The Modern Language Association (MLA) is an organization of teachers and scholars devoted to the study of language and literature. MLA style has been widely adopted by academic journals, schools, and instructors. Since its initial publication, the MLA Style Manual has become the predominant style guide for use in the Humanities in the United States, and is commonly used in Canada and other countries worldwide.
Note: These are only basic examples of the MLA style. More detailed information is available through the MLA Handbook (8th edition) and http://www.mla.org/style. In addition, a variety of third-party style guides and web sites can provide further assistance.
Always consult your library resources for the exact formatting and punctuation guidelines.
Alphabetize each entry in a works cited list by the first letter, ignoring the articles A, An, and The. Indent subsequent lines of entries one-half inch. Citations should be double-spaced.
The MLA 8th edition no longer uses publication type to format citations. Instead it provides a list of core elements which should be presented when available in the following order. Each element is followed by the punctuation mark shown unless it is the final element. All citations should end with a period.
- Title of Source
- Title of Container
- Other contributors
- Publication Date
When the work is part of a larger whole, the larger whole is a container. For example if citing an article in a journal, the journal is a container. Works can have multiple containers. For example an article in a journal may also be in a database, in this case both the journal and the database are containers for that article. All containers for a work should be included in the citation. Core elements 3 – 9 should be listed for each container followed by a period to mark the end of elements related to that container.
The following examples are citations from EBSCO databases. If you cannot find some of this information, cite what is available.
Author name is the first core element listed in a citation. Author names should appear as they do on the title page, whether spelled out or using initials. The first author is listed last name first, but the second author’s name appears in the normal order. If there are three or more authors only the first author’s name is listed followed by a comma and “et al.”
Larios Mora, Alejandro, et al. “Kinetics of Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) Memphis Strain 37 (M37) Infection in the Respiratory Tract of Newborn Lambs as an RSV Infection Model for Human Infants.” PLoS ONE, vol. 1, no. 12, 7 Dec. 2015, pp. 1-18. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0143580.
If referencing parts of the work by a non-author contributor include their name followed by their role. Common roles like editor and translator should no longer be abbreviated in the MLA eighth edition.
Works published by organizations should list the organization in the author place.
United Nations Environment Programme Environmental Effects Assessment Panel. "Environmental Effects of Ozone Depletion and Its Interactions with Climate Change: Progress Report, 2015." Photochemical & Photobiological Sciences, vol. 15, no. 2, Feb. 2016, pp. 141-174. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1039/c6pp90004f.
Citations for a work without an author should start with the title of the source.
“CDC Advises Pregnant Women to Avoid Miami Beach Due to Zika.” HealthDay News, 19 Aug. 2016. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=nrcn&AN=NRCN714074&site=nrc-live.
Title of Source
Title of source is the second core element listed in a citation. Titles should appear in full as they do on the title page. Capitalize the first, last, and all principal words. Subtitles should be included after the main title. Titles of independent self-contained works such as books, journals and magazines are italicized.
Damon-Bach, Lucinda L., et al. Catharine Maria Sedwick: Critical Perspectives. Northeastern UP, 2003. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=mzh&AN=2004530014&site=ehost-live&scope=site.
Titles of works in a collection or larger work should appear in quotes. For example the title of a poem or essay in a collection or the title of an article in a periodical.
Mahdi, Shah H.A., et al. "Heat-Shock-Induced Color-Pattern Changes of the Blue Pansy Butterfly Junonia Orithya: Physiological and Evolutionary Implications." Journal of Thermal Biology, vol. 36, no. 6, Aug. 2011, pp. 312-321. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1016/j.jtherbio.2011.06.002.
Works included in a collection which would normally be independent are an exception and should be listed in italics. For example novels or plays included in a collection would be presented in italics.
Title of Container
Title of container is the first container element listed in a citation. Titles of containers should be italicized and followed by a comma. Capitalize the first, last, and all principal words.
Obama, Michelle. “You Are the Fruits of the Founding Fathers’ Vision.” Vital Speeches of the Day, vol. 82, no. 8, Aug. 2016, pp. 236-239. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=aph&AN=117138537&site=ehost-live&scope=site.
If a person other than an author is important to the identification of the source or to your research, then name other contributors in the citation. Precede each name or names with a description of their role (i.e. adapted by, illustrated by, narrated by, etc.). If this kind of phrase cannot describe the type of contribution, then express the role as a noun followed by a comma (e.g. general editor, John K. Reeves). If a contributor did not play a role in the entire collection, such as an article in an anthology, then list their names after the source title, not the container title. Lastly, if a source has many contributors, then only include the ones relevant to your research.
Chew, Kristina. "Autism and the Task of the Translator." Worlds of Autism: Across the Spectrum of Neurological Difference, edited by Joyce Davidson and Michael Orsini, University of Minnesota Press, 2013, pp. 305-317, EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=psyh&AN=2013-44419-013&site=ehost-live.
Bakman, Nina. "She Can Be Put to Work: Joan Riviere as Translator between Freud and Jones." Translated by Sophie Leighton. Psychoanalysis and History, vol. 10, no. 1, 2008, pp. 21-36, EBSCOhost, doi:10.3366/E1460823508000032.
If the source indicates that it is a version or edition of a work released in more than one form, then the version should be identified in the citation. Edition can be shortened to ed.
Darwin, Charles. "On the Development of the Intellectual and Moral Faculties during Primeval and Civilised Times." Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex, New edition, revised and augmented, D Appleton & Company, 1880, pp. 127-145, EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=psyh&AN=2006-03521-005&site=ehost-live.
The source you are citing may be part of a numbered sequence, such as a multiple volume work or a numbered series. The citation should indicate the number preceded by a term indicating what kind of number it is. Volume and issue should be abbreviated to vol. and no.
Kindinger, Evangelia. Homebound: Diaspora Spaces and Selves in Greek American Return Narratives. Universitätsverlag Winter, 2015. American Studies Monograph Series, no. 257, EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=mzh&AN=2015381852&site=ehost-live.
Gebril, Atta. "Score Generalizability of Academic Writing Tasks: Does One Test Method Fit It All?" Language Testing, vol. 26, no. 4, Oct. 2009, pp. 507-531, EBSCOhost, doi:10.1177/0265532209340188.
The publisher is the organization responsible for producing the source or making it publicly available. If two or more organizations are listed and are equally responsible, then include each of them in the citation separated by a forward slash (/). A publisher's name is not needed in citations of periodicals, works published directly by their author, or websites whose title is the same as the publisher or that are not involved in producing the work it makes available.
Falkenberg, Loren and Oleksiy Osiyevskyy. "Should We Publish That? Managing Conflicting Stakeholder Expectations in the Publishing Industry." Gamification for Human Factors Integration: Social, Education, and Psychological Issues, Edited by Jonathan Bishop, Information Science Reference/IGI Global, 2014, pp. 52-79. Advances in human and social aspects of technology (AHSAT) book series, EBSCOhost, doi:10.4018/978-1-4666-5071-8.ch004.
Sternberg, Thomas and A.E. Green. The Dialect and Folk-Lore of Northamptonshire. British Book Centre, 1974. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=mzh&AN=1974307148&site=ehost-live
Full publication dates should be included in the citation when they are listed on the source. Where a full date is given, it should be cited as [day] [abbreviated month], [year] (i.e. 28 Dec. 2014). Where a full date is not given, cite the elements listed with year last. If the source was developed over time, cite a date range using a hyphen. When a source is associated with more than one publication date, cite the date that is most meaningful to the item or relevant to your research.
Møller, Anders Pape, et al. "Change in Flight Initiation Distance between Urban and Rural Habitats Following a Cold Winter." Behavioral Ecology, vol. 24, no. 5, Sep.-Oct. 2013, pp. 1211-1217, EBSCOhost, doi:10.1093/beheco/art054.
al-Musawi, Muhsin. "The Republic of Letters: Arab Modernity? [Pt. II]." Cambridge Journal of Postcolonial Literary Inquiry, vol. 2, no. 1, Mar. 2015, pp. 115-130, EBSCOhost, doi: 10.1017/pli.2014.21.
Christopher, Joe R. "Lewis Carroll, Sciencefictionist (Pt 2)." Mythlore: A Journal of J. R. R. Tolkien, C. S. Lewis, Charles Williams, and the Genres of Myth and Fantasy Stu, vol. 9, no. 4 , Winter 1983, pp. 45-48. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=mzh&AN=1984082359&site=ehost-live.
The medium of the publication dictates how the location is formatted in the work cited list. For print sources the location is the page number where the work appears. The page number for a single page work is proceeded by p. Page numbers for a work which covers a range of pages are proceeded by pp.
Wilkie-Stibhs, Christine. "Imaging Fear: Inside the Worlds of Neil Gaiman (An Anti-Oedipal Reading)." Lion & the Unicorn, vol. 37, no. 1, Jan. 2013, pp. 37-53. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=aph&AN=87047896&site=ehost-live.
Citations for online works should include a URL for the location. If available it’s preferred to include a stable URL or permalink.
Hanfelt, John J. and Lijia Wang. "Simple Relaxed Conditional Likelihood." Biometrika, vol. 101, no. 3, Sept. 2014, pp. 726-732. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=aph&AN=97826062&site=ehost-live&scope=site.
Some online publications provide a DOI, Digital Object Identifier, in these cases the DOI should be provided in place of the URL.
Wang, Fan-Hong, et al. "Applying DNA Barcodes to Identify Closely Related Species of Ferns: A Case Study of the Chinese Adiantum (Pteridaceae)." Plos ONE, vol. 11, no. 9, 07 Sept. 2016, pp. 1-21. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0160611.
For location formatting for other mediums such as television shows and live exhibits, please reference the MLA Handbook 8th edition.