MLA style is published by the Modern Language Association. It is commonly used in humanities and English courses.
Generally, MLA 7 citations follow the following format:
Contributor. Title. Secondary Contributors. Publication Information. Medium.
Contributor Information and Titles
The main contributors to the source, normally the author, are placed before the title. If there is more than one author, then arrange the authors in the same order found in the source. Reverse only the name of the first author, and follow the rest in normal form.
Smith, John K. Title.
Smith, John K., and Tim Sampson. Title.
Smith, John K., Tim Sampson, and Alex J. Hubbard. Title.
Four or more authors:
Smith, John K., et al. Title.
Sometimes the main contributor is not an author, but another contributor type, such as an editor for a book or conductor for a musical piece. In this instance, follow the contributor by an abbreviation of the contributor type (i.e. ed. or cond.). If plural, then change the abbreviation accordingly.
Smith, John K., ed. Title.
Smith, John K., and Tim Sampson, eds. Title.
Smith, John K., cond. Title.
Many sources have secondary contributors – individuals who added to the work outside the main contributors. This can include editors and translators for books and producers and screenplay writers for movies. Place secondary contributors after the title. Precede the name of the contributors with the abbreviation for the contributor type. For instance, “Ed.” means “Edited by.”
Smith, John. Title. Ed. Bill McCoy.
Smith, John. Title. Ed. Bill McCoy and Tim Thomas.
One conductor and three producers:
Smith, John. Title. Cond. Bill McCoy. Prod. Tim Thomas, Jane Horton, and Rex Bryant.
You may decide to emphasize the work, for example, when citing a live performance. In this instance, place all the contributors after the title. Authors and writers are preceded by the word “By.”
One author and editor:
Title. By John Smith. Ed. Bill McCoy.
Some sources may have corporate or group authors. Write these organization where you would write the authors. If they are also publishers of the source, include it in the publication information as well.
Modern Language Association. Title.
Illinois Dept. of Industrial Relations. Title.
Some sources are found within other sources, such as a chapter in a book, or an article in a periodical. These rules apply both to the contributors of the chapter and book, or to the article.
Chapter author and editor and two book compilers:
Smith, John. “Chapter.” Ed. Bill McCoy. Title. Comp. Russell Engels and Steve Simpson.
Author and translator of an article:
Smith, John. “Chapter.” Trans. Bill McCoy. Periodical Title.
Generally, capitalize all principal words as well as the first word and last word in the title. If citing a title for an entire source, such as a book or periodical title, place in italics. If citing an article, essay, poem or short story within a larger work, place in quotes. If a novel or published independently, then place in italics.
After the title and contributor information comes the publication information. In MLA7, you must also list the publication medium (Print, Web) after the publication information. MLA 7 abbreviates all months except for May, June and July. Below are different publication information templates.
Last, First M. Title. City: Publisher, Year Published. Medium.
Last, First M. “Article.” Title Series Volume.Issue (Year Published): Page(s). Medium.
Last, First M. “Article.” Title Date Month Year Published: Page(s). Medium.
Last, First M. “Article.” Title [City] Date Month Year Published, Edition, Section: Page(s). Medium.
If you cannot find all publication information, use placeholders “N.p., n.p., n.d.” which represents no place, no publisher, and no date. If there are no page numbers use “N.pag.” Capitalize the abbreviations appropriately based on where they are placed.
*Note: We format according to MLA7, we believe adding such placeholders is unnecessary, as it provides no information, and the lack of information can be assumed by its absence in the citation.
For less conventional source types, you can add descriptions about the source after the title. For example, you can add “Cartoon.” or “Map.” after the title of a cartoon or map to clarify to the reader what type of source you are citing.
When citing non-periodical sources, advanced information such as the edition and section come before the publication information. Series information comes after the medium description.
See the fictional example below:
Smith, John. Power. Ed. Tom Riley. 5th ed. Vol 12. New York: Random, 2002. Print. Ser. 50.
MLA Works Cited Page: Basic Format
MLA (Modern Language Association) style is most commonly used to write papers and cite sources within the liberal arts and humanities. This resource, updated to reflect the MLA Handbook (8th ed.), offers examples for the general format of MLA research papers, in-text citations, endnotes/footnotes, and the Works Cited page.
Contributors: Tony Russell, Allen Brizee, Elizabeth Angeli, Russell Keck, Joshua M. Paiz, Michelle Campbell, Rodrigo Rodríguez-Fuentes, Daniel P. Kenzie, Susan Wegener, Maryam Ghafoor, Purdue OWL Staff
Last Edited: 2017-06-11 11:24:36
According to MLA style, you must have a Works Cited page at the end of your research paper. All entries in the Works Cited page must correspond to the works cited in your main text.
- Begin your Works Cited page on a separate page at the end of your research paper. It should have the same one-inch margins and last name, page number header as the rest of your paper.
- Label the page Works Cited (do not italicize the words Works Cited or put them in quotation marks) and center the words Works Cited at the top of the page.
- Double space all citations, but do not skip spaces between entries.
- Indent the second and subsequent lines of citations by 0.5 inches to create a hanging indent.
- List page numbers of sources efficiently, when needed. If you refer to a journal article that appeared on pages 225 through 250, list the page numbers on your Works Cited page as 225-250. Note that MLA style uses a hyphen in a span of pages.
- If you're citing an article or a publication that was originally issued in print form but that you retrieved from an online database, you should type the online database name in italics. You do not need to provide subscription information in addition to the database name.
Additional basic rules new to MLA 2016
New to MLA 2016:
- For online sources, you should include a location to show readers where you found the source. Many scholarly databases use a DOI (digital object identifier). Use a DOI in your citation if you can; otherwise use a URL. Delete “http://” from URLs. The DOI or URL is usually the last element in a citation and should be followed by a period.
- All works cited entries end with a period.
Capitalization and punctuation
- Capitalize each word in the titles of articles, books, etc, but do not capitalize articles (the, an), prepositions, or conjunctions unless one is the first word of the title or subtitle: Gone with the Wind, The Art of War, There Is Nothing Left to Lose.
- Use italics (instead of underlining) for titles of larger works (books, magazines) and quotation marks for titles of shorter works (poems, articles)
Listing author names
Entries are listed alphabetically by the author's last name (or, for entire edited collections, editor names). Author names are written last name first; middle names or middle initials follow the first name:
Levy, David M.
Wallace, David Foster
Do not list titles (Dr., Sir, Saint, etc.) or degrees (PhD, MA, DDS, etc.) with names. A book listing an author named "John Bigbrain, PhD" appears simply as "Bigbrain, John"; do, however, include suffixes like "Jr." or "II." Putting it all together, a work by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. would be cited as "King, Martin Luther, Jr." Here the suffix following the first or middle name and a comma.
More than one work by an author
If you have cited more than one work by a particular author, order the entries alphabetically by title, and use three hyphens in place of the author's name for every entry after the first:
Burke, Kenneth. A Grammar of Motives. [...]
---. A Rhetoric of Motives. [...]
When an author or collection editor appears both as the sole author of a text and as the first author of a group, list solo-author entries first:
Heller, Steven, ed. The Education of an E-Designer.
Heller, Steven, and Karen Pomeroy. Design Literacy: Understanding Graphic Design.
Work with no known author
Alphabetize works with no known author by their title; use a shortened version of the title in the parenthetical citations in your paper. In this case, Boring Postcards USA has no known author:
Baudrillard, Jean. Simulacra and Simulations. [...]
Boring Postcards USA. [...]
Burke, Kenneth. A Rhetoric of Motives. [...]