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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.


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.
  • Italicize book and website titles.
  • Articles from journals, magazines, or newspapers, and songs or pieces of music on an album should be in quotation marks.
  • Cite a DOI (doi:) instead of a URL whenever possible.
  • When giving a URL, copy it in full from your web browser, omitting the “http://” or “https://”.

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 an entry in the list of works cited.


Include an in-text citation whenever you summarize the ideas of another author. An in-text citation consists of the author’s name and page number in parentheses.


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

Author’s Name in the Sentence

Include only the page number in parentheses if using the author’s name in the sentence.


According to Said (9) the origins of imperialism…

Direct Quote

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


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

Include the list of references to sources that have been cited at the bottom of your document under the heading “Works Cited”.

Works that you consult but do not borrow from do not need to be included as works cited. If you wish to document consulted sources, create a separate section under a heading such as “Works Consulted.” at the approval of your instructor.

Print Book with One Author


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


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

Print Journal Articles


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


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

Online Journal Articles


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


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,



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

If the site provides no date, specify when it was produced or published.


 “Narwhal.” National Geographic, Accessed 6 July 2019.



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).


The Purdue OWL Family of Sites. The Writing Lab and OWL at Purdue and Purdue U, 2008, Accessed 23 Apr. 2019.

Questions & Help

If you have questions on this, or another, topic, contact a librarian for help! We are available by chat, phone, appointment and walk-in during business hours at both libraries.