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- A complete guide to MLA in-text citations
MLA In-text Citations | A Complete Guide (9th Edition)
Published on July 9, 2019 by Shona McCombes . Revised on May 19, 2022.
An MLA in-text citation provides the author’s last name and a page number in parentheses.
If a source has two authors, name both. If a source has more than two authors, name only the first author, followed by “ et al. ”
If the part you’re citing spans multiple pages, include the full page range. If you want to cite multiple non-consecutive pages at the same time, separate the page numbers with commas.
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Table of contents, where to include an mla in-text citation, citing sources with no author, citing sources with no page numbers, citing different sources with the same author name, citing sources indirectly, frequently asked questions about mla in-text citations.
Place the parenthetical citation directly after the relevant quote or paraphrase , and before the period or other punctuation mark (except with block quotes , where the citation comes after the period).
If you have already named the author in the sentence, add only the page number in parentheses. When mentioning a source with three or more authors outside of parentheses, use “and others” or “and colleagues” in place of “et al.”
- MLA is the second most popular citation style (Smith and Morrison 17–19) .
- According to Smith and Morrison , MLA is the second most popular citation style (17–19) .
- APA is by far “the most used citation style in the US” (Moore et al. 74) , but it is less dominant in the UK (Smith 16) .
- Moore and colleagues state that APA is more popular in the US than elsewhere (74) .
If a sentence is supported by more than one source, you can combine the citations in a single set of parentheses. Separate the two sources with a semicolon .
Livestock farming is one of the biggest global contributors to climate change (Garcia 64; Davies 14) .
Consecutive citations of the same source
If you cite the same source repeatedly within a paragraph, you can include the full citation the first time you cite it, then just the page number for subsequent citations.
MLA is the second most popular citation style (Smith and Morrison 17–19) . It is more popular than Chicago style, but less popular than APA (21) .
You can do this as long as it remains clear what source you’re citing. If you cite something else in between or start a new paragraph, reintroduce the full citation again to avoid ambiguity.
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For sources with no named author , the in-text citation must match the first element of the Works Cited entry. This may be the name of an organization, or the title of the source.
If the source title or organization name is longer than four words, shorten it to the first word or phrase in the in-text citation, excluding any articles ( a, an, and the ). The shortened title or organization name should begin with the word the source is alphabetized by in the Works Cited.
Follow the general MLA rules for formatting titles : If the source is a self-contained work (e.g. a whole website or an entire book ), put the title in italics; if the source is contained within a larger whole (e.g. a page on a website or a chapter of a book), put the title in quotation marks.
If a source does not have page numbers but is divided into numbered parts (e.g. chapters, sections, scenes, Bible books and verses, Articles of the Constitution , or timestamps), use these numbers to locate the relevant passage.
If the source does not use any numbering system, include only the author’s name in the in-text citation. Don’t include paragraph numbers unless they are explicitly numbered in the source.
Note that if there are no numbered divisions and you have already named the author in your sentence, then no parenthetical citation is necessary.
If your Works Cited page includes more than one entry under the same last name, you need to distinguish between these sources in your in-text citations.
Multiple sources by the same author
If you cite more than one work by the same author, add a shortened title to signal which source you are referring to.
In this example, the first source is a whole book, so the title appears in italics; the second is an article published in a journal, so the title appears in quotation marks.
Different authors with the same last name
To distinguish between different authors with the same last name, use the authors’ initials (or, if the initials are the same, full first names) in your in-text citations:
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Sometimes you might want to cite something that you found quoted in a secondary source . If possible, always seek out the original source and cite it directly.
If you can’t access the original source, make sure to name both the original author and the author of the source that you accessed . Use the abbreviation “qtd. in” (short for “quoted in”) to indicate where you found the quotation.
In these cases, only the source you accessed directly is included in the Works Cited list.
You must include an MLA in-text citation every time you quote or paraphrase from a source (e.g. a book , movie , website , or article ).
Some source types, such as books and journal articles , may contain footnotes (or endnotes) with additional information. The following rules apply when citing information from a note in an MLA in-text citation :
- To cite information from a single numbered note, write “n” after the page number, and then write the note number, e.g. (Smith 105n2)
- To cite information from multiple numbered notes, write “nn” and include a range, e.g. (Smith 77nn1–2)
- To cite information from an unnumbered note, write “un” after the page number, with a space in between, e.g. (Jones 250 un)
If a source has two authors, name both authors in your MLA in-text citation and Works Cited entry. If there are three or more authors, name only the first author, followed by et al.
If a source has no author, start the MLA Works Cited entry with the source title . Use a shortened version of the title in your MLA in-text citation .
If a source has no page numbers, you can use an alternative locator (e.g. a chapter number, or a timestamp for a video or audio source) to identify the relevant passage in your in-text citation. If the source has no numbered divisions, cite only the author’s name (or the title).
If you already named the author or title in your sentence, and there is no locator available, you don’t need a parenthetical citation:
- Rajaram argues that representations of migration are shaped by “cultural, political, and ideological interests.”
- The homepage of The Correspondent describes it as “a movement for radically different news.”
Yes. MLA style uses title case, which means that all principal words (nouns, pronouns , verbs, adjectives , adverbs , and some conjunctions ) are capitalized.
This applies to titles of sources as well as the title of, and subheadings in, your paper. Use MLA capitalization style even when the original source title uses different capitalization .
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The complete guide to mla & citations, what you’ll find in this guide.
This page provides an in-depth overview of MLA format. It includes information related to MLA citations, plagiarism, proper formatting for in-text and regular citations, and examples of citations for many different types of sources.
Looking for APA? Check out the Citation Machine’s guide on APA format . We also have resources for Chicago citation style as well.
How to be a responsible researcher or scholar
Putting together a research project involves searching for information, disseminating and analyzing information, collecting information, and repurposing information. Being a responsible researcher requires keeping track of the sources that were used to help develop your research project, sharing the information you borrowed in an ethical way, and giving credit to the authors of the sources you used. Doing all of these things prevents plagiarism.
What is Plagiarism?
Plagiarism is the act of using others’ information without giving credit or acknowledging them. There are many examples of plagiarism. Completely copying another individual’s work without providing credit to the original author is a very blatant example of plagiarism. Plagiarism also occurs when another individual’s idea or concept is passed off as your own. Changing or modifying quotes, text, or any work of another individual is also plagiarism. Believe it or not, you can even plagiarize yourself! Reusing a project or paper from another class or time and saying that it’s new is plagiarism. One way to prevent plagiarism is to add citations in your project where appropriate.
What is a Citation?
A citation shows the reader of your project where you found your information. Citations are included in the body of a project when you add a quote to your project. Citations are also included in the body when you’re paraphrasing another individual’s information. These citations in the body of a research paper are called in-text citations. They are found directly next to the information that was borrowed and are very brief to avoid causing distraction while reading a project. These brief citations include the last name of the author and a page number. Scroll down for an in-depth explanation and examples of MLA in-text citations.
In-text citations provide us with a brief idea as to where you found your information, though they usually don't include the title and other components. Look on the last page of a research project to find complete citations.
Complete citations are found on what MLA calls a works-cited list, which is sometimes called an MLA bibliography. All sources that were used to develop a research project are found on the works-cited list. Complete citations are also created for any quotes or paraphrased information used in the text. Complete citations include the author’s name, the title, publisher, year published, page numbers, URLs, and a few other pieces of information.
Looking to create your citations in just a few clicks? Need an MLA format website or book citation? Visit Citation Machine.net! Our Citation Machine MLA generator, which is an MLA citation website, will create all of your citations in just a few clicks. Click here to see more styles .
Why Does it Matter?
Citing your sources is an extremely important component of your research project. It shows that you’re a responsible researcher and that you located appropriate and reputable sources that support your thesis or claim. In addition, if your work ends up being posted online or in print, there is a chance that others will use your research project in their own work!
Scroll down to find directions on how to create citations.
How the Modern Language Association Helps You Become a Responsible Researcher
What is mla format.
The Modern Language Association is an organization that was created to develop guidelines on everything language and literature related. They have guidelines on proper grammar usage and research paper layouts. In addition, they have English and foreign language committees, numerous books and journal publications, and an annual conference. They are not connected with this guide, but the information here reflects the association’s rules for formatting papers and citations.
What are citations?
The Modern Language Association is responsible for creating standards and guidelines on how to properly cite sources to prevent plagiarism. Their style is most often used when writing papers and citing sources in the liberal arts and humanities fields. “Liberal arts” is a broad term used to describe a range of subjects including the humanities, formal sciences such as mathematics and statistics, natural sciences such as biology and astronomy, and social sciences such as geography, economics, history, and others. The humanities focuses specifically on subjects related to languages, art, philosophy, religion, music, theater, literature, and ethics.
Believe it or not, there are thousands of other types of citation styles. While this citation style is most often used for the liberal arts and humanities fields, many other subjects, professors, and schools prefer citations and papers to be styled in MLA format.
What’s the difference between a bibliography and a works-cited list?
Great question. The two terms cause a lot of confusion and are consistently misused not only by students but educators as well! Let’s start with what the two words mean.
A bibliography displays the sources the writer used to gain background knowledge on the topic and also research it in-depth. Before starting a research project, you might read up on the topic in websites, books, and other sources. You might even dive a bit deeper to find more information elsewhere. All of these sources you used to help you learn about the topic would go in an MLA format bibliography. You might even include other sources that relate to the topic.
A works-cited list displays all of the sources that were mentioned in the writing of the actual paper or project. If a quote was taken from a source and placed into a research paper, then the full citation goes on the works-cited list.
Both the works-cited list and bibliography go at the end of a paper. Most teachers do not expect students to hand in both a bibliography AND a works-cited list. Teachers generally expect to see a works-cited list, but sometimes erroneously call it a bibliography. If you’re not sure what your teacher expects, a page in MLA bibliography format, a works-cited list, or both, ask for guidance.
Why do we use this MLA style?
These specific guidelines and standards for creating citations were developed for numerous reasons. When scholars and researchers in literature, language, and numerous other fields all cite their sources in the same manner, it makes it easier for readers to look at a citation and understand the different components of a source. By looking at an MLA citation, we can see who the author is, the title of the source, when it was published, and other identifiable pieces of information.
Imagine how difficult it would be to understand the various components of a source if we didn’t all follow the same guidelines! Not only would it make it difficult to understand the source that was used, but it would also make it difficult for readers to locate it themselves. This streamlined process aides us in understanding a researcher’s sources.
How is the new version different than previous versions?
This citation style has changed dramatically over the past couple of years. The MLA Handbook is currently in its 9th edition.
The new version expands upon standards previously set in the 8th edition of the MLA Handbook, including the core elements. The structure of citations remains the same, but some formatting guidance and terminology have changed.
- DOI numbers are now formatted as https://doi.org/xx.xxxx/xxx.xxxx.xxxx
- Seasons in publishing daters are lowercased: spring 2020
- The term “optional elements” is now “supplemental elements”
- “Narrative in-text citations” are called “citations in prose”
In addition, new information was added on the following:
- Hundreds of works-cited-list entries
- MLA formatting for papers
- Punctuation, spelling, and other mechanics of prose
- Chapter on inclusive language
- Notes (bibliographic and content)
For more information on MLA 9, click here .
A Deeper Look at Citations
What do they look like.
There are two types of citations. The first is a full, or complete, citation. These are found at the end of research projects. These citations are usually listed in alphabetical order by the author’s last names and include all of the information necessary for readers to be able to locate the source themselves.
Full citations are generally placed in this MLA citation format:
%%Last name of the author, First name of the author. “Source’s Title.” Container’s Title, roles and names of any other individuals who helped contribute to the source, the version of the source, any numbers associated with the source, the name of the publisher, the date the source was published, the location where individuals can find the source themselves (usually a DOI, URL, or page range).
There are times when additional information is added into the full citation.
Not sure how to transfer the information from your source into your citation? Confused about the term, “containers”? See below for information and complete explanations of each citation component.
The second type of citation, called an “in-text citation,” is included in the main part, or body, of a project when a researcher uses a quote or paraphrases information from another source. See the next section to find out how to create in-text citations.
What are in-text citations?
As stated above, in-text citations are included in the main part of a project when using a quote or paraphrasing a piece of information from another source. We include these types of citations in the body of a project for readers to quickly gain an idea as to where we found the information.
These in-text citations are found directly next to the quote or paraphrased information. They contain a small tidbit of the information found in the regular MLA citation. The regular, or complete, citation is located at the end of a project, on the works-cited list.
Here’s what a typical in-text citation looks like:
In the book The Joy Luck Club, the mother uses a vast amount of Chinese wisdom to explain the world and people’s temperaments. She states, “Each person is made of five elements…. Too much fire and you have a bad temper...too little wood and you bent too quickly...too much water and you flowed in too many directions” (Tan 31).
This specific in text citation, (Tan 31), is called an MLA parenthetical citation because the author’s name is in parentheses. It’s included so the reader sees that we are quoting something from page 31 in Tan’s book. The complete, regular citation isn’t included in the main part of the project because it would be too distracting for the reader. We want the reader to focus on our work and research, not get caught up on our sources.
Here’s another way to cite in the text:
In Tan’s novel The Joy Luck Club, the mother uses a vast amount of Chinese wisdom to explain the world and people’s temperaments. She states, “Each person is made of five elements... Too much fire and you have a bad temper... too little wood and you bent too quickly... too much water and you flowed in too many directions" (31).
If the reader would like to see the source’s full information, and possibly locate the source themselves, they can refer to the last part of the project to find the regular citation.
The regular citation, at the end of the project looks like this:
%%Tan, Amy. The Joy Luck Club. Penguin, 1989, p. 31.
Notice that the first word in the full citation (Tan) matches the “Tan” used in the body of the project. It’s important to have the first word of the full citation match the term used in the text. Why? It allows readers to easily find the full citation on the works-cited list.
If your direct quote or paraphrase comes from a source that does not have page numbers, it is acceptable to place a line number (use line or lines), paragraph number (use the abbreviation par. or pars.), sections (sec. or secs.), or chapters (ch. or chs.). Only use these other terms if they are actually labeled on the source. If it specifically says on the source, “Section 1,” for example, then it is acceptable to use “sec. 1” in the in-text citation.
If there are no numbers to help readers locate the exact point in the source, only include the author’s last name.
To determine how to create in-text citations for more than one author, no authors, or corporate authors, refer to the “Authors” section below.
More about quotations and how to cite a quote:
- Use quotes from outside sources to help illustrate and expand on your own points. The majority of your paper should be your own writing and ideas.
- Include the quote exactly as you found it. It is okay to use only certain words or phrases from the quote, but keep the words (spelling and capitalization) and punctuation the same.
- It is acceptable to break up a direct quote with your own writing.
Example from a movie:
Dorothy stated, "Toto," then looked up and took in her surroundings, "I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore" ( Wizard of Oz ).
- The entire paper should be double-spaced, including quotes.
- If the quote is longer than four lines, it is necessary to make a block quote. Block quotes show the reader that they are about to read a lengthy amount of text from another source.
- Start the quote on the next line, half an inch from the left margin.
- Do not use any indents at the beginning of the block quote.
- Only use quotation marks if there are quotation marks present in the source.
- If there is more than one paragraph in the block quote, indent the beginning of the paragraphs after the first one an additional half an inch from the left margin.
- Add your in-text citation after the final period of the block quote. Do not add an additional period after the parenthetical citation.
While his parents sat there in surprise, Colton went onto say:
“Cause I could see you,” Colon said matter-of-factly. “I went up and out of my body and I was looking down and I could see the doctor working on my body. And I saw you and Mommy. You were in a little room by yourself, praying; and Mommy was in a different room, and she was praying and talking on the phone.” (Burpo xxi)
How to create a paraphrase:
As stated above, the majority of your paper should be your own writing and ideas. It’s acceptable to include quotes, but they shouldn’t crowd your paper. If you’re finding that you’re using too many quotes in your paper, consider adding paraphrases. When you reiterate a piece of information from an outside source in your own words, you create a paraphrase.
Here’s an example:
Readers discover in the very first sentence of Peter Pan that he doesn’t grow up (Barrie 1).
What paraphrases are:
- Recycled information in the paper writer’s own words and writing style.
- They’re still references! Include an in-text citation next to the paraphrased information.
What paraphrases are not:
- A copy and pasted sentence with a few words substituted for synonyms.
Confused about whether footnotes and endnotes should be used?
Footnotes and endnotes are completely acceptable to use in this style. Use a footnote or endnote if:
- Adding additional information will help the reader understand the content. This is called a content note .
- You need to cite numerous sources in one small section of your writing. Instead of clogging up a small paragraph with in-text citations (which could cause confusion for the reader), include a footnote or endnote. This is called a bibliographic note .
Keep in mind that whether you choose to include in-text citations or footnotes/endnotes, you need to also include a full reference on the MLA format works-cited list.
Content note example:
Even Maurice Sendak’s work (the mastermind behind Where the Wild Things Are and numerous other popular children’s picture books) can be found on the banned books list. It seems as though nobody is granted immunity. 1
- In the Night Kitchen ’s main character is nude on numerous pages. Problematic for most is not the nudity of the behind, but the frontal nudity.
%%Sendak, Maurice. In The Night Kitchen. Harper Collins, 1996.
Bibliographic note example:
Dahl had a difficult childhood. Both his father and sister passed away when he was a toddler. He was then sent away by his mother to boarding school (de Castella). 1
- Numerous books, such as Matilda, James and the Giant Peach, and The BFG, all feature characters with absent or difficult parents.
MLA Works Cited:
Include 4 full citations for: de Castella’s article, Matilda, James and the Giant Peach, and The BFG .
Don’t forget to create full, or regular citations, and place them at the end of your project.
If you need help with in-text and parenthetical citations, CitationMachine.net can help. Our MLA citation generator is simple and easy to use!
Common Knowledge: What Is It and How Will It Affect My Writing?
Footnotes, endnotes, references, proper structuring. We know it’s a lot. Thankfully, you don’t have to include a reference for EVERY piece of information you add to your paper. You can forget about including a reference when you share a piece of common knowledge.
Common knowledge is information that most people know. For example, these are a few facts that are considered common knowledge:
- The Statue of Liberty is located in New York City
- Tokyo is the capital of Japan
- Romeo and Juliet is a play written by William Shakespeare
- English is the language most people speak in England
- An elephant is an animal
We could go on and on. When you include common knowledge in your paper, omit a reference. One less thing to worry about, right?
Before you start adding tons of common knowledge occurrences to your paper to ease the burden of creating references, we need to stop you right there. Remember, the goal of a research paper is to develop new information or knowledge. You’re expected to seek out information from outside sources and analyze and distribute the information from those sources to form new ideas. Using only common knowledge facts in your writing involves absolutely zero research. It’s okay to include some common knowledge facts here and there, but do not make it the core of your paper.
If you’re unsure if the fact you’re including is common knowledge or not, it doesn’t hurt to include a reference. There is no such thing as being overly responsible when it comes to writing and citing.
Wikipedia - Yay or Nay?
If you’re wondering whether it’s okay to use Wikipedia in your project, the answer is, it depends.
If Wikipedia is your go-to source for quick information on a topic, you’re not alone. Chances are, it’s one of the first websites to appear on your results page. It’s used by tons of people, it’s easily accessible, and it contains millions of concise articles. So, you’re probably wondering, “What’s the problem?”
The issue with Wikipedia is that it’s a user-generated site, meaning information is constantly added and modified by registered users. Who these users are and their expertise is somewhat of a mystery. The truth is anyone can register on the site and make changes to articles.
Knowing this makes some cringe, especially educators and librarians, since the validity of the information is questionable. However, some people argue that because Wikipedia is a user-generated site, the community of registered users serve as “watchdogs,” ensuring that information is valid. In addition, references are included at the bottom of each article and serve as proof of credibility. Furthermore, Wikipedia lets readers know when there’s a problem with an article. Warnings such as “this article needs clarification,” or “this article needs references to prove its validity” are shared with the reader, thus promoting transparency.
If you choose to reference a Wikipedia article in your research project, and your teacher or professor says it’s okay, then you must reference it in your project. You would treat it just as you would with any other web source.
However, you may want to instead consider locating the original source of the information. This should be fairly easy to do thanks to the references at the bottom of each article.
Specific Components of a Citation
This section explains each individual component of the citation, with examples for each section for full citations and in-text citations.
Name of the author
The author’s name is usually the first item listed in the MLA citation. Author names start with the last name, then a comma is added, and then the author’s first name (and middle name if applicable) is at the end. A period closes this information.
Here are two examples of how an author’s name can be listed in a full citation:
Poe, Edgar Allan.
(Author’s Last name page number) or Author’s Last name... (page).
Wondering how to format the author’s name when there are two authors working jointly on a source? When there are two authors that work together on a source, the author names are placed in the order in which they appear on the source. Place their names in this format:
Author 1’s Last Name, First name, and Author 2’s First Name Last Name.
Here are two examples of how to cite two authors:
Clifton, Mark, and Frank Riley.
Paxton, Roberta J., and Michael Jacob Fox.
(Author 1’s Last name and Author 2’s Last name page number) or Author 1’s Last name and Author 2’s Last name... (page).
There are many times when three or more authors work together on a source. This often happens with journal articles, edited books, and textbooks.
To cite a source with three or more authors, place the information in this format:
Author 1’s Last name, First name, et al.
As you can see, only include the first author’s name. The other authors are accounted for by using “et al.” In Latin, et al. is translated to “and others.” If using the Citation Machine citation generator, this abbreviation is automatically added for you.
Here’s an example of a citation for three or more authors:
%%Warner, Ralph, et al. How to Buy a House in California. Edited by Alayna Schroeder, 12th ed., Nolo, 2009.
(Author 1’s Last name et al. page number)
Is there no author listed on your source? If so, exclude the author’s information from the citation and begin the citation with the title of the source.
For in-text: Use the title of the source in parentheses. Place the title in italics if the source stands alone. Books and films stand alone. If it’s part of a larger whole, such as a chapter in an edited book or an article on a website, place the title in quotation marks without italics.
( Back to the Future )
(“Citing And Writing”)
Other in-text structures:
Authors with the same last name in your paper? MLA essay format requires the use of first initials in-text in this scenario.
Ex: (J. Silver 45)
Are you citing more than one source by the same author? For example, two books by Ernest Hemingway? Include the title in-text.
Example: (Hemingway, For Whom The Bell Tolls 12).
Are you citing a film or song? Include a timestamp in the format of hours:minutes:seconds. ( Back to the Future 00:23:86)
Was the source found on social media, such as a tweet, Reddit, or Instagram post? If this is the case, in an MLA format paper, you are allowed to start the citation with the author’s handle, username, or screen name.
Here is an example of how to cite a tweet:
%%@CarlaHayden. “I’m so honored to talk about digital access at @UMBCHumanities. We want to share the @libraryofcongress collection.” Twitter , 13 Apr. 2017, 6:04 p.m., twitter.com/LibnOfCongress/status/852643691802091521.
While most citations begin with the name of the author, they do not necessarily have to. Quite often, sources are compiled by editors. Or, your source may be done by a performer or composer. If your project focuses on someone other than the author, it is acceptable to place that person’s name first in the citation. If you’re using the MLA works cited generator at Citation Machine.net, you can choose the individual’s role from a drop-down box.
For example, let’s say that in your research project, you focus on Leonardo DiCaprio’s performances as an actor. You’re quoting a line from the movie Titanic in your project, and you’re creating a complete citation for it in the works-cited list.
It is acceptable to show the reader that you’re focusing on Leonardo DiCaprio’s work by citing it like this in the MLA works-cited list:
%%DiCaprio, Leonardo, performer. Titanic . Directed by James Cameron. Paramount, 1997.
Notice that when citing an individual other than the author, place the individual’s role after their name. In this case, Leonardo DiCaprio is the performer.
This is often done with edited books, too. Place the editor’s name first (in reverse order), add a comma, and then add the word editor.
If you’re still confused about how to place the authors together in a citation, the tools at CitationMachine.net can help! Our website is easy to use and will create your citations in just a few clicks!
Titles and containers
The titles are written as they are found on the source and in title form, meaning the important words start with a capital.
Here’s an example of a properly written title:
Practical Digital Libraries: Books, Bytes, and Bucks.
Wondering whether to place your title in italics or quotation marks? It depends on whether the source sits by itself or not. If the source stands alone, meaning that it is an independent source, place the title in italics. If the title is part of a larger whole, place the title of the source in quotation marks and the source it is from in italics.
When citing full books, movies, websites, or albums in their entirety, these titles are written in italics.
However, when citing part of a source, such as an article on a website, a chapter in a book, a song on an album, or an article in a scholarly journal, the part is written with quotation marks and then the titles of the sources that they are found in are written in italics.
Here are some examples to help you understand how to format titles and their containers.
To cite Pink Floyd’s entire album, The Wall , cite it as:
%%Pink Floyd. The Wall. Columbia, 1979.
To cite one of the songs on Pink Floyd’s album in MLA formatting, cite it as:
%%Pink Floyd. “Another Brick in the Wall (Part I).” The Wall, Columbia, 1979, track 3.
To cite a fairy tale book in its entirety, cite it as:
%%Colfer, Chris. The Land of Stories. Little Brown, 2016.
To cite a specific story or chapter in the book, cite it as:
%%Colfer, Chris. “Little Red Riding Hood.” The Land of Stories, Little Brown, 2016, pp. 58-65.
More about containers
From the section above, you can see that titles can stand alone, or they can sit in a container. Many times, sources can sit in more than one container. Wondering how? When citing an article in a scholarly journal, the first container is the journal. The second container? It’s the database that the scholarly journal is found in. It is important to account for all containers, so readers are able to locate the exact source themselves.
When citing a television episode, the first container is the name of the show and the second container is the name of the service that it could be streaming on, such as Netflix .
If your source sits in more than one container, the information about the second container is found at the end of the citation.
Use the following format to cite your source with multiple containers :
%%Last name of the author, First name of the author. “Source’s Title.” Container’s Title, roles and names of any other individuals who helped contribute to the source, the version of the source, any numbers associated with the source, the name of the publisher, the date the source was published, the location where individuals can find the source themselves (usually a URL or page range). Title of Second Container, roles and names of any other contributors, the version of the second container, any numbers associated with the second container, the name of the second container’s publisher, the date the second container was published, location.
If the source has more than two containers, add on another full section at the end for each container.
Not all of the fields in the citation format above need to be included in your citation. In fact, many of these fields will most likely be omitted from your citations. Only include the elements that will help your readers locate the source themselves.
Here is an example of a citation for a scholarly journal article found in a database. This source has two containers: the journal itself is one container, and the site it sits on is the other.
%%Zanetti, Francois. “Curing with Machine: Medical Electricity in Eighteenth-Century Paris.” Technology and Culture, vol. 54, no. 3, July 2013, pp. 503-530. Project Muse, muse.jhu.edu/article/520280.
If you’re still confused about containers, the Citation Machine MLA cite generator can help! MLA citing is easier when using the tools at CitationMachine.net.
Many sources have people besides the author who contribute to the source. If your research project focuses on an additional individual besides the author, or you feel as though including other contributors will help the reader locate the source themselves, include their names in the citation.
To include another individual in the citation, after the title, place the role of the individual, the word “by,” and then their name in standard order.
If the name of the contributor comes after a period, capitalize the first letter in the role of the individual. If it comes after a comma, the first letter in the role of the individual is lowercased.
Here’s an example of a citation for a children’s book with the name of the illustrator included:
%%Rubin, Adam. Dragons Love Tacos. Illustrated by Daniel Salmieri, Penguin, 2012.
The names of editors, directors, performers, translators, illustrators, and narrators can often be found in this part of the citation.
If the source that you’re citing states that it is a specific version or edition, this information is placed in the “versions” section of the citation.
When including a numbered edition, do not type out the number, use the numeral. Also, abbreviate the word “edition” to “ed.”
Here is an example of a citation with a specific edition:
%%Koger, Gregory. “Filibustering and Parties in the Modern State.” Congress Reconsidered, edited by Lawrence C. Dodd and Bruce I. Oppenheimer, 10th ed., CQ Press, 2013, pp. 221-236. Google Books, books.google.com/books?id=b7gkLlSEeqwC&lpg=PP1&dq=10th%20edition&pg=PR6#v=onepage&q=10th%20edition&f=false.
Many sources have numbers associated with them. If you see a number different than the date, page numbers, or editions, include this information in the “numbers” section of the citation. For MLA citing, this includes volume and/or issue numbers (use the abbreviations vol. and no.), episode numbers, track numbers, or any other numbers that will help readers identify the specific source that you used. Do not include ISBN (International Standard Book Numbers) in the citation.
It is important to include the name of the publisher (the organization that created or published the source), so that readers can locate the exact source themselves.
Include publishers for all sources except periodicals. Also, for websites, exclude this information when the name of the publisher matches the name of the website. Furthermore, the name of the publisher is often excluded from the citation for second containers, since the publisher of the second container is not necessarily responsible for the creation or production of the source’s content.
Publication dates are extremely important to include in citations. They allow the reader to understand when sources were published. They are also used when readers are attempting to locate the source themselves.
Dates can be written in MLA in one of two ways. Researchers can write dates as:
Day Mo. Year
Mo. Day, Year
Whichever format you decide to use, use the same format for all of your citations. If using the Citation Machine citation generator, the date will be formatted in the same way for each citation.
While it isn’t necessary to include the full date for all source citations, use the amount of information that makes the most sense to help your readers understand and locate the source themselves.
Wondering what to do when your source has more than one date? Use the date that is most applicable to your research.
The location generally refers to the place where the readers can find the source. This includes page ranges, URLs, DOI numbers, track numbers, disc numbers, or even cities and towns.
You can usually leave out http:// or https:// from URLs unless you want to hyperlink them. For DOIs, use http:// or https:// before the DOI: https://doi.org/xx.xxxx/xxx.xxxx.xxxx .
For page numbers, when citing a source found on only one page, use p.
Example: p. 6.
When citing a source that has a page range, use pp. and then add the page numbers.
Example: pp. 24-38.
Since the location is the final piece of the citation, place a period at the end. When it comes to URLs, many students wonder if the links in citations should be live or not. If the paper is being shared electronically with a teacher and other readers, it may be helpful to include live links. If you’re not sure whether to include live links or not, ask your teacher or professor for guidance.
Looking for an online tool to do the work for you? Citation Machine citing tools could help! Our site is simple (and fun!) to use.
Need some more help? There is further good information here .
Common Citation Examples
ALL sources use this format:
%%Last name of the author, First name of the author. “Source’s Title.” Container’s Title, roles and names of any other individuals who helped contribute to the source, the version of the source, any numbers associated with the source, the name of the publisher, the date the source was published, the location where individuals can find the source themselves (usually a URL or page range). *Title of Second Container, roles and names of any other contributors, the version of the second container, any numbers associated with the second container, the name of the second container’s publisher, the date the second container was published, location.
*If the source does not have a second container, omit this last part of the citation.
Remember, the Citation Machine MLA formatter can help you save time and energy when creating your citations. Check out our MLA Citation Machine pages to learn more.
- Journal Articles
How to Format a Paper
When it comes to formatting your paper or essay for academic purposes, there are specific MLA paper format guidelines to follow.
- Use paper that is 8½-by-11 inch in size. This is the standard size for copier and printer paper.
- Use high quality paper.
- Your research paper or essay should have a one-inch margin on the top, bottom, left, and right sides of the paper.
- While most word processors automatically format your paper to have one-inch margins, you can check or modify the margins of your paper by going to the “Page setup” section of your word processor.
Which font is acceptable to use?
- Use an easily readable font, specifically one that allows readers to see the difference between regular and italicized letters.
- Times New Roman, Arial, and Helvetica are recommended options.
- Use 12-point size font.
Should I double-space the paper, including citations?
- Double-space the entire paper.
- There should be a double space between each piece of information in the heading.
- Place a double space between the heading and the title.
- Place a double space between the title and the beginning of the essay.
- The works-cited list should be double-spaced as well. All citations are double-spaced.
Justification & Punctuation
- Text should be left-justified, meaning that the text is aligned, or flush, against the left margin.
- Indents signal to the reader that a new concept or idea is about to begin.
- Use the “tab” button on your keyboard to create an indent.
- Add one space after all punctuation marks.
Heading & Title
- Include a proper heading and title
- The heading should include the following, on separate lines, starting one inch from the top and left margins:
- Your full name
- Your teacher or professor’s name
- The course number
- Dates in the heading and the body of your essay should be consistent. Use the same format, either Day Month Year or Month Day, Year throughout the entire paper
- Examples: 27 July 2017 or July 27, 2017
- The title should be underneath the heading, centered in the middle of the page, without bold, underlined, italicized, or all capital letters.
- Number all pages, including the very first page and the works-cited list.
- Place page numbers in the top right corner, half an inch from the top margin and one inch from the right margin.
- Include your last name to the left of the page number. Example: Jacobson 4
Here’s an example to provide you with a visual:
If you need help with sentence structure or grammar, check out our paper checker. The paper checker will help to check every noun , verb , and adjective . If there are words that are misspelled or out of place, the paper checker will suggest edits and provide recommendations.
- If a citation flows onto the second line, indent it in half an inch from the left margin (called a “hanging indent”).
- For more information on the works-cited list, refer to “How to Make a Works Cited Page,” which is found below.
How to Create a Title Page
According to the Modern Language Association’s official guidelines for formatting a research paper, it is unnecessary to create or include an individual title page, or MLA cover page, at the beginning of a research project. Instead, follow the directions above, under “Heading & Title,” to create a proper heading. This heading is featured at the top of the first page of the research paper or research assignment.
If your instructor or professor does in fact require or ask for an MLA title page, follow the directions that you are given. They should provide you with the information needed to create a separate, individual title page. If they do not provide you with instructions, and you are left to create it at your own discretion, use the header information above to help you develop your research paper title page. You may want to include other information, such as the name of your school or university.
How to Make a Works Cited Page
The MLA Works Cited page is generally found at the end of a research paper or project. It contains a list of all the citations of sources used for the research project. Follow these directions to format the works-cited list to match the Modern Language Association’s guidelines.
- The “Works Cited” page has its own page at the end of a research project.
- Include the same running head as the rest of the project (Your last name and then the page number). The “Works Cited” page has the final page number for the project.
- Name the page “Works Cited,” unless your list only includes one citation. In that case, title it in MLA “Work Cited.”
- The title of the page (either “Works Cited” or “Work Cited”) is placed one inch from the top of the page, centered in the middle of the document.
- Double space the entire document, even between the title of the page and the first citation.
- Citations are listed in alphabetical order by the first word in the citation (usually the last name of the author or the first word in the title if the citation does not include the author’s name. Ignore “A,” “An,” and “The” if the title begins with these words.)
- If there are multiple citations by the same author, place them in chronological order by the date published.
- Also, instead of writing the author’s name twice in both citations, use three hyphens.
%%Angelou, Maya. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. Random House, 2009.
%%---. Gather Together in My Name. Random House, 1974.
- All citations begin flush against the left margin. If the citation is long and rolls onto a second or third line, indent the lines below the first line half an inch from the left margin. This is called a “hanging indent.” The purpose of a hanging indent is to make the citations easier to read. If you’re using our MLA citation machine, we’ll format each of your references with a hanging indent for you.
%%Wai-Chung, Ho. “Political Influences on Curriculum Content and Musical Meaning: Hong Kong Secondary Music Education, 1949-1997.” Journal of Historical Research in Music Education, vol. 22, no. 1, 1 Oct. 2000, pp. 5-25. Periodicals Index Online, search-proquest-com.i.ezproxy.nypl.org/pio/docview/1297849364/citation/6B70D633F50C4EA0PQ/78?accountid=35635.
- MLA “Works Cited” pages can be longer than one page. Use as many pages as necessary. If you have only one source to cite, do not place the one citation below the text of your paper. In MLA, a “Work Cited” page is still created for that individual citation.
Here’s a sample paper to give you an idea of what an MLA paper could look like. Included at the end is an MLA “Works Cited” page example.
Looking to add a relevant image, figure, table, or musical score to your paper? Here’s the easy way to do it, while following guidelines set forth by the Modern Language Association:
- Place the image, figure, table, or music close to where it’s mentioned in the text.
- Provide source information and any additional notes directly below the image, figure, table, or music.
- Label the table as “Table” followed by an arabic numeral such as “1.” Table 1 is the table closest to the beginning of the paper. The next table mentioned in the text would be Table 2, and so on.
- Create a title for the table and place it below the label. Capitalize all important words.
- The label (Table 1) and the title should be flush against the left margin.
- Double-space everything.
- A figure can be a map, photograph, painting, pie chart, or any other type of image.
- Create a label and place it below the figure. The figure first mentioned in the text of the project is either “Figure 1” or “Fig 1.” Though figures are usually abbreviated to “Fig.” Choose one style and use it consistently. The next mentioned figure is “Figure 2” or “Fig. 2.”, and so on.
- Place a caption next to the label. If all of the source information is included in the caption, there isn’t a need to replicate that information in the works-cited list.
MLA Final Checklist
Think you’re through? We know this guide covered a LOT of information, so before you hand in that assignment, here’s a checklist to help you determine if you have everything you need:
_ Are both in-text and full citations included in the project? Remember, for every piece of outside information included in the text, there should be a corresponding in-text citation next to it. Include the full citation at the end, on the “Works Cited” page.
_ Are all citations, both in-text and full, properly formatted in MLA style? If you’re unsure, try out our citation generator!
_ Is your paper double-spaced in its entirety with one inch margins?
_ Do you have a running header on each page? (Your last name followed by the page number)
_ Did you use a font that is easy to read?
_ Are all citations on the MLA format works-cited list in alphabetical order?
Our plagiarism checker scans for any accidental instances of plagiarism. It scans for grammar and spelling errors, too. If you have an adverb , preposition , or conjunction that needs a slight adjustment, we may be able to suggest an edit.
Common Ways Students Accidentally Plagiarize
We spoke a bit about plagiarism at the beginning of this guide. Since you’re a responsible researcher, we’re sure you didn’t purposely plagiarize any portions of your paper. Did you know students and scholars sometimes accidentally plagiarize? Unfortunately, it happens more often than you probably realize. Luckily, there are ways to prevent accidental plagiarism and even some online tools to help!
Here are some common ways students accidentally plagiarize in their research papers and assignments:
1. Poor Paraphrasing
In the “How to create a paraphrase” section towards the top of this page, we share that paraphrases are “recycled information, in the paper writer’s own words and writing style.” If you attempt to paraphrase a few lines of text and it ends up looking and sounding too close to the original author’s words, it’s a poor paraphrase and considered plagiarism.
2. Incorrect Citations
If you cite something incorrectly, even if it’s done accidentally, it’s plagiarism. Any incorrect information in a reference, such as the wrong author name or the incorrect title, results in plagiarism.
3. Forgetting to include quotation marks
When you include a quote in your paper, you must place quotation marks around it. Failing to do so results in plagiarism.
If you’re worried about accidental plagiarism, try our Citation Machine Plus essay tool. It scans for grammar, but it also checks for any instances of accidental plagiarism. It’s simple and user-friendly, making it a great choice for stress-free paper editing and publishing.
Updated June 15, 2021
Written and edited by Michele Kirschenbaum and Wendy Ikemoto. Michele Kirschenbaum has been an awesome school librarian since 2006 and is an expert in citing sources. Wendy Ikemoto has a master’s degree in library and information science and has been working for Citation Machine since 2012.
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The MLA Handbook
Who uses MLA?
The MLA Handbook is the creation of the Modern Language Association (MLA), and is the standard style guide for languages and literatures.
Formatting In Text Citations
All citations in MLA appear in text, as a parenthetical note after the sentence in which the material is cited. The works cited provides all the bibliographical information on the source, so the in text citation only requires Author Lastname and a Page Number. This is bracketed in parentheses and placed before the period at the end of the sentence.
This is the sentence that I am citing (Smith 55).
This is the sentence that I am citing (Smith and Jones 31).
Smith wrote things that I'm talking about in this sentence (45).
If the work does not have an author, or there are multiple works by the same author, a shortened portion of the title will also go in the citation. It should be italicized or in quotes, depending on the source type.
This is another exciting sentence that I'm citing (Jones, The Great Work 178).
Sometimes you just don't have an author to cite ("Another Work" 89).
Determining what information from the original source to use in a citation or who to cite is a decision for the researcher, based on what information is being cited . This is especially true for non-print materials, such as a video, image, or website. As noted in the MLA Handbook, 8th ed. , a citation for audio visual material is based on which part is being referenced.
This sentence cites song lyrics (Songwriter timestamp).
This sentence cites a film (Director's name timestamp).
Note : While older versions of MLA allowed footnotes as an option for citations, the current version of MLA only permits in text citations, not footnotes . The Chicago Manual of Style of the only guide that includes footnotes. Check with your professor or department if you have questions as to which method is best for your work.
- Sample MLA paper from Purdue OWL
- Norton Field Guide to Writing MLA Sample Paper (PDF)
More Online Guides
- MLA Style Center An online guide to the 8th edition of the MLA Handbook, including citation templates, sample papers, and all the rules of MLA formatting.
- Purdue OWL - MLA Style These OWL resources will help you learn how to use the Modern Language Association (MLA) citation and format style. This section contains resources on in-text citation and the Works Cited page, as well as MLA sample papers .
- MLA Norton Field Guide To Writing A guide to the 8th edition of the MLA Handbook from Norton, including descriptions, sample papers, and various examples.
- Next: Books >>
- Updated: Sep 27, 2023 9:44 AM
- URL: https://libguides.bates.edu/mla
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Note: Always read your assignments carefully and defer to your instructors' guidelines if they differ from MLA. Instructors may have their own preferences about citing and formatting. This page represents the standard MLA style according to the MLA Handbook, 9th Edition . A printable version of this information is available here .
If you need more help, schedule an appointment at your writing center!
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Formatting MLA Papers
How to set up the first page for a student mla paper.
How to make the header with your last name and page number
All pages of an MLA paper should have a page number in the top right corner preceded by the student's last name. Microsoft Word Software: In the top menu bar, click Insert, then click Header, and then click Blank. From the Header menu bar, click Page number, then Plain Number 3 (i.e., top right corner). Move your cursor in front of the (#) symbol or number, and type in your last name.
Word Online (TTU Student Version): In the top menu bar, click Page Numbers, and select the example with the number in the top right corner. Place the cursor in front of the <#>, and type in your last name.
Google Docs: Select the Insert dropdown menu, then # Page Numbers. Click on the example without a cover page and has 1 in the top right corner of the first page. Place the cursor in front of the 1 in a gray box, and type in your last name.
How to make a hanging indent for the Works Cited page
A hanging indent is when the first line of a paragraph is flush against the left margin and the following lines in the paragraph come in half an inch. For the Works Cited page, this means the authors' last names stick out and are easy to locate and read. Microsoft Word Software: Select the sources you are ready to format. On your Home tab, click the arrow to the right of the word Paragraph (it is pointing down and to the right). This will open a new menu. Look for the Indentation section and the option Special. Click the Special dropdown, and select Hanging.
Word Online (TTU Student Version): Click on downward-pointing triangle to the right of the icon that has horizontal lines and a backwards ‘P' (Paragraph icon). Click on Special Indent. Click on Hanging Indent.
Google Docs: Select the sources you are ready to format. Click on the Format menu at the top of the page, then Align & Indent, and click on Indentation options at the bottom of the menu. This will open a pop-up window. Click the selection bar under Special indent, and select Hanging. Click on Apply.
The two main components are the author's last name (or title/description of the work when there is no author) and the page number, as applicable (MLA Handbook, 9th Ed. 227-228).
In-text citations, both citations “in prose” and “parenthetical,” appear in the body of a paper. For MLA style, in prose means the author's name is part of sentence; however, the page number will still be in parentheses at the end of the sentence. Parenthetical means both the author's name and the page number are in parentheses at the end of the sentence.
See the drop-down options below for examples.
NOTE: The ending punctuation mark goes after the parenthetical citation, as the citation is part of the sentence.
One (1) author
For the first citation in prose, include the author's first name. Citation in prose example:
After 3 years of research, Leticia Rociano determined the base was ineffective in multiple settings (65).
The base was used in multiple experiments during a 3-year period, but it proved to be ineffective (Rociano 65).
If there is no page number, leave it out.
Two (2) authors
Citation in prose example:
Yaiba and Gotouge found several examples of cooperation in the original texts (17).
The examples of cooperation indicated there was a greater degre of communication within the different groups than previously thought (Yaiba and Gotouge 38).
Three (3) or more authors
If there are three or more authors, you only list the first author's last name in text, followed by the Latin abbreviation et al.
Kawada et al. proved cultural influences were the greatest factor in how audiences interpreted the dialog (3).
Audiences relied most on their cultural backgrounds when interpreting author intent through the dialog (Kawada et al. 3).
One (1) author with multiple last names
Bonnie Matthews Wolfe essentially created the trend. Wolfe notes others incorporated her style of syntax into their writing (12).
The effect of this syntax in creative prose encourages readers to look past standardized English and embrace meaning-making in their own ways (Wolfe).
Abbreviations and particles in last names
Dane Le Emilio, Jr. concurred. Le Emilio added the idea that the setting created a sense of urgency for the characters (22).
The setting adds a sense of urgency for the characters ( Le Emilio 22 ).
Corporate or group author
Texas Tech University (TTU) increased student retention through two key initiatives (2).
The initiatives encouraged students to use the many resources available to them (TTU 3).
MagneBlock Inc. created the first toy building block that uses electromagnetic forces to hold the blocks together.
Without increasing user difficulty, the blocks hold designs together even when met with greater forces (MagneBlock Inc. 5).
According to the website "There Be Dragons," there are several notable differences in traditional eastern and western dragons.
Eastern dragons fly without wings, while western dragons have large wings that can double as forelegs ("There Be Dragons").
Linn said, "Without the fine arts program, half of the kids would have dropped out of school" (qtd. in Richards 331).
Videos or podcasts
Becks explained, "No time might ever be exactly right, you just have do your best in any moment" (1:00:13).
Being prepared for any situation is always beneficial (Beck 27:30).
General order of information, including punctuation.
Author. “Title of source.” Title of container (e.g., journal, magazine), Other contributors (e.g., editors, translators), Volume, Number, Publisher, Publication date, Location (e.g., page numbers, URL, building name or address where lecture was held).
Titles of books, journals, magazine, websites, etc., are italicized . Chapter titles, lecture titles, episode titles, etc., are surrounded by quotation marks. Note that the end quote mark in titles comes AFTER the period.
What to include in a citation
- In general, the more information you can include the better. You want your readers to be able to access your sources if they want to read them for themselves.
- City of publication is not required unless your source was published before 1900 or if your source was published in more than one country. For example, the British vs. American spelling of words creates differences in the text and requires the inclusion of the city of publication ( MLA Handbook, 9th Ed. 172-73).
- Not all publications will have all the containers/fields recommended by MLA. If your source does not have an editor or URL, for example, just skip that option.
- Authors are listed alphabetically by last name then first name (e.g., Clay, Raymond).
- If an author has a middle initial or middle name they use with their publications, include them in the Works Cited (e.g., Clay, Raymond Dean).
- For works with two authors, list the first author in last name, first name order and the second author in first name last name order (e.g., Seymour, Lydia, and Diya Matthews) (MLA Handbook, 9th Ed. 313).
- For works with three or more authors, list only the first author's name, followed by the Latin abbreviation et al. (e.g., Kawada, Miri, et al.) ( MLA 9th Ed. 313).
- If an author has a last name with a particle (e.g., de, van, von), leave it lower case, and alphabetize the author by the particle (e.g., von Schmit Schwarzt, H. would be alphabetized as a "V" name and not an "S" name). Include suffixes, such as Jr. or IV but not prefixes, such as Dr. or Sir.
If citing a website that is unstable and features frequent changes, consider putting Access + the date you last viewed the website in day month year format. Example: "Hours and Locations." TTU Undergraduate Writing Center, https://www.depts.ttu. edu/provost/uwc/undergraduate/Hours_Location.php. Accessed 10 July 2023.
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Free MLA Citation Generator
Generate accurate citations in MLA format automatically, with MyBib!
😕 What is an MLA Citation Generator?
An MLA citation generator is a software tool designed to automatically create academic citations in the Modern Language Association (MLA) citation format. The generator will take information such as document titles, author, and URLs as in input, and output fully formatted citations that can be inserted into the Works Cited page of an MLA-compliant academic paper.
The citations on a Works Cited page show the external sources that were used to write the main body of the academic paper, either directly as references and quotes, or indirectly as ideas.
👩🎓 Who uses an MLA Citation Generator?
MLA style is most often used by middle school and high school students in preparation for transition to college and further education. Ironically, MLA style is not actually used all that often beyond middle and high school, with APA (American Psychological Association) style being the favored style at colleges across the country.
It is also important at this level to learn why it's critical to cite sources, not just how to cite them.
🙌 Why should I use a Citation Generator?
Writing citations manually is time consuming and error prone. Automating this process with a citation generator is easy, straightforward, and gives accurate results. It's also easier to keep citations organized and in the correct order.
The Works Cited page contributes to the overall grade of a paper, so it is important to produce accurately formatted citations that follow the guidelines in the official MLA Handbook .
⚙️ How do I use MyBib's MLA Citation Generator?
It's super easy to create MLA style citations with our MLA Citation Generator. Scroll back up to the generator at the top of the page and select the type of source you're citing. Books, journal articles, and webpages are all examples of the types of sources our generator can cite automatically. Then either search for the source, or enter the details manually in the citation form.
The generator will produce a formatted MLA citation that can be copied and pasted directly into your document, or saved to MyBib as part of your overall Works Cited page (which can be downloaded fully later!).
MyBib supports the following for MLA style:
Daniel is a qualified librarian, former teacher, and citation expert. He has been contributing to MyBib since 2018.
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MLA Formatting Quotations
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MLA (Modern Language Association) style is most commonly used to write papers and cite sources within the liberal arts and humanities. This resource, updated to reflect the MLA Handbook (8 th ed.), offers examples for the general format of MLA research papers, in-text citations, endnotes/footnotes, and the Works Cited page.
When you directly quote the works of others in your paper, you will format quotations differently depending on their length. Below are some basic guidelines for incorporating quotations into your paper. Please note that all pages in MLA should be double-spaced .
To indicate short quotations (four typed lines or fewer of prose or three lines of verse) in your text, enclose the quotation within double quotation marks. Provide the author and specific page number (in the case of verse, provide line numbers) in the in-text citation, and include a complete reference on the Works Cited page. Punctuation marks such as periods, commas, and semicolons should appear after the parenthetical citation.
Question marks and exclamation points should appear within the quotation marks if they are a part of the quoted passage, but after the parenthetical citation if they are a part of your text.
For example, when quoting short passages of prose, use the following examples:
When using short (fewer than three lines of verse) quotations from poetry, mark breaks in verse with a slash, ( / ), at the end of each line of verse (a space should precede and follow the slash). If a stanza break occurs during the quotation, use a double slash ( // ).
For quotations that are more than four lines of prose or three lines of verse, place quotations in a free-standing block of text and omit quotation marks. Start the quotation on a new line, with the entire quote indented 1/2 inch from the left margin while maintaining double-spacing. Your parenthetical citation should come after the closing punctuation mark . When quoting verse, maintain original line breaks. (You should maintain double-spacing throughout your essay.)
For example, when citing more than four lines of prose, use the following examples :
Nelly Dean treats Heathcliff poorly and dehumanizes him throughout her narration: They entirely refused to have it in bed with them, or even in their room, and I had no more sense, so, I put it on the landing of the stairs, hoping it would be gone on the morrow. By chance, or else attracted by hearing his voice, it crept to Mr. Earnshaw's door, and there he found it on quitting his chamber. Inquiries were made as to how it got there; I was obliged to confess, and in recompense for my cowardice and inhumanity was sent out of the house. (Bronte 78)
When citing long sections of poetry (four lines of verse or more), keep formatting as close to the original as possible.
In his poem "My Papa's Waltz," Theodore Roethke explores his childhood with his father:
The whiskey on your breath Could make a small boy dizzy; But I hung on like death: Such waltzing was not easy. We Romped until the pans Slid from the kitchen shelf; My mother's countenance Could not unfrown itself. (qtd. in Shrodes, Finestone, Shugrue 202)
When citing two or more paragraphs, use block quotation format, even if the passage from the paragraphs is less than four lines. If you cite more than one paragraph, the first line of the second paragraph should be indented an extra 1/4 inch to denote a new paragraph:
In "American Origins of the Writing-across-the-Curriculum Movement," David Russell argues,
Writing has been an issue in American secondary and higher education since papers and examinations came into wide use in the 1870s, eventually driving out formal recitation and oral examination. . . .
From its birth in the late nineteenth century, progressive education has wrestled with the conflict within industrial society between pressure to increase specialization of knowledge and of professional work (upholding disciplinary standards) and pressure to integrate more fully an ever-widening number of citizens into intellectually meaningful activity within mass society (promoting social equity). . . . (3)
Adding or omitting words in quotations
If you add a word or words in a quotation, you should put brackets around the words to indicate that they are not part of the original text:
If you omit a word or words from a quotation, you should indicate the deleted word or words by using ellipses, which are three periods ( . . . ) preceded and followed by a space. For example:
Please note that brackets are not needed around ellipses unless they would add clarity.
When omitting words from poetry quotations, use a standard three-period ellipses; however, when omitting one or more full lines of poetry, space several periods to about the length of a complete line in the poem:
Rubio-9/27@1:30: Creating Citations in MLA Format
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In MLA format, you briefly identify your sources in the text of your paper, then give the full information in the Works Cited list at the end of the paper.
Listed below are several resources to help you use MLA format:
MLA Documentation Guide from ACC Library Services. Also available in PDF format .
MLA Style Center -- Writing resources from the Modern Langauge Association including a Works Cited quick guide, a digital citation tool, instructions for formatting in-text citations, and more.
OWL Purdue MLA Style Guide -- Produced by Purdue University, this site covers the general format and guidelines of MLA Style and gives detailed information about constructing in-text MLA citations and creating works cited lists.
Excelsior Online Writi ng Lab MLA Style Guide -- Produced by Excelsior College, this guide provides information regarding MLA basic formatting, in-text citations, and the Works Cited entries.
Popular Online Citation Generators -- Listed below are several online citation generators that you may find helpful. Remember to always check the citations that these generators create for accuracy before adding them to your Works Cited list!
- CiteThisForMe Online citation creation tool
- Citation Machine Online citation creation tool
- EasyBib Online citation creation tool
Edmunds, Anne. "Credible Hulk." 2019, Flickr https://flic.kr/p/2ea9z63.
- Citing Sources Video Tutorial Video tutorial covering the basic parts of an MLA citation and Works Cited page.
- Using Citation Tools Video Tutorial Video tutorial highlighting how to correctly use database and other online citation generator tools.
- Using a Database Email Tool Video Tutorial Video tutorial describing how to use a databases's email tool to email articles and their citations to yourself.
- How to Create a Hanging Indent in Word
- How to Create a Hanging Indent in Google Docs
- How to Set-up Your Software for MLA Format (Word, Mac, Google Docs)
Academic Honesty/Plagiarism Tutorial
ACC Libraries Tutorial: Academic Honesty/Plagiarism
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MLA Format Citation Full Guide
MLA is a common academic formatting style developed by the Modern Language Association. It is widely used in academic papers in humanities and as a guideline for referencing original sources. In this article, our essay writer service have prepared a complete guide to cite sources according to the MLA 8th edition.
Depending on the type of the source, its specific characteristics (e.g. unknown author’s name), and other factors, citations in MLA style may differ by their form. Further into this MLA 8 citation guide, we are going to go over all the types of sources and cases, and provide clear examples of proper referencing. But first, let’s look at core elements that are typically included in every MLA style citation:
Author name(s). “Title of the Source”. Title of container, other contributors, version, numbers, publisher, publication date, location.
Now, let’s see the specific rules that apply to each of the core elements of an MLA citation.
- Always put the surname first, then separate it by a comma and list the first name and any initials (for example, Black, Jacob K.)
- If the author is unknown, you can use the name of the organization responsible or start with the title of the source (for example, The Modern Language Association. “Works Cited: A Quick Guide”... or “Works Cited: A Quick Guide”...)
- When there are 2 authors, put the first author’s name in inverted form, and follow it with the other author’s name in regular form (for example, Black, Jacob K., and Chris Thorn)
- If there are 3 or more authors, put the first author’s name in inverted form and follow it with “et al” (for example, Black, Jacob K., et al)
- You are allowed to mention online usernames or pseudonyms instead of real names (for example, Pewresearch or Digiday)
- You can also include the names of translators or editors here, but their names should be followed by their relevant titles – “editor” or “translator” (for example, Black, Jacob K., editor or Thorn, Chris, translator)
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Title of the Source
- Put the title in quotation marks when the source is part of a short work (for example, a short article)
- Larger works such as books, television shows, and websites should be italicized
- If the source’s title is unknown, replace it in your citation with a brief description, without quotation marks and not italicized (for example, Website Home Page, Review Covering Multiple Books, etc.)
Title of Container
- Can include multiple container titles when necessary
- Only list the most relevant contributors to your work
- Before the name of each contributor, specify his/her role (for example, produced by Jacob Black)
- Refers to a specific edition, version, or revision of the source
- This part of the citation should all be in lower case
- This element refers to sources that appear in a sequence, for example, TV seasons or episodes, issues, and volumes
- When there are multiple publishers, they all need to be listed in the citation and separated with a slash (/)
Example: Oxford University Press/Cambridge University Press
- The information you provide here depends on the source’s type
- If there is more than one publication date (e.g. the source was numerously republished) you only need to cite the date of publication of the one you have used
- In certain cases, it is appropriate to cite a date range
Depending on the type of source, this element can stand for:
- Printed source – page number(s)
- Online source – URL
- DVD – disk number
- Object – place it is held
- Performance – city and/or venue
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MLA Referencing: In-Text Citations
An in-text citation refers to the use of a direct quote or a paraphrase of information taken from another source in the body of the text. In-text citations are used to add value to your work and support your ideas.
General rules for each MLA in-text citation:
- It should correspond to its relevant reference from the works cited page.
- Every citation should contain the author’s last name and the page (or range of pages) where the specific quote or information is found in the original source.
- The author’s name can either be a part of the sentence or included in parentheses directly after the quote.
- The page number or numbers should be included in parentheses after the quote, either alone or following the author’s last name.
Example of a citation where the author’s name is a part of the sentence: To portray the attitude towards women in the American society of the ’20s, Fitzgerald has his character Daisy say “And I hope she'll be a fool — that's the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool” (21).
Example of a citation that doesn’t mention the author’s name in the sentence: In the novel, we see a phrase that depicts the attitude towards women in the American society of the 20's “And I hope she'll be a fool — that's the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool” (Fitzgerald 21).
Now, let’s take a look at how an MLA in-text citation is formed in different cases:
More than One Author
When there are 2-3 authors, you can list all the names, followed by the page number in parentheses.
MLA in text citation example: “Everything goes away, Jack Sawyer, like the moon. Everything comes back, like the moon” (King, Steven, and Straub 78).
When there are more than 3 authors, only list the last name of the first one and type “et al.”
MLA in text citation example: “He’d thought about it, why mundane kids might come to the Academy. Mundanes would have to choose to give up their parents, their families, their former lives. Unless, of course, they already had no parents and no families” (Clare et al. 39).
If the author of the source is unknown, instead of stating his last name in parentheses after the quote: make the entire title italicized, put the article or webpage in quotation marks, or the shortened title within quotation marks.
Example: In the novel Diary of an Oxygen Thief, the feeling of deep satisfaction after an obviously wrong or immoral action is described with the quote: “It’s like when you hear serial killers say they feel no regret, no remorse for all the people they killed. I was like that. Loved it.” (5)
If you didn’t include the book’s name in the sentence:
Example: In the novel ( Diary of an Oxygen Thief 5 ).
Example: According to the “MLA Citation Guide” “…” (4) or: (“MLA Citation Guide” 4)
Authors With Multiple Cited Works
If you refer to multiple works of the same author, include the author’s name and a shortened title of the particular source, along with the page number.
Example: (Fitzgerald, I’d Die for You 35)
Authors With the Same Surname
In case you refer to several works whose authors have the same surnames, when making in-text citations, put an initial before the author’s last name.
Example: (B. MacDonald 17) and (J. MacDonald 56)
No Page Number
When you are making a citation and don’t know the exact page number, use other metrics such as chapters or paragraphs.
Example: (MacDonald, ch. 4).
When there are no numbered patterns at all, mention only the name of the author.
Citing a Quote or Parenthetical
In this scenario, type “qtd. in” before the author’s name.
Example: (qtd. in Fitzgerald 65)
Citing Audio-Visual Sources
When referring to audio-visual sources, instead of the page number, you need to indicate a time stamp in the following format – hh:mm:ss.
Example: (Mitchell 01:22:12)
How to Cite Different Source Types
While the MLA Works Cited page might have highly variable entries based on their source types, in-text citations mostly look similar. The biggest change applies when the author is not known, or if the cited source is not printed. Below is a comprehensive guide on how to cite sources in MLA based on their type.
How to Cite Books in MLA Format
- Authors’ names — when there are 2 authors, only the first one’s name needs to be inverted. The next one should be introduced by the word “and” and be in standard form. When there are more than 3 authors, you only need to indicate the first one (last and then first name) and put “et al” after it.
- Title — all words (except for small words) should start with capitalized letters, and the whole title needs to be italicized.
- Title of containers, contributors, versions, and numbers are optional elements. This information should be provided if it is valuable and relevant to the reader.
The standard MLA book citation format is as follows:
Author’s last name, first name. Title . Title of container, Contributors, Version, Numbers, Publisher, Year of Publication.
Example: Fitzgerald, F. Scott. The Great Gatsby. Scribner, 2004.
How to Cite Edited and Translated Books in MLA Format
If you refer to a book that was edited or translated, there are two ways to indicate this in your citation:
- List the translator or editor in the author’s name section and specify their role (e.g. “editor” or “translator”). Choose this method if your work focuses on translation or editing.
- Add the names of translators or editors in the contributors' section of the citation.
Here are two formats you can follow:
1.Last name, first name, translator/editor. Title . Title of container, Contributors, Version, Number, Publisher, Year of publication.
Example: Clarke, Alan R, translator. The Alchemist. By Paulo Coelho, HarperCollins, 1993.
2.Last name, first name. Title . Title of container, edited/translated by Contributors, Version, Number, Publisher, Year of publication.
Example: Coelho, Paulo. The Alchemist. Translated by A. Clarke, HarperCollins, 1993.
How to Cite E-Books in MLA Format
To cite an e-book, you should use the standard format for book citations and specify the e-book identity in the version section. Follow this template:
Author’s last name, first name. Title . Title of container, Contributors, edition, e-book Number, Publisher, Year of Publication.
Example: Troy, Ben N., et al. A Guide to Citation. 2nd ed, e-book, New York Publishers, 2010.
How to Cite Articles in MLA Format
Use the following format to cite articles from different sources, including journals, magazines, and newspapers:
Name of Author(s). “Article Title”. Title of Container, contributors, version, numbers, date of publication, location, Title of database, DOI or URL
Things to keep in mind:
- Title — the title of the article is put in quotation marks and does not need to be italicized.
- Title of container – here, you need to provide the name of the source (e.g. newspaper, magazine, or journal) where the article was published. It has to be italicized.
- Version — this section refers to types within each section of the publication.
- Numbers — in this section, you need to specify the issue number (no.) or volume number (vo.).
- Date of publication — for newspapers and magazines, specify the day, month, and year (e.g. 9 December 2012). And for journals, mention only the season and year (e.g. June 2018).
- Location — this section is devoted to the article’s page number(s).
- Title of database, DOI or URL — only included for online articles.
Online example: Bradshaw, Peter. “Oscars 2020 predictions: who will win?”. The Guardian , 7 Feb 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/film/2020/feb/07/oscars-2020-winners-losers-predictions-peter-bradshaw.
Journal example: Gringe, Lea. “Science Fiction Works for the Development of the Aerospace Sector.” The Popularisation of Space , vol. 41, Aug. 2017, pp. 42-47.
Magazine/Newspaper example: Smith, John. “Obama inaugurated as President.” Time , 21 Jan. 2009: 21-23. Print.
How to Cite Non-Print Material
While most of your references will probably be printed sources like books, articles, and others, in some cases you may also need to cite alternative non-print materials. In this part of our guide, we will focus on the general rules of citing different non-print sources and will provide a clear MLA citation example for each.
Image in MLA Format
Standard structure: Author’s last name, other names. “Title of Image”. Website Title , contributors, reproduction, number, date, URL.
Example: Gilpin, Laura. “Terraced Houses, Acoma Pueblo, New Mexico.” Library of Congress , Reproduction no. LC-USZ62-102170, 1939, https://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/90716883/.
Film in MLA Format
Standard structure: Director’s name, director. “Title of film”. Contributors, Distributor , year of release. Medium
Please note: although this standard structure typically works, in some cases you may swap the title and name of the director in the case that your work focuses more on the film rather than on its director: “Title of film”. Directed by director name, contributors, Distributor , year of release. Medium
Also, note that mentioning the medium is not required in MLA 8, but you are allowed to mention it since it is useful information for the reader. If the film is taken from the Web, replace the medium with its relevant URL.
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Example: Hitchcock, Alfred, director. “Psycho”. Performances by Anthony Perkins and Janet Leigh, Paramount Pictures , 1960, DVD
TV Series in MLA Format
Standard structure: “Episode Title”. Program Title , created by Name, contributors, season number, episode number. Network, Year of Publication.
Example: “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms.” Game of Thrones , written by Bryan Cogman, directed by David Nutter, season 8, episode 2, HBO, 2019
Music in MLA Format
Standard structure: Author’s name(s). “Title of the Track”. Title of the Album , other contributors, version, Record Label, Year of Publication
Example: Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper. “Shallow.” A Star Is Born , Interscope, 2018.
How to Cite a Web Page in MLA Format
Standard structure: Author’s last name, first name or organization title. “Title of page/document”. Title of overall webpage , date, URL.
Example: Woodford, Kate. “Outlooks and Forecasts (The Language of Predictions)”. A Blog from Cambridge Dictionary , 5 Feb 2020, https://dictionaryblog.cambridge.org/2020/02/05/outlooks-and-forecasts-the-language-of-predictions/.
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ENG120: Writing for College--Giambanco: MLA Citation Help
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Writing with MLA Style
Congratulations to the students whose essays were selected for the 2023 edition of Writing with MLA Style! Essays were selected as examples of excellent student writing that use MLA style for citing sources. Essays have been lightly edited.
If your institution subscribes to MLA Handbook Plus , you can access annotated versions of the essays selected in 2022 and 2023.
Writing with MLA Style: 2023 Edition
The following essays were selected for the 2023 edition of Writing with MLA Style. The 2023 selection committee was composed of Ellen C. Carillo, University of Connecticut (chair); Rachel Ihara, Kingsborough Community College, City University of New York; and Tarshia L. Stanley, Wagner College.
Caroline Anderson (Pepperdine University)
“ L’Appel du Vide : Making Spaces for Sinful Exploration in The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde ”
Hunter Daniels (University of South Carolina, Aiken)
“Biblical Legalism and Cultural Misogyny in The Tragedy of Mariam ”
Aspen English (Southern Utah University)
“Putting the ‘Comm’ in Comics: A Communication-Theory-Informed Reading of Graphic Narratives”
Raul Martin (Lamar University)
“The Book-Object Binary: Access and Sustainability in the Academic Library”
Grace Quasebarth (Salve Regina University)
“Finding a Voice: The Loss of Machismo Criticisms through Translation in Isabel Allende’s The House of the Spirits ”
Writing with MLA Style: 2022 Edition
The following essays were selected for the 2022 edition of Writing with MLA Style. The 2022 selection committee was composed of Ellen C. Carillo, University of Connecticut; Jessica Edwards, University of Delaware (chair); and Deborah H. Holdstein, Columbia College Chicago.
Kaile Chu (New York University, Shanghai)
“Miles Apart: An Investigation into Dedicated Online Communities’ Impact on Cultural Bias”
Sietse Hagen (University of Groningen)
“The Significance of Fiction in the Debate on Dehumanizing Media Portrayals of Refugees”
Klara Ismail (University of Exeter)
“Queering the Duchess: Exploring the Body of the Female Homosexual in John Webster’s The Duchess of Malfi ”
Yasmin Mendoza (Whittier College)
“Banning without Bans”
Niki Nassiri (Stony Brook University)
“Modern-Day US Institutions and Slavery in the Twenty-First Century”
Samantha Wilber (Palm Beach Atlantic University)
“‘Pero, tu no eres facil’: The Poet X as Multicultural Bildungsroman”
Writing with MLA Style: 2019 Edition
The following essays were selected for the 2019 edition of Writing with MLA Style. The 2019 selection committee was composed of Jessica Edwards, University of Delaware; Deborah H. Holdstein, Columbia College Chicago (chair); and Liana Silva, César E. Chavez High School, Houston, Texas.
Catherine Charlton (University of King’s College, Nova Scotia)
“‘Coal Is in My Blood’: Public and Private Representations of Community Identity in Springhill, Nova Scotia”
Alyiah Gonzales (California Polytechnic State University)
“Disrupting White Normativity in Langston Hughes’s ‘I, Too’ and Toni Morrison’s ‘Recitatif’”
Meg Matthias (Miami University, Ohio)
“Prescriptions of (Living) Historical Happiness: Gendered Performance and Racial Comfort in Reenactment”
Jennifer Nguyen (Chaminade University of Honolulu)
“The Vietnam War, the American War: Literature, Film, and Popular Memory”
Emily Schlepp (Northwest University)
“A Force of Love: A Deconstructionist Reading of Characters in Dickens’s Great Expectations ”
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