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MLA Style Guide

The documentation style of the Modern Language Association (MLA) is widely used in the language arts and other humanities.

The current 8th edition of the Modern Language Association Handbook is available in print.

For additional help with MLA style, see the MLA Style Center.

Overview

In MLA Style, references are referred to in the body of the paper using in-text citations. The cited references are then listed alphabetically in a Works Cited section at the end of the paper.

References should include as many of the following elements as can be determined, in the following order:

  1. Author.
  2. Title of source.
  3. Title of container,
  4. Other contributors,
  5. Version,
  6. Number,
  7. Publisher,
  8. Publication date,
  9. Location.

In MLA Style:

  • Containers are the larger wholes in which the source is located. For example, if you want to cite a poem that is listed in a collection of poems, the individual poem is the source, while the larger collection is the container. The title of the container is usually italicized and followed by a comma, since the information that follows next describes the container.
  • A book or website title should be in italics.
  • A journal, magazine, or newspaper article, or a song or piece of music on an album should be in quotation marks.
  • When you cite an online source, include the date you accessed the material, since an online work may change or move at any time.

In-Text Citations

The in-text citation is a brief reference within your text that indicates the source you consulted. It should properly attribute any ideas, paraphrases, or direct quotations to your source and should direct readers to the associated entry in the list of works cited.

An in-text citation consists of the author’s name and page number in parentheses:

Example:

Imperialism is “the practice, the theory, and the attitudes of a dominating metropolitan center ruling a distant territory” (Said 9).

Author’s name used in the sentence

If using the author’s name in the sentence, include only the page number.

Example:

According to Said (9) the origins of imperialism…

Direct Quote

When directly quoting, include the page number in parentheses after the quotation.

Example:

According to Edward W. Said, imperialism is defined by “the practice, the theory, and the attitudes of a dominating metropolitan center ruling a distant territory” (9).

Works Cited

At the end of a document, list the references to sources that have been cited within the text under the heading “References”, “Cited References”, “Literature Cited”, or “Bibliography”. To distinguish references for additional reading or other purposes that are not cited within the text, list them alphabetically by author under a separate heading such as “Additional References” or “Supplemental References”.

Print Book With One Author

FORMAT:

Last Name, First Name. Title of Book. Publisher, Publication Date.

EXAMPLE:

Brown, Brené. Daring Greatly: How the Courage to be Vulnerable Transforms the Way we Live, Love, Parent, and Lead. Gotham Books, 2012.

Article From a Scholarly Journal

FORMAT:

Author(s). “Title of Article.” Title of Journal, Volume, Issue, Year, Pages.

EXAMPLE:

Duckworth, Angela. “Self-Reports Spur Self-Reflection.” MIT Sloan Management Review, vol. 60, no. 3, 2019, pp. 14-16.

ARTICLE IN AN ONLINE SCHOLARLY JOURNAL

FORMAT:

Author(s). “Title of article.” Title of Journal,Volume, Number, Date published, URL. Date accessed

EXAMPLE:

Eshet-Alkalai, Yoram. “Digital Literacy: A Conceptual Framework for Survival Skills in the Digital Era.” Journal of Educational Multimedia and Hypermedia, vol. 13, no. 1, 2004, www.learntechlib.org. Accessed 28 August 2019.

Page on a Website

FORMAT:

Author(s). “Title of page.” Title of site, URL. Date accessed.

EXAMPLE:

 “Narwhal.” National Geographic, www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/mammals/n/narwhal/. Accessed 6 July 2019.

WEBSITE

FORMAT:

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

EXAMPLE

The Purdue OWL Family of Sites. The Writing Lab and OWL at Purdue and Purdue U, 2008, owl.english.purdue.edu/owl. Accessed 23 Apr. 2019.

Questions & Help

If you have questions about MLA style, librarians are here to help!

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