Your Ultimate MLA Format Guide & Generator
What is MLA?
MLA stands for the Modern Language Association, an organization that focuses on language and literature.
Depending on which subject area your class or research focuses on, your professor may ask you to cite your sources in MLA style. This is a specific way to cite, following the Modern Language Association's guidelines. There are other styles, such as APA format and Chicago citation style, but MLA format is often used for literature, language, liberal arts, and other humanities subjects. This guide extensively covers this format but is not associated with the organization.
What is MLA Citing?
The Modern Language Association Handbook is in its 9th edition and standardizes the way scholars document their sources and format their papers. When everyone documents their sources and papers in the same way, it is simple to recognize and understand the types of sources used for a project. Readers of your work will look at your citations not only to understand them but possibly to explore them as well.
When you're borrowing information from a source and placing it in your research or assignment, it’s important to give credit to the original author. This is done by creating an MLA citation. Depending on the type of information you're including in your work, you may place citations in the body of your project and in a works-cited list at the end of your project.
The handbook explains how to create MLA citations. This page summarizes the information in the handbook’s 9th edition.
There is also a section below on a recommended way to create an MLA header. These headers appear at the top of your assignment’s pages. Check with your instructor on whether they prefer a certain MLA format for the header.
What is MLA Format?
The 9th edition is the most recent and updated version for MLA citations. Released in April 2021, the citation format differs slightly from previous versions. This update follows the 2016 update for the 8th edition that contained many significant changes from previous editions.
For the 8th edition, the biggest difference and most exciting update was the use of one standard format for all source types. In previous versions, scholars were required to locate the citation format for the specific source that they used. There were different formats for books, websites, periodicals, and so on. After 2016, using one universal MLA citation format allowed scholars to spend less time trying to locate the proper format to document their sources and focus more on their research.
Other updates included the addition of “containers.” A container provides details on a work contained within a larger work. For example, books contain chapters, albums contain songs, and journals contain journal articles. The source is the larger work, such as a website, while the container is a smaller work within that source, such as a short story on the website.
MLA now encourages you to add DOIs or URLs to citations. Use a DOI instead of a URL when it’s available. According to the MLA 9th edition, 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).
Social media pseudonyms and usernames can replace the real name of the author. Volume and issue numbers are now abbreviated as “vol.” and “no.” Cities of publication and the source’s medium (such as print or web) are no longer included in citations. For academic presses/publishers, with the words “university” or “press,” shorten “university” to “U”, and “press” to “P” (Cambridge UP). Lowercase seasons when using them in the date field of a citation (spring 2021 not Spring 2021).
Bibliography vs. Works Cited - What's the Difference?
You may have heard the two terms, "Bibliography" and "Works Cited" thrown around interchangeably. The truth is that they are two different words with two completely different meanings.
A bibliography is a list of sources that the writer recommends for further reading. A works-cited list is a list of sources that were included in the author's writing.
Want to suggest some books and websites to your reader? Create an MLA format bibliography by creating a list of full citations and label the page as "Bibliography."
Did you use any quotes or place any paraphrases in your writing? Create in-text citations and place them in the body of your work. Then, create a list of full citations and place them at the end of the project. Label the page as "Works Cited."
The good news is that references in MLA bibliography format and regular works-cited lists are structured the exact same way.
When adding information to your project from another source, you are required to add an MLA citation. There are two types of MLA format citations: in-text citations and full citations.
Full Citation Basics:
All sources used for a project are found on the MLA format “Works Cited” page, which is generally the last portion of a project.
MLA citing format often includes the following pieces of information, in this order:
Author's Last name, First name. "Title of Source." Title of Container, Other contributors, Version, Numbers, Publisher, Publication Date, Location.
For more information about each individual element and for proper formatting rules, see the sections below on author names, titles, containers, names of other contributors, source versions, numbers, publishers, publication dates, and locations.
Find more in-depth rules regarding the works-cited list in MLA format on the page down below, along with a sample page.
Don't forget, our BibMe MLA citation generator is an MLA formatter that helps you create your citations quickly and easily!
The author's name is generally the first item in a citation (unless the source does not have an author). The author's name is followed by a period.
If the source has one author, place the last name first, add a comma, and then the first name.
Fitzgerald, F. Scott.
If your source has two authors, place them in the same order they're shown on the source. The first author is in reverse order, add a comma and the word "and", then place the second author in standard form. Follow their names with a period.
Monsen, Avery, and Jory John.
For three or more authors, only include the first listed author's name. Place the first author's name in reverse order (Last name, First name) place a comma afterwards, and then add the Latin phrase "et al."
Borokhovic, Kenneth A., et al.
For social media posts, it's acceptable to use a screen name or username in place of the author's name. Start the citation with the user's handle.
@TheOnion. "Experts Warn Number of Retirees Will Completely Overwhelm Scenic Railway Industry by 2030." Twitter, 9 Oct. 2017, 9:50 a.m., twitter.com/TheOnion/status/917386689500340225.
No author listed? If there isn't an author, start the citation with the title and skip the author section completely.
Citations do not need to always start with the name of the author. When your research focuses on a specific individual that is someone other than the author, it is appropriate for readers to see that individual's name at the beginning of the citation. Directors, actors, translators, editors, and illustrators are common individuals to list at the beginning. Again, only include their name in place of the author if your research focuses on that specific individual.
To include someone other than the author at the beginning of the citation, place their name in reverse order, add a comma afterwards, and then the role of that individual followed by a period.
Fimmel, Travis, performer. Vikings. Created by Michael Hirst, History Channel, 2013-2016.
Gage, John T., editor. The Promise of Reason: Studies in the New Rhetoric. SIU Press, 2011.
Here's a helpful table to refer to when structuring author names:
Titles and Containers:
Titles follow the name of the author and are written in title capitalization form.
If you're citing a source in its entirety, such as a full book, a movie, or a music album, then place the title in italics.
Franzen, Jonathan. The Corrections. Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2001.
Rufus Du Sol. Bloom. Sweat It Out! 2016.
If you're citing a source, such as a chapter in a book, a song on an album, or an article in a journal or website, then place the title of the piece in quotations and add a period afterwards. Follow it with the title of the full source, in italics, and then add a comma. This second portion is called the container. Containers house smaller works, such as songs, in larger comprehensive works, such as albums.
Examples with containers:
|Title of Source||Container||Structure||Example|
|Song||Album||"Song." Album,||Beyonce. "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)." I am...Sasha Fierce, Sony, 2008, track 2.|
|Chapter||Book||"Chapter." Book,||Aku, Hanjat. "I'm Drifting." An Anthology of Modern Indonesian Poetry, edited by Burton Raffel, State University of New York Albany, 1964.|
|Article||Website or Periodical||"Article Title." Website or Periodical Title,||Vance, Erik, and Erika Larsen. "Mind Over Matter." National Geographic Magazine, Dec. 2016, pp. 30-55.|
|Web page||Website||"Web page." Website,||Becker, Mikkel. "6 Common Dog Behavior Myths Get Busted." VetStreet, 19 July 2016, www.vetstreet.com/our-pet-experts/6-common-dog-behavior-myths-get-busted.|
Wondering what to do with subtitles? Place a colon in between the title and subtitle. Write both parts in title capitalization form.
Nasar, Sylvia. A Beautiful Mind: The Life of Mathematical Genius and Nobel Laureate John Nash. Simon and Schuster, 2001.
If the source does not have a title, give a brief description and do not use quotation marks or italics.
Israel, Aaron. Brooklyn rooftop acrylic painting. 2012, 12 W 9th Street, New York City.
For a tweet, the full text of the tweet is placed where the title sits.
@LOCMaps. "#DYK the first public zoo to open in the US was the #Philadelphia Zoo? #50States." Twitter, 9 Feb. 2017, 3:14 p.m., twitter.com/LOCMaps/status/829785441549185024.
For email messages, the subject of the email is the title. Place this information in quotation marks.
Rabe, Leor. "Fwd: Japan Itinerary." Received by Raphael Rabe, 11 Feb 2017.
Citations with Two Containers:
It is possible for a source to sit in a second or larger container. A journal article sits in its first container, which is the journal itself, but it can also sit in a larger container, such as a database. A song can sit in its first container, which is the album it's found on. Then it can sit in its next container, which could be Spotify or iTunes.
It is important to include the second container because the content on one container may differ from content from another container.
MLA citing with two containers should be formatted like this:
Author's Last name, First name. "Title of Source." Title of Container, Other Contributors, Version, Numbers, Publisher, Publication Date, Location. Title of Second Container, Other Contributors, Version, Number, Publisher, Publication Date, Location.
In most cases, for the second container, only the title of the second container and the location is needed. Why? For readers to locate the source themselves, they'll most likely use the majority of the information found in the first part of the citation.
Examples of Citations with 2 Containers:
Sallis, James, et al. "Physical Education's Role in Public Health: Steps Forward and Backward Over 20 Years and Hope for the Future." Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, vol. 83, no. 2, Jun. 2012, pp. 125-135. ProQuest, ezproxy.nypl.org/login?url=http://search.proquest.com/docview/1023317255?accountid=35635.
Baker, Martha. "Fashion: Isaac in Wonderland." New York Magazine, vol. 24, no. 3, 21 Jan. 1991, pp. 50-54. Google Books, books.google.com/books?id=PukCAAAAMBAJ&lpg=PP1&dq=magazine&pg=PP1#v=onepage&q=magazine&f=false.
Remember, BibMe has an MLA works-cited generator that creates citations for you quickly and easily!
Format for Other Contributors:
In MLA citing, when there are other individuals (besides the author) who play a significant role in your research, include them in this section of the citation. Other contributors can also be added to help individuals locate the source themselves. You can add as many other contributors as you like.
Start this part of the citation with the individual's role, followed by the word "by". Notice that when adding other contributors after a period, you capitalize the first letter of the individual's role. When adding other contributors after a comma, you lowercase the first letter of the individual’s role.
Gaitskill, Mary. "Twilight of the Superheroes." The Scribner Anthology of Contemporary Short Fiction: 50 North American Stories Since 1970, edited by Lex Williford and Michael Martone, Simon and Schuster, 2012, pp. 228-238.
The Incredibles. Directed by Brad Bird, produced by John Walker, Pixar, 2004.
Gospodinov, Georgi. The Physics of Sorrow. Translated by Angela Rodel, Open Letter, 2015.
Format for Versions:
Sources can come in different versions. There are numerous bible versions; books can come in versions (such as numbered editions), and even movies and songs can have special versions.
When a source indicates that it is different than other versions, include this information in the citation. This will help readers locate the exact source that you used for your project.
The Bible. Lexham English Version, Logos, 2011, lexhamenglishbible.com.
Crank, J. The Mathematics of Diffusion. 2nd ed., Clarendon, 1979.
Afrojack. "Take Over Control." Beatport, performance by Eva Simons, extended version, 2011, www.beatport.com/track/take-over-control-feat-eva-simons-extended/1621534.
Format for Numbers:
Any numbers related to a source that isn't the publication date, page range, or version number should be placed in the numbers position of the citation. This includes volume and issue numbers for journal articles, volume or series numbers for books, comic book numbers, and television episode numbers, to name a few.
When including volume and issue numbers, use the abbreviation “vol.” for volume and “no.” for number.
Zhai, Xiaojuan, and Jingjing Wang. "Improving Relations Between Users and Libraries: A Survey of Chinese Academic Libraries." The Electronic Library, vol. 34, no. 4, 2016, pp. 597-616. ProQuest Research Library, ezproxy.nypl.org/login?url=http://search.proquest.com.i.ezproxy.nypl.org/docview/1841764839?accountid=35635.
"Chestnut." Westworld, directed by Richard J. Lewis, season 1, episode 2, Warner Bros., 2016.
The publisher produces the source. In the citation, place the publisher before the date of publication. Include the publisher for any source type except websites when the name of the publisher is the same as the name of the website. Also, it’s not necessary to include the name of publishers for newspapers, magazines, or journal articles, since the name of the publisher is generally insignificant.
When sources have more than one publisher that share responsibility for the production of the source, place a slash between the names of the publishers.
Use the abbreviation “UP” when the name of the publisher includes the words “University Press.”
When including the date that the source was published, display the amount of information that is found on the source, whether it's the full date, the month and year, or just the year.
If the date includes a season rather than a month, make sure to lowercase the season (spring 2021 not Spring 2021). Do not capitalize the season.
2 Nov. 2016 or Nov. 2, 2016
When multiple dates are shown on the source, include the date that is most relevant to your work and research.
Abbreviate months longer than 4 letters.
The location refers to the place where the source can be found. This can be in the form of a URL, page number, disc number, or physical place.
When citing websites in MLA, include DOIs or URLs. Copy the DOI or URL directly from the address bar or link in your browser window. If a DOI number is present, use it in place of a URL. 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, use the abbreviation “p.” when referring to only one page, and “pp.” for a range of pages.
In-Text & Parenthetical Citation Basics:
When using a direct quote or paraphrasing information from a source, add an in-text or parenthetical citation into the body of your work. Direct quotes are word-for-word quotes pulled from a source and added to your project. A paraphrase is when you take a section of information from a source and put it in your own words. Both direct quotes and paraphrases require an in-text or parenthetical citation to follow it.
Format your parenthetical or in-text citation in MLA as follows:
"Direct quote" or paraphrase (Author's last name and page number).
Author's last name said that "Direct Quote" or paraphrase (page number).
*See the comprehensive section below on MLA in-text citations for further clarification and instructions.
MLA In-Text and Parenthetical Citations
What is an In-Text Citation or Parenthetical Citation?
You used information from websites, articles, books, and other sources for your paper, right? Hopefully, you did, because the best research and writing projects validate claims using information from other sources.
The purpose of an in-text citation is to give the reader a brief idea about where you found the information used in your writing.
When you place a line of text, word for word (called a direct quote), or an idea (called a paraphrase) from another source into your writing, you, the writer, must display:
- who created that information (the original author's name)
- the page number you found it on
Check out this example:
"A main clause has to have a finite verb" (Cameron 94).
No author? No problem! Include the title, and if it's lengthy, shorten it.
The major thing to keep in mind is that whichever information you include in the in-text or parenthetical citation, whether it's the author's name or the title, it needs to match the first word in the full citation. The full citation is found on the “Works Cited” page in MLA.
Format your parenthetical and MLA in-text citation as follows:
"Direct quote" or Paraphrase (Author's last name and page number). This is an MLA parenthetical citation as the author's name is in parentheses.
Author's Last Name states, "Direct Quote" or paraphrase (page number). This is an MLA citation in prose as the author's name is in the prose of your sentence.
"Jim never got back with a bucket of water under an hour—and even then somebody generally had to go after him" (Twain 8).
Twain went on to say, “Jim never got back with a bucket of water under an hour—and even then somebody generally had to go after him” (8).
Other things to keep in mind:
If your in-text citation comes from a website or another source that does not have page numbers, use the following abbreviations:
- If the source has designated paragraph numbers, use par. or pars.
- If the source has designated sections, use sec. or secs.
- If the source has designated chapters, use ch. or chs.
- If the source has designated lines, use line or lines.
Example in MLA formatting:
Gregor's sister is quite persuasive, especially when she states to her parents, "It'll be the death of both of you, I can see it coming. We can't all work as hard as we have to and then come home to be tortured like this, we can't endure it" (Kafka, ch. 3).
- If there aren't page, paragraph, section, or chapter numbers, only include the author's name in the in-text or parenthetical citation.
- If the original source is an audio or video recording, after the author's name or title, place a timestamp.
The girl's affection towards Marley is clear when she blushes upon his arrival and shares that she would like to accompany him to the theater (Tales of Times Ago 12:45).
- Two authors: place both names in the reference.
Malcolm and Knowles state... (12).
The smaller the class size, the more attention a student receives, which greatly impacts learning (Malcolm and Knowles 12).
- Three or more authors: place all three names in the in-text citation. It's also acceptable to use the phrase, "and others," or another cohesive term. For parenthetical citations, use the abbreviation et al.
Smith, Baker, and Klein share that.... (78). OR Smith and others share that.... (78).
Many lizards, including the Carolina anole, only eat when they're hungry. They'll ignore food until their body sends a signal to eat (Smith et al. 78).
- Authors with the same last name: Include the first initial of the author’s first name in the in-text or parenthetical citation.
One study shows that the average time spent on homework is 52 minutes (R. Brown 17). However, a more recent study, released in 2018, found that the average student spends 42 minutes completing homework (S. Brown 966).
- Quoted text: Share in the text that the quote comes from another individual.
Lawrence shares his insight by stating that “instructions need to be shared, not assumed” (Young 55).
Citations for Books:
The basic entry for a book consists of the author's name, the book title, the publisher, and the year published.
Author's Last name, First name. Book Title. Publisher, Year Published.
MLA book citation example:
Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein. Lackington, Hughes, Harding, Mavor & Jones, 1818.
The first author's name should be reversed, with a comma after the last name and a period after the first name (or any middle name). The name should not be abbreviated and should be written exactly as it appears on the title page.
For a book written by two authors:
- List them in order as they appear on the cover or title page.
- Only the first author's name should be reversed, while the second author's name is written in normal order. Separate author names by a comma, and place the word "and" before the second author's name.
Smith, John, and Bob Anderson. The Sample Book. Books For Us, 2017.
- For books with three or more authors, only include the first author, followed by a comma and the abbreviation "et al."
Campbell, Megan, et al. The Best Noun Book. Books For Us, 2017.
The full title of the book, including any subtitles, should be italicized and followed by a period. If the book has a subtitle, the main title should be followed by a colon (unless the main title ends with a question mark or exclamation point).
The Best Books for Kids: A Complete Anthology.
Publication information can generally be found on the title page of a book. If it is not available there, it may also be found on the copyright page. State the name of the publisher.
If you are citing a specific page range from the book, include the page(s) at the end of the citation.
Smith, John, and Bob Anderson. The Sample Book. Books For Us, 2017, pp. 5-12.
When a book has no edition number/name present, it is generally a first edition. If you have to cite a specific edition of a book later than the first, see the section below on citing edited books.
Citations for Translated Books:
If the translation is the focus of your project, include the translator's name at the beginning of the citation, like this:
Translator's Last name, First name, translator. Title. By Original Author's First name Last name, Publisher, Year published.
If it's not the actual translation that is the focus, but the text itself, include the translator's name in the "other contributors" position, like this:
Original Author's Last name, First name. Title. Translated by First Name Last name. Publisher, Year published.
Citations for E-Books:
E-books are formatted differently than print books. Why? Some e-books have different, or extra, information than print books. In addition, e-book pages are often numbered differently. Since the content and format may differ from print books, e-book citations are structured differently. When citing an e-book from a website, format the e-book citation with the website title and URL. When citing an e-book in a digital book format, which lacks a URL or that requires software on an e-reader device, include “e-book ed.” for the Version element of the citation. If you know that the e-book file format (EPUB, MOBI, etc.) varies depending on the e-book publication, you may also include the file format as a supplemental element at the end of the entry.
Format for an e-book found on the Internet:
Author's Last name, First name. Title of E-Book. Publisher, Year Published. Title of Website, URL.
Rodgers, Tara. Pink Noises: Women on Electronic Music and Sound. Duke UP, 2010. Google Books, books.google.com/books?id=syqTarqO5XEC&lpg=PP1&dq=electronic%20music&pg=PP1#v=onepage&q=electronic%20music&f=false.
Format for an e-book found on an e-reader:
Author's Last name, First name. Title of E-book.. E-Book ed., Publisher, Year Published.
Rodgers, Tara. Pink Noises: Women on Electronic Music and Sound. E-book ed., Duke UP, 2010. EPUB.
Format for an e-book found on an e-reader with a file format included:
Author's Last name, First name. Title of E-book. E-Book ed., Publisher, Year Published. File Format.
Rodgers, Tara. Pink Noises: Women on Electronic Music and Sound. E-Book ed., Duke UP, 2010. EPUB.
Citations for Chapters in Books:
Individual chapters are cited when a writer uses a book filled with many chapters, each written by different authors. When citing a specific chapter in a book or an anthology, structure the citation like this:
Last name, First name of Chapter's Author. "Title of Chapter." Title of Book, Other Contributors and their roles, Version (if there's a specific edition), Publisher, Year Published, Page or Page Range.
Levi-Strauss, Claude. "The Structural Study of Myth." Literary Adverb Theory: An Anthology, edited by Julie Rivkin and Michael Ryan, 3rd ed., Wiley Blackwell, 2017, pp. 178-195.
Citations for Edited Books:
If your book is not a first edition, you should note this in the citation. If the book is a revised edition or an edition that includes substantial new content, include the number, name, or year of the edition and the abbreviation "ed." after the book title. "Revised edition" should be abbreviated as "Revised ed." and "Abridged edition" should be "Abridged ed." The edition can usually be found on the title page, as well the copyright page, along with the edition's date.
Author's Last name, First name, editor. Title of Book. Numbered ed., Publisher, Year Published.
Ferraro, Gary, and Susan Andreatta, editors. Cultural Anthropology: An Applied Perspective. 10th ed., Cengage Learning, 2014.
Smith, John. The MLA Sample Paper Book. Revised ed., Books For Us, 2017.
If your edited book has more than one author, refer to the directions above under the heading "Authors."
Also, BibMe.org helps you create your citations with more than one author quickly and easily! Try our MLA formatter!
Citations for Websites:
Wondering how to cite a website in MLA? The most basic entry for an MLA website citation consists of the author name(s), page title, website title, sponsoring institution/publisher, date published, and the DOI or URL.
Author's Last name, First name. "Title of Individual Web Page." Title of Website, Publisher, Date, DOI or URL.
Fosslien, Liz, and Mollie West. "3 Ways to Hack Your Environment to Help You Create." Huffpost Preposition Endeavor, Huffington Post, Dec. 7, 2016, www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/3-ways-to-hack-your-environment-to-help-you-createus580f758be4b02444efa569bc.
The first author's name should be reversed, with a comma placed after the last name and a period after the first name (or any middle name). The name should not be abbreviated and should be written exactly as it appears on the website.
For a page with two or more authors, list them in the order they appear on the website. Only the first author's name should be reversed, with the others written in normal order. Separate author names by a comma, and place the word "and" before the last author's name. For pages with three or more authors, only include the first author, followed by the abbreviation "et al."
If no author is available, begin the citation with the page title.
The page title should be placed within quotation marks. Place a period after the page title within the quotation marks. The page title is followed by the name of the website, which is italicized, followed by a comma.
After the website title, include the sponsoring institution or publisher followed by a comma. The sponsoring institution/publisher can usually be found at the bottom of the website, in the footer. If the name of the publisher is the same as the name as the website, do not include the publisher information in your citation. In MLA format, it is not recommended to include duplicate information for a website.
Next, state the publication date of the page.In some cases, a specific date might not be available, and the date published may only be specific to a month or even a year. Provide whatever date information is available.
End the citation with the URL. 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. End the entire citation with a period.
Looking for an MLA formatter to create your website citations quickly and easily? Check out the BibMe MLA citation machine! Our MLA format website creates your citations in just a few clicks.
Citations for Online Journal Articles:
The most basic entry for a journal consists of the author name(s), article title, journal name, volume number, issue number, year published, page numbers, name of website or database where the article was found, and URL or Direct Object Identifier (DOI).
Author's Last name, First name. "Title of Journal Article." Title of Journal, vol. number, issue no., Date, Page Range. Database or Website Name, URL or DOI.
Snyder, Vivian. "The Effect Course-Based Reading Strategy Training on the Reading Comprehension Skills of Developmental College Students." Research and Teaching in Developmental Education, vol. 18, no. 2, spring 2002, pp. 37-41. *JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/42802532.
*According to MLA 9th edition, lowercase seasons (spring 2002 not Spring 2002). Do not capitalize seasons.
Most online journal articles have two containers. The first is the journal that the article is in, and the second is the website or database the journal is in.
The first author's name should be reversed, with a comma after the last name and a period after the first name (or any middle name). The name should not be abbreviated and should be written exactly as it appears in the journal.
For an article written by two authors, list them in the order they appear in the journal. Only the first author's name should be reversed, while the second is written in normal order. Separate author names by a comma, and place the word "and" before the second author's name.
Krispeth, Klein, and Stewart Jacobs.
For articles with three or more authors, include the name of the first author in the citation, followed by a comma and the abbreviation "et al."
Jones, Langston, et al.
The article title should be placed within quotation marks. Place a period after the article title within the quotation marks, unless the article title ends with a question mark or exclamation mark. The article title is followed by the name of the journal, which is italicized.
Include the volume number of the journal, but use the abbreviation "vol." You may also need to include the issue number, depending on the journal. Use the abbreviation "no." before the journal's issue number.
Jones, Robert, et al. "Librarianship in the Future." Libraries Today, vol. 5, no. 2, Mar. 2017, pp. 89-103. Database Life, www.dbl.com/6854.
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. If the article has a DOI, use the DOI instead of the URL.
Digital Object Identifiers (DOIs)
Simply put, a Digital Object Identifier (usually abbreviated as “DOI”) is an identification number or source link for a document or file. It’s a system that is widely used by journals today. The DOI is comprised of symbols, numbers, and letters.
This unique number system is very beneficial to readers and authors since it can be used to immediately locate an exact document, even if a host web page or database has altered an article’s URL.
How do I find an article’s DOI?
In print or PDF form, the first place to check is the front page of the article. If it is an online article, look for the DOI near the top of the article, at the very end of the article, or wherever citation information is located. Here are a few examples:
Here is an example from The New England Journal of Medicine:
Here is an example from the bottom of a Nature article:
Where in a citation is the DOI included?
If a DOI for an article exists, place it at the end of the citation. Here’s an example for the New England Journal of Medicine article previously shown:
Thomas, Cristina, et al. “Facing Uncertainty.” New England Journal of Medicine, vol. 381, no. 23, 2019, pp. 2253–2259, https://doi:10.1056/nejmcps1906037.
Citations for Blogs:
Blogs can be good sources to use for research papers and projects since many are regularly updated and written by influencers and experts.
Blogs can belong to a single individual, a group of people, or a company. Most entries for a blog include a title for that day’s entry, the date it was posted, and the information.
To cite a blog, you’ll need the following pieces of information: * The author’s name(s) or the name of the company who posted the blog * The title of the individual blog post * The title of the blog * The name of the publisher (if it differs from the name of the author(s) or title of the blog) * The date the blog post was posted * The website address (URL) for the blog post
Author’s Last name, First name. “Title of Blog Post.” Title of Blog, Publisher, Date Published, URL.
BibMe. “How to Spell in English: British vs. American.” BibMe Blog, www.bibme.org/blog/writing-tips/how-to-spell-in-english-british-vs-american/.
Notice in the above example, the date is missing. If there is no date shown on the blog post, omit it from the full citation.
Williams, Lindsay. “How to Get the Most from Your Online Language Lessons with a Tutor.” Lindsay Does Languages, 2019 Feb. 12, www.lindsaydoeslanguages.com/how-to-get-the-most-from-your-online-language-lessons-with-a-tutor/.
Cite a blog post in the text of the paper using this format:
(Author’s Last name) OR Author’s Last name...
Since there isn’t a page number, only use the author’s last name.
Citations for Newspapers:
The most basic entry for a newspaper consists of the author name(s), article title, newspaper name, publication date, page numbers, and sometimes a URL if found online. Omit volume numbers, issue numbers, and the names of publishers from newspaper citations.
Format if found on a website:
Author's Last name, First name. "Title of Article." Title of Newspaper's Website, Publication Date, URL.
Format if found on a database:
Author's Last name, First name. "Title of Article." Title of Newspaper, Publication Date, Page or Page Range (if available). Title of Database, URL.
MLA format example:
This example is for a print newspaper:
Hageman, William. "Program Brings Together Veterans, Neglected Dogs." Chicago Tribune, 4 Jan. 2015, p. 10.
The full article title should be placed within quotations. Next, state the name of the newspaper in italics.
Towards the end of the citation, include the page numbers on which the article appears with a period. Cite all inclusive page numbers --- if the article spans pages that are not consecutive, cite only the first page, followed by a plus sign.
Don't forget, the BibMe citation generator in MLA creates citations for you quickly and easily! Also, check out BibMe Plus paper checker, which scans your paper for correct usage of language elements. Have a determiner out of place in your writing? A pronoun spelled incorrectly? An overused adjective? No worries, BibMe Plus has you covered!
Citations for Photographs:
The most basic entry for a photograph consists of the photographer's name, the title of the photograph, the title of the book, website, or collection where the photograph can be located, the publisher of the photograph or publication where the image was located, the date the photograph was posted or taken, and the page number, location of the museum (such as a city and state), or URL if found online.
Photographer's Last name, First name. "Title of the Photograph." Title of the Book, Website, Collection, or other type of publication where the photograph was found, Date photograph was taken, Page Number (if applicable), Location (such as a city and state if necessary) where the photograph can be found, or URL.
Begin with the name of the photographer or main contributor (if available). This person's name should be reversed, with a comma placed after the last name and a period after the first name (and any middle name).
For a photograph taken from a publication or website, include the title of the photograph in quotation marks followed by a period. If the photograph does not have a formal title, create a description. If you make your own description, only include a capital at the beginning of the description and at the beginning of any proper nouns. Do not place the description in italics or quotation marks.
Place the title of the publication in italics immediately following the description, followed by a comma.
Digital Image/Photograph found online:
Photograph of the Hudson Area Public Library. JMS Collective, 19 Apr. 2016, www.jmscollective.com/hudson-ny-3/historic-hudson-armory-now-public-\ library/.
*Note that the above photograph does not have a formal title, so the photograph citation contains a description instead.
Photograph or Image viewed in a museum:
Vishniac, Roman. "Red Spotted Purple." Roman Vishniac's Science Work, early 1950s - late 1960s, International Center of Photography at Mana, New Jersey.
Photograph or Image found in a book:
Barnard, Edwin. Photograph of Murray Street, Hobart. Exiled: The Port Arthur Convict Photographs, National Library of Australia, 2010, p. 20.
Citing Social Media in MLA Format:
It's not uncommon to see social media posts included in research projects and papers. Most social media citations use the following structure:
@Username (First name Last name, if known, and differs from handle). "Text of post." Social Media Platform, Date posted, URL.
If the post is a photo or image instead of text, include a description of the image. Only capitalize the first letter in the description and the first letter for any proper nouns. Do not place the description in quotation marks.
If the post is long or includes emojis or links, it is acceptable to include only the beginning of the tweet with an ellipsis at the end of the included portion.
Citing a Twee:
@BibMe. "Need help with MLA essay format? Here are 6 steps to getting it done..." Twitter, 3 Dec. 2018, twitter.com/bibme/status/1069682724716204032.
Citing a Facebook Post:
DeGeneres, Ellen. "Holiday party goals..." Facebook, 21 Dec. 2018, www.facebook.com/ellentv/photos/a.182755292239/10157188088077240/?type=3&theater.
Citing an Instagram Post:
@dualipa. "A lil Hollywood glam brunch! Thank you @variety for by Breakthrough Artist of the Year award and thank you for your continuous support...." Instagram, 2 Dec. 2018, www.instagram.com/p/Bq33SC2BAsr/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link.
Citations for Music:
Citing a Song from the Internet:
To cite this type of source, structure the reference as follows:
Singer's Last Name, First name OR Band Name. "Title of Song." Title of Website or Service, Other Contributors and their roles (if applicable), Version, Date Published, URL.
Lopez, Jennifer. "Us." Spotify, 2 Feb. 2018, open.spotify.com/track/2MMvonKGALz6YOJwaKDO3q.
Citing a song from an album or downloaded:
Singer's Last name, First name OR Band Name. "Title of Song." Title of Album, Other Contributors and their roles (if applicable), Version, Publisher, Date Published or Released.
Lopez, Jennifer. "On the Floor." LOVE?, performance by Pitbull, Island, 2011.
Citations for Films:
The most basic entry for a film consists of the title, director, publisher, and year of release. You may also choose to include the names of the writer(s), performer(s), and the producer(s), depending on who your research focuses on. You can also include certain individuals to help readers locate the exact source themselves.
Example of a common way to cite a film:
Film Title. Directed by First name Last name, performance by First Name Last Name, Publisher, Year.
BibMe: The Movie. Directed by John Smith, performance by Jane Doe, New York Stories, 2017.
If your research focuses on a specific individual, you can begin the citation with that individual's name (in reverse order) and their role. Format it the same way as you would an author's name.
Doe, Jane, performer. BibMe: The Movie. Directed by John Smith, New York Stories, 2017.
If the film is dubbed in English or does not have an English title, use the foreign language title in the citation, followed by a square bracket that includes the translated title.
Citas gobiernan el mundo [Citations Rule the World]. Directed by Sara Paul, Showcase Films, 2017.
If the film was found online, such as YouTube or another site, include the name of the website and the URL.
Last name, First name of Individual who posted the video OR Account name. "Film Title." Website Title, other individuals and their roles (if applicable), Publisher, Year Published, URL.
The New York Public Library. "2018 National Book Awards Finalists at NYPL." YouTube, 15 Nov. 2018, youtu.be/edJqg3NuF2Q.
*Note that the New York Public Library was not listed as the publisher of the video. Adding "The New York Public Library" in the citation twice is not necessary.
Since the citation has two titles included (the title of the film and the title of the website), the title of the film is placed in quotation marks and the title of the website is in italics.
Citations for TV/Radio:
The most basic MLA format citation for a radio/TV program consists of the individuals responsible for the creation of the episode (if they're important to your research), the episode title, program/series name, broadcasting network or publisher, the original broadcast date, and the URL.
"The Highlights of 100." Seinfeld, NBC, 2 Feb. 1995.
If your research focuses on a specific individual from a TV or radio broadcast, include their name at the beginning of the citation in the author position.
If relevant, you may also choose to include the names of personnel involved with the program. Depending if the personnel are relevant to the specific episode or the series as a whole, place the personnel names after the program/series name. You may cite narrator(s) preceded by "narrated by", writer(s) preceded by "written by", directors preceded by "directed by", performer(s) preceded by "performance by", and/or producer(s) preceded by "produced by" and then the individual names. Include as many individuals as you like. Write these personnel names in normal order --- do not reverse the first and last names.
"The Highlights of 100." Seinfeld, directed by Andy Ackerman, written by Peter Mehlman, NBC, 2 Feb. 1995.
Also include the name of the network on which the program was broadcasted, followed by a comma.
State the date on which your program was originally broadcasted, followed by a period. When including the URL, follow the date with a comma and place the URL at the end, followed by a period to end the citation. You can usually leave out http:// or https:// from URLs unless you want to hyperlink them.
Citations for Lectures:
The most basic entry for a lecture consists of the speaker's name, presentation title, date conducted, and the name and location of the venue.
Speaker's Last name, First name. Title of Lecture. Date Conducted, Venue, Location.
Pausch, Randy. Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams. 18 Sept. 2007, McConomy Auditorium, Pittsburgh.
Begin the citation with the name of the speaker. This person's name should be reversed. If the lecture has a title, place it in the citation in italics, followed by a period. State the date on which the lecture was conducted, followed by a comma. Conclude your citation with the location/venue name and the city in which it occurred, separated by a comma.
Citations for Encyclopedias
The most basic entry for an encyclopedia consists of the author name(s), article title, encyclopedia name, publisher, and year published.
Last Name, First Name. "Article Title." Encyclopedia Name, Publisher, Year Published.
Smith, John. "Internet." Encyclopedia Britannica, 2012.
Notice that the name of the publisher was not included in the example above. Only include the name of the publisher if it differs from the name of the encyclopedia. Encyclopedia Britannica is the name of the encyclopedia AND the name of the publisher. It is not necessary to include Encyclopedia Britannica twice in the citation.
If there are no authors for the article, begin the citation with the article title instead.
"Media." World Book Encyclopedia, 2010.
If the encyclopedia arranges articles alphabetically, do not cite the page number(s) or number of volumes. If articles are not arranged alphabetically, you may want to include page number(s) and/or volume number, which is preceded by the abbreviation "vol." The volume should be cited after the encyclopedia name (or any edition), and before any publication information. After the publication year, include the page numbers on which the article appears, along with a period. Cite all inclusive page numbers --- if the article spans pages that are not consecutive, cite only the first page, followed by a plus sign.
Saunders, Bill. "Treasure." Encyclopedia Britannica, vol. 18, 2012, p. 56.
If the encyclopedia entry is found on a website, use the following structure:
Last name, First name. "Encyclopedia Entry." Title of Encyclopedia Website, Publisher, Year published, URL.
Citations for Magazines:
The most basic entry for a magazine consists of the author name(s), article title, magazine name, the volume and issue numbers (if available), publication date, page numbers, and URL if found online.
Last name, First name. "Article Title." Magazine Name, vol. number, issue no., Publication Date, Page Numbers or URL.
Pratt, Sybil. "A Feast of Tradition." BookPage, Oct. 2017, p. 8.
Geagan, Kate. "Sweeter Swaps: How to Choose Sustainable Sweeteners." Clean Eating, no. 83, Nov./Dec. 2018, pp. 36-37. Flipster, cleaneating.eoncontent.ebscohost.com/1927216#&pageSet=19.
The first author's name should be reversed, with a comma placed after the last name and a period after the first name (or any middle name). The name should not be abbreviated and should be written exactly as it appears in the magazine.
For an article written by two or more authors, list them in the order as they appear on the title page. Only the first author's name should be reversed, while the others are written in normal order. Separate author names by a comma, and place the word "and" before the last author's name. For articles with three or more authors, only include the first author, followed by the abbreviation "et al."
The full article title should be placed within quotations. Unless there is punctuation that ends the article title, place a period after the title within the quotations. Next, state the name of the magazine in italics.
If volume and issue numbers are available, include them in the citation. Use the abbreviations “vol.” and “no.” before the volume number and issue number.
Example: vol. 6, no. 1
The date the magazine was published comes directly after the volume and issue number. Use whichever date the magazine includes, whether it's a complete date, a period spanning two months, a season (lowercased), or just a month and year. Follow this information with a comma.
Include the page number(s) on which the article appears. Cite all inclusive page numbers --- if the article spans pages that are not consecutive, cite only the first page, followed by a plus sign.
If the magazine article was found online, include the DOI or URL. Use a DOI instead of a URL when it is available. 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. End the citation with a period.
Citations for Interviews:
Begin your citation with the name of the person interviewed. This person's name should be reversed, with a comma placed after the last name and a period after the first name (or any middle name).
For an interview that has been broadcast or published, if there is a title, include it after the name of the person interviewed.
Jolie, Angelina. "Being a Mother." Interview conducted by Steve Kroft, 60 Minutes, CBS, 3 Feb. 2009.
If there is no title, use the word "Interview" in place of a title and do not use quotation marks or italics. If the interviewer's name is known, add it, preceded by "Conducted by", after the word "Interview". Do not reverse the interviewer's name.
Jenkins, Lila. Interview. Conducted by Jessica Grossman. 5 Mar. 2017.
For published interviews found online, include the title of the website after the title of the interview. In addition, add the URL at the end of the citation.
Michaels, Jamye. "Fighting to Survive." Women's Magazine of Life, 2 Nov. 2016, www.womensmagazine.com/fightingtosurvive.com.
Citations for Dissertations and Theses:
In order to obtain a degree, most colleges and universities require students to submit a dissertation or thesis towards the end of their academic track. Dissertations and theses are lengthy essays or in-depth research projects that relate to the scope of the student’s learning.
For example, if a student is close to obtaining their Master’s in Library Science, the student could study and write about the Internet searching habits of elderly individuals, or perhaps focus on the research skills of economically disadvantaged adults.
Upon completion, this individual assignment is often presented to the main directors, committee members, or professors at the school for approval.
A dissertation is generally assigned to students who are completing their doctorate degree, and many graduate schools require students to hand in a thesis to obtain a master’s degree.
Since so much research and work went into these scholarly projects, and new ideas and conclusions are often produced, many colleges and universities publish the completed papers. You can find these projects on many school websites and databases.
Here’s one way you can reference a dissertation or thesis:
Author’s Last Name, First name. Title of Dissertation or Thesis. Year Completed. University or College, Degree Abbr. Database, DOI or URL.
Kim, Kee Han. Development of an Improved Methodology for Analyzing Existing Single-Family Residential Energy Use. 2014. Texas A & M U, PhD. ProQuest, https://ezproxy.nypl.org/socabs/docview/1665251619/abstract/E9D36166E31040AEPQ/1?accountid=35635.
Fletcher, Marissa. Influences of Nutrition and Pathogenicity from a Microbial Diet on Immunity and Longevity in Caenorhabditis Elegans. 2012. Massachusetts Institute of Technology, PhD. DSpace@MIT, https://dspace.mit.edu/handle/1721.1/120633.
Including a visual in your project is a great way to make information come to life, as visuals can complement written work and enhance understanding.
Photographs, maps, charts, graphs, line drawings, musical scores, and tables are images that can be included in a project.
Follow these directions to add an image to your research paper:
- Images should be placed close to where they’re mentioned in the text.
- Provide a brief explanation about the image in the written portion of the paper, but do not write out all data shown in the image. Doing so would make the image unnecessary. (See the visual “Table example” at the end of this section.)
Correct example: Table 1 shows commonly used words in Shakespeare’s plays and their English translation.
Incorrect example: Table 1 shows commonly used words in Shakespeare’s plays and their English translation. Brave translates to handsome, character means a letter or word, egal means equal, fancy is a term for desire, and honest translates to pure.
- Tables are titled Table X, figures are Fig. X, and examples are Ex. X.
- Any type of image that includes an illustration is considered a “Figure”.
- Musical scores or sheet music are considered “Examples”.
- If the information below the image contains all of the source information, a full reference on the “Works Cited” page is not necessary.
- Double space everything.
- The image should have the same 1-inch margins as the rest of the paper.
Check out the examples below to see how tables, figures, and musical scores are arranged.
Musical score example:
Your “Works Cited” Page
An MLA "Works Cited" or MLA "Work Cited" page contains all of the citations for a project.
- This page sits on its own and is found at the end of a project.
- If there is only one citation on the page, title the page: Work Cited. While it might seem silly to have a full page dedicated to one citation, a “Work Cited” page in MLA is still necessary. If there are multiple citations on the page, title the page: Works Cited.
- Double space the entire list of works cited.
- Include the writer's last name and the page number, at the top right corner of the page.
- Every in-text or parenthetical citation in the body of the project should correspond with its full citation listed on the MLA “Works Cited” or “Work Cited” page.
- All full citations in MLA formatting have a hanging indent. This means that the first line of the citation sits flush against the left margin. The second line, and any subsequent lines, are indented in another half inch. If you need a visual, all full citations on this page have a hanging indent.
- Citations are listed in alphabetical order by the first letter found in the citation.
- If there are multiple sources by the same author, only include the author's name in the first citation. For each citation afterwards, MLA formatting requires you to include three dashes and a period. Organize the citations by the title.
Example of a Works-Cited List with Multiple Works by Same Author:
Riggs, Ransom. Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children. Quirk, 2011.
---. Tales of the Peculiar. Dutton, 2016.
- When alphabetizing by titles, ignore “A,” “An,” and “The,” and use the next part of the title.
- If the title starts with a number, place the title where it would belong if the number was spelled out.
MLA formatting example:
1492: The Year Our World Began would be alphabetized under F (for fourteen)
Sample Works Cited:
Formatting Your Header:
The first page of your MLA format paper should include a header. An MLA cover page, or MLA title page, that sits on its own isn't necessary or recommended.
MLA heading format includes the following pieces of information, styled like this, in this order:
Your professor or teacher's name
The class and/or course number
Date of submission
- Double space everything on the page.
- In the top right corner, include your last name and the page number.
- The title should be centered in the middle of the page.
- Use any type of font that is easy to read for the entire paper.
- MLA paper format requires 12-point font, or another size close to it.
Sample MLA Header:
Using BibMe.org to Create Citations for your MLA Works Cited Page or MLA Bibliography
Wondering how to use MLA format? The BibMe automatic MLA format generator formats your citations for you. Enter a title, web address, ISBN number, or other identifying information into the MLA format template to automatically cite your sources. If you need help with BibMe.org or our citation machine in MLA, click here on more styles.
Try This Out:
The BibMe service is an extremely helpful resource that helps you create your citations for your project, but there's more. The BibMe service also has a feature that will help to proofread your entire MLA format essay. The BibMe Plus paper checker scans for proper spelling, punctuation, language elements, and syntax. It will tell you if a language element, such as a preposition, conjunction, or interjection, is a bit off. It also has a built-in plagiarism checker, which scans papers for instances of accidental plagiarism. Try it out now!
Background Information and History:
The Modern Language Association was developed in 1883 and was created to strengthen the study and teaching of languages and literature. With over 25,000 current members worldwide, the Modern Language Association continuously strives to keep its members up-to-date on the best practices, methods, and trends related to language and literature. The Modern Language Association boasts an annual conference, journal, an online communication platform, numerous area-focused committees, and one of its most popular publications, the MLA Handbook, now in its 9th edition.
Updated June 25, 2021
Edited and written by Elise Barbeau and Michele Kirschenbaum. Elise is a citation expert and has her master’s degree in public history/library science. She has experience in digital marketing, libraries, and publishing. Michele is a certified library media specialist who loves citations and teaching. She’s been writing about citing sources since 2014.
Helpful Tips for Your Citation
Our citation guides provide detailed information about all types of sources in MLA, APA, Chicago and Turabian styles.
If required by your instructor, you can add annotations to your citations. Just select Add Annotation while finalizing your citation. You can always edit a citation as well.
Remember to evaluate your sources for accuracy and credibility. Questionable sources could result in a poor grade!