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Citation Guide : MLA

Basic MLA Rules

NEW RULES...

  • No More Underlining! MLA now requires italicizing titles of independently published works (books, periodicals, films, etc).
  • No More URLs! While website entries will still include authors, article names, and website names, when available, MLA no longer requires URLs. Writers are, however, encouraged to provide a URL if the citation information does not lead readers to easily find the source.
  • Continuous Pagination?  You no longer have to worry about whether scholarly publications employ continuous pagination or not. For all such entries, both volume and issue numbers are required, regardless of pagination.
  • Publication Medium. Every entry receives a medium of publication marker. Most entries will be listed as Print or Web, but other possibilities include Performance, DVD, or TV. Most of these markers will appear at the end of entries; however, markers for Web sources are followed by the date of access.
  • New Abbreviations. Many web source entries now require a publisher name, a date of publication, and/or page numbers.
  • When no publisher name appears on the website, write N.p. for no publisher given.
  • When sites omit a date of publication, write n.d. for no date.
  • For online journals that appear only online (no print version) or on databases that do not provide pagination, write n. pag. for no pagination

  • Some basic rules for MLA citations are:

    • All citations should be double spaced
    • Indent after the first line of each entry
    • Entries are not numbered
    • Alphabetize by the first word of the entry
    • If an element is not present, omit it
    • If no author is listed, begin with title
    • Italics must be used for titles of books and periodicals (If italics are used, the font must be obviously different from the standard print)
    • Capitalize titles of books and articles according to convention, no matter how they appear in a database or catalog
    • Editions of books are noted after the title in the following format: 2nd ed. First editions are not listed as such. If no edition is listed, omit the edition section
    • List the city of publication only.
    • Dates are in Day Month Year format (e.g. 12 Dec. 1992) with all months abbreviated to three letters followed by a period (Jan., Feb., Mar., Apr., Aug., Sept., Oct., Nov., Dec.) except May, June, and July, which are left as is
    • Page numbers in MLA are sometimes shortened. If the page numbers are three or more digits, shorten the second number to two digits when possible. Examples: 8-9; 44-49; 112-23; 492-506; 1253-66.
    • All citations end with a period.
    • Italics must be used with the title of the database.

     

    MLA Parenthetical Citation

    If the information derived from more than one page in the work, format page numbers just as you do in an MLA Works Cited.

    Examples: 3-4; 5-15; 23-29; 431-39; 497-503.

    There are 13 basic formats:

    1. Author named within the signal phrase

    If you list the name of the author, the parenthetical citation need only contain the page number.

    Example: Thomas Friedman wrote, "No two countries that both had McDonald's had fought a war against each other since each got its McDonald's" (195).

    2. Author NOT named within the paper

    If the author is not named, include his/her last name in the parenthetical citation.

    Example: "No two countries that both had McDonald's had fought a war against each other since each got its McDonald's" (Friedman 195).

    3. No author listed or unknown author

    If the article has no author listed, refer to the first portion of the title as in this example for an article called "A Critique of 'Lexus and Olive' View of Globalization.” What’s not there cannot be created.

    Example: "Friedman, in his book The Lexus and the Olive Tree, has mentioned that globalization is inevitable and irreversible, the forward march of technology makes it so. Governments can no longer control the free flow of information. The cell phone and satellite television have reached even the remotest Indonesian village" ("A Critique" A4).

    4. Work has two authors

    If a work has two authors, link their names with the word and (written out, do not use an ampersand) or use the names in a signal phrase.

    Examples: "The network form is on the rise in a big way, and because of this, societies are entering a new epoch" (Arquilla and Ronfelt 43).

    Arquilla and Ronfelt report that “the network form is on the rise in a big way, and because of this, societies are entering a new epoch” (43).

    5. Work has three authors

    If a work has three authors, format their names and the page reference as follows or use the names in a signal phrase.

    Examples: "Globalization is an inevitable process. The world is becoming more homogenous, and distinctions between national markets are not only fading but, for some products, will disappear altogether" (Czinkota, Ronkainen, and Tarrant 3).

    According to Czinkota, Ronkainen, and Tarrant, "Globalization is an inevitable process. The world is becoming more homogenous, and distinctions between national markets are not only fading but, for some products, will disappear altogether" (3).

    6. Work has more than three authors

    Use only the first author and “et al.” (an abbreviation for et alii, which in Latin means “and others”). This will match the citation in the Works Cited.

    Examples: "Individual preventative stress management provides an effective complement for dealing with organizational stress" (Quick et al. 159).

    Quick et al., contend that "individual preventative stress management provides an effective complement for dealing with organizational stress" (159).

    7. Author has more than one work in Works Cited

    If more than one work by the same author is listed in the paper's bibliography, include a reference to the specific work either within the paper or in the parenthetical citation. If the title is not included in the paper, use a brief reference (shortened title) in the parenthetical citation.

    Examples: In The Lexus and the Olive Tree, Thomas L. Friedman noted, "No two countries that both had McDonald's had fought a war against each other since each got its McDonald's" (195).

    "No two countries that both had McDonald's had fought a war against each other since each got its McDonald's" (Friedman, Lexus 195).

    8. Works Cited has more than one author with the same last name

    If your bibliography includes two authors with the same last name, Milton Friedman and Thomas Friedman, for example, include the author's first initial in the parenthetical citation or the author's full name in the signal phrase.

    Examples: "No two countries that both had McDonald's had fought a war against each other since each got its McDonald's" (T. Friedman 195).

    Thomas Friedman asserts that “no two countries that both had McDonald's had fought a war against each other since each got its McDonald's" (195).

    9. Work has no page numbers (web site, etc.)

    Do not use the page numbers of a print out of a web page or an article from a database. If there are no page numbers, you cannot invent any. What’s not there cannot be created. Sometimes you are able to determine the pages in an article from a database from the citation or a PDF. Some articles or web sites may be unpaginated. In those cases, list the author's last name (or if not given, use a brief reference to the title). Remember when paraphrasing unpaginated material that if you include the author’s name in the signal phrase there will be no ending citation which can be confusing for your reader. Be sure to clarify where the material ends. In this case, "Brand" is the author of the web site.

    Example: "Friedman realized early that to write intelligently about world economics he needed to make himself an expert in six tightly integrated domains that are usually reported separately: financial markets, politics, culture, national security, technology, and the environment" (Brand).

    10. Information is in two or more works

    List both works in the parenthetical citation exactly as they would be listed individually, but separate them with a semicolon. List the sources in the same order they will appear in the Works Cited list (alphabetical by first entry).

    Example: Pundits agree that globalization will impact the future of all businesses as national borders are breached, trade barriers are broken down, and both eventually disappear (Friedman 42; Ronkainen, Czinkota, and Tarrant 1).

    11. Indirect source (a source quoted in another source)

    If you use an indirect quotation (information found in a source that was quoting another source, also known as a secondary source) use the following method of in-text citation. This statement, from Glenn Prickett, is quoted on page 30 of Friedman’s book, The Lexus and the Olive Tree. "Qtd. in" stands for “quoted in.” Only Friedman is listed in the Works Cited, not Prickett.

    Example: An environmental group's president, Glenn Prickett, made the following observation about arriving by plane in a remote Amazon village: "Touching down on the grass landing strip we were met by the entire village in traditional dress -- and undress -- and painted faces, with a smattering of American baseball caps bearing random logos" (qtd. in Friedman 30).

    12. Encyclopedia or dictionary

    If the encyclopedia entry has an author, use it. If it doesn’t, use the title of the entry. In either case, do not use the page number since these sources are arranged alphabetically.

    Example: According to the Oxford English Dictionary, globalization is a new word, first used in 1959 (“Global”).

    13. Organizational author

    If the author of the work is an organization, government agency, or corporation, list the name of the author in either the signal tag or the parenthetical ciation. Since the name of the author cannot be shortened like a title can be, if the name is lengthy (United States Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics, for example), place the name in the signal phrase instead of the parenthetical citation.

    Examples: According to United States Army, "globalization, the Lexus, is the central organizing principle of the post–Cold War world, even though many individuals and nations resist by holding on to what has traditionally mattered to them—the olive tree" (4).

    "Globalization, the Lexus, is the central organizing principle of the post–Cold War world, even though many individuals and nations resist by holding on to what has traditionally mattered to them—the olive tree" (United States Army 4).

    MLA tutorials

    Click here to access MLA tutorial offered by University of North Carolina.

    Click here to access Purdue University Writing Lab (OWL)

    Online MLA Help

    Online sites specifically for MLA.

    MLA Manual