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Albert S. Cook Library

MLA Style

Learn to cite your sources using Modern Language Association (MLA) style.

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Basic Guidelines

Works Cited Content and Formatting

Every source cited in the paper in an in-text citation requires a corresponding Works Cited entry.

The Works Cited page always begins at the top of a new page and is placed as the last section of a research paper.

The Works Cited page includes a running head/page number in the upper right corner in the pagination sequence of the paper.

 The words "Works Cited" appear as the title of this page and should be centered; Works Cited entries should be aligned with the left margin (left justified).

Works Cited entries are double spaced both between the entries and between each entry.

Works Cited entries use a hanging indent; the first line is even with the left margin, but all subsequent lines are indented .5 inch.

Organization of Works Cited Entries

Order of Entries (personal author and organization as author)

Works Cited entries are arranged in alphabetical order by author's last name.

If an organization is the author of a document, use the first word of the organization name when organizing entries in alphabetical order.

Two or More Works by the Same Author(s)

If the Works Cited page includes two or more sources by the same author, alphabetize the titles of the sources and start the entry for the first of the titles with the author's last name, then first name.

For the second and all subsequent entries by the same author, instead of repeating the author's name again, use three hyphens and a period in its place (---.)

This pattern is also used when citing multiple works by the same pair or larger group of authors.

Contributors, Titles, and Publication Information

Contributors

If including the names of editors and translators, spell out identifying words such as "editor" and "translated by"

Capitalization, Punctuation, and Use of Italics

Capitalize all words within titles except "a" "an" or "the" unless these are the beginning words of the title.

Italicize titles of containers (works in their entirety): books, journal, films, newspapers, web sites

Use double quotation marks for titles of smaller works within a larger document (container): book chapters, journal articles, newspaper articles, specific portions of a web site

Publisher Information

Use complete publisher name except for abbreviations such as "Ltd", "Inc." and "Co"

For university presses, always use "U" instead of "University" and "P" instead of "Press"

Date of Publication

If a book has more than date, use the most recent year as shown on the title or copyright page of the book

When citing web sites, look for the date of the specific document you are citing, or the date of last update or modification

Abbreviate all months, but spell out the months of May, June, and July

Dates including month/year are presented in inverted order starting with day of the month, month, year: 6 Oct. 2019

Page Numbers

For shorter documents within larger containers (articles, book chapters), include abbreviation of "p" or "pp" before page range

If a document has page numbers that do not appear in sequence, use a plus sign after the first page: pp. 5+

Do not supply page numbers if the original source does not provide them; do not use any abbreviations to indicate the lack of page numbers

Online Location Information

MLA provides for a number of options to indicate online location for electronic documents. Any of the following are acceptable, and students should check with instructors to verify a preference for one method over another:

  • Permalink to an article in an online resource (item retrieved from a library database, open access journal)
  • DOI (digital object identifier)
  • Name of library database containing online source
  • URL (web address)

Template for Works Cited Entries

The MLA Handbook 8th edition (2016) uses a template to create works cited entries for any type of resource. Not all sources have all of these elements. Follow the template and identify the following elements (when present) in this order.

Element Examples

MLA Style Works Cited EntryTemplate

Author. person(s), organizations, artists, composers
Title of source. book, book chapter, journal article, song, web document
Title of container, book containing chapter, journal title, sound recording, tv show, website
Other contributors, editor, translator, performer
Version edition
Number volume number, issue number, episode number
Publisher, book publisher, production company, organization
Publication date, day of month, month, year
Location. page number(s)
2nd container, database name, repository, online collection (if accessed electronically)
Location. URL, permalink, DOI (digital object identifier). Note: retain http:// and https:// for permalinks but not for URLS

What is a "Container?"

The MLA Handbook 8th edition uses the word “container” to indicate the title of the source.  To understand this, it is helpful to think about whether the specific source you are citing is a part of a larger work, or container. 

For example, an individually published, single volume book is its own container; however, a journal article is part of a larger container (the journal itself) and if accessed electronically, the database is the second container.