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Citing Sources

A guide to introduce how to cite your sources, avoid plagiarism, and use the right style guides to format your citations.

Citing Sources Using the MLA Handbook, 8th Edition

MLA Overview

MLA (Modern Language Association) is the style is most commonly used to write papers and cite sources within the liberal arts and humanities.

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What's New in the 8th Edition

The Eighth Edition of the MLA Handbook recommends a universal set of guidelines, a "new model" that writers can apply to any source.

In the new model, a work’s publication format is not considered. Instead of asking, “How do I cite a book [or DVD or Web page]?” the writer creates a citation by consulting the MLA’s list of core elements—facts common to most works—which are assembled in a specific order. The MLA core elements appear below:

MLA Citation Containers

In the new model, then, the writer asks, “Who is the author? What is the title?” and so forth—regardless of the nature of the source. Also, in the new model, elements 3-9 will repeat if the source was located within another source, like an article in a database.

Below are differences that might be overlooked by writers making the transition from the seventh edition.


  • Common terms in the works-cited list like editor, edited by, translator, and review of are no longer abbreviated. The eighth edition provides a shorter list of recommended abbreviations.


  • When a source has three or more authors, only the first one shown in the source is normally given. It is followed by et al.

Books and Other Printed Works

  • Page numbers in the works-cited list (but not in in-text citations) are now preceded by p. or pp..
  • For books, the city of publication is no longer given, except in special situations.


  • Issues of scholarly journals are now identified with, for instance, “vol. 64, no. 1” rather than “64.1”. If an issue of a scholarly journal is dated with a month or season, the month or season is now always cited along with the year.

Online Works

  • The URL (without http:// or https://) is now normally given for a Web source. Angle brackets are not used around it.
  • The citing of DOIs (digital object identifiers) is encouraged. Citing the date when an online work was consulted is now optional.
  • 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. Otherwise, they are simply omitted.


  • Publishers’ names are now given in full, except that business words like Company (Co.) are dropped and, for academic presses, the abbreviations U, P, and UP are still used.
  • A forward slash (/) now separates the names of copublishers.
  • The kinds of publications that don’t require a publisher’s name are defined.
  • When an organization is both author and publisher of a work, the organization’s name is now given only once, usually as the publisher. No author is stated.


  • Full publication information is now given for widely used reference works. Page-number spans are given for articles in alphabetically arranged reference books in print. In other words, reference works are treated like other works and are no longer subject to exceptions.
  • The medium of publication is no longer stated, except when it is needed for clarity.

MLA Article Citation Examples

Print Articles

Print Article Template

Author's Last Name, First Name Middle Initial. "Title of Source: Subtitle of Source." Title of Container, Version, Number, Publication Date, Location.

Journal Article Example

Hannah, Daniel K. "The Private Life, the Public Stage: Henry James in Recent Fiction." Journal of Modern Literature, vol. 30, no. 3, 2007, pp. 70-94.

Magazine Article Example

Poniewozik, James. "TV Makes a Too-Close Call." Time, 20 Nov. 2000, pp. 70-71.

Newspaper Article Example

Brubaker, Bill. "New Health Center Targets County's Uninsured Patients." Washington Post, 24 May 2007, p. LZ01.

Electronic Articles

Today, it is more than likely that you will locate articles from a database (e.g. ProQuest, JSTOR), electronic subscription service (e.g. EBSCOhost), or a website. Articles that are located from an electronic source will include the elements of the 2nd container in the second part of the citation.

TAKE NOTE: Your instructors may have different preferences for the use of URLs in article citations. When using a URL from a database, always use the permalink when one is provided to avoid expired session URLs.

Article from an Online Database or Website Template

Author's Last Name, First Name Middle Initial. "Title of Source: Subtitle of Source." Title of Container, Version, Number, Publication Date, Location. Title of Container 2, URL or DOI. Access Date.

Article from an Online Database Examples

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, doi: 10.1002/tox.20155. Accessed 2 Feb. 2015.

Iaconangelo, David. "What Another Ice Shelf Collapse Might Mean for Antarctica and the Planet." Christian Science Monitor, 6 Jan. 2017. Academic Search Complete, Accessed 26 Jan. 2017.

Article from a Website Example

"Youtuber, Brexit, and 'Get Your Freak On' Enter the Oxford English Dictionary." Time Magazine, 14 Dec. 2016. Time, Accessed 16 Dec. 2016.

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MLA Book Citations

Print Books

Print Book Template

Author's Last Name, First Name Middle Initial. Title of Source: Subtitle of Source. Version, Publisher, Publication Date. 

Book, Single Author Example

Garcia Marquez, Gabriel. Love in the Time of Cholera. Vintage, 1988.   

Book, Two Authors Example

Casell, Kay Ann and Uma Hiremath. Reference and Information Services in the 21st Century: An Introduction. Neal-Schuman, 2004.

(NOTE: Authors should be listed in the order they are listed on the title page.)

Book, Three or More Authors Example

Robbins, Chandler S., et al. Birds of North America: A Guide to Field Identification. Golden, 1966.

Book, with Translator or Other Contributors Example

Homer. The Odyssey. Translated by Robert Fagles, Viking, 1996.

(NOTE: Other common descriptions: Adapted by, Directed by, Edited by, Illustrated by, Introduction by, Narrated by, Performance by.)

A Work (e.g., essay, short story) in an Anthology or Compilation

Kimball, Jean. "Growing Up Together: Joyce and Psychoanalysis, 1900-1922." Joyce through the Ages: A Nonlinear View, edited by Michael Patrick Gillespie, UP of Florida, 1999, pp. 25-45.


Electronic Books

When a book is accessed from a database, website, or other electronic source, this information is provided as a 2nd Sometimes elements 3-9 will be listed again in your citation -- if your book was from a database or a website. Include the date of access and URL or DOI, when available, if you use an electronic source.

TAKE NOTE: Your instructors may have different preferences for the use of URLs in electronic book citations. When using a URL from a database, always use the permalink when one is provided to avoid expired session URLs.

Electronic Book Template

Author's Last Name, First Name Middle Initial. Title of Source: Subtitle of Source. Version, Publisher, Publication Date. Title of Container 2. Access Date.

Book from a Database

Pustz, Matthew. Comic Book Culture: Fanboys and True Believers. Mississippi UP, 1999. eBook Collection, Accessed 12 Dec. 2016.

Book from a Website

Poe, Edgar A. "The Raven." Short Stories for English Courses. Edited by Rosa Mary Redding Mikels, Project Gutenburg, 2004. Project Gutenburg, Accessed 31 Oct. 2016.


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MLA Website Citations

Single Webpage

Webpage Template

Author's Last Name, First Name Middle Initial (if one is given). "Title of Source: Subtitle of Source." Title of Container, Publisher, Publication Date, Location.

"Athlete's Foot - Topic Overview." WebMD, 25 Sept. 2014, Accessed 2 Feb. 2015.

Lundman, Susan. "How to Make Vegetarian Chili." eHow, Accessed 15 Dec. 2016.

Entire Website

Entire Website Template

Author's Last Name, First Name Middle Initial (if one is given). Title of Container, Publisher, Location.

National Institute on Drug Abuse, NIH, Accessed 15 Dec. 2016.

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Other Media Sources

Videos, Blogs, Comments, Tweets, and Email will following the standard format involving titles and containers that are used for other entries. 


“8 Hot Dog Gadgets Put to the Test.” YouTube, uploaded by Crazy Russian Hacker, 6 June 2016, Accessed 2 Nov. 2016.

McGonigal, Jane. “Gaming and Productivity.” YouTube, uploaded by Big Think, 3 July 2012, Accessed 12 Dec. 2016.


Sarvas, Mark. "My Top 10 Banned Literary Essay List." The Elegant Variation, 19 Feb. 2014,


Small, Alex. Comment on "Welcome Freshmen. Look at Me When I Talk to You." Chronicle of Higher Education,

11 Sept. 2016,


Jordan, Andrew R. "Re: Attendance Policy." Received by Jessica Robertson, 29 Aug. 2016.

TAKE NOTE: When documenting an e-mail message, use the subject as the title.  The subject is enclosed in quotation marks.  Standard capitalization applies.


@ChasingtheMeso."Moving On to the Championship." Twitter, 11 Sept. 2016, 8:39 p.m.,

TAKE NOTE: Identify a short untitled message, such as a tweet, by reproducing its full text or the first part of the full text, without changes, in place of a title.  Enclose the text in quotation marks.

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In-text Citations

In order to avoid plagiarism, all information which you gather from someone else’s research or knowledge needs to be both cited in a Works Cited page as well as through in-text citations (also called parenthetical citation). In-text citations are inserted directly into an essay using parentheses. In-text citations must be used to give credit to the original author for paraphrases, summaries, as well as direct quotes. Generally, they are placed at the end of a sentence. 

In-text citations:  

  • allows your reader to know which source each idea/fact came from
  • gives you credibility as a writer
  • protects you from plagiarism
  • points your reader to the proper entry in your Works Cited.

Examples of In-text Citations

The format for creating an in-text citation in MLA Style is to include the last name of the author of the work, followed by the page number of the content used.

Direct Quote:

"In the Caribbean the successful planting of new varieties of crops owed much to the Amerindian, who carefully nurtured each newly introduced food source." (Mackie 42)

Lead-in Reference with quote:

Christine Mackie notes that "in the Caribbean the successful planting of new varieties of crops owed much to the Amerindian, who carefully nurtured each newly introduced food source." (42)


The success of new varieties of crops planted in the Caribbean was due in part to the careful tending by the Amerindians. (Mackie 42)

In the Works Cited:

The Works Cited for this essay will include a full bibliographic citation to the Mackie work:

Mackie, Christine. Life and Food in the Caribbean. New Amsterdam Books, 1992.

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Works Cited

MLA style requires a Works Cited page at the end of your research paper. All entries in the Works Cited page must correspond to the works cited in your main text, in other words -- your in-text citations.

Basic Rules

  • 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.

MLA Works Cited Examples