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Citing Sources: MLA

Citation styles and tools for citing sources/managing citations

Style by Discipline

MLA style is usually used in English and the Humanities. MLA 8th edition uses a citation format for use with ALL source types.

MLA Style - Key Characteristics

Big Picture

  • MLA style features in-text parenthetical citations and a corresponding Works Cited page.  Some publishers may ask for endnotes/footnotes rather than parenthetical citations.

In-Text Citations

Use for quotes, paraphrases and summaries

  • Basic format includes author's last name followed by page number(s) - Example: (Patel 245)
  • Author name may be excluded if in the introductory text - Example: Patel found that …. “ “ (245).
  • If referring to two authors of the same text, join last name with and. Example: (Jones and Rhett 119)
  • If no author, use the first part of the citation found in the Works Cited - Example: (National Committee 37)
  • If referring to more than one source in the same citation, separate with a semi-colon - Example: (Davidson 18-20; Simmons 302)

MLA In-Text Citations: The Basics (Purdue OWL)

Work Cited List

  • Order citations alphabetically (typically by author's last name)
  • Include hanging indent after the first line
  • Place quotation marks around sources in containers e.g. poem, short story, journal article etc.
  • Italicize sources for stand-alone items e.g. novel, play, journal publication, book etc.
  • Capitalize main words in a title
  • Formatting author in citations
    • one author includes last name, first name. Example: Reddy, Anisha
    • two authors includes last name, first name and first name last name. Example:  Reddy, Anisha and Nate Conner. 
    • three authors includes last name, first name, et al. Example: Jones, Steve, et al.

MLA Works Cited Page: Basic Format (Purdue, OWL)

Elements

Create citations for your Works Cited page using this template with its elements.  Your citation may not include ALL elements.  You may also repeat elements 3-9 depending on whether or not your source stands on its own or it is part of one or more containers.  

Order of Elements Element & Punctuation Following the Element Example(s)
1 Author.  
2 Title of source,  
3 Title of container, .... book, journal, database
4 Other contributors, Translators or Editors
5 Version, Edition
6 Number, Vol. and/or No.
7 Publisher,  
8 Publication date,  
9 Location. Refers to page numbers (pp.) NOT to a place of publication (unless deemed necessary)

Tips:

  • If an element is missing, move on.
  • If your source is in one or more containers, you will repeat some elements starting back at element #3.
  • Only use a period after the Author element and the Location element; all other elements are followed by a comma.
  • Stand Alone Source vs. Source in a Container
    • Example: a book is considered a self contained/stand alone source (one container)
    • Example: a chapter in a book would be one container (chapter) within another container (the full book)
    • Example: a journal article would be container 1, found in a journal (container 2) which may be in a database (container 3)
    • See the Marquette University Libraries video on MLA 8th edition, also embedded on this guide, for a great explanation of source vs containers.

See What's New in the Eighth Edition (MLA)
Examples of MLA Works Cited: Periodicals (Purdue OWL)

MLA Examples

Updated to reflect MLA 8th Edition 9/19/2016. Note: hanging indentations not included

MLA Style, 8th Edition: An Introduction

~4:30 provides a really good explanation of source and containers starting about 50 seconds in (Marquette University Libraries)

 

Understanding MLA Style - 8th edition

~11 minutes, provides the logic behind the new style and many examples (Kyle Stedman)