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Martha S. Grafton Library

Citation Help: MLA

Information on properly citing research.

What is MLA style?

MLA stands for Modern Language Association. Their guidelines on scholarly documentation are most often used by scholars and students working in the study of the humanitites. Guidelines are published in MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers and the MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing.

MLA Style Manual

Print Vs. Electronic Sources

Print sources that you find on the shelves in the library won't have DOI (Digital Object Identifiers) or URLs for you to list in their citations. That's okay, just list the information you have about the source's publication. 

When you access a source online, be sure to include information about where you found it. If the article has a DOI, include this. If not, or if it is a source for which a DOI does not apply (eBooks or Websites), list the URL. 

Look for a stable or permanent URL to list with your citations for articles and books you find in library databases, as the URL generated in your address bar doesn't always work a few hours or days later. 

Example In-Text and Bibliographic Citations:

These examples follow the 8th edition of MLA style guidelines released in 2016.

In-Text Citations

Citing Borrowed Information

Your in-text citations for paraphrased or directly quoted information should include the author and page number. Your in-text citation should go inside the period at the end of your sentence.

(Last Name Page Number).
Important information is often contained in your syllabus (Jones 42).
“Assigned readings can be found in Blackboard” (Jones 43).

Signal Phrases

When you use information from other sources, you must cite it. However, the author’s name isn’t required to be in parenthetical citations (in parenthesis, like this!). You can instead use a signal phrase where you introduce the author in your own words before presenting the borrowed information. When you do this in MLA, the page number should still be in parenthesis and should be placed after the borrowed idea at a natural pause.

Jones explains, “assigned readings can be found in Blackboard” (42).

No Page Number? (pg. 56)

If you don’t have a page number, as you might not if you’re citing a web source, simply provide the author’s last name. If your source has marked paragraph numbers, use those instead and preface them with par.

No Author? (pg. 54)

When your source doesn’t have an author, use the title of the source in your in-text citation. If the title is long, shorten it in a way that makes sense. Titles of short works, like poems, articles or websites, should be in quotation marks. Titles of longer works, like books, should be italicized.

Journal Articles

Author(s). "Article Title." Journal Title, vol and issue numbers, Publication Date, pp. pages of article. If accessed online include: Database, doi: DOI.

Smith, Lee and Anna White. "Feminist Iconogrophy in Modern Literature." Modern Culture, vol. 10, no. 3, Spring 2000, pp. 11-23. JSTOR, doi: 10.1353/pmc2010.0021.

Newspaper Article

Author(s). “Article Title.” Newspaper Title, Publication Date, URL for Online OR pp. page numbers for print.

Ahmed, Azam. “Hurrican Matthew Pummels Haiti with Fierce Winds and Rain.” The Star-Ledger [Newark], 4 Oct. 2016, 2A+.


Author(s). Book Title: And Subtitle. Publisher, Publication Date.

Bailey, Tim S., Stewart McPherson and Alastair Robertson. Carnivorous Plants of Britain and Ireland: A Retrospective Study. Redfern Natural History Productions, 2016.

Book Chapter

Author(s). “Chapter Title.” Book Title, edited by Editor(s), Publisher, Publication Date, pp. pages of chapter.

Bazin, Richard. “Toward Double Reading.” The Future of the Book, edited by Geoffrey Rustworth, U Michigan P, 1998, pp. 143-58.


Before you cite your website, make sure its not one of the following: 

  • Article in an online database 
  • Scholarly article on a websites 
  • Magazine article on a website 
  • Newpaper article on a website 
  • Blog 
  • Twitter 
  • Any other form of media (such as a video, slideshow, sound recording, image, etc.) 

These types of sources need to be cited primarly as their format type, while mentioning that they were found online. Websites, on the otherhand, are primarly cited as being websites.

Author(s). “Page Title.” Website Title, Publication Date, URL.

American Philosophy Society. “Voltaire.” Philosophy for Beginners, voltaire.html. Accessed 12 Mar. 2016.


PDF handout made by Grafton Library. These handouts are also available in print by the reference desk.

Formatting Your Works Cited

List authors as ordered in your source. Reverse the first author’s name for alphabetizing (Last name, then first name separated by a comma). If multiple authors, separate names with commas and connect the second to last and last author’s names with and. Sec. 2.7.1

Capitalize the first word, the last word and all principal words of the title. Basically everything but words like; a, an, and, as, against, between, but, for, in, nor, of, or, the, to, so, yet, or to. Sec. 1.2

If an article in a journal or newspaper appears on nonconsecutive pages, include the first page number and a +. Sec. 2.5.1

For Regional newspapers only: include City and state abbreviation in brackets after the title. Sec. 2.6.1

Book, Journal, Newspaper and Website titles are italicized.

Omit co, corp, inc and ltd. For academic presses University Press should be abbreviated. Sec 1.6.3

When you can’t find a Publication Date, include the date you accessed the source. p. 53

Sometimes an author isn’t a person. They might be an organization, instead. If the Author is also the publisher, only list them as the Publisher and don’t list an author.

Formatting Tips

Title your list of citations: Works Cited. Use a 1/2 inch hanging indent and double space your citations.