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Citing Sources

Citation styles and tools for citing sources/managing citations

Style by Discipline

MLA style is usually used in English and the Humanities. MLA 9th edition uses a citation format for use with ALL source types. MLA 9th edition, updated in 2021, is very similar to the MLA 8th edition from 2016.

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 names 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
  • Format author in citations as follows:
    • 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.
  • DOIs are preferred over URLs.  When using an URL, remove http:// or https://  Example:  doi:10.1002/tox.20155

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


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), could refer to a DOI or database URL for an article


  • 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, Title and Location elements; 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
    • Example: a chapter in a book would be the source (chapter) within one container (the full book)
    • Example: a journal article would be the source, found in a journal (container 1) which may be in a database (container 2)
    • See the Marquette University Libraries video on MLA 8th edition, also embedded on this guide, for a great explanation of source vs containers.

Examples of MLA Works Cited: Periodicals (Purdue OWL)

MLA Checklist

Citing Indigenous Knowledge

NorQuest Library developed a format for Indigenous Elders and Knowledge Keepers that is not available in formal MLA style.

MLA Style Center

Writing Resources from the Modern Language Associations (MLA)

Works Cited Template Examples

Works Cited: A Quick Guide (MLA Style Center)

  • great examples of using the template to build citations in MLA style 8th ed.

MLA Examples

These examples, using MLA 8th ed., illustrate the order of information you should include and do not include hanging indents or double spacing. To see sample references on a Works Cited page, view the MLA Sample Paper at Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL).

Video: MLA Style, 8th Edition: An Introduction

Jump 50 seconds in for a really good explanation of source and containers. MLA 9th edition continues to use sources and containers introduced in its 8th edition.

Marquette University Libraries (~4:30)

Video: Understanding MLA Style

This video provides the logic behind the MLA's 8th edition style and offers many examples. MLA 9th edition is very similar to its 8th edition.

Kyle Stedman (~11 min.)