MLA Citation Guide (8th edition)

These simple guides (updated in 2017) will show you how to properly cite in MLA format (8th edition)

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Introduction to MLA

If you have been asked to write a paper in MLA style, you are being asked to write a paper in style outlined by the Modern Language Association in the most recent version of its style manual. The current handbook is MLA Handbook 8th Edition.

The Modern Language Association, which was founded in 1883, is an organization whose goal is to strengthen the study of languages and literature. The introduction of a consistent style for humanities publications helps encourage study in those areas. Therefore, the use of the MLA is meant to help ensure consistency.

Changes in MLA 8

MLA 8, which was published in 2016, marked a significant departure from prior MLA editions. Prior to 2016, MLA had a specific format for each individual type of source. However, the prevalence of internet sources has not only meant changing rules for web publications, but also changing rules for other types of publications. Instead of trying to focus on different formats that are subject to constant change, MLA decided to establish a single set of guidelines, which writers could then use for any type of source.

General Rules for MLA Format

Before you can focus on the proper format for citations, it is important to make sure that you are using the correct general format. Some of MLA’s basic guidelines for research paper format include:

  1. All papers should be written on standard, white 8 ½” x 11” paper.
  2. Margins should be one inch.
  3. Indent new paragraphs one-half inch; use this same indent after the first line of a citation.
  4. Use an easy-to-read 12-point font, like Times New Roman.
  5. Double-space the entire paper.

MLA Core Elements

Instead of different citations for each type of source, MLA focuses on core elements. A citation draws from these core elements, including all of them that are applicable, and omitting those that are not applicable to the source type.

To keep citations uniform, citations have the core elements in the same order:

  1. Author
  2. Title of Source
  3. Title of Container
  4. Other Contributors
  5. Version
  6. Number
  7. Publisher
  8. Publication Date
  9. Location

Format, Structure, & Examples

Author-Page In-Text Citations

In-text citations and entrees in a works cited page work together to guide readers to the appropriate source if they want to find the original source for cited material. In MLA format, in-text citations are done in the author-page style. The author-page style is: (Last xx), where Last is the author’s last name and xx is the page number. The page is not introduced with any identifier like p. or pg.

Block Quotes

If the information you are citing is lengthy, it should not be placed inside quotation marks in your normal text. Instead, it should be set inside a block quote, which is a chunk of indented text. However, while block quotes used to be single-spaced, block quotes are now double-spaced.

Citations by Source

Although all citations draw on the same basic core elements, not every source you use will have all of the core elements. Therefore, many students still find it easier to look at specific examples of citations in order to place different elements of a source within the core elements.

Book with a Single Author

Last Name, First Name. Title of Book. Publisher, Publication Date.

Works Cited Entry Example:

Pape, Sharon. Sketch Me if You Can. Penguin, 2010.

In-text Citation Example:

“Rory was tempted to say that she would go back to her parents’ home for at least one more night” (Pape 34).

Book with Multiple Authors

The authors are named in the order they are presented in the book’s cover, not alphabetical order.

Last Name, First Name and First Name Last Name. Title. Publisher, Year of Publication.

Works Cited Entry Example:

Preston, Douglas and Lincoln Child. Crimson Shore. Grand Central Publishing, 2015.

Block Citation Example:

Generally, Preston and Child leave Pendergast’s thought process to the reader’s imagination, so that his actions always seem to have a Sherlockian brilliance. However, in Crimson Tide, they break with tradition and provide a look inside Pendergast’s mind as he attempts to evade a killer:

He froze. The sounds of the night wood had suddenly ceased. Perhaps it was due to his passage- or, perhaps, due to another presence in the wood. After a moment he continued on, crossing the glass as if nothing were amiss. At the far side he entered a dense stand of conifers, where in the thickest part, he halted again (221).

Anthologies or Collections

There are two ways you may need to cite anthologies or collections. First, you may want to refer to the entire anthology or collection. Second, you may want to refer to a specific work in the anthology or collection. We will provide examples of both.

To cite the Entire Anthology:

Last, First, editor. Title of Book. Publisher, Year.

Works Cited Entry Example:

Harris, Charlaine and Toni Kelner, editors. Games Creatures Play. Ace Books, 2014.

To Cite a Work in an Anthology:

Last, First. “Title of Work.” Title of Anthology, edited by Editor’s Names, Publisher, Year,

Page range of entry.

Works Cited Entry Example:

Burke, Jan. “Stepping into the Dead Zone.” Games Creatures Play, edited by Charlaine Harris and Toni Kelner, Ace Books, 2014, 40-67.

In-text Citation:

To demonstrate that Tommy’s fears are sometimes irrational, Burke invites the reader into Tommy’s head and reveals how Tommy feels when the boys are sneaking into the cemetary. “He tried to hide his fear that Mike would now just take off and leave him trapped. Mike didn’t do that, of course- had never done anything like that” (46).

Books with No Author

Obviously all books have an author or authors, but sometimes no individual is given credit for the work. Instead, it may be credited to a group of some type, usually an organization or corporation. In those instances, the citation is similar to that of a single-author book, with the organization’s name taking the place of the author’s name.

Name of Organization. Title. Publisher, Year.

The in-text citation format would be: (Name of Organization x)

If the organization has published the book, then you omit the organization as the author and simply use the following format:

Title. Publisher, Year.

The in-text citation format would be: (Title x)

Translated or Edited Books with Authors

Last, First. Title. Translated by First Last, Year of First Publication, Publisher, Year of

Translated Publication.

Works Cited Entry Example:

Marquez, Gabriel Garcia. 100 Years of Solitude. Translated by Gregory Rabassa, 1970, Harper Collins, 2003.

However, and this is an important thing to note, sometimes you may want to emphasize the role that the editor or translator played. To do that, you will actually list them instead of the author:

Last, First, editor. Title. By First Last, Year of First Publication, Publisher, Year of Edited


Works Cited Entry Example:

Rabassa, Gregory, translator. 100 Years of Solitude. By Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1970, Harper Collins, 2003.


Oftentimes, you will not have a hard copy of a book, but an electronic copy. The two most commonly used e-reader services are Kindle and Nook. Whatever e-reader you are using, you cite the book, as usual, but include the e-reader version in the citation:

Last, First. Title of Book. Version. Publisher, Publication Date


Last, First. Title of Book. Kindle Edition. Publisher, Publication Date.

Many authors self-publish on Kindle, therefore publisher information will be missing. You cannot assume that the work is self-published. Therefore, because the core element is missing, you simply skip that core element, just like you do for other missing core elements.

Works Cited Entry Example:

Tatum, Barbara. Tween, Twixt, Twisted. Kindle Edition. 2014.


Last, First. Title of Book. Nook Edition. Publisher, Publication Date

When citing to e-readers you do not need to include information about where your quote is located in the book because they do not have standard pagination. However, it can still be very helpful to your readers to provide that information, so you have the option of including chapters and/or paragraphs in your citations. Previously, people were told to cite to line numbers, but that is no longer recommended.

Example: (Smith ch.4, para. 5)

Basic MLA website citation format

Author Last, Author First. Title. Title of Website, Other contributors, Version or Edition,

Volume, Number, Publisher, Publication Date, Pages or Paragraphs, URL or doi,

Accessed Day Month Year.

Works Cited Entry Example:

Patel, Enrique Andres. “Tropical Storm Nate Kills 22 in Central America Before Taking Aim at U.S.” Huffington Post, 6 October 2017. Accssed 6 October 2017.

In-Text Citation Example:

“Tropical Storm Nate killed at least 22 people in Central America on Thursday as it pummeled the region with heavy rain while heading towards Mexico’s Caribbean resorts and the U.S. Gulf Coast, where it could strike as a hurricane this weekend” (Patel).

Note that the citation does not include a page number, because the article was all presented on a single page of the website.

Online Encyclopedias

Most online encyclopedias do not include author information. Therefore, the article name takes the place of the author name. The generic format is:

Article name. (Date). In Encyclopedia name. Retrieved from URL

Works Cited Entry Example:

Bengal Tiger. Wikipedia, 8 October 2017,, Accessed 9 October 2017.

In-Text Citation:

While the lion is considered King of the Jungle, the title might better belong to the tiger. After all, not only do tigers actually live in the jungle, but in recorded cases of fights between tigers and lions, tigers when a number of the fights (“Bengal Tiger”).

Article from an Online Periodical (Magazine or Non-Scholarly Journal)

Last, First. “Article Name.” Periodical Name, vol., no., year of publication, URL. Date Accessed Day Month Year.

Works Cited Entry Example:

Abramson, Alana. “Outgoing Senator Calls White House an ‘Adult Day Care Center’ After Trump Twitter Attack.” Time Magazine, 8 October 2017. Accessed 9 October 2017.

Note that this article, which is available on Time’s website but not in a print periodical, lacks volume and number information. In contrast, look at how one would site an article that is available at the website AND in the periodical.

Elliott, Phillip, Haley Sweetland Edwards, and Charlotte Alter. “The Fight Over Gun Control Isn’t Really About Guns. Time Magazine, 190, 15, 5 October 2017, Accessed 9 October 2017.

In-Text Citation Example:

Trump’s attack comes just four days after Corker subtly criticized the president by praising his cabinet officials (Abramson).

Article from an Online Scholarly Journal

The general format for an online-only scholarly journal is:

Last, First. “Article Name.” Journal Name, vol., no., year of publication, URL or doi. Accessed Day Month Year.

Works Cited Citation Example:

Pearlson, Godfrey David. “Applications of Resting State Functional MR Imaging to Neuropsychiatric Diseases.” Neuroimaging Clinics, 27, 4, 709-732, 2017, doi:, Accessed 9 October 2017.

In-text Citation Example:

According to Pearlson, neuropsychiatric diseases can impair the brain’s normal functional communication patterns (709).

If this e-version of the document was available before a print version and was, therefore, not paginated, we would not have included a page number in the citation or in the works cited page.

Scholarly Journal with No DOI

Last, First. “Article Name.” Journal Name, vol., no., year of publication, pp. xxx-xxx, URL. Accessed Day Month Year.

Works Cited Entry Example:

Brons, Lajos. “Facing Death from a Safe Distance: Samvega and Moral Psychology.” Journal of Buddhist Ethics, 23, 2016, 83-128, Accessed 9 October 2017.

In-text Citation Example:
According to Brons, “Saṃvega is (obviously) a disturbing experience—disturbing enough to result in a profound change in the attitudes, beliefs, and/or values of the person experiencing it—but its beneficial effects are reason to seek rather than to avoid it” (84).

Newspaper Articles

Last, First. “Article Name.” Newspaper Name, Day Month Year, URL. Accessed Day Month Year.

Works Cited Entry Example:

Young, Matt. Texans’ J.J. Watt Apologizes to City of Houston. Houston Chronicle. 9 October 2017. Accessed 9 October

In-text Citation:

“Watt is out for the season after suffering a tibial plateau fracture of his left leg, a break at the top of the shin bone within the knee joint” (Young).

General MLA Format for Films or Videos

MLA uses the same format for films as it does for videos. However, if videos are viewed online, they need to contain the URL, and may need to contain the database, which would be considered a container. Simply include or omit information, based on its availability. The basic format is:

Late name, First name of the creator. “Title of the film or video.” Title of the website, role of contributors and their First name Last name, Version, Numbers, Publisher, Publication date, Database name, URL. Accessed Day Month Year.

Works Cited Entry Example:

Ali, Andreea. “Makeup Mistakes to Avoid.” YouTube, uploaded by Andreea Ali, 24 June 2017, Accessed 9 October 2017.

In-text Citation:

“The first and the worst thing you could do to yourself is not to prime” (Ali 0:42-0:44).

Note that instead of a page number, the time in the video where the quote appears is used to help locate the quote.

Motion Pictures

Motion pictures are handled a little differently than films or videos, because the default is that they will mentioned by the movie title.

Title of Movie. Directed by Director First and Last, Performances by First and Last Name(s),

Studio, Year of Release.

To highlight a specific part of the film (director, actor, producer, etc.), begin with that person:

Last, First, role. Title of Movie. Studio, Year of Release.

Works Cited Entry Example:

The Princess Bride, Directed by Rob Reiner, Performances by Cary Elwes, Robin Wright, Mandy Patinkin, and Chris Sarandon, Act III Communications, 1987.

Alternate Works Cited Entrees Examples:

Lear, Norman, producer. The Princess Bride, Act III Communications, 1987.

Reiner, Rob, director. The Princess Bride, Act III Communications, 1987.

Elwes, Cary, actor. The Princess Bride, Act III Communications, 1987.


Although MLA 8 differs from prior MLA versions and can be challenging for some students, its uniform style should make MLA citations and documentation much easier in the future. If you are still facing challenges with MLA style, we are happy to provide citation assistance.

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