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MLA 8th & 9th edition

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How to cite in MLA format

MLA handbook 9th edition

MLA is one of the most common citation styles used by students and academics. This quick guide explains how to cite sources according to the 9th edition (the most recent) of the MLA Handbook.

An MLA citation has two components:

  1. In-text citation: Every time you quote or paraphrase a source, you cite the author and the page number in parentheses.
  2. Works Cited: At the end of your paper, you give a full reference for every source you cited, alphabetized by the author’s last name.

 

MLA Works Cited list

The list of Works Cited (also known as the bibliography or reference page) gives full details of every source you cited in your text. Each entry is built from nine core elements:

Following this format, you can create a citation for any type of source—for example, a book, journal article, website, or movie. You only include information that’s relevant to the type of source you’re citing.

MLA citation examples

Using the interactive tool, you can see what an MLA citation looks like for different source types.

Missing information in MLA citations

Regardless of the source type, the most important elements of any MLA citation are the author, the source title, and the publication date. If any of these are missing from the source, the Works Cited entry will look slightly different.

What’s missing? What to do Works Cited example
No author Start with the source title instead. Alphabetize by the first word (ignoring articles). “Australia fires: ‘Catastrophic’ alerts in South Australia and Victoria.” BBC News, 20 Nov. 2019, www.bbc.com/­news/­world-­australia-­50483410.
No title Give a brief description of the source. Use sentence case and no italics or quotation marks. Mackintosh, Charles Rennie. Chair of stained oak. 1897–1900, Victoria and Albert Museum, London.
No date Leave out the publication date. Add the date you accessed the source at the end of the citation. “Who are Scribbr Editors?” Scribbr, www.scribbr.com/­about-­us/­editors/. Accessed 10 June 2019.

MLA in-text citations

MLA in-text citations are brief references that direct your reader to the full source entry. You include them every time you quote, block quote, paraphrase or summarize a source.

The in-text citation must match the first word of the Works Cited entry—usually the author’s last name. It also includes a page number or range to help the reader locate the relevant passage.

Author What to do Citation example
1 author Give the author’s last name. (Wallace 11–12)
2 authors Give both author’s last names. (Wallace and Armstrong 11–12)
3+ authors Name the first author followed by “et al.” (Wallace et al. 11–12)
Corporate author If a source was created by an organization other than the publisher, use the organization name as author. (U.S. Global Change Research Program 22)
No author If the author is the same as the publisher, or if no author is credited, use the source title instead. Format the title the same as in the full Works Cited reference, and shorten if it is more than four words. (“Australia Fires”)
Multiple sources by the same author Include the title (or a shortened version) after the author’s name in each source citation. (Morrison, Beloved, 73)
(Morrison, Sula, 45)

If you already named the author in your sentence, include only the page number in parentheses:

  • Smith and Morrison claim that “MLA is the second most popular citation style” (17) in the humanities.
  • According to Reynolds, social and demographic circumstances still have a major effect on job prospects (17–19).

Sources with no page numbers

If the source has no page numbers, you either use an alternative locator, or leave the page number out of the citation:

Source type What to do Citation example
Audiovisual source (e.g. a movie or YouTube video) Give the time range of the relevant section. (Arnold 03:15–03:21).
Source with numbered sections (e.g. an online book) Give a paragraph, section, or chapter number. (Smith, par. 38)
(Rowling, ch. 6)
Source with no numbered sections (e.g. a web page) Leave out the page number. (Barker)