Writing author names in MLA
|Number of authors||Works Cited example||In-text citation example|
|1 author||Wallace-Wells, David.||(Wallace-Wells 11)|
|2 authors||Oreskes, Naomi, and Erik M. Conway.||(Oreskes and Conway 84)|
|3+ authors||Armstrong, Anne K., et al.||(Armstrong et al. 127–139)|
The author element specifies the main creator of the source. For audiovisual sources, this may be the director, composer, or painter, for example. The author may also be an organization.
If no author at all is specified, start your citation with the source title instead.
Sources with multiple authors
For each source, list the authors in the order they appear in the source itself (not in alphabetical order).
Multiple authors in the Works Cited
The first author’s name is always inverted. The last name comes first, followed by a comma, then the first name (and any middle initials, if relevant).
When there are two authors, the second author’s name is not inverted:
When there are three or more authors, only list the first author, followed by a comma and “et al.”:
Multiple authors in in-text citations
In an MLA in-text citation, you may name the author either in parentheses or in the main text.
When there are two authors, simply cite both surnames, separated by “and”.
When there are three or more authors, cite the first author’s surname followed by “et al.” if the citation appears in parentheses. If you cite in the main text, instead of “et al.”, write “and colleagues” or “and others”.
|Number of authors||Author named in parentheses||Author named in the text|
|2 authors||(Oreskes and Conway 84)||As Oreskes and Conway illustrate… (84).|
|3+ authors||(Armstrong et al. 127)||Armstrong and colleagues suggest that… (127).|
Sources with corporate authors
Sometimes sources are created by corporate authors, such as institutions, government agencies, and other organizations, with no individual authors credited. In this case, simply cite the name of the organization in place of the author name.
When citing corporate authors, omit articles (the/a/an) at the start of organization names.
In this example, the publisher is separate from the organization. Sometimes, an organization is both the author and the publisher. In this situation, do not list the organization as author. Instead, start the citation with the source title, and list the organization as the publisher only.
Publications from government agencies
If you are citing a publication from a government agency, start with the name of the government and follow with the name of the agency. Always arrange the entities from largest to smallest.
Note that in the in-text citation, you should abbreviate names longer than four words.
Sources with no author
If a source does not specify any author, begin the reference with the title of the work. In the in-text citation, if the title is longer than four words, abbreviate it to the first noun phrase, and ensure that the first word matches the first word of the Works Cited entry.
Citing contributors other than authors
Some sources are created by many different people. If your discussion of the source focuses on the contribution of someone other than the main author (e.g. when analyzing an actor’s performance or comparing translations of a text), you may cite them in the author position with a label specifying their role (e.g. performer or translator). Don’t include this label in the in-text citation.
Citing the editor of a collection
Usually, when citing an edited collection, you should cite the author of the specific chapter or work. However, if you want to cite an entire collection or anthology, cite the editor(s) in the author position, followed by a label specifying their role. Don’t include the label in the in-text citation.
Double surnames, hyphens, titles, and suffixes
If an author has more than one surname, include all of them in the surname position. For example, Federico Garcia Lorca would be listed in the works cited as Garcia Lorca, Federico, and in an in-text citation as (Garcia Lorca).
If there is a hyphen in the author’s name, keep the hyphen exactly as it appears in the source.
Do not include titles, affiliations, and degrees in source citations. For example, Sir Walter Scott would be listed as Scott, Walter.
If an author has a name with an essential suffix (one that distinguishes them from identically named members of the same family, such as “Jr.” or a roman numeral), include this at the end of the name. For example, John D. Rockefeller IV would be listed as Rockefeller, John D., IV.
Pseudonyms and simplified names
When writing in MLA, it is acceptable to use pseudonyms and simplified names of famous authors. It’s usually best to list all of an author’s works under one consistent name, even if different names appear in the sources themselves.
Commonly accepted pseudonyms and simplified names include:
- Dante Alighieri → Dante
- Mary Ann Evans → George Eliot
- Samuel Clemens → Mark Twain
Names from languages that do not use the Latin alphabet, such as Chinese or Russian, may vary in spelling. If this is the case, find the most authoritative variant (i.e. the variant favored by an authoritative source, such as an academic or government publication) and apply that throughout your Works Cited list and in-text citations.
In Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Vietnamese, the author name will often appear with the surname first, followed by the first name. In this case, do not include a comma between the surname and first name when creating the source reference, as the name is already inverted.
|Example format in source||Example format in source reference|
|Surname first||Gao Xingjian||Gao Xingjian|
|Surname second||Kenzaburo Oe||Oe, Kenzaburo|
The various articles in French have different rules, which can even depend on the number of syllables in the name.
|de — names with multiple syllables||
||Maupassant, Guy de|
|de — names with one syllable||
||de Gaulle, Charles|
|de — in English-language contexts*||
||De Quincey, Thomas|
||Du Bos, Charles|
||Des Periers, Bonaventures|
* English-language context means when the author writes in English but happens to have a French name.
For German names, von is usually considered part of the first name. However, in an English-language context, the von stays with the surname. For example, Von Trapp, Maria.
For Italian names, da, de, del, della, di and d’ are capitalized and treated as part of the surname. For example, Di Costanzo, Angelo.
For Spanish names, de is not treated as part of the surname. For example, Rueda, Lope de. However, del stays with the surname and is always capitalized. For example, Del Rio, Angel.
You may come across some Spanish authors with more than one surname. Often these authors are commonly known by one part of their surname, but you must include the entire last name—and alphabetize according to that—in your Works Cited list. For example, Garcia Lorca, Federico (commonly known as Lorca).
Frequently asked questions about authors in MLA
- What information do I need to include in an MLA Works Cited entry?
A standard MLA Works Cited entry is structured as follows:Author. “Title of the Source.” Title of the Container, Other contributors, Version, Number, Publisher, Publication date, Location.
Only include information that is available for and relevant to your source.