Note: This post relates to content in the eighth edition of the MLA Handbook. For up-to-date guidance, see the ninth edition of the MLA Handbook.

Lesson Plan


This quiz is designed to follow the assigned reading of part 1 of the MLA Handbook (8th ed.) and covers the first twenty pages, which explain the reason for documentation and provide guidance on avoiding plagiarism and evaluating sources. It was designed for use in a class with frequent ten-point reading-comprehension quizzes but can be easily adapted for use as an at-home assignment in conjunction with reading or as an in-class worksheet or journal.

Total Estimated Class Time

Allot 10 minutes for the quiz. Time should also be allowed for preparatory discussion, optional in-class peer grading, and follow-up discussion.


  • Motivate careful student reading of the MLA Handbook to promote idea engagement.
  • Provide a framework for class discussion about research and documentation.
  • Make student confusions about research and documentation legible to instructors.

Sequence of Activities

Before presenting the assignment

  1. Spend class time preparing students to read part 1 of the MLA Handbook by discussing scholarly research and citation practices. Focus on plagiarism, common knowledge, and the traits shared by most works, using the categories on the MLA format template to guide discussion. For example, you can discuss “who is the author of the source” in the “Think” section on pages 10–12 together with the “author” core element, covered on pages 21–25.
  1. Assign part 1 as at-home reading and indicate that there will be a reading-comprehension quiz focused on the first twenty pages.

When offering the assignment

  1. Ask students to complete the quiz handout, allotting ten minutes for them to do so. The quiz can be taken open- or closed-book.

After presenting the assignment

  1. Grade the quizzes. The quizzes can be self-graded in class, exchanged by students and peer-graded in class, or collected and graded by the instructor.
  1. Discuss the assigned reading and quiz results as a class. If you choose to have students grade their own quizzes during the discussion, consider allowing them to revise their answers to facilitate their retention of the correct information. If you use peer grading, allow time for discussion between students. If you do the grading, allot time for discussion of common errors when you return the quizzes.

Alternative Approaches and Reflection on the Lesson’s Success

If this is one of the first times students are being exposed to detailed citation expectations or if students are likely to struggle with basic reading comprehension, the readings can also be discussed before the quiz is administered.

Lesson Materials


Answer Key

Photo of Livia Arndal Woods

Livia Arndal Woods

Livia Arndal Woods is a teaching fellow at Queens College, City University of New York, where she teaches composition and British literature. She is working on a book project on reading practices and pregnancy in nineteenth-century realist fiction as well as a series of articles on digital pedagogy.