides nine core elements to complete any Works Cited entry. It is your job to try to fill in these core elements with the information you have about a source. If any element is missing or not applicable, you can skip that element.

The 9 Core Elements

(1) Author.
(2) “Title of source.”
(3) Title of Container,
(4) Other contributors,
(5) Version, 
(6) Number, 
(7) Publisher,
(8) Publication date,
(9) Location.


For sources that are part of a larger work, you include core element (2) “Title of source.”
‚Äč        (e.g., journal articles from a journal, essays or chapters from a book, webpages from a website)

For sources that are self-contained, you skip core element (2).
        (e.g., books, websites, or journals)

Other contributors includes people such as editors, translators, or directors.

Note on Publisher Information: 

According to p. 42 of the MLA Handbook, you don’t need to include publisher information for the following kinds of sources:

  • periodicals (journals, magazines, newspapers)
  • works published by an author or editor
  • a website whose title is the same as the name of the publisher
  • a website not involved in producing the work it makes (e.g., user-generated content sites like YouTube)