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The complete guide to mla & citations, what you’ll find in this guide.
This page provides an in-depth overview of MLA format. It includes information related to MLA citations, plagiarism, proper formatting for in-text and regular citations, and examples of citations for many different types of sources.
Looking for APA? Check out the Citation Machine’s guide on APA format . We also have resources for Chicago citation style as well.
How to be a responsible researcher or scholar
Putting together a research project involves searching for information, disseminating and analyzing information, collecting information, and repurposing information. Being a responsible researcher requires keeping track of the sources that were used to help develop your research project, sharing the information you borrowed in an ethical way, and giving credit to the authors of the sources you used. Doing all of these things prevents plagiarism.
What is Plagiarism?
Plagiarism is the act of using others’ information without giving credit or acknowledging them. There are many examples of plagiarism. Completely copying another individual’s work without providing credit to the original author is a very blatant example of plagiarism. Plagiarism also occurs when another individual’s idea or concept is passed off as your own. Changing or modifying quotes, text, or any work of another individual is also plagiarism. Believe it or not, you can even plagiarize yourself! Reusing a project or paper from another class or time and saying that it’s new is plagiarism. One way to prevent plagiarism is to add citations in your project where appropriate.
What is a Citation?
A citation shows the reader of your project where you found your information. Citations are included in the body of a project when you add a quote to your project. Citations are also included in the body when you’re paraphrasing another individual’s information. These citations in the body of a research paper are called in-text citations. They are found directly next to the information that was borrowed and are very brief to avoid causing distraction while reading a project. These brief citations include the last name of the author and a page number. Scroll down for an in-depth explanation and examples of MLA in-text citations.
In-text citations provide us with a brief idea as to where you found your information, though they usually don't include the title and other components. Look on the last page of a research project to find complete citations.
Complete citations are found on what MLA calls a works-cited list, which is sometimes called an MLA bibliography. All sources that were used to develop a research project are found on the works-cited list. Complete citations are also created for any quotes or paraphrased information used in the text. Complete citations include the author’s name, the title, publisher, year published, page numbers, URLs, and a few other pieces of information.
Looking to create your citations in just a few clicks? Need an MLA format website or book citation? Visit Citation Machine.net! Our Citation Machine MLA generator, which is an MLA citation website, will create all of your citations in just a few clicks. Click here to see more styles .
Why Does it Matter?
Citing your sources is an extremely important component of your research project. It shows that you’re a responsible researcher and that you located appropriate and reputable sources that support your thesis or claim. In addition, if your work ends up being posted online or in print, there is a chance that others will use your research project in their own work!
Scroll down to find directions on how to create citations.
How the Modern Language Association Helps You Become a Responsible Researcher
What is mla format.
The Modern Language Association is an organization that was created to develop guidelines on everything language and literature related. They have guidelines on proper grammar usage and research paper layouts. In addition, they have English and foreign language committees, numerous books and journal publications, and an annual conference. They are not connected with this guide, but the information here reflects the association’s rules for formatting papers and citations.
What are citations?
The Modern Language Association is responsible for creating standards and guidelines on how to properly cite sources to prevent plagiarism. Their style is most often used when writing papers and citing sources in the liberal arts and humanities fields. “Liberal arts” is a broad term used to describe a range of subjects including the humanities, formal sciences such as mathematics and statistics, natural sciences such as biology and astronomy, and social sciences such as geography, economics, history, and others. The humanities focuses specifically on subjects related to languages, art, philosophy, religion, music, theater, literature, and ethics.
Believe it or not, there are thousands of other types of citation styles. While this citation style is most often used for the liberal arts and humanities fields, many other subjects, professors, and schools prefer citations and papers to be styled in MLA format.
What’s the difference between a bibliography and a works-cited list?
Great question. The two terms cause a lot of confusion and are consistently misused not only by students but educators as well! Let’s start with what the two words mean.
A bibliography displays the sources the writer used to gain background knowledge on the topic and also research it in-depth. Before starting a research project, you might read up on the topic in websites, books, and other sources. You might even dive a bit deeper to find more information elsewhere. All of these sources you used to help you learn about the topic would go in an MLA format bibliography. You might even include other sources that relate to the topic.
A works-cited list displays all of the sources that were mentioned in the writing of the actual paper or project. If a quote was taken from a source and placed into a research paper, then the full citation goes on the works-cited list.
Both the works-cited list and bibliography go at the end of a paper. Most teachers do not expect students to hand in both a bibliography AND a works-cited list. Teachers generally expect to see a works-cited list, but sometimes erroneously call it a bibliography. If you’re not sure what your teacher expects, a page in MLA bibliography format, a works-cited list, or both, ask for guidance.
Why do we use this MLA style?
These specific guidelines and standards for creating citations were developed for numerous reasons. When scholars and researchers in literature, language, and numerous other fields all cite their sources in the same manner, it makes it easier for readers to look at a citation and understand the different components of a source. By looking at an MLA citation, we can see who the author is, the title of the source, when it was published, and other identifiable pieces of information.
Imagine how difficult it would be to understand the various components of a source if we didn’t all follow the same guidelines! Not only would it make it difficult to understand the source that was used, but it would also make it difficult for readers to locate it themselves. This streamlined process aides us in understanding a researcher’s sources.
How is the new version different than previous versions?
This citation style has changed dramatically over the past couple of years. The MLA Handbook is currently in its 9th edition.
The new version expands upon standards previously set in the 8th edition of the MLA Handbook, including the core elements. The structure of citations remains the same, but some formatting guidance and terminology have changed.
- DOI numbers are now formatted as https://doi.org/xx.xxxx/xxx.xxxx.xxxx
- Seasons in publishing daters are lowercased: spring 2020
- The term “optional elements” is now “supplemental elements”
- “Narrative in-text citations” are called “citations in prose”
In addition, new information was added on the following:
- Hundreds of works-cited-list entries
- MLA formatting for papers
- Punctuation, spelling, and other mechanics of prose
- Chapter on inclusive language
- Notes (bibliographic and content)
For more information on MLA 9, click here .
A Deeper Look at Citations
What do they look like.
There are two types of citations. The first is a full, or complete, citation. These are found at the end of research projects. These citations are usually listed in alphabetical order by the author’s last names and include all of the information necessary for readers to be able to locate the source themselves.
Full citations are generally placed in this MLA citation format:
%%Last name of the author, First name of the author. “Source’s Title.” Container’s Title, roles and names of any other individuals who helped contribute to the source, the version of the source, any numbers associated with the source, the name of the publisher, the date the source was published, the location where individuals can find the source themselves (usually a DOI, URL, or page range).
There are times when additional information is added into the full citation.
Not sure how to transfer the information from your source into your citation? Confused about the term, “containers”? See below for information and complete explanations of each citation component.
The second type of citation, called an “in-text citation,” is included in the main part, or body, of a project when a researcher uses a quote or paraphrases information from another source. See the next section to find out how to create in-text citations.
What are in-text citations?
As stated above, in-text citations are included in the main part of a project when using a quote or paraphrasing a piece of information from another source. We include these types of citations in the body of a project for readers to quickly gain an idea as to where we found the information.
These in-text citations are found directly next to the quote or paraphrased information. They contain a small tidbit of the information found in the regular MLA citation. The regular, or complete, citation is located at the end of a project, on the works-cited list.
Here’s what a typical in-text citation looks like:
In the book The Joy Luck Club, the mother uses a vast amount of Chinese wisdom to explain the world and people’s temperaments. She states, “Each person is made of five elements…. Too much fire and you have a bad temper...too little wood and you bent too quickly...too much water and you flowed in too many directions” (Tan 31).
This specific in text citation, (Tan 31), is called an MLA parenthetical citation because the author’s name is in parentheses. It’s included so the reader sees that we are quoting something from page 31 in Tan’s book. The complete, regular citation isn’t included in the main part of the project because it would be too distracting for the reader. We want the reader to focus on our work and research, not get caught up on our sources.
Here’s another way to cite in the text:
In Tan’s novel The Joy Luck Club, the mother uses a vast amount of Chinese wisdom to explain the world and people’s temperaments. She states, “Each person is made of five elements... Too much fire and you have a bad temper... too little wood and you bent too quickly... too much water and you flowed in too many directions" (31).
If the reader would like to see the source’s full information, and possibly locate the source themselves, they can refer to the last part of the project to find the regular citation.
The regular citation, at the end of the project looks like this:
%%Tan, Amy. The Joy Luck Club. Penguin, 1989, p. 31.
Notice that the first word in the full citation (Tan) matches the “Tan” used in the body of the project. It’s important to have the first word of the full citation match the term used in the text. Why? It allows readers to easily find the full citation on the works-cited list.
If your direct quote or paraphrase comes from a source that does not have page numbers, it is acceptable to place a line number (use line or lines), paragraph number (use the abbreviation par. or pars.), sections (sec. or secs.), or chapters (ch. or chs.). Only use these other terms if they are actually labeled on the source. If it specifically says on the source, “Section 1,” for example, then it is acceptable to use “sec. 1” in the in-text citation.
If there are no numbers to help readers locate the exact point in the source, only include the author’s last name.
To determine how to create in-text citations for more than one author, no authors, or corporate authors, refer to the “Authors” section below.
More about quotations and how to cite a quote:
- Use quotes from outside sources to help illustrate and expand on your own points. The majority of your paper should be your own writing and ideas.
- Include the quote exactly as you found it. It is okay to use only certain words or phrases from the quote, but keep the words (spelling and capitalization) and punctuation the same.
- It is acceptable to break up a direct quote with your own writing.
Example from a movie:
Dorothy stated, "Toto," then looked up and took in her surroundings, "I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore" ( Wizard of Oz ).
- The entire paper should be double-spaced, including quotes.
- If the quote is longer than four lines, it is necessary to make a block quote. Block quotes show the reader that they are about to read a lengthy amount of text from another source.
- Start the quote on the next line, half an inch from the left margin.
- Do not use any indents at the beginning of the block quote.
- Only use quotation marks if there are quotation marks present in the source.
- If there is more than one paragraph in the block quote, indent the beginning of the paragraphs after the first one an additional half an inch from the left margin.
- Add your in-text citation after the final period of the block quote. Do not add an additional period after the parenthetical citation.
While his parents sat there in surprise, Colton went onto say:
“Cause I could see you,” Colon said matter-of-factly. “I went up and out of my body and I was looking down and I could see the doctor working on my body. And I saw you and Mommy. You were in a little room by yourself, praying; and Mommy was in a different room, and she was praying and talking on the phone.” (Burpo xxi)
How to create a paraphrase:
As stated above, the majority of your paper should be your own writing and ideas. It’s acceptable to include quotes, but they shouldn’t crowd your paper. If you’re finding that you’re using too many quotes in your paper, consider adding paraphrases. When you reiterate a piece of information from an outside source in your own words, you create a paraphrase.
Here’s an example:
Readers discover in the very first sentence of Peter Pan that he doesn’t grow up (Barrie 1).
What paraphrases are:
- Recycled information in the paper writer’s own words and writing style.
- They’re still references! Include an in-text citation next to the paraphrased information.
What paraphrases are not:
- A copy and pasted sentence with a few words substituted for synonyms.
Confused about whether footnotes and endnotes should be used?
Footnotes and endnotes are completely acceptable to use in this style. Use a footnote or endnote if:
- Adding additional information will help the reader understand the content. This is called a content note .
- You need to cite numerous sources in one small section of your writing. Instead of clogging up a small paragraph with in-text citations (which could cause confusion for the reader), include a footnote or endnote. This is called a bibliographic note .
Keep in mind that whether you choose to include in-text citations or footnotes/endnotes, you need to also include a full reference on the MLA format works-cited list.
Content note example:
Even Maurice Sendak’s work (the mastermind behind Where the Wild Things Are and numerous other popular children’s picture books) can be found on the banned books list. It seems as though nobody is granted immunity. 1
- In the Night Kitchen ’s main character is nude on numerous pages. Problematic for most is not the nudity of the behind, but the frontal nudity.
%%Sendak, Maurice. In The Night Kitchen. Harper Collins, 1996.
Bibliographic note example:
Dahl had a difficult childhood. Both his father and sister passed away when he was a toddler. He was then sent away by his mother to boarding school (de Castella). 1
- Numerous books, such as Matilda, James and the Giant Peach, and The BFG, all feature characters with absent or difficult parents.
MLA Works Cited:
Include 4 full citations for: de Castella’s article, Matilda, James and the Giant Peach, and The BFG .
Don’t forget to create full, or regular citations, and place them at the end of your project.
If you need help with in-text and parenthetical citations, CitationMachine.net can help. Our MLA citation generator is simple and easy to use!
Common Knowledge: What Is It and How Will It Affect My Writing?
Footnotes, endnotes, references, proper structuring. We know it’s a lot. Thankfully, you don’t have to include a reference for EVERY piece of information you add to your paper. You can forget about including a reference when you share a piece of common knowledge.
Common knowledge is information that most people know. For example, these are a few facts that are considered common knowledge:
- The Statue of Liberty is located in New York City
- Tokyo is the capital of Japan
- Romeo and Juliet is a play written by William Shakespeare
- English is the language most people speak in England
- An elephant is an animal
We could go on and on. When you include common knowledge in your paper, omit a reference. One less thing to worry about, right?
Before you start adding tons of common knowledge occurrences to your paper to ease the burden of creating references, we need to stop you right there. Remember, the goal of a research paper is to develop new information or knowledge. You’re expected to seek out information from outside sources and analyze and distribute the information from those sources to form new ideas. Using only common knowledge facts in your writing involves absolutely zero research. It’s okay to include some common knowledge facts here and there, but do not make it the core of your paper.
If you’re unsure if the fact you’re including is common knowledge or not, it doesn’t hurt to include a reference. There is no such thing as being overly responsible when it comes to writing and citing.
Wikipedia - Yay or Nay?
If you’re wondering whether it’s okay to use Wikipedia in your project, the answer is, it depends.
If Wikipedia is your go-to source for quick information on a topic, you’re not alone. Chances are, it’s one of the first websites to appear on your results page. It’s used by tons of people, it’s easily accessible, and it contains millions of concise articles. So, you’re probably wondering, “What’s the problem?”
The issue with Wikipedia is that it’s a user-generated site, meaning information is constantly added and modified by registered users. Who these users are and their expertise is somewhat of a mystery. The truth is anyone can register on the site and make changes to articles.
Knowing this makes some cringe, especially educators and librarians, since the validity of the information is questionable. However, some people argue that because Wikipedia is a user-generated site, the community of registered users serve as “watchdogs,” ensuring that information is valid. In addition, references are included at the bottom of each article and serve as proof of credibility. Furthermore, Wikipedia lets readers know when there’s a problem with an article. Warnings such as “this article needs clarification,” or “this article needs references to prove its validity” are shared with the reader, thus promoting transparency.
If you choose to reference a Wikipedia article in your research project, and your teacher or professor says it’s okay, then you must reference it in your project. You would treat it just as you would with any other web source.
However, you may want to instead consider locating the original source of the information. This should be fairly easy to do thanks to the references at the bottom of each article.
Specific Components of a Citation
This section explains each individual component of the citation, with examples for each section for full citations and in-text citations.
Name of the author
The author’s name is usually the first item listed in the MLA citation. Author names start with the last name, then a comma is added, and then the author’s first name (and middle name if applicable) is at the end. A period closes this information.
Here are two examples of how an author’s name can be listed in a full citation:
Poe, Edgar Allan.
(Author’s Last name page number) or Author’s Last name... (page).
Wondering how to format the author’s name when there are two authors working jointly on a source? When there are two authors that work together on a source, the author names are placed in the order in which they appear on the source. Place their names in this format:
Author 1’s Last Name, First name, and Author 2’s First Name Last Name.
Here are two examples of how to cite two authors:
Clifton, Mark, and Frank Riley.
Paxton, Roberta J., and Michael Jacob Fox.
(Author 1’s Last name and Author 2’s Last name page number) or Author 1’s Last name and Author 2’s Last name... (page).
There are many times when three or more authors work together on a source. This often happens with journal articles, edited books, and textbooks.
To cite a source with three or more authors, place the information in this format:
Author 1’s Last name, First name, et al.
As you can see, only include the first author’s name. The other authors are accounted for by using “et al.” In Latin, et al. is translated to “and others.” If using the Citation Machine citation generator, this abbreviation is automatically added for you.
Here’s an example of a citation for three or more authors:
%%Warner, Ralph, et al. How to Buy a House in California. Edited by Alayna Schroeder, 12th ed., Nolo, 2009.
(Author 1’s Last name et al. page number)
Is there no author listed on your source? If so, exclude the author’s information from the citation and begin the citation with the title of the source.
For in-text: Use the title of the source in parentheses. Place the title in italics if the source stands alone. Books and films stand alone. If it’s part of a larger whole, such as a chapter in an edited book or an article on a website, place the title in quotation marks without italics.
( Back to the Future )
(“Citing And Writing”)
Other in-text structures:
Authors with the same last name in your paper? MLA essay format requires the use of first initials in-text in this scenario.
Ex: (J. Silver 45)
Are you citing more than one source by the same author? For example, two books by Ernest Hemingway? Include the title in-text.
Example: (Hemingway, For Whom The Bell Tolls 12).
Are you citing a film or song? Include a timestamp in the format of hours:minutes:seconds. ( Back to the Future 00:23:86)
Was the source found on social media, such as a tweet, Reddit, or Instagram post? If this is the case, in an MLA format paper, you are allowed to start the citation with the author’s handle, username, or screen name.
Here is an example of how to cite a tweet:
%%@CarlaHayden. “I’m so honored to talk about digital access at @UMBCHumanities. We want to share the @libraryofcongress collection.” Twitter , 13 Apr. 2017, 6:04 p.m., twitter.com/LibnOfCongress/status/852643691802091521.
While most citations begin with the name of the author, they do not necessarily have to. Quite often, sources are compiled by editors. Or, your source may be done by a performer or composer. If your project focuses on someone other than the author, it is acceptable to place that person’s name first in the citation. If you’re using the MLA works cited generator at Citation Machine.net, you can choose the individual’s role from a drop-down box.
For example, let’s say that in your research project, you focus on Leonardo DiCaprio’s performances as an actor. You’re quoting a line from the movie Titanic in your project, and you’re creating a complete citation for it in the works-cited list.
It is acceptable to show the reader that you’re focusing on Leonardo DiCaprio’s work by citing it like this in the MLA works-cited list:
%%DiCaprio, Leonardo, performer. Titanic . Directed by James Cameron. Paramount, 1997.
Notice that when citing an individual other than the author, place the individual’s role after their name. In this case, Leonardo DiCaprio is the performer.
This is often done with edited books, too. Place the editor’s name first (in reverse order), add a comma, and then add the word editor.
If you’re still confused about how to place the authors together in a citation, the tools at CitationMachine.net can help! Our website is easy to use and will create your citations in just a few clicks!
Titles and containers
The titles are written as they are found on the source and in title form, meaning the important words start with a capital.
Here’s an example of a properly written title:
Practical Digital Libraries: Books, Bytes, and Bucks.
Wondering whether to place your title in italics or quotation marks? It depends on whether the source sits by itself or not. If the source stands alone, meaning that it is an independent source, place the title in italics. If the title is part of a larger whole, place the title of the source in quotation marks and the source it is from in italics.
When citing full books, movies, websites, or albums in their entirety, these titles are written in italics.
However, when citing part of a source, such as an article on a website, a chapter in a book, a song on an album, or an article in a scholarly journal, the part is written with quotation marks and then the titles of the sources that they are found in are written in italics.
Here are some examples to help you understand how to format titles and their containers.
To cite Pink Floyd’s entire album, The Wall , cite it as:
%%Pink Floyd. The Wall. Columbia, 1979.
To cite one of the songs on Pink Floyd’s album in MLA formatting, cite it as:
%%Pink Floyd. “Another Brick in the Wall (Part I).” The Wall, Columbia, 1979, track 3.
To cite a fairy tale book in its entirety, cite it as:
%%Colfer, Chris. The Land of Stories. Little Brown, 2016.
To cite a specific story or chapter in the book, cite it as:
%%Colfer, Chris. “Little Red Riding Hood.” The Land of Stories, Little Brown, 2016, pp. 58-65.
More about containers
From the section above, you can see that titles can stand alone, or they can sit in a container. Many times, sources can sit in more than one container. Wondering how? When citing an article in a scholarly journal, the first container is the journal. The second container? It’s the database that the scholarly journal is found in. It is important to account for all containers, so readers are able to locate the exact source themselves.
When citing a television episode, the first container is the name of the show and the second container is the name of the service that it could be streaming on, such as Netflix .
If your source sits in more than one container, the information about the second container is found at the end of the citation.
Use the following format to cite your source with multiple containers :
%%Last name of the author, First name of the author. “Source’s Title.” Container’s Title, roles and names of any other individuals who helped contribute to the source, the version of the source, any numbers associated with the source, the name of the publisher, the date the source was published, the location where individuals can find the source themselves (usually a URL or page range). Title of Second Container, roles and names of any other contributors, the version of the second container, any numbers associated with the second container, the name of the second container’s publisher, the date the second container was published, location.
If the source has more than two containers, add on another full section at the end for each container.
Not all of the fields in the citation format above need to be included in your citation. In fact, many of these fields will most likely be omitted from your citations. Only include the elements that will help your readers locate the source themselves.
Here is an example of a citation for a scholarly journal article found in a database. This source has two containers: the journal itself is one container, and the site it sits on is the other.
%%Zanetti, Francois. “Curing with Machine: Medical Electricity in Eighteenth-Century Paris.” Technology and Culture, vol. 54, no. 3, July 2013, pp. 503-530. Project Muse, muse.jhu.edu/article/520280.
If you’re still confused about containers, the Citation Machine MLA cite generator can help! MLA citing is easier when using the tools at CitationMachine.net.
Many sources have people besides the author who contribute to the source. If your research project focuses on an additional individual besides the author, or you feel as though including other contributors will help the reader locate the source themselves, include their names in the citation.
To include another individual in the citation, after the title, place the role of the individual, the word “by,” and then their name in standard order.
If the name of the contributor comes after a period, capitalize the first letter in the role of the individual. If it comes after a comma, the first letter in the role of the individual is lowercased.
Here’s an example of a citation for a children’s book with the name of the illustrator included:
%%Rubin, Adam. Dragons Love Tacos. Illustrated by Daniel Salmieri, Penguin, 2012.
The names of editors, directors, performers, translators, illustrators, and narrators can often be found in this part of the citation.
If the source that you’re citing states that it is a specific version or edition, this information is placed in the “versions” section of the citation.
When including a numbered edition, do not type out the number, use the numeral. Also, abbreviate the word “edition” to “ed.”
Here is an example of a citation with a specific edition:
%%Koger, Gregory. “Filibustering and Parties in the Modern State.” Congress Reconsidered, edited by Lawrence C. Dodd and Bruce I. Oppenheimer, 10th ed., CQ Press, 2013, pp. 221-236. Google Books, books.google.com/books?id=b7gkLlSEeqwC&lpg=PP1&dq=10th%20edition&pg=PR6#v=onepage&q=10th%20edition&f=false.
Many sources have numbers associated with them. If you see a number different than the date, page numbers, or editions, include this information in the “numbers” section of the citation. For MLA citing, this includes volume and/or issue numbers (use the abbreviations vol. and no.), episode numbers, track numbers, or any other numbers that will help readers identify the specific source that you used. Do not include ISBN (International Standard Book Numbers) in the citation.
It is important to include the name of the publisher (the organization that created or published the source), so that readers can locate the exact source themselves.
Include publishers for all sources except periodicals. Also, for websites, exclude this information when the name of the publisher matches the name of the website. Furthermore, the name of the publisher is often excluded from the citation for second containers, since the publisher of the second container is not necessarily responsible for the creation or production of the source’s content.
Publication dates are extremely important to include in citations. They allow the reader to understand when sources were published. They are also used when readers are attempting to locate the source themselves.
Dates can be written in MLA in one of two ways. Researchers can write dates as:
Day Mo. Year
Mo. Day, Year
Whichever format you decide to use, use the same format for all of your citations. If using the Citation Machine citation generator, the date will be formatted in the same way for each citation.
While it isn’t necessary to include the full date for all source citations, use the amount of information that makes the most sense to help your readers understand and locate the source themselves.
Wondering what to do when your source has more than one date? Use the date that is most applicable to your research.
The location generally refers to the place where the readers can find the source. This includes page ranges, URLs, DOI numbers, track numbers, disc numbers, or even cities and towns.
You can usually leave out http:// or https:// from URLs unless you want to hyperlink them. For DOIs, use http:// or https:// before the DOI: https://doi.org/xx.xxxx/xxx.xxxx.xxxx .
For page numbers, when citing a source found on only one page, use p.
Example: p. 6.
When citing a source that has a page range, use pp. and then add the page numbers.
Example: pp. 24-38.
Since the location is the final piece of the citation, place a period at the end. When it comes to URLs, many students wonder if the links in citations should be live or not. If the paper is being shared electronically with a teacher and other readers, it may be helpful to include live links. If you’re not sure whether to include live links or not, ask your teacher or professor for guidance.
Looking for an online tool to do the work for you? Citation Machine citing tools could help! Our site is simple (and fun!) to use.
Need some more help? There is further good information here .
Common Citation Examples
ALL sources use this format:
%%Last name of the author, First name of the author. “Source’s Title.” Container’s Title, roles and names of any other individuals who helped contribute to the source, the version of the source, any numbers associated with the source, the name of the publisher, the date the source was published, the location where individuals can find the source themselves (usually a URL or page range). *Title of Second Container, roles and names of any other contributors, the version of the second container, any numbers associated with the second container, the name of the second container’s publisher, the date the second container was published, location.
*If the source does not have a second container, omit this last part of the citation.
Remember, the Citation Machine MLA formatter can help you save time and energy when creating your citations. Check out our MLA Citation Machine pages to learn more.
- Journal Articles
How to Format a Paper
When it comes to formatting your paper or essay for academic purposes, there are specific MLA paper format guidelines to follow.
- Use paper that is 8½-by-11 inch in size. This is the standard size for copier and printer paper.
- Use high quality paper.
- Your research paper or essay should have a one-inch margin on the top, bottom, left, and right sides of the paper.
- While most word processors automatically format your paper to have one-inch margins, you can check or modify the margins of your paper by going to the “Page setup” section of your word processor.
Which font is acceptable to use?
- Use an easily readable font, specifically one that allows readers to see the difference between regular and italicized letters.
- Times New Roman, Arial, and Helvetica are recommended options.
- Use 12-point size font.
Should I double-space the paper, including citations?
- Double-space the entire paper.
- There should be a double space between each piece of information in the heading.
- Place a double space between the heading and the title.
- Place a double space between the title and the beginning of the essay.
- The works-cited list should be double-spaced as well. All citations are double-spaced.
Justification & Punctuation
- Text should be left-justified, meaning that the text is aligned, or flush, against the left margin.
- Indents signal to the reader that a new concept or idea is about to begin.
- Use the “tab” button on your keyboard to create an indent.
- Add one space after all punctuation marks.
Heading & Title
- Include a proper heading and title
- The heading should include the following, on separate lines, starting one inch from the top and left margins:
- Your full name
- Your teacher or professor’s name
- The course number
- Dates in the heading and the body of your essay should be consistent. Use the same format, either Day Month Year or Month Day, Year throughout the entire paper
- Examples: 27 July 2017 or July 27, 2017
- The title should be underneath the heading, centered in the middle of the page, without bold, underlined, italicized, or all capital letters.
- Number all pages, including the very first page and the works-cited list.
- Place page numbers in the top right corner, half an inch from the top margin and one inch from the right margin.
- Include your last name to the left of the page number. Example: Jacobson 4
Here’s an example to provide you with a visual:
If you need help with sentence structure or grammar, check out our paper checker. The paper checker will help to check every noun , verb , and adjective . If there are words that are misspelled or out of place, the paper checker will suggest edits and provide recommendations.
- If a citation flows onto the second line, indent it in half an inch from the left margin (called a “hanging indent”).
- For more information on the works-cited list, refer to “How to Make a Works Cited Page,” which is found below.
How to Create a Title Page
According to the Modern Language Association’s official guidelines for formatting a research paper, it is unnecessary to create or include an individual title page, or MLA cover page, at the beginning of a research project. Instead, follow the directions above, under “Heading & Title,” to create a proper heading. This heading is featured at the top of the first page of the research paper or research assignment.
If your instructor or professor does in fact require or ask for an MLA title page, follow the directions that you are given. They should provide you with the information needed to create a separate, individual title page. If they do not provide you with instructions, and you are left to create it at your own discretion, use the header information above to help you develop your research paper title page. You may want to include other information, such as the name of your school or university.
How to Make a Works Cited Page
The MLA Works Cited page is generally found at the end of a research paper or project. It contains a list of all the citations of sources used for the research project. Follow these directions to format the works-cited list to match the Modern Language Association’s guidelines.
- The “Works Cited” page has its own page at the end of a research project.
- Include the same running head as the rest of the project (Your last name and then the page number). The “Works Cited” page has the final page number for the project.
- Name the page “Works Cited,” unless your list only includes one citation. In that case, title it in MLA “Work Cited.”
- The title of the page (either “Works Cited” or “Work Cited”) is placed one inch from the top of the page, centered in the middle of the document.
- Double space the entire document, even between the title of the page and the first citation.
- Citations are listed in alphabetical order by the first word in the citation (usually the last name of the author or the first word in the title if the citation does not include the author’s name. Ignore “A,” “An,” and “The” if the title begins with these words.)
- If there are multiple citations by the same author, place them in chronological order by the date published.
- Also, instead of writing the author’s name twice in both citations, use three hyphens.
%%Angelou, Maya. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. Random House, 2009.
%%---. Gather Together in My Name. Random House, 1974.
- All citations begin flush against the left margin. If the citation is long and rolls onto a second or third line, indent the lines below the first line half an inch from the left margin. This is called a “hanging indent.” The purpose of a hanging indent is to make the citations easier to read. If you’re using our MLA citation machine, we’ll format each of your references with a hanging indent for you.
%%Wai-Chung, Ho. “Political Influences on Curriculum Content and Musical Meaning: Hong Kong Secondary Music Education, 1949-1997.” Journal of Historical Research in Music Education, vol. 22, no. 1, 1 Oct. 2000, pp. 5-25. Periodicals Index Online, search-proquest-com.i.ezproxy.nypl.org/pio/docview/1297849364/citation/6B70D633F50C4EA0PQ/78?accountid=35635.
- MLA “Works Cited” pages can be longer than one page. Use as many pages as necessary. If you have only one source to cite, do not place the one citation below the text of your paper. In MLA, a “Work Cited” page is still created for that individual citation.
Here’s a sample paper to give you an idea of what an MLA paper could look like. Included at the end is an MLA “Works Cited” page example.
Looking to add a relevant image, figure, table, or musical score to your paper? Here’s the easy way to do it, while following guidelines set forth by the Modern Language Association:
- Place the image, figure, table, or music close to where it’s mentioned in the text.
- Provide source information and any additional notes directly below the image, figure, table, or music.
- Label the table as “Table” followed by an arabic numeral such as “1.” Table 1 is the table closest to the beginning of the paper. The next table mentioned in the text would be Table 2, and so on.
- Create a title for the table and place it below the label. Capitalize all important words.
- The label (Table 1) and the title should be flush against the left margin.
- Double-space everything.
- A figure can be a map, photograph, painting, pie chart, or any other type of image.
- Create a label and place it below the figure. The figure first mentioned in the text of the project is either “Figure 1” or “Fig 1.” Though figures are usually abbreviated to “Fig.” Choose one style and use it consistently. The next mentioned figure is “Figure 2” or “Fig. 2.”, and so on.
- Place a caption next to the label. If all of the source information is included in the caption, there isn’t a need to replicate that information in the works-cited list.
MLA Final Checklist
Think you’re through? We know this guide covered a LOT of information, so before you hand in that assignment, here’s a checklist to help you determine if you have everything you need:
_ Are both in-text and full citations included in the project? Remember, for every piece of outside information included in the text, there should be a corresponding in-text citation next to it. Include the full citation at the end, on the “Works Cited” page.
_ Are all citations, both in-text and full, properly formatted in MLA style? If you’re unsure, try out our citation generator!
_ Is your paper double-spaced in its entirety with one inch margins?
_ Do you have a running header on each page? (Your last name followed by the page number)
_ Did you use a font that is easy to read?
_ Are all citations on the MLA format works-cited list in alphabetical order?
Our plagiarism checker scans for any accidental instances of plagiarism. It scans for grammar and spelling errors, too. If you have an adverb , preposition , or conjunction that needs a slight adjustment, we may be able to suggest an edit.
Common Ways Students Accidentally Plagiarize
We spoke a bit about plagiarism at the beginning of this guide. Since you’re a responsible researcher, we’re sure you didn’t purposely plagiarize any portions of your paper. Did you know students and scholars sometimes accidentally plagiarize? Unfortunately, it happens more often than you probably realize. Luckily, there are ways to prevent accidental plagiarism and even some online tools to help!
Here are some common ways students accidentally plagiarize in their research papers and assignments:
1. Poor Paraphrasing
In the “How to create a paraphrase” section towards the top of this page, we share that paraphrases are “recycled information, in the paper writer’s own words and writing style.” If you attempt to paraphrase a few lines of text and it ends up looking and sounding too close to the original author’s words, it’s a poor paraphrase and considered plagiarism.
2. Incorrect Citations
If you cite something incorrectly, even if it’s done accidentally, it’s plagiarism. Any incorrect information in a reference, such as the wrong author name or the incorrect title, results in plagiarism.
3. Forgetting to include quotation marks
When you include a quote in your paper, you must place quotation marks around it. Failing to do so results in plagiarism.
If you’re worried about accidental plagiarism, try our Citation Machine Plus essay tool. It scans for grammar, but it also checks for any instances of accidental plagiarism. It’s simple and user-friendly, making it a great choice for stress-free paper editing and publishing.
Updated June 15, 2021
Written and edited by Michele Kirschenbaum and Wendy Ikemoto. Michele Kirschenbaum has been an awesome school librarian since 2006 and is an expert in citing sources. Wendy Ikemoto has a master’s degree in library and information science and has been working for Citation Machine since 2012.
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Free MLA Citation Generator
Generate accurate citations in MLA format automatically, with MyBib!
😕 What is an MLA Citation Generator?
An MLA citation generator is a software tool designed to automatically create academic citations in the Modern Language Association (MLA) citation format. The generator will take information such as document titles, author, and URLs as in input, and output fully formatted citations that can be inserted into the Works Cited page of an MLA-compliant academic paper.
The citations on a Works Cited page show the external sources that were used to write the main body of the academic paper, either directly as references and quotes, or indirectly as ideas.
👩🎓 Who uses an MLA Citation Generator?
MLA style is most often used by middle school and high school students in preparation for transition to college and further education. Ironically, MLA style is not actually used all that often beyond middle and high school, with APA (American Psychological Association) style being the favored style at colleges across the country.
It is also important at this level to learn why it's critical to cite sources, not just how to cite them.
🙌 Why should I use a Citation Generator?
Writing citations manually is time consuming and error prone. Automating this process with a citation generator is easy, straightforward, and gives accurate results. It's also easier to keep citations organized and in the correct order.
The Works Cited page contributes to the overall grade of a paper, so it is important to produce accurately formatted citations that follow the guidelines in the official MLA Handbook .
⚙️ How do I use MyBib's MLA Citation Generator?
It's super easy to create MLA style citations with our MLA Citation Generator. Scroll back up to the generator at the top of the page and select the type of source you're citing. Books, journal articles, and webpages are all examples of the types of sources our generator can cite automatically. Then either search for the source, or enter the details manually in the citation form.
The generator will produce a formatted MLA citation that can be copied and pasted directly into your document, or saved to MyBib as part of your overall Works Cited page (which can be downloaded fully later!).
MyBib supports the following for MLA style:
Daniel is a qualified librarian, former teacher, and citation expert. He has been contributing to MyBib since 2018.
MLA Citation Generator
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What is Cite This For Me’s Citation Generator?
Are you looking for an easy and reliable way to cite your sources in the MLA format? Look no further because Cite This For Me’s MLA citation generator is designed to remove the hassle of citing. You can use it to save valuable time by auto-generating all of your citations.
The Cite This For Me citation machine accesses information from across the web, assembling all of the relevant material into a fully-formatted works cited MLA format page that clearly maps out all of the sources that have contributed to your paper. Using a generator simplifies the frustrating citing process, allowing you to focus on what’s important: completing your assignment to the best of your ability.
Have you encountered an unusual source, such as a microfiche or a handwritten manuscript, and are unsure how to accurately cite this in the MLA format? Or are you struggling with the dozens of different ways to cite a book? If you need a helping hand with creating your citations, Cite This For Me’s accurate and powerful generator and handy MLA format template for each source type will help to get you one step closer to the finishing line.
Continue reading our handy style guide to learn how to cite like a pro. Find out exactly what a citation generator is, how to implement the MLA style in your writing, and how to organize and present your work according to the guidelines.
Popular MLA Citation Examples
- Archive material
- Book Chapter
- Dictionary entry
- E-book or PDF
- Image online or video
- Presentation or lecture
- Video, film, or DVD
Why Do I Need To Cite?
Whenever you use someone else’s ideas or words in your own work, even if you have paraphrased or completely reworded the information, you must give credit where credit is due to avoid charges of plagiarism. There are many reasons why.
First, using information from a credible source lends credibility to your own thesis or argument. Your writing will be more convincing if you can connect it to information that has been well-researched or written by a credible author. For example, you could argue that “dogs are smart“ based on your own experiences, but it would be more convincing if you could cite scientific research that tested the intelligence of dogs.
Second, you should cite sources because it demonstrates that you are capable of writing on an academic or professional level. Citations show that your writing was thoughtfully researched and composed, something that you would not find in more casual writing.
Lastly, and most importantly, citing is the ethical thing to do. Imagine that you spent months of your life on a paper: researching it, writing it, and revising it. It came out great and you received many compliments on your thesis and ideas. How would you feel if someone took those ideas (or even the whole paper) and turned them in as their own work without citations? You’d probably feel terrible.
All of the source material that has contributed to your work must be acknowledged with an MLA in-text citation (also known as a parenthetical citation ) and be featured in your works cited list as full references.
Create citations, whether manually or by using the Cite This For Me MLA citation generator, to maintain accuracy and consistency throughout your project.
Do I Have to Cite Everything?
When writing a research paper, any information used from another source needs to be cited. The only exceptions to this rule are everyday phrases (e.g., all the world’s a stage) and common knowledge (e.g., President Kennedy was killed in 1963).
Also, your own work does not need to be cited. That includes your opinions, ideas, and visuals (e.g., graphs, photos, etc.) you created. However, you do need to cite your own work if you have previously published it or used it in another assignment. Otherwise it’s considered self plagiarism . For example, submitting a paper that you wrote and already turned in for another class is still plagiarism, even though it is your own work.
If you have any doubts about whether or not something you’ve written requires a citation, it’s always better to cite the source. While it may be a tedious process without an MLA citation machine, attributing your research is essential in validating the statements and conclusions you make in your work. What’s more, drawing on numerous sources elevates your understanding of the topic, and accurately citing these sources reflects the impressive research journey that you have embarked on.
Consequences of Not Citing
The importance of crediting your sources goes far beyond ensuring that you don’t lose points on your assignment for citing incorrectly. Plagiarism, even when done unintentionally, can be a serious offense in both the academic and professional world.
If you’re a student, possible consequences include a failing assignment or class grade, loss of scholarship, academic probation, or even expulsion. If you plagiarize while writing professionally, you may suffer legal ramifications as well, such as fines, penalties, or lawsuits.
The consequences of plagiarism extend beyond just the person who plagiarized: it can result in the spread of misinformation. When work is copied and/or improperly cited, the facts and information presented can get misinterpreted, misconstrued, and mis-paraphrased. It can also be more difficult or impossible for readers and peers to check the information and original sources, making your work less credible.
What is the MLA Format?
The MLA format was developed by the Modern Language Association as a consistent way of documenting sources used in academic writing. It is a concise style predominantly used in the liberal arts and humanities, first and foremost in research focused on languages, literature, and culture. The 9th edition of the MLA Handbook has the most current format guidelines. It was updated to reflect the expanding digital world and how researchers and writers cite more online sources. You can find out more here .
It is important to present your work consistently, regardless of the style you are using. Accurately and coherently crediting your source material both demonstrates your attention to detail and enhances the credibility of your written work. The MLA format provides a uniform framework for consistency across a scholarly document, and caters to a large variety of sources. So, whether you are citing a website, an article, or even a podcast, the style guide outlines everything you need to know to correctly format all of your MLA citations.* The style also provides specific guidelines for formatting your research paper, and useful tips on the use of the English language in your writing.
Cite This For Me’s style guide is based on (but not associated with) the 9th edition of the Modern Language Association Handbook for Writers of Research Papers. Our MLA generator also uses the 9th edition – allowing you to shift focus from the formatting of your citations to what’s important – how each source contributes to your work.
MLA has been widely adopted by scholars, professors, journal publishers, and both academic and commercial presses across the world. However, many academic institutions and disciplines prefer a specific style of referencing (or have even developed their own unique format) so be sure to check which style you should be using with your professor. Cite This For Me supports citing in thousands of styles, so the odds are good that we have tools for the citation style you need. Whichever style you’re using, be consistent!
So, if you’re battling to get your citations finished in time, you’ve come to the right MLA citation website. The generator above will can cite any source in 7,000+ styles. So, whether your discipline uses the APA citation style, or your institution requires you to cite in the Chicago style citation , simply go to Cite This For Me’s website to find generators and style guides for ASA , IEEE , AMA and many more.
*You may need to cite a source type that is not covered by the format manual – for these instances we have developed additional guidance and MLA format examples, which we believe stick as closely as possible to the spirit of the style. It is clearly indicated where examples are not covered in the official handbook.
How Do I Create and Format MLA In-text Citations?
The MLA format is generally simpler than other referencing styles as it was developed to emphasize brevity and clarity. The style uses a straightforward two-part documentation system for citing sources: parenthetical citations in the author-page format that are keyed to an alphabetically ordered works cited page. This means that the author’s last name and the page number(s) from which the quotation or paraphrase is taken must appear in the text as a parenthetical citation, and a complete corresponding reference should appear in your works cited list.
Keep your MLA in-text citations brief, clear and accurate by only including the information needed to identify the sources. Furthermore, each parenthetical citation should be placed close to the idea or quote being cited, where a natural pause occurs – which is usually at the end of the sentence. Essentially you should be aiming to position your parenthetical citations where they minimize interruption to the reading flow, which is particularly important in an extensive piece of written work.
Check out the examples below…
Parenthetical citation examples:
- Page specified, author mentioned in text:
If the author’s name already appears in the sentence itself then it does not need to appear in the parentheses. Only the page number appears in the citation. Here’s an MLA format example:
Sontag has theorized that collecting photographs is a way “to collect the world” (3).
- Page specified, author not mentioned in text:
Include the author’s last name and the page number(s) from which the quotation or paraphrase is taken in a parenthetical citation after the quote. This way of citing foregrounds the information being cited.
“To collect photographs is to collect the world” (Sontag 3).
When the author is referred to more than once in the same paragraph, you may use a single MLA in-text citation at the end of the paragraph (as long as the work cannot be confused with others cited).
On Photography posits that “to collect photographs is to collect the world.” It intensifies that sentiment by saying photography “means putting oneself into a certain relation to the world that feels like knowledge—and, therefore, like power.” (Sontag 3, 4)
- Page specified, same author, different works:
If you are citing two works by the same author, you should put a comma after the author’s surname and add a shortened title to distinguish between them. Italicize book titles, put article titles within quotation marks. As with the above examples, if you mention the author in the text, they don’t need to be included in the parenthetical MLA citation.
In the line “Ask Benjy ef I did. I aint stud’in dat winder” ( The Sound 276), Faulkner employs spelling and diction to communicate the character background of Dilsey. He’s also seen doing this in other books. For example, “He kilt her.” ( As I Lay 54).
- Page specified, two authors, same last name:
In MLA citing, if there are two authors with the same surname, be sure to include their first initial in your citation to avoid confusion.
- Page specified, two authors, same work:
Each author’s name will be included in both the parenthetical and the full source reference in your MLA bibliography.
Crowley is in fact, the snake who convinced Eve to eat the apple in the Garden of Eden (Prattchett and Gaiman 4).
- Page specified, more than two authors, same work:
For any work with three authors or more, you’ll include the last name of the first author listed and the abbreviation “et al.” which is Latin for “and others.”
“The skills required to master high-stakes interactions are quite easy to spot and moderately easy to learn” (Patterson et al. 28).
- Websites and other online sources:
The MLA formatting examples below above are for information or quotes that have specified pages, usually from a book. If you are using information from a website or online source, the author rules below still apply but a page number is not needed. Instead, just include the first bit of identifiable information that will be shown in the source’s full reference (e.g., author name, video title, website name, etc.).
“Scientists speculate that this might be due to a large chunk of nickel and iron embedded beneath the crater – perhaps the remnants of the asteroid that created it” (Ravilious).
“There’s a flag on the flag; it’s bad design” (“In Defense of Bad Flags”)
Full citations/references MLA website citation:
One of the most common sources cited are websites, so it’s useful to know how to cite a website in MLA.
Ravilious, Kate. “Terrawatch: The Mysteries of the Moon’s Largest Crater.” The Guardian , 1 Oct 2019, www.theguardian.com/science/2019/oct/01/terrawatch-the-mysteries-of-the-moons-largest-crater.
Format for books:
Franke, Damon. Modernist Heresies: British Literary History, 1883-1924 . Ohio State UP, 2008.
Sontag, Susan. On Photography . Penguin, 2008.
MLA citation format for journal articles:
Stanton, Elizabeth Cady. “Progress of the American Woman.” The North American Review , vol. 171, no. 529, 1900, pp. 904–907. JSTOR , www.jstor.org/stable/25105100.
Format for online videos:
“In Defense of Bad Flags.” YouTube , uploaded by Vlogbrothers, 4 Oct. 2019, www.youtube.com/watch?v=AkpAe3_qmq0.
Works cited / bibliography example:
Unlike an MLA in-text citation, you must include all of the publication information in your works cited entries.
Franke, Damon. Modernist Heresies: British Literary History, 1883-1924. Ohio State UP, 2008.
There’s a lot of formatting needed when you cite. Luckily for you, we know where the commas go, and our MLA citation maker will help you put them there.
If citing is giving you a headache, use Cite This For Me’s free, accurate and intuitive MLA citation generator to add all of your source material to your works cited page with just a click.
How Do I Format My MLA Works Cited Page?
A works cited page is a comprehensive list of all the sources that directly contributed to your work – each entry links to the brief parenthetical citations in the main body of your work. An in-text citation MLA only contains enough information to enable readers to find the source in the works cited list, so you’ll need to include the complete publication information for the source in your works cited entries.
Your works cited page in MLA should appear at the end of the main body of text on a separate page. Each entry should start at the left margin and be listed alphabetically by the author’s last name (note that if there is no author, you can alphabetize by title). For entries that run for more than one line, indent the subsequent line(s) – this format is called a ‘hanging indentation.’
The title of the page should be neither italicized nor bold – it is simply center-aligned. Like the rest of your MLA format paper the list should be double-spaced, both between and within entries.
Sometimes your professor will ask you to also list the works that you have read throughout your research process, but didn’t directly cite in your paper. This list should be called ‘Work Cited and Consulted,’ and is an excellent opportunity to demonstrate the full extent of the research you have carried out.
As long as you clearly indicate all of your sources via both parenthetical citations and an MLA format works cited list, it is very unlikely that you will lose points for citing incorrectly.
Works cited examples:
Anderson, Benedict. Imagined Communities. Verso, 1983.
Fox, Claire F. The Fence and the River: Culture and Politics at the U.S.-Mexico Border. U of Minnesota P, 1999.
Sontag, Susan. On Photography. Penguin, 2008.
MLA Style Research
When you are gathering sources in your research phase, be sure to make note of the following bibliographical items that will later make up your works cited MLA.
- Name of original source owner: author, editor, translator, illustrator, or director …
- Titles: article or newspaper title, title of publication, series title …
- Important dates: date of publication, date of composition, issue date, event date, date accessed …
- Publishing information: publisher name
- Identifying information: number of volumes, volume number, issue number, edition, chapter, pages, lines …
If you’re still in your research phase, why not try out Cite This For Me for Chrome? It’s an intuitive and easy-to-use browser extension that enables you to instantly create and edit a citation for any online source while you browse the web.
Racing against the clock? If your deadline has crept up on you and you’re running out of time, the Cite This For Me MLA citation maker will collect and add any source to your bibliography with just a click.
In today’s digital age, source material comes in all shapes and sizes. Thanks to the Cite This For Me citation generator, citing is no longer a chore. The citation generator will help you accurately and easily cite any type of source in a heartbeat, whether it be a musical score, a work of art, or even a comic strip. Cite This For Me helps to elevate a student’s research to the next level by enabling them to cite a wide range of sources.
MLA Citation Formatting Guidelines
Accurately citing sources for your assignment doesn’t just prevent the appearance of or accusations of plagiarism – presenting your source material in a clear and consistent way also ensures that your work is accessible to your reader. So, whether you’re following the MLA format citation guidelines or using the Cite This For Me citation generator, be sure to abide by the presentation rules on font type, margins, page headers, and line spacing.
For research papers, an MLA cover page or title page is not required. Still, some instructors request an MLA title page. In these cases, ask your instructor for an example of a title page so you know the format they want.
Instead of a cover page, headings are used on a paper’s first page to indicate details like the author’s name, instructor’s name, the class, and date written. Read on for more details.
General page and header formatting:
To format your research paper according to the MLA guidelines:
- Set the margins to 1 inch (or 2.5 cm) on all sides
- Choose an easily readable font, recommended Times New Roman
- Set font size to 12 point
- Set double space for your entire paper
- Indent every new paragraph by ½ inch – you can simply use your tab bar for this
- In the header section – on the top right corner of the pages – give your last name followed by the respective page number
For your headings (which replace the need for a cover page), do the following:
- On the first page, ensure that the text is left-aligned and then give your details: starting with your full name in line one, followed by the name of your teacher or professor, the course name and number, and the date in separate lines
- Center align your MLA format heading for the paper’s title – do not italicize, bold or underline, or use a period after the title
- The body of your text should start in the next line, left-aligned with an indentation
You’ll also need to include a running head on each page. It should include your last name and the page number. For example: Johnson 2. Place the running head in the upper right-hand corner of the paper, ½ inches from the top and 1 inch from the page’s right edge.
MLA Style 9th Edition - Changes From Previous Editions
It is worth bearing in mind that the MLA format is constantly evolving to meet the various challenges facing today’s researchers. Using the Cite This For Me citation generator will help you to stay ahead of the game without having to worry about the ways in which the style has changed.
Below is a list outlining the key ways in which MLA has developed since previous editions.
- Titles of independent works (such as books and periodicals) are now italicized rather than underlined .
- You are encouraged to include a source’s URL when citing a source from the internet, and you should no longer include “https://” at the beginning of the URL with the exception of DOIs.
- You are no longer required to include medium information at the end of your citation, i.e., Print, Web, etc.
- Including the city of publication is optional, and only encouraged if the version of the work changes based on location, or if it was published prior to 1900.
How Do I Cite My Sources With The Cite This For Me Citation Machine MLA?
If you’re frustrated by the time-consuming process of citing, the Cite This For Me multi-platform citation management tool will transform the way you conduct your research. Using this fast, accurate and accessible generator will give you more time to work on the content of your paper, so you can spend less time worrying about tedious references.
So if you’re having issues with accurately formatting your citations, sign up to Cite This For Me and let our MLA format generator do the grunt work for you.
To use the generator:
- Choose the type of source you would like to cite (e.g., website, book, journal & video)
- Enter the URL , DOI , ISBN , title, or other unique source information to locate your source
- Click the ‘Search’ button to begin looking for your source
- Look through the search results and click the ‘Cite’ button next to the correct source. Cite This For Me citation tool will automatically pull your sources data for you!
- Review the citation details and make sure that everything you need is included and accurate
- Click ‘Complete citation’
- Copy your fully-formatted citation into your MLA works cited list</li/>
- Repeat the same process for each source that has contributed to your work
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Published October 1, 2015. Updated June 16, 2021.
There are many consequences for not providing a correct citation in MLA style. The biggest consequence is that without proper citations, your paper will lose marks for incorrect citations. In addition, your paper can also be considered plagiarism. The responsibility for using proper citations rests with the author of the paper. Failing to properly cite your sources implies that the information in the paper is solely yours when it is not.
While some instructors might be lenient about incorrect citations, others might not. Ultimately, this could land you in serious trouble with your school, organization, or institution. To avoid such issues, always ensure that you provide proper citations. If you are finding it difficult to provide proper citations, Chegg’s citation generator may help.
When citing multiple works by the same author, include the title (or a shortened version of the title) along with the author’s last name and page number in in-text citations.
You can include the author’s name and/or the title in the prose, or you can include all three pieces of information in the parenthetical citation.
(Last Name, Shortened Title page number)
(Sam, Notes to Live By 42)
(Sam, Pointers From a Friend 85)
If you’d like to shorten a title in parenthetical citations, the title can be condensed to the first noun phrase. In the examples above, the titles would be shortened to Notes and Pointers in the parenthetical citations.
When using MLA style to cite a source with two authors, the last names of both authors and the page number being referenced should be included in in-text citations. The names should be listed in the same order in which they appear on the works cited list and be separated by the word “and” in parenthetical citations. If mentioning the authors in the prose, be sure to use both authors’ first and last names on first reference.
Below are a template and example for how to create an in-text citation for a source with two authors in MLA style.
(Last Name 1 and Last Name 2 page number)
(Prusty and Patel 75)
When using MLA style to cite a source with more than two authors, include the last name of the first author listed on your works cited page along with “et. al” and the page number in your in-text citations.
You should only use “et. al” in your works cited list and parenthetical citations. If you include the authors’ names in your prose instead, you can list all the authors’ names or the name of the first author and a phrase like “and her co-authors,” “and others,” etc.
Below are a template and example for how to create an in-text citation for a source with more than two authors in MLA style.
(Author 1 Last Name et al. page number)
(Krishnaswamy et al. 75)
Sources may be cited for various reasons, including to provide credit to others’ ideas, to ensure that readers can find the right sources, and to improve a paper’s credibility. There are some situations when a citation might not be necessary. To avoid ambiguity, here are the situations in which you should include a citation in an MLA style paper:
- When you are directly quoting an expert or other source of information
- When you are paraphrasing a quotation, passage, or idea
- When you are summarizing another person’s ideas
- When you are specifically referencing a fact, phrase, or statistics found in another source
Things that may be considered common knowledge (like dates of historical events or widely known biographical facts) do not need to be cited. However, if you are unsure whether or not a source needs to be cited, it is always better to err on the side of caution and include a citation.
As per MLA standards, a title page is NOT required. In fact, MLA recommends using a header with all relevant information instead, including your name, instructor’s name, course name, date of submission, and title. However, when your instructor requires a title page or when you are authoring your paper as a group with other people, it is recommended to create a title page for your paper.
If you are creating a title page, you should include the below information:
- Name of the paper’s author(s)
- Names of the instructor(s)
- Course name and number
- Title of the paper
Since websites don’t usually have page numbers, include only the author’s last name within parentheses using the standard MLA format. If using a citation in prose, directly referring to the author’s name in the sentence, then there is no need to provide any additional parenthetical citation.
Plastics contribute to the single greatest pollutant source for oceans (Shimla).
Shimla states that plastics are the oceans’ greatest pollutant source. [No additional citation is needed since you include the author’s name in the citation in prose and there is no page number available.]
As per section 1.3 of the MLA 9 handbook, center the title of a paper and use double-spacing. Do NOT underline, italicize, bold, or use all capitals for the title. Instead, follow standard rules of capitalization. Any italicized words within the text (e.g., book titles or literary movements) would ALSO be italicized in the title. Don’t use a period after your paper’s title.
Usually, you nclude the paper title on your first page. Only when the instructor needs a specific title page or when the paper is a group paper necessitating a list of all authors should you provide a separate title page. Apart from these two situations, a title page is NOT required.
Below are some examples when you would need to italicize words in the title because they include names of books and/or literary movements.
Perspective Shift during the Baroque Period
Is Macbeth Relevant in 2022 and Beyond?
While the MLA handbook recommends using “an easily readable typeface” and a font size “between 11 and 13,” it also clarifies to follow a professor’s or instructor’s guidelines if they differ. The handbook advises using double-spacing and the same font and size throughout the paper.
Check with your instructor on their preferences, and in the absence of any such preference, use a decent and readable font, like Times New Roman, with font size 12, which is a good balance between readability and aesthetics. The most important thing is to use the same font and size consistently throughout your paper.
As per Sections 5 and 6 of the MLA 9 handbook, if you are referring multiple times to a single source in the same paragraph, you do not need to repeat the author’s name each time you make a reference. However, you must include the page number(s), or another applicable locator, if you are referring to different pages of the same source in the same paragraph. In the examples below, it is clear in the second sentence that you’re citing the same source, so you don’t need to include the author name again, only the page number you’re referring to.
However, if you quote or paraphrase a different source by a different author between mentions of a source by the same author in the same paragraph, you need to reintroduce the source and original author name to clarify who you’re citing.
Citation in Prose Example
According to Theodore Garner, “It is evident that Caucasian males have a proclivity toward thrift than their African counterparts” (352). This can be seen from the high saving levels over a decade (345).
Parenthetical Citation Example
“It is evident that Caucasian males have a proclivity toward thrift than their African counterparts” (Garner 352). This can be seen from the high saving levels over a decade (345).
If referring to different sources by the same author(s), include the source’s title in your in-text citation, so readers know which source you are referring to. You can style such citations in various ways, as shown below. The style remains the same for works with more than one author.
Example with the author’s name and the title in the citation in prose
Howitzer says it best when he talked about the Moonmakers in his poem (23). Howitzer does contradict himself at a later point in time in Sunchanters (46).
Example with the author’s name in prose and the title in a parenthetical citation
Shakespeare writes pessimistically about existence from Hamlet’s point of view (Hamlet 103) . In another work, Shakespeare writes, “Life is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing” ( Macbeth 55).
Example with the author’s name and the title in the parenthetical citation
A similar pessimism about existence is present in other works, for instance when Hamlet contemplates suicide (Shakespeare, Hamlet 103). Macbeth similarly claims, “Life is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing” (Shakespeare, Macbeth 55).
To format an MLA works-cited page, follow these fundamental steps:
Place the works-cited list at the end of the paper and after any endnotes, should they be used.
Set a one-inch margin all around (top, bottom, left, and right). Like the prose portion of the paper, use a left margin, not a justified margin.
Place a running head on the right side of the page in the one-inch header, one-half inch from the top of the page. The running head format includes Surname and page #. The page number continues from the last page of the prose portion of the paper.
Use an easily readable font in which the italics feature is clearly distinguishable. Use the same font as in the prose portion of the paper. Times New Roman and Helvetica are popular standard fonts. Use a font size between 11 and 13 points.
Title the heading “Works Cited”; do not use bold or italics. Align it to the center of the page. Then double-space to begin the first entry. Double-space throughout the page.
Begin the entries flush with the left margin. Indent the second and subsequent lines of each entry one-half inch from the left margin.
Arrange the Works-cited-list entries alphabetically according to the name of the author, or title if there is no author. If there is more than one author, cite the author listed first on the title page of the work in the alphabetical entry.
A separate medium identification, such as “Print,” is no longer used; however, the medium usually can be identified by the information provided in the citation.
Gann, Ernest K. A Hostage to Fortune . Alfred A. Knopf, 1978.
Invest Answers [@InvestAnswers]. “Taking another run at $45,000.” Twitter , 2 Mar. 2022, twitter.com/invest_answers/status/1499033186734542850.
To include the URL in website citation in MLA style, copy the URL from the browser, but exclude the http:// or https:// unless it is used in a DOI. If the work has a DOI, it is used instead of the URL.
Woldermont, Slat. “Sharks Impacted by Great Atlantic Garbage.” The Atlantic Cleanup , 4 May 2020, www.theatlanticcleanup.com/updates/sharks-impacted-by-Great-Atlantic-Garbage.
Saunders, Judith P. “Philosophy and Fitness: Hemingway’s ‘A Clean, Well-Lighted Place’ and The Sun Also Rises .” American Classics: Evolutionary Perspectives , Academic Studies Press, 2018, pp. 204–25, https://doi.org/10.2307/j.ctv4v3226.15.
The 6 th , 7 th , 8 th , and 9 th editions of MLA style are available on the Cite This For Me citation generator . The default MLA edition is the 9 th edition, the most current edition.
For a webpage/website, journal article, or book, you’ll need 1-2 pieces of basic publication information. For example:
- Website : URL, page title, etc.
- Journal article : Article title, DOI number, author(s), etc.
- Book : Book title, author, date published, etc.
Using those pieces of information, you can search for the source in the Cite This For Me MLA citation generator and it will help you to create a citation.
Other source types (newspaper article, video, government document, etc.) will provide a form on which you provide all source information. Using that information, the citation generator will create a properly formatted MLA citation for you.
Omitting or making up sources are unethical actions that can lead to plagiarism. An MLA citation generator can help a writer create citations for their sources, which is an ethical step needed to avoid plagiarism.
An MLA citation generator can make it easier (and sometimes faster) for a writer to create citations versus manually making each citation. We recommend trying the Cite This For Me MLA citation generator and deciding for yourself.
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Your Works Cited page in MLA
- A closer look at MLA's core elements
In-text citations in MLA
Formatting your paper in mla, helpful resources on mla style, the ultimate guide to citing in mla.
The MLA citation style was developed by the Modern Language Association of America, an association of scholars and teachers of language and literature.
The MLA publishes several academic journals, and the MLA Handbook , a citation guide for high school and undergrad students. The MLA Handbook provides guidelines for writing and documenting research, as well as tips for the use of the English language in your writing.
MLA is a very popular citation style. However, if you are unsure which citation style to use in your paper, ask your instructor. There are many different citation styles and using the style your instructor or institution has established correctly can have a positive impact on your grade.
This guide is based on the 9th edition of the MLA Handbook and aims at helping you cite correctly in MLA. The MLA Handbook provides guidelines for a large variety of sources and uses a two-part documentation system for citing sources:
- in-text parenthetical citations (author, page)
- a reference list at the end of paper with all literature used in text.
Each source that was cited in the text or notes of your paper should appear in a list at the end of the paper. MLA calls the reference list a "Works Cited" page.
I want to cite a ...
Your Works Cited list identifies the sources you cite in the body of your research project. Works that you consult during your research, but don't use and cite in your paper, are not included. Your Works Cited list is ordered alphabetically by the part of the author's name that comes first in each entry.
Entries in the list of works cited are made up of core elements given in a specific order, and there are optional elements that may be included. The core elements in your works cited list are the following, given in the order in which they should appear, followed by the correct punctuation mark. The final element in an MLA reference should end with a period:
- Title of source.
- Title of container,
- Publication date,
To use this template of core elements, first evaluate what you are citing to see which elements apply to the source. Then list each element relevant to your source in the order given on the template. For a work containing another work (e.g. an article published in a journal and contained in a database), you can repeat the process by filling out the template again from Title of container to Location , listing all elements that apply to the container.
Step-by-step guide to create a Works Cited entry
Let's try this with a journal article. If you wanted to cite the article , “What Should We Do with a Doctor Here?”: Medical Authority in Austen’s Sanditon ," from the journal, Nineteenth-Century Contexts , the process would look like this:
- First, you would determine the author. In this case, that's Amy Mallory-Kani. so the first part of your reference would be: Mallory-Kani, Amy.
- Next, you'd want to include the title of the source in quotation marks, followed by a period: “What Should We Do with a Doctor Here?”: Medical Authority in Austen’s Sanditon."
- After the title of the source, you need to list the container. In this case, it's the journal's name, Nineteenth-Century Contexts , italicized and followed by a comma.
- For journal articles, the title of the container needs to be followed by version, or the volume number of the journal, separated by a comma from the issue number: vol. 39, no. 4,
- Since there is not typically a publisher listed for journal articles, the next step is to include the date, followed by a comma: 2017,
- Finally, you'll end your reference by adding the page numbers for the article, followed by an ending period: pp. 313-26.
If we put this all together, the full reference will look like this:
EXAMPLE Journal article
Mallory-Kani, Amy. “'What Should We Do with a Doctor Here?': Medical Authority in Austen’s Sanditon ”. Nineteenth-Century Contexts , vol. 39, no. 4, 2017, pp. 313-26.
MLA has a specific rule about how to structure page numbers in a works cited entry. Use pp. and then list the number. If the page range is within ten or one hundred digits, you don't need to repeat the first digit. For example, you would write pp. 51-8 or pp. 313-26.
The following section takes a deeper look at the core elements of an MLA works cited entry to help you get your citation right.
A closer look at MLA's core elements
When formatting the author element, make sure to follow these guidelines:
- When a work is published without an author's name, do not list it as Anonymous . Skip the author element instead and begin with the Title of source .
- Begin the entry with the last name of the author, so it can be alphabetized under this name. Follow the last name with a comma and the rest of the name as presented by the work.
- When a source has two authors, include them in the order in which they are presented in the work. Reverse the first of the names as described above.
- When a source has three or more authors, reverse the first of the names as described above and follow it with a comma and the abbreviation, et al.
EXAMPLE Source with two authors
Gabrielle, Matthew, and David M. Perry. The Bright Ages: A New History of Medieval Europe . Harper, 2021.
In the Title of Source element, you list the title of the work you are citing:
EXAMPLE Title of Source element
Cox, Taylor. Creating the Multicultural Organization: A Strategy for Capturing the Power of Diversity . Jossey-Bass, 2001.
In general, titles in your Works Cited list are given in full exactly as they are found in the source, except that capitalization, punctuation between the main title and a subtitle, and the styling of titles that normally appear in italic typeface are standardized. The Title of Source element is followed by a period unless the title ends in a question mark or exclamation point.
A container in the context of the MLA template is a work that contains another work. An example of a container can be:
- A periodical, such as a journal, magazine or newspaper is the container of an article published there.
- A website or database can be the container of a post, a review, a song, a film, or other media.
- An art exhibit is the container of an artwork featured in it.
In the example below, the Journal of Postsecondary Education and Disability is the container of the article “Vocabulary Knowledge of Deaf and Hearing Postsecondary Students”:
EXAMPLE Title of Container
Sarchet, Thomastine, et al. “Vocabulary Knowledge of Deaf and Hearing Postsecondary Students.” Journal of Postsecondary Education and Disability , vol. 27, no. 2, Summer 2014, pp. 161–178.
Importantly, a website or a database is not always automatically the container of a work that can be found there. If you click on a Facebook link that takes you to a New York Times article, Facebook is not the container of the article, but the New York Times website is. Be careful to make the distinction here.
The title of Container is normally italicized and followed by a comma.
People, groups, and organizations can be contributors to a work without being its primary creator. There can be a primary author, but a work can also be created by a group of people. Key contributors should always be listed in your entry. Other contributors can be listed on a case-by-case basis. Whenever you list a contributor, include a label describing the role. These kinds of contributors should always be listed in your entry:
- editors responsible for scholarly editions and anthologies
- editors responsible for edited collections of works by various primary authors from which you cite an individual contribution
EXAMPLE Translator of a work with a primary author
Chartier, Roger. The Order of Books: Readers, Authors, and Libraries in Europe between the Fourteenth and Eighteenth Centuries. Translated by Lydia G. Cochrane, Stanford UP, 1994.
It may be necessary to include other types of contributors if they shaped the overall presentation of the work. Use labels (in lowercase) to describe the contributor's role, such as:
- translated by
EXAMPLE Creator of a television show
"Strike Up the Band." The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel , created by Amy Sherman-Palladino, season 3, episode 1, Amazon Studios, 2019.
When a source has three or more contributors in the same role, list the first contributor, followed by et al.
EXAMPLE Three or more contributors
Balibar, Étienne. Politics and the Other Scene . Translated by Christine Jones et al., Verso, 2002.
If a source is a version of a work released in more than one form, you need to identify the version in your entry. For example, books are commonly issued in versions called editions .
When citing versions in your Works Cited list, write original numbers with arabic numerals and no superscript. Abbreviate revised (rev.) and edition (ed.) .
EXAMPLE Edition of a work
Black, Joseph, et al., editors. The Broadview Anthology of British Literature: The Victorian Era . 3rd ed., Broadview, 2021.
The source you are documenting may be part of a sequence, like a volume, issue, or episode. Include that number in your entry:
EXAMPLE Work with a number
Warren, R., et al. “The Projected Effect on Insects, Vertebrates, and Plants of Limiting Global Warming to 1.5°C Rather than 2°C.” Science (New York, N.Y.) , vol. 360, no. 6390, 2018, pp. 791–795, doi:10.1126/science.aar3646.
Always use arabic numerals in the Number element. If necessary, convert roman numerals or spelled out numerals to arabic numerals.
The publisher is the entity primarily responsible for making the work available to the public. The publisher element may include the following:
- book publisher
- studio, network, company, or distributor that produced or broadcast a television show
- institution responsible for creating website content
- agency that produced government publication
A publisher's name may be omitted when there is none, or when it doesn't need to be given, for example in:
- some periodicals (when publication is ongoing)
- works published by their authors or editors (self-published)
- websites not involved in producing the content they make available (e.g. Youtube)
This element tells your reader when the version of the book you are citing was published. In the example below, the book was published in 2018:
EXAMPLE Publication date
Lavelle, Christophe, editor. Molecular Motors: Methods and Protocols. 2nd ed., Humana Press, 2018, doi:10.1007/978-1-4939-8556-2.
If roman numerals are used, convert them to arabic numerals. Use the day-month-year style to minimize commas in your entry and use the most specific date you can find in your source. Include day, month, and year if your source does:
EXAMPLE Specific Publication date
Merrill, Stephen. "Teaching through a Pandemic: A Mindset for This Moment." Edutopia , 19 Mar. 2020, www.edutopia.org/article/teaching-through-pandemic-mindset-moment.
When time is given and helps define and locate the work, include it.
For paginated print or similar formats (e.g. PDFs), the location is the page range. In other cases, additional information may need to be included with the page numbers so that the work can be found. In this overview, you can see examples for locations:
As mentioned above, Works Cited list entries in MLA style are based on the template of core elements. In some cases, you may need or want to give additional information relevant to the work you are documenting. You can do so by adding supplements to the template. There are two sections where you can add supplements, either:
- after the Title of Source, or
- at the end of the entry.
A period should be placed after a supplemental element. Three pieces of information are the most likely to be placed after the Title of Source:
- A contributor other than the author
- The original publication date (for a work contained in another work)
- Generically labeled sections (if any part or section of the work has a unique title as well as generic label)
For example, inserting the contributors' roles and names after the Title of Source element tells the reader that Leila El Khalidi and Christopher Tingley translated only The Singing of the Stars , not all the other works in Short Arabic Plays :
EXAMPLE Supplemental elements
Fagih, Ahmed Ibrahim al-. The Singing of the Stars . Translated by Leila El Khalidi and Christopher Tingley. Short Arabic Plays: An Anthology , edited by Salma Khadra Jayyusi, Interlink Books, 2003, pp. 140-57.
If you need to clarify something about the entry as a whole, you can do it at the end of the entry , like:
- Date of access
- Medium of publication (when more than one version of a source is accessible on the same landing page and you are citing a version that is not the default version)
- Dissertations and theses
- Publication history
- Book series
- Columns, sections, and other recurring titled features
- Multivolume works
- Government documents
EXAMPLE Government documents
United States, Congress, House. Improving Broadband Access for Veterans Act of 2016. Congress.gov , www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/house-bill/6394/text. 114th Congress, 2nd session, House Resolution 6394, passed 6 Dec. 2016.
How to use Bibguru for MLA citations
In-text citations aim at directing the reader to the entry in your Works Cited list for the source. while creating the least possible interruption in the text. An in-text citation usually contains the author's name (or other first element in the entry in the works cited list) and a page number. The page number usually goes in a parenthesis, placed where there is a natural pause in the text.
A parenthetical citation that directly follows a quotation is placed after the closing quotation mark. No punctuation is used between the author's name (or the title) and a page number:
EXAMPLE Parenthetical citation
“It's silly not to hope. It's a sin he thought.” (Hemingway 96)
The author's name can appear in the text itself or before the page number in the parenthesis:
Cox names five strategies to implement Diversity Management in companies (50).
Here are some additional examples of in-text citations and their corresponding Works Cited entries:
EXAMPLE Citation in prose using author's name
Smith argues that Jane Eyre is a "feminist Künstlerroman " that narrativizes a woman's struggle to write herself into being (86).
Jane Eyre is a "feminist Künstlerroman " that narrativizes a woman's struggle to write herself into being (Smith 86).
EXAMPLE Works cited
Smith, Jane. Feminist Self-Definition in the Nineteenth-Century Novel . Cambridge UP, 2001.
How to correctly style your in-text citations
- If you are citing an author in your paper, give the full name at first mention and the last name alone thereafter.
- If you are citing a work with two authors, include both first and last names the first time you mention them in your paper. Then, in a following parenthetical citation, connect the two last names with and .
- If the source has three or more authors, you may list all the names or provide the name of the first collaborator followed by "and others" or "and colleagues". In a parenthetical citation, list the last name of the first author and et al .
Ditch the frustrations for stress-free citations
The MLA Handbook also provides guidelines on how to present your paper in a clear and consistent way. These are the general guidelines to format your paper correctly , according to MLA. For more details, refer to the MLA Handbook :
- Use a legible font (e.g. Times New Roman). Font size should be 12 pt.
- Set the margins of your document to 1 inch on all sides.
- Double-space the entire text of your paper.
- Leave only one space after periods or other punctuation marks.
- Indent every new paragraph one half-inch from the left margin. You can use your tab bar for this.
- Create a header that numbers all pages consecutively in the upper right-hand corner, one half-inch from the top and flush with the right margin.
- Use italics for the titles of longer works.
- Do not make a title page for your paper unless specifically required.
- On the first page, make sure that the text is left-aligned. Then, list your name, the name of your teacher or professor, the course name and the date in separate lines.
- Center align your heading. Do not italicize, bold, or underline your title. Also, do not use a period after the title.
The MLA Handbook gives guidance for a multitude of different sources, like websites, television series, songs, articles, comic books, etc., and considers various types of contributors to these sources. BibGuru's MLA citation generator helps you create the fastest and most accurate MLA citations possible. If you want to learn more about MLA citations, check out our detailed MLA citation guides .
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More Bibguru MLA guides
Resources based on the 9th edition of the MLA Handbook
- Purdue University Online Writing Lab (OWL)
- California State University, Northridge Library MLA Style Guide
- Columbia College Library MLA Style Guide
- McMaster University Library MLA Style Guide
- Spartanburg Community College Library MLA Style Guide
- Madison College Libraries MLA Style Guide
- California State University, Dominguez Hills Library MLA Style Guide
- University of Wisconsin-Parkside Library MLA Style Guide
The following resources are based on the 8th edition of the MLA Handbook , but still offer relevant insights on MLA style
- University of Washington Libraries MLA Style Guide
- University of North Texas Libraries MLA Style Guide
- Valencia College Library MLA Style Guide
- College of Southern Nevada Libraries MLA Style Guide
- University of Nevada, Reno Libraries MLA Style Guide
- Montana State University Library MLA Style Guide
- University of Michigan Library MLA Style Guide
- University of Vermont Libraries MLA Style Guide
- University of Illinois Library MLA Style Guide
- Hillsborough Community College Libraries MLA Style Guide
- Southern Connecticut State University Library MLA Style Guide
- Arizona State University Library MLA Style Guide
An in-text citation usually contains the author's name (or other first element in the entry in the works cited list) and a page number. The page number usually goes in a parenthesis, placed where there is a natural pause in the text.
In MLA style, audio-visual material uses the specific time of the audio/video for in-text citations. You need to cite the author's last name and the time or a short version of the title and the time within parentheses, e.g.:
The following scene exemplifies the performer's physical abilities (Thurman 00:15:43-00:20:07).
Anyone can use MLA style given its versatility. However, this format is often used by writers and students working in the arts and humanities, such as linguistics, literature, and history.
Yes, the BibGuru MLA citation generator is completely free and ready to use by students and writers adopting MLA guidelines.
The most recent version of the MLA guidelines is the 9th edition of the MLA Handbook, released in 2021. It is still very new so you should check with your instructor or institution to make sure you're using the right version.
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A Short Guide to MLA Format Citations
How to create mla format citations, how to write a full mla citation.
How to write an in-text MLA citation
MLA Format Citations vs. Other Formats
How to cite (almost) anything in mla format, strong writing, proper citations, good grades.
Home / Guides / Citation Guides / MLA Format / MLA In-text Citations
MLA In-Text Citations
An in-text citation is a reference to a source that is found within the text of a paper ( Handbook 227). This tells a reader that an idea, quote, or paraphrase originated from a source. MLA in-text citations usually include the last name of the author and the location of cited information.
This guide focuses on how to create MLA in-text citations, such as citations in prose and parenthetical citations in the current MLA style, which is in its 9th edition. This style was created by the Modern Language Association . This guide reviews MLA guidelines but is not related directly to the association.
Table of Contents
Here’s a quick rundown of the contents of this guide on how to use in-text citations.
- Why in-text citations are important
- Prose vs parenthetical in-text citation differences
- Parenthetical citation reference chart
In-text citation examples
- In-text citation with two authors
- In-text citation with 3+ authors
- In-text citation with no authors
- In-text citation with corporate authors
- In-text citation with edited books and anthologies
- In-text citation with no page numbers and online sources
- Citing the same sources multiple times
- Citing 2+ sources in the same in-text citation
- Citing multiple works by the same author in the same in-text citation
- Abbreviating titles
- Citing religious works and scriptures
- Citing long or block quotes
Why are in-text citations important?
- Give full credit to sources that are quoted and paraphrased in a work/paper.
- Help the writer avoid plagiarism.
- Are a signal that the information came from another source.
- Tell the reader where the information came from.
In-text citation vs. in-prose vs. parenthetical
An in-text citation is a general citation of where presented information came from. In MLA, an in-text citation can be displayed in two different ways:
- In the prose
- As a parenthetical citation
While the two ways are similar, there are slight differences. However, for both ways, you’ll need to know how to format page numbers in MLA .
Citation in prose
An MLA citation in prose is when the author’s name is used in the text of the sentence. At the end of the sentence, in parentheses, is the page number where the information was found.
Here is an example
When it comes to technology, King states that we “need to be comfortable enough with technology tools and services that we can help point our patrons in the right direction, even if we aren’t intimately familiar with how the device works” (11).
This MLA citation in prose includes King’s name in the sentence itself, and this specific line of text was taken from page 11 of the journal it was found in.
An MLA parenthetical citation is created when the author’s name is NOT in the sentence. Instead, the author’s name is in parentheses after the sentence, along with the page number.
Here is an MLA parenthetical citation example
When it comes to technology, we “need to be comfortable enough with technology tools and services that we can help point our patrons in the right direction, even if we aren’t intimately familiar with how the device works” (King 11).
In the above example, King’s name is not included in the sentence itself, so his name is in parentheses after the sentence, with 11 for the page number. The 11 indicates that the quote is found on page 11 in the journal.
For every source that is cited using an in-text citation, there is a corresponding full reference. This allows readers to track down the original source.
At the end of the assignment, on the MLA works cited page , is the full reference. The full reference includes the full name of the author, the title of the article, the title of the journal, the volume and issue number, the date the journal was published, and the URL where the article was found.
Here is the full reference for King’s quote
King, David Lee. “Why Stay on Top of Technology Trends?” Library Technology Reports , vol. 54, no. 2, Feb.-Mar. 2018, ezproxy.nypl.org/login?url=//search-proquest-com.i.ezproxy.nypl.org/docview/2008817033?accountid=35635.
Readers can locate the article online via the information included above.
The next section of this guide focuses on how to structure an MLA in-text citation and reference in parentheses in various situations.
A narrative APA in-text citation and APA parenthetical citation are somewhat similar but have some minor differences. Check out our helpful guides, and others, on EasyBib.com!
Wondering how to handle these types of references in other styles? Check out our page on APA format , or choose from more styles .
Parenthetical Citation Reference Chart
Sources with two authors.
There are many books, journal articles, magazine articles, reports, and other source types written or created by two authors.
When a source has two authors, place both authors’ last names in the body of your work ( Handbook 232). The last names do not need to be listed in alphabetical order. Instead, follow the same order as shown on the source.
In an MLA in-text citation, separate the two last names with the word “and.” After both authors’ names, add a space and the page number where the original quote or information is found on.
Here is an example of an MLA citation in prose for a book with two authors
Gaiman and Pratchett further elaborate by sharing their creepy reminder that “just because it’s a mild night doesn’t mean that dark forces aren’t abroad. They’re abroad all of the time. They’re everywhere” (15).
Here is an example of an MLA parenthetical citation for a book with two authors
Don’t forget that “just because it’s a mild night doesn’t mean that dark forces aren’t abroad. They’re abroad all of the time. They’re everywhere” (Gaiman and Pratchett 15).
If you’re still confused, check out EasyBib.com’s MLA in-text citation generator, which allows you to create MLA in-text citations and other types of references in just a few clicks!
If it’s an APA book citation you’re looking to create, we have a helpful guide on EasyBib.com. While you’re at it, check out our APA journal guide!
Sources With Three or More Authors
There are a number of sources written or created by three or more authors. Many research studies and reports, scholarly journal articles, and government publications are developed by three or more individuals.
If you included the last names of all individuals in your MLA in-text citations or in parentheses, it would be too distracting to the reader. It may also cause the reader to lose sight of the overall message of the paper or assignment. Instead of including all last names, only include the last name of the first individual shown on the source. Follow the first author’s last name with the Latin phrase, “et al.” This Latin phrase translates to “and others.” Add the page number after et al.
Here’s an example of an MLA parenthetical citation for multiple authors
“School library programs in Croatia and Hong Kong are mainly focused on two major educational tasks. One task is enhancing students’ general literacy and developing reading habits, whereas the other task is developing students’ information literacy and research abilities” (Tam et al. 299).
The example above only includes the first listed author’s last name. All other authors are credited when “et al.” is used. If the reader wants to see the other authors’ full names, the reader can refer to the final references at the end of the assignment or to the full source.
The abbreviation et al. is used with references in parentheses, as well as in full references. To include the authors’ names in prose, you can either write each name out individually or, you can type out the meaning of et al., which is “and others.”
Here is an acceptable MLA citation in prose example for sources with more than three authors
School library programming in Croatia and Hong Kong is somewhat similar to programming in the United States. Tam, Choi, Tkalcevic, Dukic, and Zheng share that “school library programs in Croatia and Hong Kong are mainly focused on two major educational tasks. One task is enhancing students’ general literacy and developing reading habits, whereas the other task is developing students’ information literacy and research abilities” (299).
If your instructor’s examples of how to do MLA in-text citations for three or more authors looks different than the example here, your instructor may be using an older edition of this style. To discover more about previous editions, learn more here .
Need some inspiration for your research project? Trying to figure out the perfect topic? Check out our Dr. Seuss , Marilyn Monroe , and Malcolm X topic guides!
Sources Without an Author
It may seem unlikely, but there are times when an author’s name isn’t included on a source. Many digital images, films and videos, encyclopedia articles, dictionary entries, web pages, and more do not have author names listed.
If the source you’re attempting to cite does not have an author’s name listed, the MLA in-text citation or parenthetical citation should display the title. If the title is rather long, it is acceptable to shorten it in the body of your assignment. If you choose to shorten the title, make sure the first word in the full citation is also the first word used in the citation in prose or parenthetical citation. This is done to allow the reader to easily locate the full citation that corresponds with the reference in the text.
If, in the Works Cited list, the full reference has the title within quotation marks, include those quotation marks in the in-text citation or reference in parentheses. If the title is written in italics in the full reference, use italics for the title in the in-text citation or reference in parentheses as well.
Parenthetical Citations MLA Examples
The example below is from a poem found online, titled “the last time.” the poem’s author is unknown..
“From the moment you hold your baby in your arms you will never be the same. You might long for the person you were before, when you had freedom and time and nothing in particular to worry about” (“The Last Time”).
The example below is from the movie, The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain .
“Perhaps it would have been different if there hadn’t been a war, but this was 1917, and people were exhausted by loss. Those that were allowed to stay manned the pits, mining the coal that would fuel the ships. Twenty-four hours a day they labored” ( Englishman ).
Notice the shortened title in the above reference. This allows the reader to spend more time focusing on the content of your project, rather than the sources.
If you’re looking for an MLA in-text citation website to help you with your references, check out EasyBib Plus on EasyBib.com! EasyBib Plus can help you determine how to do in-text citations MLA and many other types of references!
Numerous government publications, research reports, and brochures state the name of the organization as the author responsible for publishing it.
When the author is a corporate entity or organization, this information is included in the MLA citation in prose or parenthetical citation.
“One project became the first to evaluate how e-prescribing standards work in certain long-term care settings and assessed the impact of e-prescribing on the workflow among prescribers, nurses, the pharmacies, and payers” (Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality 2).
If the full name of the organization or governmental agency is long in length, it is acceptable to abbreviate some words, as long as they are considered common abbreviations. These abbreviations should only be in the references with parentheses. They should not be used in citations in prose.
Here is a list of words that can be abbreviated in parentheses:
- Department = Dept.
- Government = Govt.
- Corporation = Corp.
- Incorporated = Inc.
- Company = Co.
- United States = US
Example of a shortened corporate author name in an MLA parenthetical citation
“Based on our analysis of available data provided by selected states’ departments of corrections, the most common crimes committed by inmates with serious mental illness varied from state to state” (US Govt. Accountability Office 14).
Here is how the same corporate author name would look in an MLA citation in prose
The United States Government Accountability Office states, “Based on our analysis of available data provided by selected states’ departments of corrections, the most common crimes committed by inmates with serious mental illness varied from state to state” (14).
Remember, citations in prose should not have abbreviations; other types of references can.
Looking for more information on abbreviations? Check out our page on MLA format.
Edited Books and Anthologies
Edited books and anthologies often include chapters or sections, each written by an individual author or a small group of authors. These compilations are placed together by an editor or a group of editors. There are tons of edited books and anthologies available today, ranging from ones showcasing Black history facts and literature to those focusing on notable individuals such as scientists like Albert Eintein and politicians such as Winston Churchill .
If you’re using information from an edited book or an anthology, include the chapter author’s name in your MLA citation in prose or reference in parentheses. Do not use the name(s) of the editor(s). Remember, the purpose of these references is to provide the reader with some insight as to where the information originated. If, after reading your project, the reader would like more information on the sources used, the reader can use the information provided in the full reference, at the very end of the assignment. With that in mind, since the full reference begins with the author of the individual chapter or section, that same information is what should be included in any citations in prose or references in parentheses.
Here is an example of an MLA citation in prose for a book with an editor
Weinstein further states that “one implication of this widespread adaptation of anthropological methods to historical research was the eclipse of the longstanding concern with “change over time,” and the emergence of a preference for synchronic, rather than diachronic, themes” (195).
Full reference at the end of the assignment
Weinstein, Barbara. “History Without a Cause? Grand Narratives, World History, and the Postcolonial Dilemma.” Postcolonial Studies: An Anthology , edited by Pramod K. Nayar, Wiley-Blackwell, 2015, p. 196. Wiley , www.wiley.com/en-us/Postcolonial+Studies%3A+An+Anthology-p-9781118780985.
Once you’re through with writing and citing, run your paper through our innovative plagiarism checker ! It’s the editor of your dreams and provides suggestions for improvement.
Sources Without Page Numbers and Online Sources
When a source has no page numbers, which is often the case with long web page articles, e-books, and numerous other source types, do not include any page number information in the body of the project. Do not estimate or invent your own page numbering system for the source. If there aren’t any page numbers, omit this information from the MLA in-text citation. There may, however, be paragraph numbers included in some sources. If there are distinct and clear paragraph numbers directly on the source, replace the page number with this information. Make it clear to the reader that the source is organized by paragraphs by using “par.” before the paragraph number, or use “pars.” if the information is from more than one paragraph.
Here is an example of how to create an MLA parenthetical citation for a website
“She ran through the field with the wind blowing in her hair and a song through the breeze” (Jackson par. 5).
Here’s an example of an MLA citation in prose for a website
In Brenner’s meeting notes, he further shared his motivation to actively seek out and secure self help resources when he announced, “When we looked at statistical evidence, the most commonly checked out section of the library was self-help. This proves that patrons consistently seek out help for personal issues and wish to solve them with the help of the community’s resources” (pars. 2-3).
Here’s another MLA in-text citation example for a website
Holson writes about a new mindful app, which provides listeners with the soothing sound of not only Bob Ross’ voice, but also the “soothing swish of his painter’s brush on canvas.”
In above example, the information normally found in the parentheses is omitted since there aren’t any page, parentheses, or chapter numbers on the website article.
Looking for APA citation website examples? We have what you need on EasyBib.com!
Need an in-text or parenthetical citation MLA website? Check out EasyBib Plus on EasyBib.com! Also, check out MLA Citation Website , which explains how to create references for websites.
Citing the Same Source Multiple Times
It may seem redundant to constantly include an author’s name in the body of a research project or paper. If you use an author’s work in one section of your project, and the next piece of information included is by the same individual(s), then it is not necessary to share in-text, whether in prose or in parentheses, that both items are from the same author. It is acceptable to include the last name of the author in the first use, and in the second usage, only a page number needs to be included.
Here is an example of how to cite the same source multiple times
“One of the major tests is the Project for Standardized Assessment of Information Literacy Skills. This measurement was developed over four years as a joint partnership between the Association of Research Libraries and Kent State University” (Tong and Moran 290). This exam is just one of many available to measure students’ information literacy skills. It is fee-based, so it is not free, but the results can provide stakeholders, professors, curriculum developers, and even librarians and library service team members with an understanding of students’ abilities and misconceptions. It is not surprising to read the results, which stated that “upper-level undergraduate students generally lack information literacy skills as evidenced by the results on this specific iteration of the Standardized Assessment of Information Literacy Skills test” (295).
The reader can assume that the information in the second quote is from the same article as the first quote. If, in between the two quotes, a different source is included, Tong and Moran’s names would need to be added again in the last quote.
Here is the full reference at the end of the project:
Tong, Min, and Carrie Moran. “Are Transfer Students Lagging Behind in Information Literacy?” Reference Services Review , vol. 45, no. 2, 2017, pp. 286-297. ProQuest , ezproxy.nypl.org/login?url=//search-proquest-com.i.ezproxy.nypl.org/docview/1917280148?accountid=35635.
Citing Two or More Sources in the Same In-text Citation
According to section 6.30 of the Handbook , parenthetical citations containing multiple sources in a single parenthesis should be separated by semicolons.
(Granger 5; Tsun 77) (Ruiz 212; Diego 149)
Citing Multiple Works by the Same Author in One In-text Citation
Just as you might want to cite two different sources at the same time, it can also be useful to cite different works by the same author all at once.
Section 6.30 of the Handbook specifies that “citations of different locations in a single source are separated by commas” (251).
(Maeda 59, 174-76, 24) (Kauffman 7, 234, 299)
Furthermore, if you are citing multiple works by the same author, the titles should be joined by and if there are only two. Otherwise, use commas and and .
(Murakami, Wild Sheep Chase and Norwegian Wood ) (Murakami, Wild Sheep Chase , Norwegian Wood , and “With the Beatles”)
When listing the titles, be aware that long titles in parenthetical citations can distract the reader and cause confusion. It will be necessary to shorten the titles appropriately for in-text citations. According to the Handbook , “shorten the title if it is longer than a noun phrase” (237). The abbreviated title should begin with the word by which the title is alphabetized.
Best practice is to give the first word the reference is listed by so the source is easily found in the works cited. Omit articles that start a title: a, an, the. When possible, use the first noun (and any adjectives before it). For more on titles and their abbreviations, head to section 6.10 of the Handbook .
- Full title : The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
- Abbreviated: Curious
- Full title: The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks
- Abbreviated: Disreputable History
Religious Works and Scriptures
There are instances when religious works are italicized in the text of a project, and times when it is not necessary to italicize the title.
If you’re referring to the general religious text, such as the Bible, Torah, or Qur’an, it is not necessary to italicize the name of the scripture in the body of the project. If you’re referring to a specific edition of a religious text, then it is necessary to italicize it, both in text and in the full reference.
Here are some commonly used editions:
- King James Bible
- The Orthodox Jewish Bible
- American Standard Bible
- The Steinsaltz Talmud
- The Babylonian Talmud
- New International Bible
When including a reference, do not use page numbers from the scripture. Instead, use the designated chapter numbers and verse numbers.
MLA example of an in-text citation for a religious scripture
While, unacceptable in today’s society, the Bible is riddled with individuals who have two, three, and sometimes four or more spouses. One example in the King James Bible , states that an individual “had two wives, the name of the one was Hannah, and the name of the other Peninnah. Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children” (1 Sam. 1.2)
The only religious scripture that is allowed to be in the text of a project, but not in the Works Cited list, is the Qur’an. There is only one version of the Qur’an. It is acceptable to include the name of the Qur’an in the text, along with the specific chapter and verse numbers.
If you’re attempting to create a reference for a religious work, but it’s not considered a “classic” religious book, such as a biography about Mother Teresa , or a book about Muhammed Ali’s conversion, then a reference in the text and also on the final page of the project is necessary.
If you’re creating an APA bibliography , you do not need to create a full reference for classic religious works on an APA reference page .
For another MLA in-text citation website and for more on the Bible and other source types, click here .
Long or Block Quotes
Quotes longer than four lines are called, “block quotes.” Block quotes are sometimes necessary when you’re adding a lengthy piece of information into your project. If you’d like to add a large portion of Martin Luther King ’s “I Have a Dream” speech, a lengthy amount of text from a Mark Twain book, or multiple lines from Abraham Lincoln ’s Gettysburg Address, a block quote is needed.
MLA block quotes are formatted differently than shorter quotes in the body of a project. Why? The unique formatting signals to the reader that they’re about to read a lengthy quote.
Block quotes are called block quotes because they form their own block of text. They are set apart from the body of a project with different spacing and margins.
Begin the block quote on a new line. The body of the full project should run along the one inch margin, but the block quote should be set in an inch and a half. The entire quote should be along the inch and a half margin.
If there aren’t any quotation marks in the text itself, do not include any in the block quote. This is very different than standard reference rules. In most cases, quotation marks are added around quoted material. For block quotes, since the reader can see that the quoted material sits in its own block, it is not necessary to place quotation marks around it.
Here is an MLA citation in prose example of a block quote
Despite Bruchac’s consistent difficult situations at home, basketball kept his mind busy and focused:
When I got off the late bus that afternoon, my grandparents weren’t home. The store was locked and there was a note from Grama on the house door. Doc Magovern had come to the house because Grampa was “having trouble with his blood.” Now they were off to the hospital and I “wasn’t to worry.” This had happened before. Grampa had pernicious anemia and sometimes was very sick. So, naturally, it worried the pants off me. I actually thought about taking my bike down the dreaded 9N the three miles to the Saratoga Hospital. Instead, I did as I knew they wanted. I opened the store and waited for customers. None came, though, and my eye was caught by the basketball stowed away as usual behind the door. I had to do something to take my mind off what was happening to Grampa. I took out the ball and went around the side. (13)
Notice the use of the colon prior to the start of the block quote. Do not use a colon if the block quote is part of the sentence above it.
Here is an example of the same block quote, without the use of the colon:
Despite Bruchac’s consistent difficult situations at home, it was clear that basketball kept his mind busy and focused when he states
When I get off the late bus that afternoon, my grandparents weren’t home…
If two or more paragraphs are included in your block quote, start each paragraph on a new line.
Looking for additional helpful websites? Need another MLA in-text citation website? Check out the style in the news . We also have other handy articles, guides, and posts to help you with your research needs. Here’s one on how to write an MLA annotated bibliography .
Visit our EasyBib Twitter feed to discover more citing tips, fun grammar facts, and the latest product updates.
If you’re looking for information on styling an APA citation , EasyBib.com has the guides you need!
MLA Handbook . 9th ed., Modern Language Association of America, 2021.
Published October 31, 2011. Updated July 5, 2021.
Written and edited by Michele Kirschenbaum and Elise Barbeau. Michele Kirschenbaum is a school library media specialist and the in-house librarian at EasyBib.com. Elise Barbeau is the Citation Specialist at Chegg. She has worked in digital marketing, libraries, and publishing.
MLA Formatting Guide
- Annotated Bibliography
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- et al Usage
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- Sample Paper
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- MLA 8 Updates
- MLA 9 Updates
- View MLA Guide
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In MLA style, if multiple sources have the same author , the titles should be joined by and if there are only two. Otherwise, use commas and and .
- In-text citation: (Austen Emma and Mansfield Park )
- Structure: (Last name 1st Source’s title and 2nd Source’s title )
- In-text citation: (Leung et al. 58)
If the author is a corporate entity or organization, included the name of the corporate entity or organization in the in-text citation.
- In-text citation: (Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality 2)
Yes, there’s an option to download source citations as a Word Doc or a Google Doc. You may also copy citations from the EasyBib Citation Generator and paste them into your paper.
Yes! Whether you’d like to learn how to construct citations on your own, our Autocite tool isn’t able to gather the metadata you need, or anything in between, manual citations are always an option. Click here for directions on using creating manual citations.
An in-text citation is a shortened version of the source being referred to in the paper. As the name implies, it appears in the text of the paper. A works cited list entry, on the other hand, details the complete information of the source being cited and is listed within the works cited list at the end of the paper after the main text. The in-text citation is designed to direct the reader to the full works cited list entry. An example of an in-text citation and the corresponding works cited list entry for a journal article with one author is listed below:
In-text citation template and example:
Only the author surname (or the title of the work if there is no author) is used in in-text citations to direct the reader to the corresponding reference list entry. For citations in prose, use the first name and surname of the author for the first occurrence. In subsequent citations, use only the surname. In parenthetical citations, always use only the surname of the author. If you are directly quoting the source, the page number should also be included in the in-text citation.
Citation in prose:
First mention: Christopher Collins ….
Subsequent occurrences: Collins ….
Works cited list entry template and example:
The title of the article is in plain text and title case and is placed inside quotation marks. The title of the journal is set in italics.
Surname, F. “Title of the Article.” Journal Title , vol. #, no. #, Publication Date, page range.
Collins, Christopher. “On Posthuman Materiality: Art-Making as Rhizomatic Rehearsal.” Text and Performance Quarterly , vol. 39, no. 2, 2019, pp. 153–59.
Note that because the author’s surname (Collins) was included in the in-text citation, the reader would then be able to easily locate the works cited list entry since the entry begins with the author’s surname.
An in-text citation is a short citation that is placed next to the text being cited. The basic element needed for an in-text citation is the author’s name . The publication year is not required in in-text citations. Sometimes, page numbers or line numbers are also included, especially when text is quoted from the source being cited. In-text citations are mentioned in the text in two ways: as a citation in prose or a parenthetical citation.
Citations in prose are incorporated into the text and act as a part of the sentence. Usually, citations in prose use the author’s full name when cited the first time in the text. Thereafter, only the surname is used. Avoid including the middle initial even if it is present in the works-cited-list entry.
Parenthetical citations add only the author’s surname at the end of the sentence in parentheses.
Examples of in-text citations
Here are a few tips to create in-text citations for sources with various numbers and types of authors:
Use both the first name and surname of the author if you are mentioning the author for the first time in the prose. In subsequent occurrences, use only the author’s surname. Always use only the surname of the author in parenthetical citations.
First mention: Sheele John asserts …. (7).
Subsequent occurrences: John argues …. (7).
…. (John 7).
Use the first name and surname of both authors if you are mentioning the work for the first time in the prose. In subsequent occurrences, use only the surnames of the two authors. Always use only the authors’ surnames in parenthetical citations. Use “and” to separate the two authors in parenthetical citations.
First mention: Katie Longman and Clara Sullivan ….
Subsequent occurrences: Longman and Sullivan ….
…. ( Longman and Sullivan).
Three or more authors
For citations in prose, use the first name and surname of the first author followed by “and others” or “and colleagues.” For parenthetical citations, use only the surname of the first author followed by “et al.”
Lincy Mathew and colleagues…. or Lincy Mathew and others ….
…. (Mathew et al.).
For citations in prose, treat the corporate author like you would treat the author’s name. For parenthetical citations, shorten the organization name to the shortest noun phrase. For example, shorten the Modern Language Association of America to Modern Language Association.
The Literary Society of Malaysia….
…. (Literary Society).
If there is no author for the source, use the source’s title in place of the author’s name for both citations in prose and parenthetical citations.
When you add such in-text citations, italicize the text of the title. If the source title is longer than a noun phrase, use a shortened version of the title. For example, shorten the title Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them to Fantastic Beasts .
Knowing Body of Work explains …. (102).
….( Knowing Body 102).
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Let our AI take care of MLA in-text citation formatting so you can focus on writing. Our AI scans what you've already written and offers relevant autocompletion suggestions as per the MLA style.
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Common questions about referencing your sources in MLA style
Questions around citing in the MLA style are fairly common, especially among students and new researchers. So, we've answered some of the most frequently asked ones below.
- 1 . What is MLA citation? MLA citation format is a citation style developed by the Modern Language Association. It is one of the most widely used forms of citation in both the academic and non-academic world today. The MLA Style Citation is common in humanities, especially for literature and language studies and social sciences, with many journals adopting the style to cite sources. A writer can cite in two ways using the MLA format; in-text, which is included in the body, and bibliography, which comes on the work’s cited page.
In-text citation -
- 3 . What is an MLA works cited page? A works cited page is a dedicated page at the end of research where the writer lists out all the references in bibliography style. Citations on the works cited page have to be detailed and should match the references included in the body of the text. MLA works cited entry example: Johns, Scott. “Making the Impossible Possible.” *People Magazine*, April 2021, pp. 56-61.
- 4 . How to reference a website in MLA format? Here's what a MLA citation of a website would look like: Use the following format when you’re citing a webpage in the MLA format: Last name, First name. “Title of Web Page.” Title of Website, Publisher, Date published, and URL. MLA website citation (works cited entry) example: Reith, Jerry. “The Physics Behind the Formation of Auroras.” The Scientific American, 24 Apr. 2018, www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-physics-behind-the-formation-of-auroras/
- 5 . How to cite a book in MLA format? When you’re citing a book in MLA style, use the format - Last Name, First Name. Title of Book. Publisher, Publication Date. MLA books citation (works cited entry) example: Johnson, Jane. Climate Change: Understanding the Facts. 3rd ed., Oxford University Press, 2021
- 6 . How to cite a journal article in MLA format? The set style for citing a journal article in MLA style is - Last name. First Name. "Title of Article." Publication, Day Month Year, pages. If you’re citing an online publication, replace ‘pages’ with ‘URL.’
Work cited entry example in MLA format:
Reference list entry example:, bibliography entry example:.
- 8 . How to use et al. in MLA citation format? In MLA citation, et al. are used to cite three or more authors. Include the first author’s name followed by “et al.””
- 9 . How to cite a YouTube video in MLA format? When citing YouTube or other online videos, be as descriptive as possible to help your readers locate the video. This typically includes the creator's full name or screen name, the publication date, the title of the video, the hosting website (e.g., YouTube), and the URL for the video. This will ensure that readers can easily access and watch the video and understand the context of your reference.”” Here’s how to cite a YouTube video in MLA format; PBS NewsHour. “What is the First Amendment?” YouTube, 7 Apr. 2022, youtu.be/t_FoD7SeHOQ.
- 10 . How to cite multiple authors in MLA format? It can be confusing and verbose to include every author’s name for one source. Thus, MLA guidelines suggest you use “et al.” after the first author’s name.
- 11 . How to cite a pdf in MLA format? There are no specific MLA guidelines on how to cite a pdf. Depending on the type of material a pdf is (book, chapter, article), use the appropriate format to cite the document.
- 12 . Is SciSpace's MLA citation generator completely free? Absolutely! Our MLA Citation Generator is totally free, and better yet, it's super accurate compared to other citation style generators — particularly for MLA citation style.
- 13 . Do you follow the latest MLA format guidelines? Yes, the format complies with the MLA format guidelines. Our AI model is trained on the latest data. If there are any changes to the guidelines, we'll change our algorithm accordingly.
- 14 . What are the other citation generators offered by SciSpace? Besides the MLA style, we also offer citation generators for Harvard, Chicago, IEEE, APA, and 9000+ other citation styles. All of them use the latest data and technology to ensure your citations are accurate and up-to-date.
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Copy the information below in your paper according to the Guide on the right. Use your own page numbers.
APA 7 In-text citation guide
In-text citations are required when you use someone else's ideas, theories or research in your paper.
Examples: (choose depending if author and/or date is mentioned in text)
- "The bones were very fragile" (Cole, 2019, p. 13).
- Cole (2019) found that "The bones were very fragile" (p. 33).
- In 2019, Cole found that "The bones were very fragile" (p. 33).
- The bones broke easily because they were porous (Cole, 2011).
- Cole (2011) discovered that the bones broke easily.
- In 2011, Cole found that the bones were easily broken (p. 33).
Note: APA style encourages the inclusion of page numbers for paraphrases, but it is not mandatory. Include page or paragraph numbers if it will help reader find the information.
No authors : Use the title in place of author. Shorten title if needed. Use double quotation marks for title of an article, a chapter, or a web page. Use italics for title of a periodical, a book, a brochure or a report.
- the observations found ("Arctic Voyage," 2014)
- the book Vitamin Discoveries (2013)
Two authors : Within the text use the word and . If the authors' names are within parentheses use the & symbol.
- Cole and Dough (1998) argued ...
- ...if they were left to their own devices.(Cole & Dough, 1998)
Three or more authors: Include only the last name of the first author followed by "et al."
(Wasserstein et al., 2017)
Spell out the name in full the first time and abbreviate subsequent times only if abbreviation is well known.
- First time: American Psychological Association (2020) explained...
- Second time: APA (2020) proved ...
When quoting always provide author, year and specific page citation or paragraph number for nonpaginated material.
If the quotation is less than 40 words incorporate it into the text and enclose the quotation with quotation marks. Cite the source immediately after the close of the quotation marks.
If the authors are named in the text, they do not have to be used in the citation.
In fact, "a neurosis is characterized by anxiety" (Kristen & Warb, 2012, p. 157).
"A neurosis is characterized by anxiety," according to Kristen and Warb's (2012, p. 157) longitudinal study.
If the quotation is over 40 words, you must indent the entire quotation and start the quotation on a new line. No quotation marks are required. Cite the quoted source after the final punctuation mark.
Alberta is occasionally divided into two regions, Northern Alberta and Southern Alberta. The majority of Alberta's population is located in large urban cities, mostly located in the South. Alberta is Canada's most populous province of all three Canadian Prairie provinces. Edmonton is the Capital of Alberta. (Hern, 1996, p. 22)
APA style encourages the inclusion of page numbers, but it is not mandatory. Include page or paragraph numbers if it will help reader find the information.
- (Reiton, 2003, para. 3)
If the document does not contain page numbers, include paragraph numbers.
- (Reiton, 2003, para. 3).
If neither is available omit page and paragraph numbers. Do not count paragraph numbers.
When paraphrasing from multiple sources, include all authors name in parentheses in alphabetical order.
- (Cole, 2006; Mann & Arthur, 2011; Zigmung, 2000).
APA In-Text Citation Guide
- "The bones were very fragile" (Cole, 2011, p. 13).
- Cole (2011) found that "The bones were very fragile" (p. 33).
- In 2011, Cole found that "The bones were very fragile" (p. 33).
Note: APA style encourages the inclusion of page numbers for paraphrases, but it is not mandatory. Include page or paragraph numbers if it will help reader find the information.)
Two or more authors : Within the text use the word and . If the authors' names are within parentheses use the & symbol.
Three to five authors : Include all authors' last names the first time the citation is used. If you use the same citation again within the same paragraph, use only the first last name followed by 'et al'. If you used the citation again omit the year.
- First time: Cole, Dough and Ferris (1998) explained...
- Second time: Cole et al. (1998) proved ...
- Third time: Cole et al. demonstrated...
Six or more authors: Include only the last name of the first author followed by "et al."
(Wasserstein et al., 2010)
- First time: American Psychological Association (1998) explained...
- Second time: APA (1998) proved ...
Alberta is occasionally divided into two regions, Northern Alberta and Southern Alberta. The majority of Alberta's population is located in large urban cities, mostly located in the South. Alberta is Canada's most populous Province of all three Canadian prairie provinces. Edmonton is the Capital of Alberta. (Hern, 1996, p. 22)
In-Text Citations Parenthetical Citations
In-text citations are called parenthetical references in MLA. This involves placing information about the source in parentheses after a quote or a paraphrase. The information in the parenthetical references must match the corresponding information in the list of works cited.
The purpose of parenthetical references is to indicate to readers not only what works you used, but what you used from each source and where in the source you found the material. This can be done by inserting a parenthetical reference in your text at the spot where you have used the source's ideas or words.
You should keep parenthetical references as brief and as few as clarity and accuracy permit.
- The Soviets were surrounded by enemies (Waters 119).
- Waters argues that the Soviets were surrounded by enemies (119).
Authors – Identification of source
- (Natl. Research Council 15)
- Do not use abbreviations such as ed. or trans.
- ("The evolving internet")
- (Black and Mondoux 123)
- (Eddison, Zhu, and Lalonde)
- (Becker et al. 13)
- (Becker, Lafontaine, Robins, Given, and Rush 13)
- (Feder, The Birth of a Nation 124)
Location of passage within source
- give relevant page number if available
- give volume and page number in a multivolume work
- if citing entire work omit page numbers
- (Louis par. 20)
- film, television, broadcasts cannot be cited by numbers
Placement of parenthetical reference in text
- Cole found that "The bones were very fragile" (33-34).
Alberta is occasionally divided into two regions, Northern Alberta and Southern Alberta. The majority of Alberta's population is located in large urban cities, mostly located in the South. Alberta is Canada's most populous Province of all three Canadian prairie provinces. Edmonton is the Capital of Alberta. (Herick 22)
- In Chicago style, footnotes or endnotes are used to reference pieces of work in the text.
- To cite from a source a superscript number is placed after a quote or a paraphrase.
- Citation numbers should appear in sequential order.
- Each number then corresponds to a citation, a footnote or to an endnote.
- Endnotes must appear on an endnotes page. The page should be titled Notes (centered at top). This page should appear immediately before the bibliography page.
- Footnotes must appear at the bottom of the page that they are referred to.
Example: Cole found that "The bones were very fragile" (33-34). 1
Each superscript then refers to a numbered citation in the footnotes or endnotes.
The first time the in-text reference is cited you must include, author's first name, author's last name, title, place of publication, publisher name, year and referenced pages. e.g.
1. James Smith, The first and last war , (New York, Hamilton, 2003), 2.
If the citation has already been cited it may be shortened to author's last name, shortened title, and page referenced number. e.g.
2. Smith, The first , 220-221.
If the citation has been referenced immediately prior, the note may be shortened even further to ibid with the page number. e.g.
3. Ibid., 786.
For each author-date citation in the text, there must be a corresponding entry in the reference list under the same name and date.
An author-date citation in running text or at the end of a block quotation consists of the last (family) name of the author, followed by the year of publication of the work in question. In this context, author may refer not only to one or more authors or an institution but also to one or more editors, translators, or compilers. No punctuation appears between author and date. Abbreviations such as ed. or trans. are omitted.
(Schuman and Scott 1987)
When a specific page, section, equation, or other division of the work is cited, it follows the date, preceded by a comma. When a volume as a whole is referred to, without a page number, vol. is used. For volume plus page, only a colon is needed. The n in the Fischer and Siple example below indicates "note" (see 14.164 ). The last example shows how one might cite a section of a work that contains no page or section numbers or other numerical signposts—the case for some electronic documents (see 15.8 ).
(Piaget 1980, 74)
(LaFree 2010, 413, 417–18)
(Johnson 1979, sec. 24)
Fowler and Hoyle 1965, eq. 87)
(García 1987, vol. 2)
(García 1987, 2:345)
(Barnes 1998, 2:354–55, 3:29)
(Fischer and Siple 1990, 212n3)
(Hellman 1998, under "The Battleground")
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