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Guide for MLA Style CitationsMLA style citations are used by both students and academics. MLA stands for Modern Language Association and the referencing format in its handbook is referred to as MLA Style citations. Guidelines may differ slightly in different editions that is why this guide uses the most recent, 8th edition, of the MLA handbook. MLA style citations are most commonly used by those studying courses in the humanities fields. Nevertheless, always check and make sure the applicable citation style that is required from your institution, professors, and publishers.
The MLA Style is divided into two main areas:
- In-text citations
- Works Cited page
How to do MLA In text CitationsThese are work as a brief reference for the reader or professor towards the full-length citation in the Works Cited page. This is so they can either check if the content cited was accurate or if they want to chase up that source for other reasons. An in text citation MLA style is always used when you quote, paraphrase or summarize any type of source.
What information should be included in an in-text citation?
The in text citation MLA style must be the same as the starting words of your Works Cited page entry. Normally, a Works Cited page entry starts with the last name and has a locator like a page range or a particular page number. This helps to find the exact origin of a source.
Citation mla format example In TextYour in-text citations will vary depending on the type of source information but a general in text citation MLA style will look like the following:
- (Singh 17-20)
MLA Citation with Multiple Authors In Text
Some publications like books, research papers and journal articles often have more than one author. You’ll have to make a minor addition to create a MLA citation with multiple authors.
- (Patel and Peterson 4-9)
Three or Plus Authors
- (Humphrey et al. 34-47)
Parenthetical vs Narrative In Text Citations
A parenthetical citation uses parenthesis to contain the last name and page number or a page range. For example:
- In about 26 years…(Patel 3-7)
- Morrison notes that work laws must evolve with time (45-50).
Citing a corporate author or multiple sources by the same author?
You'll Find reports and publications quite often that are not written by individuals but rather are published by businesses, corporations, or organisations. Another tricky citation could be when you are using different sources but they were written by the same author.
Citation in MLA format example for corporate Author
All you have to do is switch the author’s name with the organisation’s name if it is different to the publisher itself. If the organisation is also the publisher then you use the title of the publication itself. For example:
- (UNICEF 34-38)
- In its report, it was claimed…(“Way Forward for Education” 34-38)
Citation in MLA format example for multiple sources but same author
In such a case you must add a new information field in the in-text citation. This is to citations and different sources can be differentiated. So, when there are multiple sources by the same author, include a shortened form of the title like this:
- (Harris, Five Ways to Success, 39-40)
- (Harris, Under the Moonlight, 24-29)
Information is missing?For missing information use these cases to make changes:
With a source without a credited author, use the title instead. If the title looks to loong and could mess up the flow of the writing then shorten it when it is more than four words:
- Trends in temperature reveal shocking insight…(“Understanding the Climate”)
No Page Number
Page number and ranges act as locators in a citation. They inform the reader where the cited text came from specifically from the source. If you don’t find page numbers, which can happen in certain types of source material like online newspapers or online books, then either leave it or use an alternative. Here are a couple of example to illustrate it:
Citation for MLA website without a page number
Citation MLA Book Online without a page locator
- (Tolkien ch. 5)
Works Cited in MLA Style CitationsThe Works Cited page is where you put the full-length citation. Follow these steps:
- Place the Works Cited page at the very end and use a fresh page.
- Remember that the full-length citation entries here must be alphabetized according to the author’s surname.
- If the citation entry does not have an author and you use the title as the first words then alphabetize it according to that first word, not including ‘articles’ in the title (a, an, the etc.).
Citation MLA example for a Works Cited pageCertain types of sources are cited most often in student essays and research papers. The general format remains the same across all types of sources but what information you enter in a citation differs based on the type of source and the specific source in question. Remember to title the page as ‘Works Cited’ without bold font or italics but centre aligned. Use these examples of Works Cited page entries when writing. Also, take advantage of PlagX’s free citation machine to make the work easier.
With multiple sources by the same author in a Works Cited page, use three hyphens after the first time instead of the author’s name.
Works Cited Citation MLA book with different authors
- Porterfield, Charles. A Log of Seven Brothers. Lighthouse Book Corporation, 1961.
- Kent, Luis, and Elisabeth Penn. Travels to the Forest. Panel Publishing Corporation, 1956.
Three Authors or More
- Kent, Luis, et al. Travels to the Forest. Panel Publishing Corporation, 1956.
- Matthews (2020, p. 45) highlights in a comparative study that...
Work Cited MLA citation of an article in journals
- Ash, Jennifer. “Findings on Equilateral Construction.” Journal of Housing, vol. 101, no. 4, 2013, pp. 2–14. doi:10.1177/0004057420903266
You can replace the doi if it is missing with its specific URL to create a MLA citation of an article.
Works Cited citation for MLA website
- Adams, Fredrick. “Plagiarism Checkers in The Writing Process.” Plagiarism Checker X, 2021, https://plagiarismcheckerx.com/blog/plagiarism-checkers-in-the-writing-process.
Works Cited entry for newspaper
- Popper, Nathaniel. “Elon Musk and Snoop Dogg Push Cryptocurrencies to Record Highs.” The New York Times, 2021, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/02/08/technology/dogecoin-bitcoin-elon-musk-snoop-dogg.html.
Entries that go over one line must have a hanging indent and all entries must be double spaced without any extra space between each separate one.
Can’t find citation information?There could be some very important information missing from a source like the author, title or publication date. These information fields are very important for a citation entry but there are alternatives if they are not available.
It’s quite simple, replace it with the title of the source. Remember that the formatting will stay the same. For instance, it will either be italics if it’s a whole title (complete book) or in quotation marks if it’s part of a whole (article in a journal volume).
- “Plagiarism Checkers in The Writing Process.” Plagiarism Checker X, 2021, https://plagiarismcheckerx.com/blog/plagiarism-checkers-in-the-writing-process.
It is unlikely but there could be missing titles too. In this case you should insert a brief description after the author's name. Remember to not have italicize or use quotation marks. Here is an example:
- Adams, Fredrick. Blog on using software in writing. Plagiarism Checker X, 2021, https://plagiarismcheckerx.com/blog/plagiarism-checkers-in-the-writing-process.
if you can’t find a publication date then use the date of access after everything else.
- Popper, Nathaniel. “Elon Musk and Snoop Dogg Push Cryptocurrencies to Record Highs.” The New York Times, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/02/08/technology/dogecoin-bitcoin-elon-musk-snoop-dogg.html. Accessed 9 February 2021.
General MLA Style Paper FormattingOther than the in-text citations and Works Cited page entries, which can be generated with PlagX’s free citation MLA creator, your paper needs to be formatted in a particular way. Follow these few checklist guidelines so that your paper adhere to the Modern Language Association’s (MLA) formatting style:
- One-inch margins for the document
- Double spacing between lines
- Indented paragraphs
- MLA Style first page heading