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Citing Sources: MLA Style

Use this guide as a resource when you cite sources.

MLA: Works Cited page

MLA (Modern Language Association) style is typically used in the humanities.  Creating a Works Cited entry in this style is now based upon a process rather than specific rules and follows these principles:

Cite simple traits shared by most works.

Remember that there is often more than one correct way to document a source.

Make your documentation useful to readers.

The idea is to think about the source you are documenting, select the information about the source that is appropriate for your project, and organize it logically and without complication.  With this in mind, the process suggests that citations contain the following elements, in order, using the punctuation shown (tips for each element are given in parenthesis):

  • Author. (Last name first, followed by a comma then rest of the name)
  • "Title of source." (May use quotes or be italicized: quotes if there is a container, italicized if no container)
  • Title of container, (Italicized.  A container is a larger whole where a source is found, i.e.; a poem IN a book, an article IN a periodical. Also, databases are listed as secondary containers)
  • Other contributors, (As needed, list here editors, illustrators, etc.)
  • Version, (As needed, further define source or container, i.e.; 3rd edition)
  • Number, (As needed, include abbreviated label, i.e.; vol. 2, no. 4)
  • Publisher, (List who produced or distributed the source)
  • Publication date, (most recent day month year, list as much as you have)
  • Location. (Be specific, i.e.; page numbers, url, etc.)

Following this process, here are very basic citation examples for a book, journal article and web document.  For more in-depth guidelines and tips be sure to consult the MLA Handbook or the resources listed below.

TIPS

  • Alphabetize entries on Works Cited page.
  • Double space and use hanging indents (see formatting instructions below).

RESOURCES

Purdue OWL MLA Formatting and Style Guide

      Video - Purdue Owl MLA Formatting: The Basics

      Video - Purdue OWL: MLA Formatting: List of Works Cited

Works Cited: A Quick Guide, from MLA

Citing Images in MLA (from State College of Florida)

KnightCite Citation Generator

MLA: In-Text Citations

When quoting or paraphrasing sources within the text of your paper, MLA format uses an author/page method of citation.  This means that the author's last name and the page number must be clearly stated, which is typically done inside of parentheses after the quote or paraphrase.  However, the author's name can be mentioned in the text of your writing with only the page number in parentheses.  For example:

When it comes to successful people, "what truly distinguishes their histories is not their extraordinary talent but their extraordinary opportunities" (Gladwell 81).

OR

When speaking of successful people, Gladwell states "what truly distinguishes their histories is not their extraordinary talent but their extraordinary opportunities" (81).

Other notes:

  • If cited in-text, the source must appear in the Works Cited page.
  • If the source has no known author, refer to it as it appears in the Works Cited page.
  • Quotes longer than 4 lines do not require quotation marks, but should instead be indented 1 inch from the left margin.
  • For more detailed information consult:

Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL)