How to Cite Sources in MLA Citation Format (W/Examples)

Mar 25, 2022 | 0 comments

Mar 25, 2022 | Writing Guide | 0 comments

MLA 8 Citation Guide

MLA citation (Modern Language Association) style is most commonly used to write papers and cite different types of sources within the liberal arts and humanities. This resource is a comprehensive MLA style guide, updated to reflect the MLA Handbook (8th ed.). This handy style guide offers examples for the general format of MLA research papers, in-text citations, use of footnotes/endnotes, and the Works Cited page.

Check out our other common citation styles such as APA and Harvard referencing.

1. Core Elements/ Components

This guide shows you how to cite using MLA 8th edition. We’ve created this guide to teach you everything you need to know to cite correctly, with the use of the English language.

On the MLA format page, the reference list is usually titled the ‘Works-Cited List.’ This is a list of all the external sources referenced within the document and contains the full citation information.

The full details of every source used in a scientific research paper should be included in your Works-Cited list; likewise, each entry in the Works-Cited list should be cited in your text. Your Works-Cited or the reference page should appear at the end of the main body of text on a separate page. It should have the same one-inch margins and author’s last name, page number header as the rest of your paper.

The title ‘Works Cited’ should be centered—capitalizing only the first letter and any proper nouns contained within it. Do not bold, underline, or use quotation marks around it. Alphabetize entries by author’s last name. If no credible author is provided, alphabetize by title, ignoring A, An, or The if one of these is the first word in the title.

2. MLA Referencing Basics: Works-Cited List

The list of Works Cited is an alphabetical list of different sources that you used to gather information for your research paper. You place this works cited list at the end of your research paper.

The citation information consists of the author, year of publication, the title of the book, information about the publisher, an edition number if applicable and the publication medium (i.e. Print). The format differs for books, articles, and other sources.

Formatting Your MLA Format Works Cited:

Page Citation Format: Use the heading “Works Cited” centered one inch below the top edge of a new page. Do not bold or underline this heading.

Page Number: Begin the list on a new page and number each page, continuing the page numbers of the research paper. In the upper right-hand corner, place a header with your last name of the author followed by a space and the page number.

Alphabetize entries in your list of works cited by the author’s last name, using the letter-by-letter system (ignore spaces and other punctuation.) If the author’s name is unknown, alphabetize by the title, ignoring any A, An, or The.

3. MLA Referencing Basics: In-Text Citation

In-text citations are brief references in the running text that direct readers to the reference list entry for a source. It is a brief reference within your text that indicates the source you consulted. It should properly attribute any ideas, paraphrases, or direct quotations to your source, and should direct readers to the entry in the list of works cited.

In-text citations should be placed in your essay wherever you paraphrase or quote a source. Academic citations can appear at the end of a sentence, before the punctuation mark, or in parentheses at the end of your sentence.

MLA style uses the real name of the author and page number when citing sources within the text. If you cite more than one work by an author, include a shortened title for the particular work from which you are quoting to distinguish it from others.

MLA academic citations consist of the author’s last name and the page number. To cite a source, you should put the author’s last name and the page number in parentheses after quoting or referring to that source. The punctuation goes outside the parentheses, so that’s where the period goes.

– Basic Format: (Author’s Last Name Page Number)

For example:

Some argue that “all evidence points to X” (Smith 123).

The argument was also made that “all evidence points to X” (Smith 123).

– If the author’s last name is included in the text, only include the page number in parentheses.

– Ex: Wollstonecraft “warned against the danger of a society that trained women to be ‘idlers and triflers’” (8).

– If the author’s last name is not included in the text, do include both the author’s last name and page number in parentheses.

– Ex: Some scholars have argued that women are more inclined to be religious because they are more emotional or less rational than men (Wollstonecraft 8).

More than One Author:

If there are two authors, use both of their last names followed by the page number. If there are three or more authors, use the first author’s last name followed by et al. (Latin for “and others”), then page numbers.

For example:

Within the text (Wolff and Unferd 70)

(Mitchell et al. 189)

No Authors:

If no author is listed, you may omit their name from the signal phrase and start the citation with the title followed by the page number in parentheses:

For example:

Book Title: A Guide to Citation states “..” (189) Or (A Guide to Citation 189)

Article Title: “APA Citation Guide” states “…” (189) Or (“APA Citation Guide” 189)

Authors With Multiple Cited Works:

If an author has multiple works being cited at once–for example, two different articles–include a shortened title for each work in your citation:

For example:

(Mitchell, A Guide to Citation 189)

Authors With the Same Surname:

When two authors have the same last name, include the first initial of their first name in your citation.

For example:

(J. Mitchell 76) and (M. Mitchell 100-120)

No Page Number

If no page number is available for an in-text citation, provide as much information as possible about wherein a source you found a quote or idea. For example: In her article on family communication patterns, Fivush (as cited in Murray, 1998) wrote that “children are not passive recipients of family stories but active participants in their construction” (para. 4).

If the source includes another numbered pattern (eg chapters, paragraphs) then these numbers can be used instead: (Mitchell, ch. 7) ch referring to chapter.

Citing a Quote or Parenthetical:

For a quote or parenthetical citation, include the author’s last name and the page number in parentheses at the end of the sentence. For example: (Doe 123). If you use quotes from the same text and quoting previously quoted material, use ‘qtd.’ by Doe to indicate that you’re citing from another part of Doe’s work.

For example:

(qtd. In Mitchell 189)

Citing Audio-Visual Sources:

In these cases a time stamp must be used in place of the page number in the form hh:mm:ss: (Mitchell 00:18:23)

4. How to Cite Different Source Types

How to Cite Books in MLA Format

Books are the bibliography format with which you’re probably most familiar. Books contain a basic set of pieces of information, and the Modern Language Association has established a specific order for this information. The order is as follows:

  • Author’s Last Name, First Name. Title of Book. Publisher, Year Published.
  • Note that all lines after the first line are indented one tab stop (or five spaces).
  • Book titles are italicized.
  • Author names are written in order: first name, middle name (if applicable), author’s last name.
  • The title of the book is written in sentence case (only capitalize the first word and any proper nouns).
  • The place of publication is listed as the city in which the publisher is located.

Book with No Author

When there’s no author listed for a book, you simply skip that part and list the title first in the citation. Here’s how a book with no author listed in an MLA works cited would be displayed:

Title of Book. Publisher, Year Published.

Book with One Author

Listing a book with one author is pretty straightforward and follows our pattern from above:

Author’s Last Name, First Name. Title of Book. Publisher, Year Published.

If there are two authors, both will be listed in reverse order (last name of the author followed by the first name). If there are three or more authors, only the first author will be listed in reverse order, but the others will be listed in normal order (first name followed by the author’s last name).

The publisher is listed next, followed by a period. The publisher may be omitted if it is identical to the company that owns the database or website from where you retrieved your e-book.

The publication year follows next, in parentheses, and ends with a period.

If you need help citing your journal articles, EasyBib’s MLA citation generator cites them automatically for you. An MLA citation generator simplifies the work for you when you need to generate references and citations faster.

Book Referencing Example:

Mitchell, James A. A Guide to Citation. 2nd ed, My London Publisher, 2017.

How to Cite Edited and Translated Books in MLA Format

Edited books are collations of chapters written by different authors. To cite one of these chapters, you would follow the same format as you would for a chapter in an edited book, including the editor’s name in the other contributor’s spot, followed by Ed. or Eds. (for one or multiple editors, respectively).

Basic edited book citations include the author name, title, publisher and publication year. If you are citing a specific chapter, include the chapter title. Cite translated books with the original language in square brackets following the English translation of the title.

The two possible formats are as followed:

  1. Author’s last name, first name, editor. Title. Title of container, Contributors, Version, Number, Publisher, Year of publication. Or
  2. AUthor’s last name, first name. Title. Title of container, edited by Contributors, Version, Number, Publisher, Year of publication.

Edited and Translated Book Examples:

  • Troy, Ben N., editor, and Mary Smith. A Guide to Citation Rules. Oxford Publishers, 2015.
  • Coyne, Kate and Nick A. Smith. MLA Citation Rules. Translated by Chris Andrews, New York Publishings, 2004.

How to Cite E-Books in MLA Format

E-books come in a variety of formats (e.g., Kindle, Adobe Digital Editions, EPub, HTML, and more) and can be read on a variety of devices (e.g., e-readers like the Kindle, Nook, and Sony Reader, as well as on personal computers and mobile devices through online vendors and free applications).

If you are citing a particular piece of content from the book that is a chapter or essay, you should cite it as you would any other book chapter or essay.

When including URLs in a citation, http:// and https:// are not required and may be excluded from the URL. If a DOI is available, cite the DOI number instead of the URL. A DOI, or digital object identifier, is a unique string of letters, numbers, and symbols assigned by a registration agency such as CrossRef or GenBank that leads to the location of an online source.

Here are some examples of how to cite e-books in MLA 7th edition and MLA 8th edition:

MLA 7th Edition

Author last name, first name. Title of Book. City of publication: Publisher, copyright year. Name of database (if electronic). Medium of publication (Web). Date of access.

MLA 8th Edition

Author last name, first name. Title of Book. City of publication: Publisher, copyright year. Name of database (if electronic). Publication medium (Web). Date of access.

E-Book Example:

Troy, Ben N., et al. A Guide to Citation. 2nd ed, e-book, New York Publishers, 2010.

How to Cite a Chapter (or Essay) in a Book in MLA Format

Citing a chapter – or essay – in a book is straightforward and follows the same general format as citing an entire book. Here is the basic structure:

Last name of the author, First name of the author. “Title of Chapter or Essay.” Title of Book, Name(s) of the editor(s), edition, Publisher, Year published, page number(s).

Book title: The Impact of Global Warming on Agriculture

Editor’s name: Lisa Weasel

Publisher: Academic Press

Year published: 2013

Page numbers of essay: 105-134

Example citation (Chapter):

Weasel, Lisa. “The Impact of Global Warming on Agriculture.” The Impact of Global Warming on Agriculture, edited by Lisa Weasel, Academic Press, 2013, pp. 105-134.

How to Cite Articles in MLA Format

Journal

Citing an article in a scholarly journal is similar to citing a chapter in a book. The key difference is that you need to include the volume and issue number for the journal. For example, your citation could look like this:

Tyson, Neil deGrasse. “The Great Beyond.” Natural History Jan. 2004: 20-24. Print.

If you are citing an online journal article, use the following format:

Tyson, Neil deGrasse. “The Great Beyond.” Natural History Jan. 2004: 20-24. Web. 21 Dec. 2009

Newspaper/Magazine

When you cite a newspaper article in the MLA style, it is important to include not only the name of the author but also the date and the page number. The format for citing a newspaper article in MLA style is as follows:

Author’s Last Name, First Name. “Title of Article.” Title of Newspaper Date of Publication, Page Number(s). Medium of Publication. Date of Access.

The general format for citing an online magazine article is similar to that for newspapers:

Author’s Last Name, First Name. “Title of Article.” Title of Magazine Date of Publication, Page Number

Example:

Baker, Frank. “How to Succeed in Business.” Small Business Times [Toronto] 16 Oct. 2006: n. pag. Print.

Online article

Cite as you would a print article, but add the word Web before the date accessed and include a URL or DOI (Digital Object Identifier) at the end. If there is no DOI or URL, do not include one. A DOI is assigned when an article is published and made electronically; it never changes, so it provides a permanent link to its location on the Internet.

Last, First M. “Article Title.” Website Title. Web. Date Month Year Accessed.

Example:

Baker, Frank. “How to Succeed in Business.” eHow. Web. 16 Oct 2006. Accessed 25 May 2010

If an article has more than one author, follow this format for each author listed in your paper:

First Author Last Name, First Name and Second Author First Name Last Name. “Title of Article.” Title of Newspaper [City] Date Month Year

5. How to Cite Non-Print Material

How to Cite Image in MLA Format

The basic format to cite an image is as follows:

Creator’s surname, other names. “Title of Image”. Website Title, contributors, reproduction, number, date, URL.

Image Example:

Millais, Sir John Everett. “Ophelia.” Tate, N01506, 1851-2, www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/millais-ophelia-n01506

How to Cite Film in MLA Format

Citing a film in MLA style is similar to citing a work of literature. You will need the title (italicized), director, distributor, and the year of release. If you include the names of members of the crew, list them in order as they appear in the film: producer, cinematographer, editor, etc.

Format:

Title. Dir. First M. Last Name. Perf. First M. Last Name, Second M. Last Name and Third M. Last Name. Distributor, Year of Release. Medium of Publication or Web Address (if available). Date of Access (if applicable).

For Example:

Citizen Kane. Dir. Orson Welles. Perf. Orson Welles, Joseph Cotten and Dorothy Comingore. RKO Radio Pictures, 1941. Film; VHS format.

How to Cite TV Series in MLA Format

To cite a television series in MLA (8th edition), you need the following pieces of information:

  • Title of the episode
  • Name of the director or performer
  • Name of the producer
  • Date of the broadcast or release
  • Title or name of the series
  • Title of the container (television show)
  • The location where you watched or listened to the program (network, website, database)
  • The format you watched or listened to it on (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS, etc.)

Note: Certain media types are not included in this list. For example, if you watched a film in theaters, you would cite it as a movie. However, if you watched an episode of a TV show on Netflix, you would cite it as an episode of a TV series.

If you watched an episode that was posted online and it doesn’t have an official title, describe what it is in square brackets (e.g., [Episode 20]).

The following example shows how to cite an episode from a TV series:

Wright, Nigel. “Losing My Religion.” The Sopranos, HBO, 29 July 2001.

When citing an episode from a web series, there is no need to include the network or date of broadcast. For example:

Dickson, Drew and Jay Clendenin. “The Walking Dead: A Hard Truth in a Zombie Apocalypse.” YouTube video, 1:11:21. 14 Nov. 2012. Web. Accessed 20 Aug. 2016.

If you’re citing a season rather than an episode, list the name of the season as well as the show’s title:

“Season 2.” Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Netflix, 2016.

If you’re citing more than one season of a show, cite each season separately as if it were its own source:

“Season 2.” Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Netflix, 2016.

“Season 1.” Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

How to Cite Music in MLA Format

When citing music, always include the artist’s name, the title of the work, and information about the recording (including the year it was released and any other relevant details). If you’re using a song from a CD you listened to, you can simply provide a citation for the album. But if you downloaded or streamed the music from an online source such as iTunes or Spotify (or if it came from a streaming site), use our music online format instead.

When citing a record album or CD, keep in mind:

Author’s name. Title of source. Title of Container, Other contributors, Version, Number, Publisher, Publication date, Location.

For example:

The Beatles. Abbey Road. Apple Records, 1969.

When citing songs, include the following questions and answers:

  • Who is the author who created the song? (Songwriter)
  • What is the title of the song? (Title of Source)
  • On what album was this song found? (Title of Container)
  • Who is the performer or group? (Other Contributors)
  • What label produced the album? (Publisher)
  • When was the album published? (Publication Date)

How to Cite a Webpage in MLA Format

To cite a webpage in MLA citations format people must make sure to include the date of access because web pages are updated, and information available on one date may no longer be available later.

When citing a webpage, collect as much of the following information as possible:

  • Author’s name (if available)
  • Title of the webpage
  • Title of the website
  • Publisher (such as The New York Times Company or CNN Interactive), date published, date accessed, and URL.

When you’re finished gathering all your information, organize it into an MLA citations format.

Author’s last name, author’s first name. “Title of Page.” Title of Website. Publisher/Sponsor, Date published (if available). Date accessed. URL.

Here is how to cite a webpage with no author in MLA citations format: “Article Title.” Website Title. Publisher, Day Month Year article was published online, URL

Website Example:

Mitchell, James A., and Martha Thomson. How and When to Reference. 25 Jan. 2017: https://www.howandwhentoreference.com/.

How to Cite a Poem and a Play in MLA Citations Format

To quote and cite a poem in an essay using MLA citations format, people must include the poem’s author, the title of the poem, and the lines they are quoting. When writing about poetry it is important to use present tense instead of past tense for your verbs.

If people want to learn how to quote and cite a play in an essay using MLA citations format, they may need to include an act, scene, and line number within the body of their essay. People should also include this information in their works cited page at the end of their essay. This is also the last page or the page of an MLA-compliant academic paper.