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Citation Help: MLA

MLA Style, 9th Edition

Cite in two places, in the text and at the end of the paper.

  • In-text citations follow author-page format (author page number) and usually appear in parentheses at the end of sentence before the period.
  • A Works Cited page at the end of the document has full citations in alphabetical order formatted with a hanging indent.

Sample Works Cited Entries

Books or Single Containers

Last name, First name. Title of Container. Publisher, Year.

Morrison, Toni. The Bluest Eye. Knopf, 1993.

Sánchez Prado, Ignacio M., editor. Mexican Literature in Theory. Bloomsbury, 2018.

Bearden, Romare. The Train. 1975, MOMA, www.moma.org/collection/works/65232?locale=en.

Book Chapters, Short Stories, or Smaller Works Inside a Container

Last name, First name. “Title of Smaller Work.” Title of Container, edited by First name Last name, Version, Number, Publisher, Year, Location (Pages, URL, or DOI).

Poe, Edgar Allan. "The Masque of the Red Death." The Complete Works of Edgar Allan Poe, edited by James A. Harrison, vol. 4, Thomas Y. Crowell, 1902, pp. 250-58.

Simmons, William J. "Bad Feminism: On Queer-Feminist Relatability and the Production of Truth in Fleabag." Framework: The Journal of Cinema and Media, vol. 61, no. 1, 2020, pp. 32–46, Project Muse, doi.org/10.13110/framework.61.1.0032.

Beyoncé. "Single Ladies." I Am... Sasha Fierce, Columbia Records, 2008.

"Places to Study." Southern Methodist University Libraries, www.smu.edu/libraries/spaces/places-study. Accessed 9 Mar. 2022.

General Formatting Rules

  • A "container" in MLA Style is the item that holds the source you used. For example, an article would be your source and the journal it came from is the container. The database you found it in is the second container.
  • MLA style for dates is day-month-year order, with the month abbreviated if it's five or more letters long. 
  • Include the date of access for an online work if a publication date is not provided, if the page content has or may change, or if the web page is no longer accessible.

Examples of In-text Citations

Parenthetical Citations

The author name and page number are placed at the end of a sentence, before the endmark.

  • One author: Citations help readers follow your research (Naess 25).
  • Two authors: Researchers agree that citing is important (Miller and Jones 63).
  • Three or more authors: Discussions are ongoing on this topic (Hamilton et al. 498).
  • No author and no page number: This is the sentence ("Sustainable Management").

Narrative Citations

Narrative in-text citations incorporate the author name in the sentence rather than in the parentheses with the page number. 

  • One author: Naess noted the importance of... (25). 
  • Two authors: Miller and Jones found that... (63). 
  • Three or more authors: Hamilton et al. argue that... (246). 

Direct Quotations

For short quotations, which consist of four typed lines or fewer of prose and three lines of verse, add quotation marks around the words and incorporate the quote into your own text. Include the author and page number in the parenthetical citation.

  • According to Johnson, citations are "breadcrumbs that all researchers can follow” (725).
  • Researchers should "follow citation guidelines as closely as possible" to avoid plagiarism (Rivera 47). 

MLA Handbooks

The Handbook is the authoritative source on MLA Style and the best place to look for information. Always check with your professor for any specific citation requirements.

Resources for MLA Style

Related Guides