All MLA citations will follow a template of applicable core elements. If you are missing any of the core elements, simply leave them off.
The list of components are:
The tabs in this guide will cover each of the core elements, and provide examples.
The first component in every MLA citation is the author. Sometimes an author can be a corporation or group. End the author component with a period. The MLA Handbook has detailed guidance on identifying and formatting the author component in section 5.3 (starting on page 107).
See MLA Handbook, pages 107-121.
List the full last name, a comma, and then full first and middle name/initial of an author.
Do not use courtesy or academic titles in your citations. Do include suffixes such as Jr., Sr., III, etc. For people referred to by a religious or noble title, without last names, start with the first name.
List up to two authors in a citation. The second author is listed in normal format. For works with three or more authors, list the first author and then et al.
Sloan, Nate, and Charlie Harding. Switched on Pop: How Popular Music Works, and Why It Matters. Oxford UP, 2020.
(Sloan and Harding 31)
Ducheneaut, Nicolas, et al. "Building an MMO with Mass Appeal: A Look at Gameplay in World of Warcraft." Games and Culture, vol. 1, no. 4, 2006, pp. 281-317. https://doi.org/10.1177/1555412006292613.
(Ducheneaut et al. 290)
See MLA Handbook, pages 111-113.
Some resources may be attributed to a group or organization, instead of a specific person or persons. In this case, give the name of the group or organization, capitalized as needed. Remove initial articles (a, an, the).
(Bureau of Justice Assistance)
If the resource is published by the same organization that is the author, do not include an author, and begin your citation with the title.
MLA Handbook. 9th ed., The Modern Language Association of America, 2021.
(MLA Handbook 25)
"Ways to Pay." Santa Fe College, www.sfcollege.edu/fa/ways-to-pay/index. Accessed 19 June 2021.
("Ways to Pay")
See MLA Handbook pages 119-120.
If a book is compiled by an editor (usually specified on the cover or title page), list the names as usual, but add the word editor or editors after the name(s).
Forrester, David Anthony, editor. Nursing's Greatest Leaders: A History of Activism. Springer, 2016.
See MLA Handbook, page 111.
If there is no listed author or editor, start your citation with the title and continue the citation as normal. Remember that authors can be a company, organization, or group author, and that should be used as the author if provided and if they are not the same as the publisher.
|Go Ask Alice. 1971. Simon Pulse, 2006.|
*In this example, the original publication date (1971) is included.
For in-text citations, use the title of the item, followed by the date. If the title is long, you may abbreviate it to the first few words. Book titles are italicized; articles and webpages are enclosed in quotations.
|(Go Ask 5).|
See MLA Handbook, pages 108 and 119.
If you are only able to identify a screen name as an author, use that as the author's name. List names in regular order.
|(Life Where I'm From, 00:00:20)|
If you have both a name and a screen name, and they are different from each other, you may include the screen name in square brackets after the name.
For multiple entries in your Works Cited list by the same author, use three em dashes or three hyphens to replace the author in subsequent citations. Order your citations alphabetically by title. If there are works with co-authors, those are listed separately.
Hawking, Stephen. Black Holes and Baby Universes and Other Essays. Bantam Books, 1993.
---. My Brief History. Bantam Books, 2013.
---. The Universe in a Nutshell. Bantam Books, 2001.
Hawking, Stephen, and Leonard Mlodinow. The Grand Design. Bantam Books, 2010.
To differentiate these works in in-text citations, add a title (or the first few words of a title) to your citation.
(Hawking, Black Holes 114)
See MLA Handbook, pages 221 and 235-236.
The next component is the title of the source you are using. Depending on what you are citing, your title will be formatted differently. Capitalize all important words in the title. End the title with a period. The MLA Handbook has detailed guidance on identifying and formatting the title component in section 5.23 (starting on page 121).
See MLA Handbook, pages 121-134.
You should italicize the titles of stand-alone works:
If you are citing something that is part of a bigger work, you should place the title in "quotation marks":
See MLA Handbook, pages 66-69.
If a title ends in a question mark or exclamation point, you do not need to add a period to the end of the title element.
|Dupret, Baudoin. What Is Sharia? Translated by David Bond, C. Hurst, 2018.|
|See MLA Handbook, page 130.|
If your source does not have an official title, provide a general description to use as the title, and do not format with italics or quotation marks. Only capitalize the first word. Examples:
|Beatles. Concert. 15 Aug. 1965, Shea Stadium, New York.|
See MLA Handbook, page 132.
When items are contained within something larger, that container can be added on to a base citation. There may be more than one container.
For instance, a short story (source) can be in a book (container 1) that is accessed through a library database (container 2). Or an episode (source) of a television series (container 1) can be streamed through a video service (container 2).
Typically you should italicize the names of containers, and end with a comma.
See MLA Handbook, pages 134-140.
In the following citation examples, the containers are bolded:
You may wish to include other contributors in your citation that are involved in a work while not being the primary creator/author. Examples include editors, translators, illustrators, and directors.
Just like with authors, if there are three or more editors, translators, etc., list the first contributor and then include the abbreviation et al. Typically, you will end the Contributors element with a comma.
See MLA Handbook, pages 145-148.
Here are some common examples of contributors:
In the following citation examples, the contributors are bolded:
Include the version or edition you are using to help your reader identify the source you are using.
The most common version is the edition of a book, but you may also provide the version of a holy text such as the Bible, information about an eBook version, or a specific version of a film, such as a director's cut.
Typically you will end the version component with a comma.
See MLA Handbook, pages 154-158.
In the following citation examples, the version is bolded:
Some sources are numbered, and providing the number will help your reader track down the source you are using.
The most common numbering element is the volume and issue of a journal, but you may also provide a volume number for books or a season/episode number for television episodes or podcasts.
Typically, you will end the number component with a comma.
See MLA Handbook, pages 39-40.
In the following citation examples, the number component is bolded:
Most citations include a publisher. This is the organization that produced the source. Examples of publishers are:
Typically you will end the publisher component with a comma.
See MLA Handbook, pages 164-173.
Many book publisher names can be abbreviated. Leave off words such as Company, Corporation, Limited, etc. and initial articles, such as The. For academic presses, abbreviate University to U and Press to P. Spell out ampersands (&) as the word and.
See MLA Handbook, page 172.
If there are two or organizations that are equally responsible for a source, include them with a forward slash (/) separating them. This is especially common with films.
Boyhood. Directed by Richard Linklater, IFC Productions / Detour Filmproduction, 2015.
See MLA Handbook, page 170.
For government publications, there are often many departments listed hierarchically. You can use the primary agency (i.e., the biggest) as the publisher, as opposed to listing all departments.
In this example, three agencies are listed:
The largest is the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which is used as the joint publisher in the citation.
See MLA Handbook, page 171.
Some sources do not need a publisher. Examples include:
See MLA Handbook, page 165.
The next component is the publication date. List the date as: Day Month Year. Abbreviate all months but May, June, and July. The date is usually followed by a comma.
See MLA Handbook, page 173-187.
Here are a few examples of dates formatted properly in MLA.
Some works, such as historical texts or artwork, may have an approximate date. Use the term Circa or spell out the approximate date.
See MLA Handbook, page 186.
If you are citing a work that has been reprinted or republished, you can include the original date after the title.
See MLA Handbook, pages 209-210.
If an item does not have a discernible date, leave off the date element. Do not use abbreviations to indicate there is no date.
For online sources, you may elect to include a date of access. If there is no date associated with a work, a date of access becomes even more important.
|"Ways to Pay." Santa Fe College, www.sfcollege.edu/fa/ways-to-pay/. Accessed 25 July 2021.|
See MLA Handbook, page 211.
The final component of a citation is the location. The location will differ depending on the type of source you are citing. The location is usually followed by a period.
Print sources (such as a book chapter, entry, or journal article) will include page numbers. Online sources will typically include a URL (note that the preliminary http:// is removed in MLA format). Scholarly articles often have a DOI. Items seen or experienced in person include a physical place.
See MLA Handbook, pages 187-197.
In the following citation examples, the location is bolded:
If a DOI is present for a journal article, include it instead of a URL. DOI stands for Digital Object Identifier and they serve as a permanent link to electronic content.
Format DOIs as follows: https://doi.org/XXXXXXXXXXXXX. Do not omit the https:// prefix. DOIs are a string of numbers and letters that typically begin with 10. You may need to edit DOIs that appear in different formats (e.g., http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0251557 or doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0251557) to the proper format.
See MLA Handbook, page 194.
URLs should omit the http:// and https:// prefix (except in the case of DOIs). A period will end the citation after the URL.
If a URL is three full lines or longer than the rest of the entry, you may shorten it to the host.
See MLA Handbook, pages 195-196.