MLA Citation Format


The MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, recommends a system of brief in-text citations that refer to a list of works cited (with full publication information) at the end of the paper.


MLA In-Text Citations

  • 1. Author Named in Text
  • 2. Author Not Named in Text
  • 3. More Than One Author
  • 4. Author of Two or More Works Cited
  • 5. Corporate Author or Government Agency
  • 6. Unknown Author
  • 7. An Entire Work
  • 8. A Multivolume Work
  • 9. A Literary Work
  • 10. An Indirect Source
  • 11.  More Than One Source
  • MLA Information Notes

    MLA List of Works Cited


  • 1. Book with One Author
  • 2. Book with Two or Three Authors
  • 3. Book with More Than Three Authors
  • 4. Two or More Books by the Same Author
  • 5. Book by a Corporate Author
  • 6. Book with Editor or Editors
  • 7. Book with Author and Editor
  • 8. Translated Work
  • 9.  Book without Listed Author
  • 10. Book Edition, If Not the First
  • 11. Republished Book
  • 12. Multivolume Series
  • 13. Selection in an Anthology or Edited Book
  • 14. Article in a Reference Work
  • 15. Foreword, Introduction, Preface, or Afterword
  • 16.  Dissertation


    17. Article in a Monthly Magazine

    18. Article in a Weekly Magazine

    19. Article in a Journal Paginated Annually by Volume

    20. Article in a Journal Paginated by Issue

    21. Article in a Newspaper

    22. Unsigned Article

    23. Review

    24. Editorial

    25. Letter to the Editor

    Electronic Sources

    26. CD-ROMs and Other Portable Databases

    27. Online Databases

    Other Sources

    28. Government Document

    29. Pamphlet

    30. Interview, Unpublished

    31. Interview, Published or Broadcast

    32.  Letter or E-Mail, Unpublished

    33. Letter, Published

    34.  Lecture or Public Address

    35. Film or Video Recording

    36. Television or Radio Program

    37. Recording

    38. Live Performance

    39. Work of Art

    40. Advertisement

    41. Map or Other Illustration

    42. Legal Source

    MLA Manuscript Form


    MLA In-Text Citations

    Parenthetical in-text citations should not distract the reader, but they must be complete enough to allow the reader to easily locate the corresponding entry in the list of works cited. The best place for a citation is just before the final punctuation of the sentence. If that is not appropriate, put the citation before a comma or other internal punctuation or, if nothing else is possible, before a natural pause in the sentence. The following examples illustrate the MLA style of in-text citation.

    1. Author named in textIn parentheses, provide the page number of the source. (With block quotations, enclose the page number in parentheses one space after the last punctuation mark.) If you are citing a source that uses paragraph numbers rather than page numbers, such as an electronic journal, precede the numbers with the abbreviation “par.” or “pars.”

    According to Tompkins, critics who admire Cooper find themselves in a bind: They must attempt to diminish the embarrassing (and major) features of the novels, or they must alter their standards for evaluating works of literature (98).

    If the list of works cited contains two authors with the same last name, include the first initial or first name of each one in the in-text citations.

    2. Author not named in textIn parentheses, give both the author’s last name and the page number, separated by one space. (With block quotations, place the parenthetical citation one space after the last punctuation mark.) If you are citing paragraph numbers from an electronic source rather than page numbers, place a comma after the author’s name and use the abbreviation “par.” or “pars.”

    The Last of the Mohicans presents a dilemma for literary critics; even when they are sympathetic, they "have been hard put to explain why they should continue to be fascinated by a novel which, by their own accounts, is replete with sensationalism and cliche" (Tompkins 95).

    3. More than one authorIf the source has no more than three authors, name them all in the text or the parenthetical citation. If the source has; more than three authors, list them all or use only the first author’s name followed by “et al.” (the abbreviation for the Latin “and others”).

    McCrum, Cran, and MacNeil call the development of the English language "the story of three invasions and a cultural revolution" (51).

    4. Author of two or more works citedIf the list of works cited includes more than one work by the same author, the source must be identified by both the author’s name and a short version of the title. (The full title for this example is Sensational Designs: The Cultural Work of American Fiction 1790-1860.)

    Certain nineteenth-century American novels, despite critical consensus that they are short on literary merit, played an important role by "providing society with a means of thinking about itself (Tompkins, Sensational 200).

    5. Corporate author or government agencyThe corporate or agency name should match the entry in the list of works cited. For example, if the works cited entry begins with ” United States . Department of Commerce,” the in-text citation should be ” U.S.
    Department of Commerce” rather than “Commerce Department.”

    Chicago Women in Publishing recommends that workers' titles "be described in a way that indicates the job could be filled by a member of either sex" (10).

    6. Unknown authorIf the source is not signed (a brief article in a newspaper or magazine, for example), use its full title or a shortened version in the citation. A short title should begin with the same word as the full title so that the work can be located in the list of works cited; for example the title in the example below could be shortened to
    “Can Your Mind Heal?” but not to “Mind/Body”

    Both physicians and entrepreneurs have recently become interested in how the mind can affect physical health ("Can Your Mind Heal Your Body?" 107).

    7. An entire workIf you are referring to an entire work rather than to a specific passage, no page number is necessary in the in-text citation.

    Tompkins's eloquent argument is this: American literature gives its readers nothing less than a means of comprehending their history and constructing their social consciences.

    8. A multivolume work If you consulted a multivolume work in your research, the in-text citation must include the volume number (followed by a colon) as well as the page number.

    Like the paintings of Braque, Dali, and Picasso, the compositions of Stravinsky and Schoenberg come fr 0 m the intellect, not the emotions (Hauser 4: 230).

    9. A literary workWhen you are quoting from a literary work that has been published in many editions, include information that will enable the reader to locate the passage in any edition.

    For novels, first give the page number and, after a semicolon, add the chapter or part number.

    Fifty years ago, Richard Wright wrote, "Who knows when some slight shock, disturbing the delicate balance between social order and thirsty aspiration, shall send the skyscrapers in our cities tumbling?" ( Native Son 25; bk. 1).

    For poems, cite only the line number (or numbers); a page number is unnecessary. Use a dash to indicate inclusive lines.

    In earlier parts of "In Just-" e. e. cummings's darker references to "the little/lame balloonman" (4-5) and to "the queer/old balloonman" (11-12) have prepared us for the perhaps not-so-innocent "goat-footed/balloonMan" of the poem's conclusion (20-21).

    For prose plays, give the page number and then, following a semicolon, the number of the act and the scene (43; 1, 3 use Arabic numerals unless your instructor specifies a preference for Roman numerals). For verse plays, omit the page number but include the line number (or numbers) and separate the act, scene, and line number with periods.

    The 1970s musical Hair turned Hamlet's musings--"What a piece of work is man! How noble in reason!" (2.2.320)-- into a song.

    10. An indirect sourceTo show that a quotation in your paper was also a quotation in your source (rather than written by the source’s author), use the abbreviation “qtd. in” (“quoted in”). In the list of works cited, include only the source you consulted (which would be Trimbur in the following example).

    Kenneth Bruffee observed, "While students often forget much of the subject matter shortly after class is over, they do not easily forget the values implicit in the conventions by which it was taught" (qtd. in Trimbur 95).

    11. More fhen one sourceIf a point has two or more sources, separate them with a semicolon.

    Critics have long had difficulty justifying serious consideration of the works of James Fenimore Cooper (Reynolds 102; Tompkins 98) .

    MLA Information Notes

    You may use a few brief numbered notes in addition to the parenthetical citations if you need to comment on a source or to include information that is necessary but would interrupt the flow of the text. Use an Arabic numeral raised above the line after the final punctuation of a sentence, and number the notes consecutively throughout the paper. Place the notes themselves, with the centered title Notes, on a separate page before the list of works cited (or, if your instructor so specifies, as footnotes at the bottom of the pages on which the corresponding raised numbers to appear in the text). Indent the first line of each note half an inch (or five spaces if you are using a typewriter) and begin it with a raised number without punctuation. If the note is longer than one line, the second and subsequent lines begin at the left margin. Double-space within and between the notes. (Footnotes are single-spaced with double spaces between notes and begin four lines—two double spaces – 4below the text.)


    Critics have long had difficulty justifying serious consideration of the works of James Fenimore Cooper.1


    Reportedly, however, scholarly studies of Cooper are planned by several university presses.

    MLA List of Works Cited

    Beginning on a separate page at the end of your paper, list in alphabetical order all the sources you cite and give full publishing information for them. Title the list Works Cited and center this heading an inch from the top of the paper. Double-space both within and between entries, and indent the second and subsequent lines of each entry half an inch (or five spaces on a typewriter).

    BooksBook entries have three parts, and each one ends with a period. The first part is the author’s name; the second is the title and subtitle (which are italicized or underlined); and the third part is the publishing information (place of publication, publisher, and year). You will find all this information on the book’s title page and copyright page.

    Use a short version of the publisher’s name (Harcourt for Harcourt Brace & Co., and Beacon for Beacon Press, Inc., for example). If an abbreviation for the publisher’s name is familiar to your audience, use it (such as GPO for Government Printing Office, and ALA for American Library Association). Use the abbreviation UP for University Press. For other abbreviations acceptable in the documentation, see Abbreviations.

    1. Book with one author.

    Boorstin, Daniel J. The Discoverers. New York: Random, 1983.

    2. Book with two or three authorsList authors’ names in the order they appear on the title page. Invert the first author’s name (to alphabetize); enter the coauthors’ names in regular order (first name, last name) and separate them with commas. (Write out and
    before the name of the last author rather than using an ampersand.)

    Gilbert, Sandra, and Susan Gubar. The Madwoman in the Attic: The Woman Writer and the Nineteenth-Century Literary Imagination. New Haven: Yale UP, 1979.

    3. Book with more than three authorsGive all the authors’ (or editors’) names (with only the first one inverted) or include only the name of the first author followed by the abbreviation “et al.” (for the Latin phrase meaning “and others”).

    Malson, Micheline R., et al., eds. Black Women in America: Social Science Perspectives. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1990.

    4. Two or more books by the same authorList the author’s name in the first reference only. For succeeding references, instead of the author’s name, enter three hyphens (—) followed by a period and one space, and then enter the title of the work. Alphabetize works by the same author by the first significant word in the title (omit the articles a, an, and the).

    Brophy, Brigid. Beardsley and His World. New York: Harmony, 1976.Black & White: A Portrait of Aubrey Beardsley. New York: Stein and Day, 1969.

    5. Book by a corporate authorAlphabetize the entry by the name of the corporation or institution.

    CompuServe Incorporated. CompuServe Information Service: User's Guide. Columbus, OH : CompuServe, 1985.

    6. Book with editor or editorsFollow the first name with a comma and the abbreviation “ed.” (for “editor”).

    Van Thai, Herbert, ed. The Mammoth Book of Great Detective Stories. London: Robinson, 1985.

    7.  Book with author and editorGive the author’s name (in inverted order) before the title; give the editor’s name (in normal order) after it, preceded by the abbreviation “Ed.” (for “Edited by”).

    James, Henry. Selected Fiction. Ed. Leon Edel. New York: Dutton, 1953.

    8. Translated workGive the author’s name (in inverted order) before the title; give the translator’s name (in normal order) after it, preceded by the abbreviation “Trans.” (for “Translated by”).

    Garcia Marquez, Gabriel. One Hundred Years of Solitude. Trans. Gregory Rabassa. New York: Harper, 1970.

    9. Book without listed authorAlphabetize the book by the first significant word in the title (omit the articles a, an, and the).

    Waterstone's Guide to Books. London: Waterstone, 1981.

    10. Book edition, if not the firstPlace the abbreviated edition number (“Rev. ed.” or “2nd ed.,” for example) after the period following the title.

    Kiniry, Malcolm, and Mike Rose. Critical Strategies for Academic Thinking and Writing. 2nd ed. Boston: Bedford, 1993.

    11. Republished BookPlace the original publication date after the title. Separate it from the publication information with a period.

    Faulkner, William. The Sound and the Fury. 1929. New York: Vintage-Random, 1946.

    12. Multivolume seriesList the total number of volumes after the title of the work. Use Arabic numerals. If you used only one volume of the series in your research, identify that volume at the end of the entry.

    Sewall, Richard B. The Life of Emily Dickinson. 2 vols. New York: Farrar, 1974. Vol. 1.

    13. Selection in an anthology or edited bookGive the author and title of the selection and then the title of the collection or anthology in which it appears and the editor or editors of the volume (preceded by “Ed.” for “Edited by”). Include the page numbers of the selection.

    Gordimer, Nadine. "The Bridegroom." African Short Stories. Ed. Chinua Achebe and C. L. Innes. London: Heinemann, 1985. 155-63.

    14. Article in a reference workIf the article is signed, begin with the author’s name; if it is unsigned, begin with its title, followed by the title of the work. If the articles in the reference work are listed alphabetically, omit the volume number (if any) and page numbers.

    Levison, Sanford. "Supreme Court." The Reader's Guide to American History. Ed. Eric Foner and John A. Garraty. Boston: Houghton, 1991.

    15. Foreword, introduction, preface, or afterwordIf you quote or use information from one of these elements, cite the name of the author of that element, followed by the name of the element (do not underline it or put it in quotation marks). The names of the author, editor, and translator (if any) follow the title. The page numbers of the element
    go after the publication information.

    Weir, Charles I., Jr. Introduction. Madame Bovary. By Gustave Flaubert. Trans. Eleanor Marx Aveling. New York: Holt, 1948. vii-xii.

    16. DissertationFor an unpublished dissertation, enclose the title in quotation marks. Follow with the name of the degree-granting institution and the date. For a published dissertation, underline the title and add publishing information (place of publication, publisher’s name, and year) at the end of the entry.

    Marks, Barry Alan. "The Idea of Propaganda in America." Diss. U of Minnesota, 1957.