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Citing Your Sources: APA and MLA

Learn how to cite your sources both in-text and in your list of references.

Welcome

Welcome

The information below is a brief introduction to MLA citation style (9th edition) that highlights how to cite the most common types of sources.  If you find yourself needing more advanced help, please go to the Purdue University Owl Website, or contact a librarian.  

   

Introduction to MLA

MLA Checklist 

MLA (Modern Language Association) citation style is used mostly in the humanities.  In order to follow MLA citation style you will need to: 

 create in-text citations

 create a works cited page

 format your paper

If you paraphrase information from a source, quote a source, or use ideas or content from a source, you’ll need to cite that source in-text and in the works cited page at the end of your paper.   Each in-text citation must have an accompanying citation in your works cited page and vice versa.  

 

MLA In-text Citations - Basics

You'll need to create in-text citations throughout your paper in MLA format.  An in-text citation in MLA includes the author(s) last name(s) and the page number where you found the information.  In-text citations denote the source where you found the preceding information and they are often in parentheses at the end of a sentence.

Format of an In-text Citation: 

(Author(s) last name(s), page number where you found the information)

MLA In-text Citations - Examples

If your source has one author: In parentheses write the Author’s last name followed by the page number where you found the information

ex: (Kendi 6) 

A racist idea is an idea that suggests that certain racial groups are better than others (Kendi 6).

If your source has two authors: In parentheses write the Authors’ last names in the order they appear on your source followed by the page number where you found the information

ex: (Bamber and Schneider 3)

Mindfulness training includes non-judgmental awareness (Bamber and Schneider 3).

If your source has three or more authors: In parentheses write the first author’s last name followed by “et al.” (short for “and others” in Latin) and then the page number where you found the information

ex: (Qin et al. 172)

In China, researchers have found that college educated rural migrants work more hours and receive fewer social benefits than college educated local urban workers (Qin et al. 172).

Go to the Purdue University OWL website for help with what to do if your source has:  

  • No author  
  • No page numbers (ie podcast, film, lecture notes)  
  • A corporate author (such as a government agency or organization) 

MLA Works Cited Page

MLA Citation Template of Elements:
To create a citation for a book, journal article, or any other source, you’ll use the following template of nine elements in order, starting with Author.  

  1. Author. 
  2. Title of Source.  (title of the book, journal article, newspaper article etc.)
  3. Title of Container, (title of the journal, newspaper etc) 
  4. Contributor, (people who contribute like an editor or translator)
  5. Version, (edition or version)
  6. Number, (volume number and/or issue number)
  7. Publisher, (entity that produced the work ie a publisher, an institution that created a website, a theatre company that put on a play.)
  8. Publication date, (Written as Day, Month Year eg. 1 Oct. 2021)
  9. Location. (Page range of an article, DOI, URL)

Steps to Create Citations for your Works Cited Page: 

  1. Fill out the template above with information from your source 
  2. Skip elements that your source doesn’t have 
  3. Write the proper punctuation following each element as shown in the template
  4. End your citation with a period

What are Containers? 
In the above template elements 3 through 9 are elements that you’ll find in the “container” of a source.  A source being within a container is a concept that MLA citation created.  Here are some examples of containers: 

  • A newspaper is the container for a newspaper article 
  • A database is the container for an ebook 
  • A podcast is the container for a particular podcast episode 
  • A website is the container for a video found on that website

Therefore element 3 above could be the title of a database, newspaper, podcast, blog etc.  Note that a source can have more than one container.  A journal article that you find in a library database online has two containers: the journal the article comes from, and the database where you found the article.  You’ll see an example citation for a journal article below which includes both containers, the journal and the database.


How to write the author(s) in a citation: 
Sometimes you’ll need to invert an author’s name which means you’ll write their last name, then a comma, and then their first and middle name as it’s presented on the source.  

  • if your source has one author, invert the author’s name as was done below. 
    • Stine, R. L. 
    • Kendi, Ibram X. 
    • Angelou, Maya
  • if your source has two authors, invert the first author’s name then comma and then write the second author’s name (not inverted). 
    • Gaiman, Neil, and Terry Pratchett.  
  • if your source has three or more authors, Invert the first authors name then write et. al. 
    • Rank, Ashley Smith, et al. 

 

MLA Works Cited Page - Example Citations

Blog: 

Author(s). “Title of blog post.” Title of blog in italics, Publisher of Blog, date created, url.

Devine, Scott W. “Black Citizenship in the Age of Jim Crow: The Rural Free Delivery Segregated Saddlebag.” National Postal Museum Blog, Smithsonian, 28 July 2020, https://postalmuseum.si.edu/black-citizenship-in-the-age-of-jim-crow-the-rural-free-delivery-segregated-saddlebag.

Book with author(s) (print):

Author(s). Title of book in italics. Publisher, year of publication.

Kendi, Ibram X. How to be an Antiracist. One World, 2019.

Ebook with author(s):

Author(s). Title of book in italics. Publisher, year of publication. Database where you accessed the ebook, permalink.  

Butler, Judith. Undoing Gender. Routledge, 2004. Ebscohost Ebook Academic Collection, https://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&AuthType=ip,shib&db=e000xna&AN=110587&site=ehost-live&custid=s8424941.

Book with editor(s) (print):

Editor(s) name(s), editor. Title of book in italics. Publisher, year of publication.

Hall, Alice, editor. The Routledge Companion to Literature and Disability. Routledge, 2020.

Brickell, Chris, and Judith Collard, editors. Queer Objects. Rutgers University Press, 2019.  

Film or Video:

Title of the film in italics. Directed by _________, Publisher, year of publication. 

Selma. Directed by Ava DuVernay, Pathe Productions, 2014.

Journal Article:

Author(s). "Title of the journal article". Title of the journal in italics, volume number, issue number, publication date, pp. ___-___. Database where you accessed the article, DOI or permalink. 

Bamber, Mandy D., and Joanne Kraenzle Schneider. “Mindfulness-based Meditation to Decrease Stress and Anxiety in College Students: A Narrative Synthesis of the Research.” Educational Research Review, vol. 18, May 2016, pp. 1-32. ScienceDirect, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.edurev.2015.12.004.

Qin, Lijian, et al. “The Working and Living Conditions of College-Educated Rural Migrants in China.” Asian Population Studies, vol. 14, no. 2, 2017, pp. 172-193.  SocIndex, https://doi.org/10.1080/17441730.2017.1379674.

News Article (newspaper article, magazine article etc):

Author(s). "Title of news article." Title of magazine or newspaper etc in italics, volume and issue number, Publication date, page range, url.  

Cohen, Noam. “One Woman’s Mission to Rewrite Nazi history on Wikipedia.” WIRED, 7 Sept. 2021, https://www.wired.com/story/one-womans-mission-to-rewrite-nazi-history-wikipedia/.

 

Format your Paper in MLA

Disclaimer:

Your instructor may ask for different formatting.  Follow your instructor’s guidelines for formatting if they differ from what is listed below. 

First Page:

On the first page of your paper along the left margin write the following in order double-spaced:

  • Your Name
  • The professor’s name (eg. Professor Smith)
  • The course name and number (eg. Education 201, Nursing 104, Dental Hygiene 270)
  • The date (eg. 8 October 2021)
  • On the next double spaced line, centered on the page, write the title of your paper
  • On the next double spaced line start writing your paper

Quoting:

If your quote spans four lines of your paper or fewer, put quotation marks around the quote and then make sure to create your in-text citation.  If your quote is more than 4 lines of your paper, create a block quotation: end your writing leading up to the quote with a colon and indent the whole quote .5 inches from the left margin to make your quote look like a block of text.  Go online to the Purdue OWL website to see an example. 

Page Margins:

1 inch margins on top, bottom, left and right

Spacing:

Double space your entire paper including the works cited page

Header:

Your last name and the page number should go on the top right of every page as a header

Works Cited Page:

Start your works cited on a new page.  Write the words “Works Cited” at the top of the page, centered.  Then list your citations alphabetically.  If a citation takes up more than one line on the page, indent all lines after the first line by .5 inches from the left margin (this is called a hanging indent). 

How to create a hanging indent in Word: 

1. highlight all of your citations on your works cited page

2. right click on the highlighted area

3. a dropdown will appear, click "paragraph" in the dropdown

4.  a box will pop-up; where it says "indentation special" select "hanging" and then make sure it's by .5 inches.

5.  click "okay" 

How to create a hanging indent in Google Docs: 

1. highlight all of your citations on your works cited page

2. click "format" at the top of your screen

3. click "Align & Indent" 

4. click "Indentation Options" 

5. under indentation left and right it should be 0

6. under special, select "hanging", and it should be by .5 inches

Helpful Links

Ask a Librarian 

MLA Handout