21 MLA and APA Formatting

Whatever source you use, it’s important to be sure that the source is a good one (not wikipedia!). Take careful notes from the source to be sure to accurately represent the information you present, and be sure to quote properly. Quoting properly includes two parts: the reference page and the in-text citation. Typically, in English classes, we use MLA formatting. However, students planning to enter a nursing program might like to practice using APA formatting instead. In the lesson that follows, students will be introduced to both MLA and APA formatting. However, all examples given in this text will follow the correct formatting for English courses and use MLA.

Here is a lesson on MLA and APA formatting:


To recap: the Works Cited page functions like a dictionary or an encyclopedia of your sources. It gives readers the ability to get more information from the sources you’ve used if they would like. An author must give readers all the information they might need to find the source on their own. Therefore, a website by itself is never enough information for a Works Cited listing. A web link can expire or be changed. Giving the name of the website, an author, etc, can give a reader enough information to locate the source a different way. For easy reference, all sources in the Works Cited page should be listed in alphabetical order and use a hanging indent.

In order to correctly direct readers to the Works Cited listing for a source, an author must include the first word/words from the Works Cited listing in parenthesis after the quote or reference. This allows a reader to easily locate the source in the Works Cited page.

Remember, correctly cite each source in your Works Cited page. Then, when you include a quote or a reference from a source, be sure to correctly cite the source in an in-text citation.

  • Introduce your quote (don’t just copy and paste something from your source!).
  • Make sure the quote is in quotation marks.
  • Properly cite the quote with an in-text citation. Before the end mark, in parenthesis, type the first word/words of the Works Cited listing and the page number, if applicable.

MLA Formatting for Common Sources

Note that the in text citation (what is in parenthesis after a quote) is the first word in the Works Cited listing. Every source listed in your Works Cited should be cited at least once in the text of the paper.

Type of Source Works Cited Entry In -Text Citation
Website “Castles in Medieval Times.” yourchildlearns.com. 2000. Owl and Mouse Educational Software. 9 March 2003. <http://www.yourchildlearns.com/castle_history.htm (Links to an external site.)>. Accessed July 29, 2011. (Castles)
Film The Empire Strikes Back.Dir. George Lucas. Perf. Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher. Twentieth Century Fox, 1980. (The Empire)
Article Online Achenbach, Joel. “America’s river.” Washington Post. 5 May 2002. <http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A13425-2202May1.html>. Accessed 20 July 2003. (Achenbach)
Book Gorman, Elizabeth. Prairie Women. Yale University Press, 1986. (Gorman)
Yelp/Social Media Posts B., Elizabeth. “Olsen’s Grain.” Yelp, 10/4/16. https://www.yelp.com/biz/olsens-grain-prescott?hrid=HjFTGmfTuS6rvsmVpTNZfQ&utm_campaign=www_review_share_ popup&utm_medium =copy_link&utm_source=(direct). Accessed 10/10/16. (B., Elizabeth)

TIP: Here is a great online citation creator that can help you cite websites correctly:  http://www.citationmachine.net.

**Content created by Dr. Karen Palmer based on MLA 8th edition. Licensed under CC BY NC SA.


Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License

The Worry Free Writer by Dr. Karen Palmer is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.