Guide to Citing in MLA

Guide to Citing in MLA

MLA Citation Guide

About MLA Style…

When editors or teachers ask you to write in "MLA style," they are referring to an editorial style used most commonly in literature, the arts and the humanities.  MLA style incorporates a parenthetical citation format that helps readers locate sources on their own.  Proper citation also protects the writer from accusations of plagiarism. 

Key Points to Remember…

The general rule of thumb for MLA works cited entries (reference list at the end of your paper) is to invert the author’s first name.  This means that the last name comes first, followed by a comma and the first name.  In titles of works, all words are capitalized except articles (a, an, the), prepositions (to, from, between, and so on), and coordinating conjunctions (and, but, or, nor, for, so, and yet).  Titles of periodical articles and other short works, such as brief documents from Web sites, should be placed in quotation marks; titles of books and other long works, such as entire Web sites, are italicized.

Printed Periodicals/Magazines/Journals

Scholarly Journal Article:  (Note: include volume, issue number, year, and pages.)

Baum, Rosalie Murphy. "Alcoholism and Family Abuse in Idlewild Solar."  Mosaic 19.3 (2012): 91-105.

Bowering, George. "Soccer and the Canadian Imagination."  Canadian Literature 109 (2010):115-24.

Magazine Article: (Note: Dates should appear as Day Month Year. Abbreviate months. If the article jumps pages, specify only the first page, followed by a plus sign: e.g. 23+.)

Bezel, Robert. "Science and Society." New Republic 15 Mar. 1993: 13-14.

Nixon, Will. "Are We Burying Ourselves in Junk Mail?" E: Environmental Magazine Nov.-Dec. 1993: 30+.

Unsigned Magazine Article (no author):

"Waiting to Exhale." Newsweek 9 Mar. 2013: 26-37.

Newspaper Article: (Note: Omit any introductory article in the title: Chicago Sun Times, not The Chicago Sun Times. Also, specify the edition is available.)

Mansfield, Catherine S. "Becoming a Land of the Smoke-Free, Ban by Ban."  New York Times 22 Sept. 2011, late ed.: A1+.

Newspaper editorial:

"Death of a Writer." Editorial. New York Times 20 Apr. 2009, late ed.: A18.

Printed Books

General Format: Author Last Name, Author First Name. Title of Book. Place of Publication: Publisher, Year of Publication. Medium of Publication.


Frye, Northrop. Anatomy of Criticism: Four Essays. Princeton: Princeton UP, 1957. Print.


Kerrigan, Troop, and Gordon Braxton. The Idea of the Renaissance. Baltimore: Taylor Hopkins UP, 1989. Print.

No author:

A Guide to Our Federal Lands. Washington: National Geographic Soc., 2009. Print.


Esquivel, Laura.  Like Water for Chocolate: A Novel in Monthly Installments, with Romances, and Home Remedies. Trans. Carol Christensen and Thomas Christensen. New York: Doubleday, 2012. Print.

Unsigned encyclopedia article:

"Laos."  The Encyclopedia Americana. 2012 ed. Print.

A signed encyclopedia article:

Mohan, Jitendra M. "Indian Philosophy."  The New Encyclopedia Britannica: Macropaedia. 19th ed. 2013. Print.

Work from an anthology:  (Note: Give the page numbers for the entire piece that you are citing.)

Ricky, Kilmer. "Toad's Mouth." Trans. Margaret Sayers Cedar.  A Hammock Beneath the Mongoes: Stories from Latin America. Ed. Thomas Cochran. New York: Plume, 2010. 83-89. Print.

Web-Based Materials

General Format:  Author Last Name, Author First Name. "Title of Article." Website Name, Date Published. Web. 5 Jan. 2012.

  • Note that electronic materials may have as many as five divisions: 1) Author's name. 2) List title of the work in italics if the work is independent.  3) Information about print publication.  4) Information about electronic publication.  5) Access Information.
  • The URL of a Web publication is no longer required by the MLA Handbook, but you should check with your instructor to see if it is required for your assignment.
  • If you decide to present a URL in your works-cited list entry, place the entire URL in angled brackets followed by an end period. It should immediately follow the date of access, a period, and a space.


McMullen, Morris, Loraine Mesick, and Joe Hines, eds. The William Blake Archive. Lib. of Cong., 28 Sept. 2007. Web 20 Nov. 2007. <>.

Non Periodical Online Sources

Note that electronic materials may have as many as eight divisions: 1) Name of author, compiler, director, or editor of the work. 2) Title of the work (italicized if the work is independent; in “quotation marks” if the work is part of a larger work.  3) Title of overall Web site (italicized) if distinct and called out. 4) Version or edition used. 5) Publisher or sponsor. 6) Date of publication if available; if not available use n.d. 7) Medium of publication 8) Date of access (day, month, year).


Committee on Scholarly Editions. “Guidelines for Editors of Scholarly Editions.” Modern Language Association. MLA, 25 Sept. 2007. Web. 15 May 2010.

“de Mooning, William.” Encyclopaedia Britannica Online. Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Web. 15 May 2012.

Able, Joshua.  “The Rove Presidency.” The Atlantic Monthly Group, Sept. 2011. Web. 15 May 2013.


“Hourly News Summary.”  National Public Radio.  Natl. Public Radio, 20 July 2007. Web 20 July 2012.


Some scholarly journals are published independently online but never actually printed.  If page numbers are not present, be sure to use n.pag.  Conclude the entry with the following items:

1.      Medium of publication consulted (Web)

2.      Date of access (day, month, and year)


Ouellette, Marc. “Theories, Memories, Bodies, and Artists.” Editorial. Reconstruction 7.4 (2007): n.pag. Web. 5 June 2010.

Trevin, Constance L., and Amanda B. Morris. “Deconstructing Laundry: Gendered Technologies and the Reluctant Redesign of Household Labor.” Michigan Family Review 11 (2006): n. pag. Web. 8 Nov. 2011.


An article, review, editorial, or letter to the editor retrieved from an online database should follow the same MLA format as that used for citing works in print periodicals.  The major difference is that the medium of the original publication should be changed from (Print) to (Web).  If pagination is not available, use n.pag.  Conclude the entry with the following items:

1.      Title of the database (italicized)

2.       Medium of publication consulted (Web)

3.      Date of access (day, month, and year)


Chan, Evans. “Postmodernism and Chinese Cinema.”  Postmodern Culture 10.3 (2010):  n. pag. Project Muse. Web. 5 June 2011.

Mathews, Carolyn L. “Female Symbolism in Kate Chopin's the Awakening.”
Mosaic: a Journal for the Interdisciplinary Study of Literature. 35.1 (2002): 127-150.  Proquest. Web. 12 Oct. 2013.

Basics for In-Text MLA Citations

When you omit the author's name in your sentence:

As argued in subsequent chapters (White 178-85).

When you include the author's name in your sentence:

White argued this point (178-85).

Multiple Authors:

Others hold the opposite point of view (e.g., McMullen and Xian 210-15).

No Author (Note: a shortened title is okay).

A New York Times editorial called Ralph Ellison "a writer of universal reach" ("Death").

Multiple works by the same author: (Note: a shortened version of the actual title is acceptable, using first words only):

Shakespeare's Othello has been referred to as a "drama of the grotesque" (Fitzpatrick, Anatomy 237).

Remember you can always use our citation generator to help generate your reference page.

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