Format and Documentation Basics

Follow these guidelines unless you are specifically directed to the MLA or APA style manuals. The style manuals are available in the writing center and in the library reference room; you can also access general guidelines online through the links below. Unless otherwise directed, always use MLA style for my classes if you need to go beyond the few samples given below.

Go to MLA guidelines

Go to APA guidelines

Essay/Paper general guidelines:

1. Essays should be handed in on standard white paper, 1″ margins on all sides for the main text. Be sure the printer ribbon/ink is dark, and use a normal 10- or 12- point font (typeface).

2. Double space throughout, including inset quotations and bibliography. No extra space between paragraphs.

3. No title page — but do have a title–; place your name and the class number with my name (like: Eng 107/Harding) at the top of the first page, then double space down to your title. On subsequent pages, put your last name and the page number in the upper right corner. If you list 3 or fewer items in your Works Cited, you may (if they fit) print them on the final page of the essay; if they don’t fit or if you have more than 3, prepare a separate Works Cited page.

4. Hand in your papers stapled in the upper left corner; no binders.


Any time you quote or paraphrase from a text, it should be documented. Use parenthetical documentation in the text of your paper, with a Works Cited entry for each work at the end.

For most sources, all you need is the author’s last name and the page number (Smith 102). Note there is no comma after the name and no “p.” before the number. The citation goes after the close quotation mark, and the period goes after the close parenthesis, like: “if you please” (Smith 102). If you refer to only one work throughout your paper, only the page number is necessary. Indent any quotations that take up more than 3 typed lines; indent each line of quotation 5 spaces from the left, none from the right. Indented quotes take the (Smith 102) after the final period rather than before.

On the Works Cited page, a standard book would be listed as follows:

Lastname, Firstname. Title of book. Publisher’s city: Publisher’s name, year.

An example:

Smithson, Kathy. How I Survived College. Chicago: Atlas, 1997.

NOTE: The underlined title can be italicized, but choose one or the other and be consistent.

A work in a collection would be done:

Author. “Title.” Collection Title. Ed. Name of Editor. City: Publisher, year. pages.

Example: Ibsen, Henrik. “Hedda Gabler.” Three Plays by Ibsen. Ed. Joseph Smith. New York: Cable, 1993. 22-55.

If a work has a translator:

Ibsen, Henrik. “Hedda Gabler.” Three Plays by Ibsen. Ed. Joe Smith. Trans. Mary K. Smith. New York: Cable, 1993. 22-55.

Note that if your entry goes beyond one line, the next lines are indented 5 spaces; a new entry would return to the left margin. All lines are double spaced.

If the editor and translator are the same person, use “Ed. and Trans. Joe Smith.”

If the publisher is a university press, abbreviate the U and P without periods, like: U of Pennsylvania P, 1993.   Or: Chicago UP, 1993.

Publisher’s city, if more than one is listed, is the first one on the list. Provide the state only if the city is small and unknown, and use the post office state abbreviations: Podunk, OR: Podunk UP, 1998.

For magazine and newspaper articles, if an author is listed, easy. If no author is given, use the first one or two words (other than “The” or “A/An”) within quotation marks in the citation, like (“Street Kids” B4). The Works Cited entry would be:

“Street Kids Meet Their Match.” Seattle Times 14 June 1997: B1+.

If the article appears in full on one page, you do not need to list the page in the parenthetical citation. The “+” above means that the article begins on B1 then skips to another page. If an article is printed on consecutive pages, use the first and last with a hyphen between.

A magazine article:

Hanson, Jeff R. “Why Kids Run Away.” Newsweek 30 Oct. 1997: 56-58.

Note the order of the month and day; if there is no day, the order is month then year. Also note that article titles go in quotation marks, but magazine and newspaper titles are underlined/italicized.

If your source presents issues beyond what is listed above, consult your instructor or the style manual.