MLA Style (8th Edition)

MLA is a citation style from the Modern Language Association and is commonly used in the humanities. When using MLA, you will cite sources both within the text (in-text citations) and at the end of the document (Works Cited page).

In-Text Citations

MLA requires citing with the author’s last name. In-text citations can appear within the sentence or at the end of the sentence.

In Williams and Jones, the data shows that citations are important.

The data shows that citations are important (Williams and Jones).

For in-text citations in specific contexts, see our headings below:

Direct Quotations

Page numbers are required for direct quotations from sources that have numbered pages, such as books or journals. This number appears in parentheses at the end of the sentence.

According to Smith, “It is better to overcite than undercite” (2).

Research requires the frequent use of citations: “It is better to overcite than undercite” (Smith 2).

Multiple Authors

When a source has two to three authors, write out all of the authors' names and combine them with "and."

William, Jones, and Smith find that citations are important.

The data shows that citations are important (Williams, Jones, and Smith).

When a source has four or more authors, you can either write out all of the authors' names or use only the first author's name and “et al.” (meaning "and everyone else"). Write "et al." in lowercase, place a period after "al." and do not place a comma between the author's name and "et al."

Saal et al. argues that historic homes should be preserved.

Historic homes should be preserved (Saal et al.).

No Author

When no author is listed, you have two options:

1. Use the publisher name. When citing a webpage, the publisher will appear at the bottom of the website next to the copyright date.

The data shows that citations are important (Organization for Research).

2. Use the shortened title of the source. Note: a source without a named author or publisher might not be reliable.

The data shows that citations are important (“Using Sources”).

Multiple Sources

When citing multiple different sources in the same citation, list them in alphabetical order (like on your Works Cited page) and separate them with semicolons.

The data shows that citations are important (Aeron; Coldwater et al.; Williams and Jones).

When you have two or more authors with the same last name, include their first initial in your citations to differentiate the sources.

The data shows that citations are important (R. Aeron; A. Aeron).

When you have two or more sources with the same author(s), include the shortened title of the source to differentiate them. This title will appear in parentheses at the end of the sentence. Italicize book titles and use quotation marks for article titles.

Aeron argues that citations are important ("Research").

The data shows that citations are important (Aeron, "Research").

Works Cited Page

The Works Cited page lists the full citation of each source used in your paper. Follow these general notes on MLA format:

  • Start your Works Cited on a new page.
  • Write "Works Cited" at the top of the page and center it, with no bold or italics.
  • Create a hanging indent for all citations, so every line after the first will be indented half an inch. Follow these steps in Microsoft Word:
    1. Highlight all of the citations on your Bibliography.
    2. Right-click and select “Paragraph.”
    3. Under “Indentation,” go to “Special” and select “Hanging” from the drop-down menu.
  • Alphabetize sources by the author's last name. If there is no author, alphabetize by the first major word in the title.
  • Begin the citation with the author(s). Write the first author's name in inverted order (LastName, FirstName), but write every following author's name in normal order (FirstName LastName).
  • Italicize books and journals, and place quotation marks around article and webpage titles. Fully capitalize all titles (except for articles and prepositions).
    • "An Article Title Will Look Like This."
    • A Book Title Will Look Like This.
  • When asked to provide a month of publication, abbreviate the month according to the following standards:
    • Jan., Feb., Mar., Apr., May, Jun., Jul., Aug., Sept., Oct., Nov., Dec.

The information provided in each of your Works Cited citations will be different for each type of source. You can check this format at the Purdue OWL. Here are some examples of Works Cited citations for common types of sources:

Book

Because all of the content in a book is written by the same author(s), you can cite the entire book on your Works Cited, even if you only used information from one chapter or a few pages. If a book has multiple copyright dates, use the most recent.

General Format

AuthorLastName, FirstName. Book Title in Caps and Italics: Subtitle. edition, if applicable, Publisher,

year of publication.

Example, with No Edition

Lord, Walter. The Night Lives On: The Untold Stories and Secrets Behind the Sinking of the" Unsinkable" Ship—Titanic.

Open Road Media, 2012.

Example, with Edition

Butler, Daniel Allen. "Unsinkable": The Full Story of the RMS Titanic. 2nd ed., Da Capo Press, 2012.

Article or Chapter in Edited Book

Edited books contain articles or chapters written by different authors. Thus, your Works Cited must list each individual article or chapter that you used in your research.

General Format

AuthorLastName, FirstName. "Title of Article/Chapter in Quotation Marks." Book Title in Caps and Italics: Subtitle,

edited by EditorFirstName LastName, Publisher, year of publication, pp. page range of article/chapter.

Example, with One Book Editor

Beesley, Lawrence. "The Loss of the S. S. Titanic, Its Story, and Its Lessons." The Story of the Titanic: As Told

by Its Survivors, edited by Jack Winocour, Dover Publications, 1960, pp. 1-110.

Example, with Two Book Editors

Middleton, Peter, and Tim Woods. "Textual Memory: The Making of the Titanic's Archive." The Titanic in Myth

and Memory: Representations in Visual and Literary Culture, edited by Tim Bergfelder and Sarah Street,

Palgrave Macmillan, 2004, pp. 63-72.

Journal Article

General Format

AuthorLastName, FirstName. "Title of Article in Quotation Marks." Journal Title in Caps and Italics, vol. #, no. #,

year of publication, pp. page range of article.

Example

Frey, Bruno S., David A. Savage, and Benno Torgler. "Interaction of Natural Survival Instincts and Internalized Social

Norms Exploring the Titanic and Lusitania Disasters." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, vol. 107,

no. 11, 2010, pp. 4862-4865.

Newspaper Article

Provide the day, month, and year that the newspaper article was published. Abbreviate the month according to the following standards:

  • Jan., Feb., Mar., Apr., May, Jun., Jul., Aug., Sept., Oct., Nov., Dec.

General Format

AuthorLastName, FirstName. "Title of Article in Quotation Marks." Newspaper Title in Caps and Italics,

Day Month Year of Publication.

Example

Broad, William J. "A New Look at Nature's Role in the Titanic's Sinking: The Iceberg Was Only Part of It."

The New York Times, 9 Apr. 2012.

Website

Provide the day, month, and year that the webpage was published and that you last visited the webpage. Abbreviate the month according to the following standards:

  • Jan., Feb., Mar., Apr., May, Jun., Jul., Aug., Sept., Oct., Nov., Dec.

If the webpage has no date of publication, provide the date that you accessed the site at the end of the citation.

The title of the website is usually located in the top left corner of every page. The website publisher will be located at the bottom of the page, next to the copyright date.

General Format

AuthorLastName, FirstName. "Title of Webpage in Quotation Marks." Website Title in Italics, Publisher of Website

if different from website title, Day Month Year of Publication, full URL without the “https://”. Accessed Day Month Year

(if no publication information).

Example, with Publication Date and No Author

“Titanic Facts: Some Fast Facts About Her Builders, Her Victims, and Her Survivors.” National Geographic,

12 Dec. 2012, channel.nationalgeographic.com/titanic-100-years/articles/titanic-the-final-word-with-

james-cameron-facts/

Style and Format

In MLA, quotations that extend more than 4 lines should be formatted as block quotations. This means the quotation will have no quotation marks and be completely indented half an inch from the rest of the paragraph. For example:

Many scholars continue to prefer humans over computers:

The human brain, with its flexibility and capacity to imagine, is still superior in many ways to the electronic model. The computer is never tired or preoccupied or careless, so it is wonderful at remembering and observing rules. But it doesn’t have the imagination of even a very young human brain—which not only can forget the rules, but can find in them loopholes and options. Electronic intelligence can process information like a house afire, but it still can’t think. (LaRocque 52)


MLA also had standards for formatting your paper. The first page should include your name, your professor's name, your course number, and your due date in the upper left corner. The due date will be written in inverted order, with the day coming before the month. An example can be seen at Purdue OWL.

Julie Smith
Dr. Sally Harris
ENG 111
7 November 2013

All of the headers in your paper should have your last name and page number in the upper right corner.

Smith 1

Additional Resources