How to cite a short story in MLA

The format for citing a short story in MLA style varies depending on where it was published.

The citation always starts with the story’s author and its title in quotation marks, followed by the publication details of the container (e.g. a book, magazine or website).

For example, if the story is published in an edited collection, list the book title, editor(s), publisher, year, and the page range on which the story appears.

Format Author last name, First name. “Story Title.” Book Title, edited by Editor first name Last name, Publisher, Year, pp. Page range.
Works Cited entry Ballard, J. G. “Track 12.” A Science Fiction Omnibus, edited by Brian Aldiss, Penguin, 2007, pp. 219–224.
In-text citation (Ballard 221)

Citing a short story from a single-author collection

If the story you’re citing comes from a collection of stories by the same author, without a named editor, you can just omit the editor from the reference.

Format Author last name, First name. “Story Title.” Book Title, Publisher, Year, pp. Page range.
Works Cited entry Schulz, Bruno. “The Comet.” The Street of Crocodiles and Other Stories, Penguin, 2008, pp. 95–111.
In-text citation (Schulz 99)

Citing a short story from a newspaper or magazine

To cite a story published in a newspaper or magazine, list the name of the periodical, the date of publication, and the page range where the story can be found.

Format Author last name, First name. “Story Title.” Newspaper/Magazine Name, Day Month Year, pp. Page range.
Works Cited entry Coetzee, J. M. “The Dog.” The New Yorker, 4 Dec. 2017, pp. 15–19.
In-text citation (Coetzee 15)

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Citing a short story found online

For a short story published online, whether in an online magazine or elsewhere, list the website name, the date it was published, and the URL.

Format Author last name, First name. “Story Title.” Website Name, Day Month Year, URL.
Works Cited entry Hughes, Caoilinn. “A Woman of No Information.” Granta, 10 Jun. 2020, https://granta.com/a-woman-of-no-information/.
In-text citation (Hughes)

Frequently asked questions about MLA citations

When should I cite a book chapter in MLA?

In MLA Style, you should cite a specific chapter or work within a book in two situations:

  • When each of the book’s chapters is written by a different author.
  • When the book is a collection of self-contained works (such as poems, plays, or short stories), even if they are all written by the same author.

If you cite multiple chapters or works from the same book, include a separate Works Cited entry for each chapter.

How do you write a book title in MLA?

In MLA style, book titles appear in italics, with all major words capitalized. If there is a subtitle, separate it from the main title with a colon and a space. For example:

Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance

The format is the same in the Works Cited list and in the text itself. However, when you mention the book title in the text, you don’t have to include the subtitle.

The title of a part of a book—such as a chapter, or a short story or poem in a collection—is not italicized, but instead placed in quotation marks.

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Jack Caulfield

Jack is a Brit based in Amsterdam, with an MA in comparative literature. He writes and edits for Scribbr, and reads a lot of books in his spare time.

4 comments

Paris
April 17, 2021 at 11:36 PM

When it says to put the date, does that mean the date the short story was published or the day I went on the website?

Reply

Jack Caulfield
Jack Caulfield (Scribbr Team)
April 22, 2021 at 5:00 PM

Hi Paris,

That's the date the story was published on the site.

It's usually only necessary to include the date you accessed the site if there's no publication date listed.

Reply

Abigail Morton
April 16, 2021 at 5:09 PM

Do the website instructions apply to a pdf found online as well?

Reply

Jack Caulfield
Jack Caulfield (Scribbr Team)
April 22, 2021 at 4:36 PM

Hi Abigail,

A PDF is usually a scan of the story from some sort of print source. If you can figure out from the PDF what kind of source it's from, then follow the relevant format, adding "PDF file." at the end to clarify if you like. If you're not sure or not enough information is provided, then yes, I would recommend going for the website format (again optionally adding "PDF file." at the end). You can see more tips about citing PDFs here.

Reply

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