Writing and Communication Center

MLA Formatting

MLA (Modern Language Association) is most commonly used to cite sources within English and the humanities. MLA style requires both in-text citations and a works cited page. For every in-text citation there should be a full citation in the works cited page. The examples of MLA styles and formats listed here include many of the most common types of sources used in academic research.

The information here is set according to the standards of the "MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers (7th ed.)."

On this page: 


MLA In-text Citations

In MLA style, an in-text citation generally consists of the author's last name and the page number of the reference separated by a space. When multiple elements are used in a parenthetical citation, they are separated by a space. In all cases except for block quotations, parenthetical citations are placed immediately before the final punctuation of the sentence that cites the work. 

MLA uses the author-page method of in-text citation. This means that the author’s last name and the page number from which the quotation or paraphrase was found must appear in the text. A complete matching reference should be on your Works Cited page. The author’s name may appear either in the text of your paper itself or in parentheses following the quotation or paraphrase. The page number, however, should always appear in the parentheses, not in the text.

Short Quotations

For quotations that are fewer than four typed lines of prose or three lines of poetry, enclose the quotation within double quotation marks. Give the page number, or in the case of poetry, the line numbers, in the parenthetical citation. 

When writing your personal statement, concentrate on the opening paragraph because that is “is generally the most important” (Stelzer 8). 

Wang reassures, “The brightest thing in all of heaven/Is dull compared to thee” (17-18).

Long Quotations

When your quotation is four or more lines, place the quotation in an indented block of text without quotation marks. The quotation will still be double spaced. Place your parenthetical citation after the last punctuation mark. When citing long sections of poetry, keep the formatting as close to the original as possible, including the original line breaks.

Sylvan Barnet presents numerous issues to consider when writing about art. When discussing portraits, for example, he tells us that a portrait :

Is not simply a representation; it is also a presentation. In a given portrait, how much of the figure does the artist show, and how much of the available space does the artist cause the figure to occupy? What effects are thus gained? (23)
 

Continue your paper. Remember that your actual paper will be double spaced.

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MLA Author/Authors

The format of your works cited entries will vary based on the number of authors. Apply the guidelines below to your entries as necessary.

Book by one author

Barnet, Sylven. A Short Guide to Writing About Art. 3rd ed. New York:
     HarperCollins, 1989. Print.

Book by two or more authors

Browne, M. Neil, and Stuart M. Keeley. Asking the Right Questions: A Guide to
     Critical Thinking
. 9th ed. Upper Saddle River: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2010.
     Print.

Book by a corporate author or organization

Modern Language Association. MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers.
     7th ed. New York: Modern Language Association, 2009. Print.

More than one work by an author

Watson, Peter. From Manet to Manhatten. New York: Random House, 1992. Print.

 ---. Ideas: A History of Thought and Invention, From Fire to Freud. New York:
     Harper Collins, 2005. Print.

Work with no known author

American Allergy Association. Allergies in Children. New York: Random,
     1998. Print.

Electronic Sources (Web Publications)

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MLA Works Cited

According to MLA, you must have a Works Cited page at the end of your paper. Remember, the entries in the Works Cited page will match the signal word or phrase in your text.Begin your Works Cited page on a separate page at the end of your paper. It will have the same margins and a header with your last name and page number just like the rest of your paper

  • Label the page Works Cited (do not italicize, bold, or underline the words Works Cited or put them in quotation marks) and center at the top of the page.
  • Double space all citations. Do not make extra spaces between entries. (Note: the examples used here are single-spaced in order to conserve paper.)
  • Indent the second and subsequent lines of each citation so that you have a hanging indent.

Book by one author

Barnet, Sylvan. A Short Guide to Writing About Art. 3rd ed. New York:
     HarperCollins, 1989. Print.
 

Book by two or more authors

Browne, M. Neil, and Stuart M. Keeley. Asking the Right Questions: A Guide to
     Critical Thinking.
9th ed. Upper Saddle River: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2010.
     Print.
 

Book by a corporate author or organization

Modern Language Association. MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers.
     7th ed. New York: Modern Language Association, 2009. Print.
 

More than one work by an author

Watson, Peter. From Manet to Manhatten. New York: Random House, 1992. Print.
---. Ideas: A History of Thought and Invention, From Fire to Freud. New York:
     Harper Collins, 2005. Print.
 

Work with no known author

American Allergy Association. Allergies in Children. New York: Random, 1998.
     Print.
 

Edition of a book

Wilson Paige, and Teresa Ferster Glazier. The Least You Should Know About
     English: Writing Skills
. 10th ed. Boston: Wadsworth Cengage Learning, 2011.
     Print.
 

Anthology or collection (e.g., a collection of essays)

Wallace, David Foster, ed. Best American Essays 2007. Boston: Houghton Mifflin,
     2007. Print.
 

A work in an anthology, reference, or collection

Gladwell, Malcolm. “What the Dog Saw.” Best American Essays 2007. Ed. David
     Foster Wallace. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2007. 86-102. Print.
 

Article in a magazine

Washington, Rasheed. “Different Strokes.” Good Housekeeping Mar. 1994: 173-7.
     Print.
 

Article in a newspaper

Stewart, Kennedy. “No Time for Sleeping.” New York Times 21 May 2006 late ed.:
     B1. Print.
 

Article in a scholarly journal

Sheets, Hilarie M. “Getting the Party Started.” ARTNews 106.2 (2007):49-50.
     Print.
 

Artwork, or photograph of artwork

Rossetti, Dante Gabriel. The Beloved. 1865-66. Tate Gallery, London.
 
Bernini, Gian Lorenzo. Elephant and Obelisk. n.d.. Piazza Santa Maria sopra
     Minerva, Rome. Gian Lorenzo Bernini: The Sculptor of the Roman Baroque.
     3rd ed. By Howard Hibbard, Thomas Martin, and Margot Wittkower. Ithaca:
     Cornell University Press. 36. Print.
 

Digital Files

Beethoven, Ludwig van. Fur Elise. Time Warner, 2009. MP3.
 

Interview (personal)

Freeman, Peter. Personal interview. 26 August 2010. Personal communication.

Interview (published via print or broadcast)

Animus, Bosley. “Minks and Morals” Interviews with Harlem’s Voice. By Dale
     Studebaker. San Bernardino, CA: 2001. Print.
 

Interview (published online only)

Poundstone, William. Interview by Dan Mancini. Amazon.com Wire’s Blog.
     Amazon.com, 2008. Web. 14 August 2010.
 

Introduction, Preface, Forward, or Afterword

Sante, Luc. Introduction. Novels in Three Lines. By Félix Fénéon. New York: New
     York Review Books, 2007. vii-xxxi. Print.
 

Multivolume work

Readings in Art History. Ed. Harold Spencer. Vol. 2. 3rd ed. New York: Charles
     Scribner’s Sons, 1983. Print.
 

Recorded Films or movies

Dasani. Dir. Milton Fry. Perf. Johnny Depp, Brad Pitt, Jane Fonda, David
     Arquette. Touchstone, 2010. DVD.
 

Poem or Short Story

Angelou, Maya. “Phenomenal Woman.” The Complete Collected Poems of Maya
     Angelou
. New York: Random House, 1994. 130. Print.
 
Bradbury, Ray. “All Summer in a Day.” A Medicine for Melancholy and Other
     Stories
. New York: Perennial, 1990. 88-93. Print.
 

Electronic Resources

Adapted from the Purdue Online Writing Lab website
"MLA Works Cited: Electronic Sources (Web Publications)." The Writing Lab and OWL at Purdue and Purdue U, 2011. Web. 22 Sept. 2011. http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/747/08/

Important Note on the Use of URLs in MLA

MLA no longer requires the use of URLs in MLA citations. Because Web addresses are not static (i.e., they change often) and because documents sometimes appear in multiple places on the Web (e.g., on multiple databases), MLA explains that most readers can find electronic sources via title or author searches in Internet Search Engines.

Basic Style for Citations of Electronic Sources (Including Online Databases)

Here are some common features you should try and find before citing electronic sources in MLA style. Not every Web page will provide all of the following information. However, collect as much of the following information as possible both for your citations and for your research notes:

  • Author and/or editor names (if available)
  • Article name in quotation marks (if applicable)
  • Title of the Website, project, or book in italics. (Remember that some Print publications have Web publications with slightly different names. They may, for example, include the additional information or otherwise modified information, like domain names [e.g. .com or .net].)
  • Any version numbers available, including revisions, posting dates, volumes, or issue numbers.
  • Publisher information, including the publisher name and publishing date.
  • Take note of any page numbers (if available).
  • Medium of publication.
  • Date you accessed the material.

Citing an Entire Web Site

Editor, author, or compiler name (if available). Name of Site. Version number.
     Name of institution/organization affiliated with the site (sponsor or publisher),
     date of resource creation (if available). Medium of publication. Date of access.

Note: Remember to use n.p. if no publisher name is available and n.d. if no publishing date is given.

A Page on a Web Site

For an individual page on a Web site, list the author or alias if known, followed by the information covered above for entire Web sites. Remember to use n.p. if no publisher name is available and n.d. if no publishing date is given.

"How to Make Vegetarian Chili." eHow.com. eHow, n.d. Web. 24 Feb. 2009.

An Image (Including a Painting, Sculpture, or Photograph)

Provide the artist's name, the work of art italicized, the date of creation, the institution and city where the work is housed. Follow this initial entry with the name of the Website in italics, the medium of publication, and the date of access.

Goya, Francisco. The Family of Charles IV. 1800. Museo Nacional del Prado,
     Madrid. Museo National del Prado. Web. 22 May 2006.

Klee, Paul. Twittering Machine. 1922. Museum of Modern Art, New York.
     The Artchive. Web. 22 May 2006.

Note: If the work is cited on the web only, then provide the name of the artist, the title of the work, the medium of the work, and then follow the citation format for a website. If the work is posted via a username, use that username for the author.

brandychloe. "Great Horned Owl Family." Photograph. Webshots. American
     Greetings, 22 May 2006. Web. 5 Nov. 2009.

An Article in a Web Magazine

Provide the author name, article name in quotation marks, title of the Web magazine in italics, publisher name, publication date, medium of publication, and the date of access. Remember to use n.p. if no publisher name is available and n.d. if not publishing date is given.

Bernstein, Mark. "10 Tips on Writing the Living Web." A List Apart: For People Who Make Websites. A List Apart Mag., 16 Aug. 2002. Web. 4 May 2009.

Article in an Online-only Scholarly Journal

MLA requires a page range for articles that appear in Scholarly Journals. If the journal you are citing appears exclusively in an online format (i.e. there is no corresponding print publication) that does not make use of page numbers, use the abbreviation n. pag. to denote that there is no pagination for the publication.

Dolby, Nadine. “Research in Youth Culture and Policy: Current Conditions
     and Future Directions.” Social Work and Society: The International
     Online-Only Journal 6.2
(2008): n. pag. Web. 20 May 2009.

Article in an Online Scholarly Journal That Also Appears in Print

Cite articles in online scholarly journals that also appear in print as you would a scholarly journal in print, including the page range of the article. Provide the medium of publication that you used (in this case, Web) and the date of access.

Wheelis, Mark. "Investigating Disease Outbreaks Under a Protocol to
     the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention." Emerging Infectious
     Diseases 6.6
(2000): 595-600. Web. 8 Feb. 2009.

An Article from an Online Database (or Other Electronic Subscription Service)

Cite articles from online databases (e.g. LexisNexis, ProQuest, JSTOR, ScienceDirect) and other subscription services just as you would print sources. Since these articles usually come from periodicals, be sure to consult the appropriate sections of the Works Cited: Periodicals page, which you can access via its link at the bottom of this page. In addition to this information, provide the title of the database italicized, the medium of publication, and the date of access.

Note: Previous editions of the MLA Style Manual required information about the subscribing institution (name and location). This information is no longer required by MLA.

Junge, Wolfgang, and Nathan Nelson. “Nature's Rotary Electromotors.”
     Science 29 Apr. 2005: 642-44. Science Online. Web. 5 Mar. 2009.

Langhamer, Claire. “Love and Courtship in Mid-Twentieth-Century England.”
     Historical Journal 50.1 (2007): 173-96. ProQuest. Web. 27 May 2009.

E-mail (including E-mail Interviews)

Give the author of the message, followed by the subject line in quotation marks. State to whom to message was sent, the date the message was sent, and the medium of publication.

Kunka, Andrew. "Re: Modernist Literature." Message to the author. 15 Nov.
     2000. E-mail.

Neyhart, David. "Re: Online Tutoring." Message to Joe Barbato. 1 Dec.
     2000. E-mail.

A Listserv, Discussion Group, or Blog Posting

Cite Web postings as you would a standard Web entry. Provide the author of the work, the title of the posting in quotation marks, the Web site name in italics, the publisher, and the posting date. Follow with the medium of publication and the date of access. Include screen names as author names when author name is not known. If both names are known, place the author’s name in brackets. Remember if the publisher of the site is unknown, use the abbreviation n.p.

Editor, screen name, author, or compiler name (if available). “Posting Title.”
     Name of Site. Version number (if available). Name of institution/organization
     affiliated with the site (sponsor or publisher). Medium of publication. Date of
     access.

Salmar1515 [Sal Hernandez]. “Re: Best Strategy: Fenced Pastures vs. Max
     Number of Rooms?” BoardGameGeek. BoardGameGeek, 29 Sept. 2008. Web.
     5 Apr. 2009. 

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MLA Handout

Most of your questions answered on the printable handout.

Secondary Sources

Citations taken from a secondary source should generally be avoided; consult the original work whenever possible. If only an indirect source is available, put the abbreviation qtd. in (quoted in) before the indirect source in the parenthetical reference and include the indirect source in the Works Cited. (MLA Style, sec. 6.4.7)

Parenthetical reference

In a May 1800 letter to Watt, Creighton wrote, "The excellent Satanism reflects immortal honour on the Club" (qtd. in Hunt and Jacob 493).

Works cited list

Hunt, Lynn, and Margaret Jacob. "The Affective Revolution in 1790s Britain." Eighteenth-Century Studies 34.4 (2001): 491-521. Print.

Purdue OWL: MLA Sample Paper

Purdue OWL: Additional MLA Resources

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