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Citations - MLA: MLA

Modern Language Association (MLA)

The information on this guide is adapted from the Modern Language Association (MLA) website. Connect to the MLA Style Guide to explore the contents further. Some citation examples are collected from the Purdue OWL

In-Text Citations: Quotations & Paraphrasing

An in-text citation is when an author's last name and the page number(s) from which the quotation or paraphrase is taken must appear in the text, and a full reference citation should appear on your Works Cited page.

Navigate to the Purdue OWL website for in-text citation formatting and examples.

Purdue OWL: MLA - In-Text Citation - The Basics


Citation Generators

Citation generators exist but they will most likely have errors. Use these websites to quickly create citations or look for the citation generator tool within electronic databases. 

Citation Generators

Always double check the created citation with another source such as this guide or the MLA website.

Essay & Works Cited Page - Formatting

  • Typed using a word processing program such as Microsoft Word.
  • Double-spaced.
  • 8.5" x 11" paper.
  • 1" margins on all sides.
  • ​12 pt. Times New Roman font.
  • Leave only one space after periods or other punctuation marks (unless otherwise instructed by your instructor).
  • Indent the first line of paragraphs one half-inch from the left margin, use the Tab key as opposed to pushing the Space Bar.
  • Create a header that numbers all pages consecutively in the upper right-hand corner, one-half inch from the top and flush with the right margin. (Note: Your instructor may ask that you omit the number on your first page. Always follow your instructor's guidelines.)
  • Use italics throughout your essay for the titles of longer works and, only when absolutely necessary, providing emphasis.
  • If you have any endnotes, include them on a separate page before your Works Cited page. Entitle the section Notes (centered, unformatted).


MLA - Sample Paper 

View this video on formatting your paper using Microsoft Word.

MLA Works Cited Page: Basic Format

  • 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 225-50. Note that MLA style uses a hyphen in a span of pages.
  • The medium of publication is no longer stated, except when it is needed for clarity (52).

  • The URL should be used by deleting http:// or https://.
  • 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. 
  • Accessed date is optional.

Abbreviations Commonly Used

  • Placeholders for unknown information like n.d. (“no date”) are no longer used. If facts missing from a work are available in a reliable external resource, they are cited in square brackets (2.6.1). Otherwise, they are simply omitted.

Visit the MLA Style Center for more information: MLA Style Center



Author's Last Name, First Name. Title of Book: Subtitle if Any. Edition if given and is not first edition, Publisher Name often shortened, Year of publication. Name of Library Database.


Waldau, Paul. Animal Rights: What Everyone Needs To Know. Oxford University Press, 2010. eBook Collection (EBSCOhost). 

Periodical from an Online Database


Alonso, Alvaro, and Julio A. Camargo. “Toxicity of Nitrite to Three Species of Freshwater Invertebrates.” Environmental Toxicology, vol. 21, no. 1, 3 Feb. 2006, pp. 90-94. Wiley Online Library, doi:10.1002/tox.20155.

Langhamer, Claire. “Love and Courtship in Mid-Twentieth-Century England.” Historical Journal, vol. 50, no. 1, 2007, pp. 173-96. ProQuest, doi:10.1017/S0018246X06005966. Accessed 27 May 2009.


Citing an Entire Website


Editor, author, or compiler name (if available). Name of Site. Version number, Name of institution/organization affiliated with the site (sponsor or publisher), date of resource creation (if available), URL (omit https://), DOI or permalink. Date of access (if applicable).

The Purdue OWL Family of Sites. The Writing Lab and OWL at Purdue and Purdue U, 2008, Accessed 23 Apr. 2008.

Felluga, Dino. Guide to Literary and Critical Theory. Purdue U, 28 Nov. 2003, Accessed 10 May 2006.


A Page on a Website

“Athlete's Foot - Topic Overview.” WebMD, 25 Sept. 2014,

Lundman, Susan. “How to Make Vegetarian Chili.” eHow, Accessed 6 July 2015.

Literary Criticism & Contemporary Issues Citations --MLA Examples

Critical essay reprinted in a collection


Stone, Laurie. “Personal Best: What’s New in Towne.” Village Voice 11 Mar. 1982: 52-53. Rpt. in Contemporary Literary Criticism. Ed.                     Christopher Giroux. Vol. 87. Detroit: Gale, 1995. 366-369. 


To cite an essay in a collection that has been previously published elsewhere, give the earlier publication information followed by “Rpt. in” (meaning “Reprinted in”). Always cite the source you are using; do not pretend you saw the article in the original publication. 

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General - Citations

What is a Citation?

A "citation" is the way you tell your readers that certain material in your work came from another source. It also gives your readers the information necessary to find that source again, including:

  • Information about the author.
  • Title of the work.
  • Name and location of the company that published your copy of the source.
  • Date your copy was published.
  • Page numbers of the material you are borrowing.

Why Cite?

Giving credit to the original author by citing sources is the only way to use other people's work without plagiarizing. But there are a number of other reasons to cite sources:

  • Citations are extremely helpful to anyone who wants to find out more about your ideas and where they came from.
  • Not all sources are good or right -- your own ideas may often be more accurate or interesting than those of your sources. Proper citation will keep you from taking the rap for someone else's bad ideas.
  • Citing sources shows the amount of research you've done.
  • Citing sources strengthens your work by lending outside support to your ideas.

When to Cite?

Whenever you borrow words or ideas, you need to acknowledge their source. The following situations almost always require citation:

  • Quotations.
  • Paraphrasing.
  • Using an idea that someone else has already expressed.
  • Making specific reference to the work of another.
  • Someone else's work has been critical in developing your own ideas.

"What is a Citation?." iParadigms, LLC, 2015. Web. 22 Nov. 2015.

When using a direct quote or paraphrasing it is immediately followed by an in-text citation. 


What is MLA Style?

MLA Style establishes standards of written communication concerning:

  • formatting and page layout
  • stylistic technicalities (e.g. abbreviations, footnotes, quotations)
  • citing sources
  • and preparing a manuscript for publication in certain disciplines.

Why Use MLA?

  • Provide your readers with cues they can use to follow your ideas more efficiently and to locate information of interest to them
  • Allow readers to focus more on your ideas by not distracting them with unfamiliar or complicated formatting
  • Establish your credibility or ethos in the field by demonstrating an awareness of your audience and their needs as fellow researchers (particularly concerning the citing of references)

Who Should Use MLA?

MLA Style is typically reserved for writers and students preparing manuscripts in various humanities disciplines such as:

  • English Studies - Language and Literature
  • Foreign Language and Literatures
  • Literary Criticism
  • Comparative Literature
  • Cultural Studies

"Welcome to the Purdue OWL." Purdue OWL: MLA Overview and Workshop. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Jan. 2016. <>.

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