MLA Citation Style

MLA citation style refers to the rules and conventions established by the Modern Language Association for acknowledging sources used in a research paper. There are two parts to citing sources. First citations are placed in the text directly after the information being quoted or paraphrased. Second, there is a Works Cited list [often still called a bibliography, though a bibliography is technically a list of books]. The works cited list comes at the end of the paper. Together these references identify and credit the sources used in the paper and allow others to access and retrieve this material. Below are some examples of the more commonly used types of citations in text and works cited lists. Please check the MLA style guide for complete information including more examples as well as margin and spacing requirements, standard punctuation and grammar tools.

In Text Citation

In MLA style, references to sources are placed in the text of the paper in order to briefly identify sources for readers and enable them to locate the source of the cited information in the Works Cited list. These references should be kept as brief and as clear as possible.
  • Give only the information needed to identify a source. Usually the author's last name and a page reference are enough because the full citation will be in the works cited list.
  • Place the parenthetical reference as near as possible to the material being documented and where a pause would naturally occur; preferably at the end of a sentence.
  • Parenthetical material should not repeat information that is given in your text. If you include an author's name in a sentence, you do not need to repeat it in your parenthetical statement.
  • The parenthetical reference should precede the punctuation mark that concludes the sentence, clause or phrase that contains the cited material.
  • Electronic and online sources are cited just like print resources in references cited in the text. If an online source lacks numbering, omit numbers from the parenthetical references. If a source includes fixed page numbers or section numbering, such as numbering of paragraphs (pars.), use the relevant numbers.


Author's name in reference

This concern has been expressed (Smith 118-21).

Author's name in text

Smith has expressed this concern (118-21).

Multiple authors of a work

This hypothesis (Smith and Jones 7) suggested this theory (Parks, Warner, and Howe 23).

Two locations

Jones alludes to this premise (136-39, 145).

Two works cited

(Anderson 54, Taylor 327)

Multivolume works

References to volumes and pages (Wayne 2:1-18) References to an entire volume (Henderson, vol. 3) In text reference to an entire volume In volume 3, Henderson suggests.

Corporate authors

(United Nations, Economic Commission for Africa 51-63)

Works with no author When a work has no author, use the work's title or a shortened version of the title when citing it in text. (If abbreviating a title, omit initial articles and begin with the word by which it is alphabetized in the Works Cited list.): as stated by the presidential commission (Report 4).

Online source with numbered paragraphs (Fox, pars. 4-5)

Works Cited List (Bibliography)

A list of all the works cited in the paper should be given at the end of the paper. This list provides the information necessary to identify and find each source that you used in your research. The citation consists of three parts.
  • Title of book or article. [Full title: Followed by subtitle, if any.]
  • Publication Information. [City of Publication: Publisher, Date]
General Guidelines
  • Use periods between each part of the citation. Separate city and publisher by a colon [:]. Separate publisher and date by a comma [,].
  • Use hanging indentations – the first line of the entry is even with the left margin, and all subsequent lines are indented (5 to 7 spaces) to form a "hanging indent."
  • Double space between entries.
  • Arrange entries in alphabetical order by authors' last names or by title for sources without authors.
  • Capitalize the first word and all other main words of the titles and subtitles of cited works listed.
  • Shorten the publisher's name.
  • When multiple publishers are listed, include all of them, placing a semicolon between each.
  • When more than one city is listed for the same publisher, use only the first city.
  • Write out the word "and" when listing multiple authors of a single work.
  • Do not use the abbreviations p. or pp. to designate page numbers.
  • See the MLA Handbook for more information and examples.

Examples for Citing Audio-Visual Materials

Film or video recording

Big Foot Sitings. Dir. James B. Scout. 1997. Videocassette. Cedar Fort Productions, 1991.

CD-ROM Citations should include the medium of the electronic publication (CD-ROM), the name of the vendor that made the material available on CD-ROM and publications dates for the version used if relevant.

"Great Salt Lake." Encyclopedia of the Great Basin. CD-ROM. Vers. 2.0. Reno: Nevada Multimedia, 1997.

Examples for Citing Material from Online Sources

Online book:

Young, Orson. The Road West..Project Beetleby. Ed. Harry Pratt.1927. 3 April 2007 .

Article from an online encyclopedia

"Jackalope."Encyclopedia Americana Online. 2006. Encyclopedia Americana. 10 April 2007 .

Article in a full-text journal accessed from a database to which the library subscribes For works from a database EBSCOHost or SIRS, use the URL of the database's main page (if known). Also, if a library is the subscriber to the service the name of the service and the name and city of the library should be included in the citation. When only the starting page number is provided, include this number followed by a hyphen, space and a period. See example below.

Whitney, Mathilda. "Floating in the Salt Sea" Utah Historical Annuls 15 May. 1915: 64 . Academic Search Premier. EBSCOHost. SLCC Library, Salt Lake, UT. 15 April. 2007 .

Article from an online magazine (accessed directly):

Warden, Chip. "Old Salty." Range and Basin 1 December 1989. 12 April 2007 .

Home Page for a Course: Start with the instructor's name, the course, a description, such as Course home page, dates, the department, institution, date accessed and the URL.

Miller, Tom. History of Utah. Course home page. January 2007- April 2007. History Dept., SLCC. 10 April 2007 .

Professional site:

Mythical Animals of the West. Midvale Historical Society. 9 April. 2007 . Mann, Lois. Saltaire and the Great Salt Lake. 11 April. Utah Tourism Council. Salt Lake. 11 Nov. 2005 .

Personal site:

Rule, Mark. Brine Shrimp. 16 April. 2007 .

Examples for Citing Books

References to an entire book should include the following elements:
  • Author(s) or editor(s)
  • The complete title
  • Edition, if indicated
  • Place of publication
  • The shortened name of the publisher
  • Date of publication
No author or editor:

Mysterious Creatures of the Great Salt Lake. 2nd ed. Lehi, UT: Pioneer P, 1839.

One author:

Henry, John H. Little Brine Shrimp. New York: Putnam, 1985.

Another work, same author:

Out of the Salt Marsh. New York: Knopf, 1981.

Two authors:

Young, Susan, and Will Christiansen. Antelope Island: A History. 2nd ed. Chicago: Coff & Sons, 1999.

Three authors:

Cohen, Tom, George Harris, and Martin Young. Mythical Creatures of the Great Basin. 3rd ed. Omaha: Nebraska P, 1994.

More than three authors:

Sandoval, Mike, et al. Campfire Tales: Mysterious Events in the Unitas. Salt Lake: U of Utah P, 1993.

Multivolume work:

Norton, Paul, Mary Teal, and George James Youltzen. A History of the West. 2 vols. New York: Peguin, 1989.

Article in a book:

Paranormal Research Foundation. "Encounter with the Beast." Bear Lake Monster: A History of Sightings. Ed. John Powell and Samuel T. Howe. Denver: U of Colorado P, 1975. 126-43.

Articles or entries from reference books: If the article or entry is signed, place the author's name first; if it is unsigned, give the title first. For well-known reference works, it is not necessary to include full publication information. Include only the title of the reference source, edition, and date of publication. Dictionary entry

"Paranormal." Def.3b. The Oxford English Dictionary. 2nd ed. 1989.

Encyclopedia entry

Harvey, Peter. "Sasquatch." The Encyclopedia Americana. 15th ed. 1997.

Article from a less familiar reference book: For articles from less familiar reference sources, include the full publication information.

Ickman, Wayne S. "Jackalope." Encyclopedia Improbable Beasts. Ed. Gene C. Fitzgerald. New York: Macmillan & Sons, 2005.

Examples for Citing Article in Journals, Magazines and Newspaper

References to periodical articles must include the following elements:
  • Author(s)
  • Article title
  • Publication title (journal, magazine, etc.)
  • Volume number
  • Publication date (abbreviate months)
  • Page numbers
Issue numbers should be stated as decimals to a given volume number. In the example below, the number 25.4 reads as Volume 25, issue 4. When citing newspapers, it is important to specify the edition used (e.g. late ed.) because different editions of a newspaper may contain different material. Journal article, one author

Shepherd, Lawrence. "Sasquatch: The North American Yeti." National Parks Geographic 25.4 (1982): 56-79.

Journal article, two authors:

Geltzin, Thomas, and Mary Eisner. "Brine Shrimp and Sea Monkeys." Great Basin Journal 11.3 (2005): 97-111.

Magazine article

Cathoula, Chandler. "The In-Land Sea." News of the West Jan.-Feb. 2007: 34-41.

Newspaper article, no author

"Close Encounter at Mirror Lake." Salt Lake News 2 Jan. 2007, Metro ed.: B1.

Citing Material from Online Sources

Citations for online sources should identify the source and allow that source to be located and retrieved again. Citations should include the date the content was found and a URL. It is also necessary to identify the website or database where the information was found. See the MLA Handbook for more information and examples.
  • Author’s name. [Last Name, First Name, Middle name or initial. If not given, start with the Title.]
  • Title of Article or Website. [Title of Article. Followed by Title of Website.]
  • Publication Information. [If article was previously printed, give print publication information first. Followed by date you accessed the website. URL of the article]