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Citation Guide

Discover and explore the basics of why and how to cite.

Modern Language Association (MLA) Style of Citation

The recommended style of citation used in the Arts and Humanities is the MLA style. This style is used when citing materials used in writing papers, journal reviews, and other assignments requiring documentation supporting your research.

Always check with your professor if you are unsure as to which style guide you should be using.

Core Elements of MLA Citation

stack of booksEach entry in your Works Cited page will have core elements that you'll have to arrange in a specific order (notice the appropriate punctuation to use after each element): 

  1. Author.
  2. Title of source.
  3. Title of container,
  4. Other contributors, 
  5. Version,
  6. Number,
  7. Publisher, 
  8. Publication date,
  9. Location.

Sample MLA Papers - 8th Edition

MLA Manual 8th Edition

Learn more about MLA 8th Edition and the differences from the 7th Edition from the MLA website and EasyBib.

Purdue OWL

The Purdue OWL is an excellent source for MLA Citation Style information. The Purdue University's Online Writing Lab offers comprehensive information, guidelines and examples.

MLA Research Paper Example

MLA Book Citation

Book Citation Basic Format:

AuthorLastName, FirstName. Book Title. Publisher, Year.

Note on Capitalization of the Title: Most words of the title are capitalized, including all nouns, pronouns (e.g., Our and That), adjectives, adverbs, and subordinating conjunctions (e.g., Because and After). Do not capitalize articles (e.g., a and the), prepositions (e.g., of, in, and for), coordinating conjunctions (e.g., and, but, or) and the infinitive "to" (e.g., to Move). The first word of the title and subtitle (if present) are capitalized. 

Subtitle: Use a colon (:) to separate the main title from the subtitle. For example: Charles Dickens: The Definitive Collection. If the title contains a question mark or exclamation point, do not include a colon. For example: The Greatest Adventurer? Sir Ernest Shackleton's Doomed Voyage.

Note on the Publisher: In most cases, MLA8 does require the city of publication. Only include the city if the book was published before 1900, if the publisher has offices in multiple countries, or if the publisher is likely to be unknown to a North American Readership. See the McMillan example below (an unknown publisher in this case). Use this format when including the city of publication: City of Publication, Publisher, Publication Date.

Hanging Indent: Every line after the first line should be indented, called a hanging indent. (Found under "paragraph" > "indent" in Word.)

Examples:

McMillan, Montague. A history of Limestone College: 1845-1970. Columbia, SC, R. L. Bryan Company, 1970,

Turabian, Kate. Student's guide to writing college papers. The University of Chicago Press, 2010.

Example with a subtitle: (the subtitle always follows a colon)

Levitin, Daniel. A field guide to lies: Critical thinking in the information age. Dutton, 2016.

Example of a book in translation: 

Mathiez, Albert. The French revolution. Translated by Catherine Phillips, Grosset & Dunlap, 1964.

Example of a book in an edition other than the first: 

Jones, Doug. A handbook of photography. 5th ed., Rogers, 2008.

MLA Academic Journal and Periodical (Magazine & Newspaper) Citation

I. Journal Article Basic Format:

A. Print:

AuthorLastName, FirstName. "Title of Article." Title of Journal, Volume, Issue, Year, Pages.

B. Electronic:

AuthorLastName, FirstName. "Title of Article." Title of Journal, Volume, Issue, Year, Pages. Database, DOI/URL

  • Italicize the Journal Title, and Database.
  • DOI: Always include the DOI (Digital Object Identifier), when available. Not all articles have a DOI. Use this formula: https://doi.org/xxxxx
  • Include a URL or permanent link for an electronic article only if the article does not have a DOI.
  • Page Numbers: "pp."=pages and "p."=page. Include the full range of pages on your bibliography. Cite individual pages in-text.
Examples of Journal Articles from a database:

Bauer, Christine, and Christine Strauss. “Educating Artists in Management - An Analysis of Art Education Programmes in DACH Region.” Cogent Education, vol. 2, no. 1, Cogent, Dec. 2015, doi:10.1080/2331186X.2015.1045217.

Cazé, Antoine. “Emily Dickinson and the Question of ‘Giving Death.’” Textual Practice: Nineteenth-Century American Literature and the Philosophical, vol. 33, no. 10, Routledge, Nov. 2019, pp. 1787–800, doi:10.1080/0950236X.2019.1665928.

Green, Lucy. “Popular Music Education in and for Itself, and for ‘other’ Music: Current Research in the Classroom.” International Journal of Music Education, vol. 24, no. 2, SAGE Publications, 2016, pp. 101–18, doi:10.1177/0255761406065471.

 

II. Magazine Article Basic Format:

A. Print:

AuthorLastName, FirstName. "Title of Article." Title of Magazine, Volume, Issue, Date, Pages.

B. Electronic:

AuthorLastName, FirstName. "Title of Article." Title of Magazine, Volume, Issue, Date, Pages. Database, DOI/URL

  • A published magazine article follows a similar format as an academic journal.
  • Include the month, year and day, when available (see below examples). Shorten months to three letters and use the day, month, year format.
  • If you are citing a magazine article that you read on the magazine's website, include the URL. Sometimes, online-only editions will not include a volume, issue number, or page numbers.
  • Access dates are not required for stable sources, but they may be optionally given for any online source. Access dates are required for sources that are likely to change.
Examples:

Berry, Barnett. “Teaching, Learning, and Caring in the Post-COVID Era.” Phi Delta Kappan, vol. 102, no. 1, Sept. 2020, pp. 14–17. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1177/0031721720956840.

Har'el, Alma. "Why Women's History Should Be Everyone's History." Time, 5 Mar. 2020. https://time.com/5795675/documenting-100-women-of-the-year/ 

Raine, Michael. “Demystifying Streaming Playlists.” Canadian Musician, vol. 42, no. 1, Jan. 2020, pp. 38–41. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&AuthType=url,ip,cookie,uid&db=a9h&AN=141371924&scope=site.

 

II. Newspaper Article Basic Format:

In general, follow the same format as the magazine. Include the city of publication in [brackets] for local newspapers that do not otherwise include the city of publication in the title. Note: Online editions of newspapers may not include the original page numbers. 

Examples:

Shain, Andy. "Fire ravages the historic Babcock Building in the BullStreet District." Post and Courier [Charleston, SC], 16 Sep. 2020, p. A16.

Lustgarten, Abrahm. "How Climate Migration Will Reshape America: Millions will be displaced. Where will they go?" New York Times.15 Sep. 2020. 

 

MLA Website Citation

For web-based materials that are potentially unstable in format, provide as much information as possible. Note that if you access a stable,  published source online, like a magazine or newspaper article, cite it according to the rules for periodicals above. A source like a blog or a Wikipedia article is not a stable source. It may either change overtime or be moved to a new location. In general, it is best to avoid citing sources that do not include an author and date information.

  • Include an accessed date that indicated when you used the source
  • Include the title and author information, as available
  • Include a date when possible Since many web sources are not formally published, you may need to include a copyright date located at the bottom of the website
  • Include a URL

Basic Format

AuthorLast, First. "Page/Article Title." Website Title, Date of Publication, URL, Date Accessed [Day Month Year].

Examples:

Treilhard, John B. "Chaucer the Love Poet: A Study in Historical Criticism." Medievalists.net, 1 Apr. 2017, http://www.medievalists.net/2015/01/chaucer-love-poet-study-historical-criticism/, Accessed 15 Aug. 2018.

Ferlazzo, Larry, "Tuesday's Must-Read Articles About School Reopening." Larry Ferlazzo's Website of the Day. 14 Sep. 2020. https://larryferlazzo.edublogs.org/2020/09/14/tuesdays-must-read-articles-about-school-reopening/, Accessed 15 Sep. 2020.

 

MLA In-Text Citations

When referencing a source, provide the author and page number of the reference in parenthesis. The reference must be included as an item on the Works Cited page. 

(AuthorLast Page #)

Place the citation after the sentence, but before the period. If the author(s) is mentioned in the sentence, only include the page number in the parentheses.

* If you include a block quotation in your paper, place the in-text citation after the final period of the quotation.

Example:

Sentence text referring to the source (Smith 62).

OR: According to Smith, . . . (62). 

The above reference is to a work included in the Works Cited page by an author named Smith. If there happened to be two authors named Smith on the Works Cited page, for this example, provide an additional initial or name. Thus, (A. Smith 51) and (N. Smith 62) would separate an Allison Smith from a Nelson Smith.

Classic Works:

When citing a classic work for which many various editions exist, provide a chapter reference in addition to the page number. Additionally, ensure that you correctly cite the edition of the classic work you consult.

(Author Page #; Chapter #)

Example:

Smith, Adam. An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations. London: Harriman House, 2007.

For the above entry on the Works Cited page, provide an in-text citation referencing the chapter and page number:

(Smith 45; ch. 1).

If you are experiencing problems with our guides, please contact Janet S. Ward, jward@limestone.edu, Associate Professor and Web Services Librarian.