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Citation Guide: MLA General Guidelines

A guide for navigating various citation styles in order to create citations for resources cited in research papers.

MLA General Guidelines

General Guidelines

In Text Citations:

  • Use the author’s last (family) name and page number, with no comma (Author 183)
    • Referencing the work as a whole or a work without page numbers (Jones)
    • Referencing a work by two authors (Jones and Zhou 82)
    • Referencing a work by three or more authors (Jones et al. 294)
    • Use first (given) names in addition to family names if multiple authors have the same name, to avoid confusion.
    • East Asian authors usually put their family name first. Some journals show these in all capitals for clarity (in CAO Xueqin, Cao is the family name), but some reverse the order for convention. When unsure, use the full name.
  • Organizations can be listed as authors if no other author is named (Modern Language Association 233)
  • Include shortened titles within in-text citations whenever needed for clarity
    • If you are citing multiple sources by the same author within the paper
    • If a work does not have an author or organization listed

List of Works Cited

  • The list is located at the end of your paper, starting on a new page
  • Title the list, Works Cited, and center the title it at the top
  • List sources alphabetically by author last name, double spaced, and use a hanging indent (google how to format hanging indents for whatever writing program you use)
  • Try to include each of the following pieces of information in each entry, unless it does not exist: author, title of source, title of container, other contributors (like translators or editors), version, number, publisher, publication date, and location
  • Formatting varies depending on the document type (journal article, book, etc.) and how you viewed it (on paper, online, in person, etc.)
  • Use italics for the titles of independent works like books, movies, periodicals (magazines, journals, newspapers), websites, apps, video games, podcasts, TV series, artworks, albums, plays, long musical compositions, etc.
  • Use “quotation marks” for titles of individual chapters, articles, web pages, episodes, poems, songs, lectures, short stories, etc.
  • Dates are in day, month, year format, and abbreviations are permitted (8 Aug. 1964)
  • Location refers to web addresses for electronic items. You do not need to include print publishers’ physical locations in MLA
  • Include the date you viewed a website at the end of your citation if there is no publication date listed or the content might be altered. Accessed 10 Feb. 2023.