MLA Style (8th Edition)

What is MLA?

MLA stands for the Modern Language Association, an organization dedicated to serving language instructors. In this handout, we focus on the MLA citation system, which using parenthetical citations in text and a Works Cited page at the end of a paper. This guide has three major sections: Formatting Quotations, Parenthetical Citations, and Works Cited. Each part explains the rules for how to format and cite in MLA. If you have questions about one of these rules in particular, skip down to that section that is most relevant to your needs.

Formatting Quotations

Parenthetical Citations

Works Cited

Example Works Cited Page


Formatting Quotations

  • MLA allows the use of both direct quotes and paraphrases inside your own work; however, quotations are often necessary to preserve the original author’s syntax, diction, and meaning.
  • Try to introduce evidence in some way, using a running acknowledgement, signal phrase, or another means.

Boquet states “we can strive to produce better writers, better tutors, more humane working conditions for everyone involved (tutors and students alike)” (28).

NOTE: A running acknowledgment or signal phrase names the author of the source outside of the parenthetical citation. In this case, the name(s) of the author(s) appears in the sentence, not inside the parentheses.
  • If the author is not named outside the parentheses, the author’s last name would go inside of the parentheses next to the page numbers.

Many scholars believe that “we can strive to produce better writers…” (Boquet 28).

  • Short Quotations are shorter than 4 lines of text (not sentences).

As stated by Boquet, “we can strive…” (28).

  • Block Quotations are longer than 4 lines of text (not sentences). List the author’s name prior to the quote as you introduce it. Then, place the quote on a new line without quotation marks. The page number goes after the period, and the block quotation is also double spaced.

As stated by Boquet:

(indented 1/2 inch) Quote goes here. The entire quote is indented to show that it is all the same quote. (28)

  • If using a quote that begins a sentence, lowercase the first letter so it flows with your own writing.

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Parenthetical Citations

  • Parenthetical citations are required any time information from a source is used (direct quotations or paraphrases).
  • The basic structure is always (First Element #)–The “First Element” is the first citation element listed in the works cited page. This is typically an author’s last name. The “#” is typically the page number(s).
  • If there are two authors, always use “and” to separate them (never use “&”).
  • In some cases, a page number is not given. In those cases, it might be appropriate to use a time range or time stamp for media like audio and video (robcanter 00:36-00:57).
  • Do not include page numbers for media types that do not provide any other kind of number (Peterman).

How to Format Authors in Parenthetical Citations

One Author

Acknowledgement

Author… (#).

Example: Jackson has argued this point before (274).

No Acknowledgement

… (Author #).

Example: This point has been argued before (Jackson 274).

Two Authors

Acknowledgement

Author and Author… (#).

Example: Tyson and Gordon hold an opposite view (362).

No Acknowledgement

… (Author and Author #).

Example: Others hold an opposite view (Tyson and Gordon 362).

Three or More Authors

Use the first author’s last name and the phrase “et al.” to shorten the remaining last names. Note that after the phrase “et al.,” a plural verb must be used–no singular verbs!

NOTE: “et al.” is a Latin phrase meaning “and all the rest” – it signifies there are more authors than are listed, but it is not necessary to name them all.

Acknowledgement

Author et al. … (#).

Example: Helfer et al. discuss… (70).

No Acknowledgement

… (Author et al. #).

 Example: Many discussions focus on(Helfer et al. 70).

Organization as Author

First Mention

When a work has an organization as an author, use the full title of the organization at first and abbreviate it. You may then use that abbreviation later. Capitalize the organization’s title and include the page number if provided.

Acknowledgement

According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)… (6).

No Acknowledgement

Studies show… (National Institute of Mental Health [NIMH] 6).

Subsequent Mention

For all subsequent mentions of the organization, you may use the abbreviation without the full name. Fully capitalize it as an acronym or initialism and include the page number if provided and necessary.

Acknowledgement

According to the NIMH… (3).

No Acknowledgement

Studies show… (NIMH 3).

No Author

If there is no organization or person as the author, use the title of the source.  Italicize the title of larger works and put shorter works in quotation marks. If the title has more than three words, select 2-3 unique words from the title to help the reader connect that source to the works cited entry.

Acknowledgement

“Article Title” states… (#).

 Example: “Panic Disorders Among Adults” states… (38).

No Acknowledgement

… (Title of Book #).

Example: The policies show … (Staff Handbook 6).

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Works Cited

Basic Information

  • A works cited page is used to indicate where information presented in the essay can be retrieved.
  • It only includes texts cited in the essay.
  • Sources are listed alphabetically by author or title.
  • The list begins on a new page, with “Works Cited” centered at the top of the page without quotation marks. If there is only one source being used, then, the title would be “Work Cited.”
  • The first line of an entry is at the left margin, and subsequent lines are indented

1/2″. This is called a hanging indent, and should be formatted the same way this line is.

NOTE: A hanging indent can easily be achieved by first writing out the citations without any formatting. Then, highlight all the citations, and hit “Control+T” (“Command+T” for a Mac) on the keyboard. Word will automatically create a hanging indent!

  • Citations should be double-spaced.
  • Each citation contains both core elements and optional elements. Core elements are elements that are generally present across media while optional elements may be added in special cases.

Core Elements

NOTE: In this list of core elements, the necessary punctuation for proper MLA style is included.

  • Author
  • Title of source.
  • Title of container,
  • Other contributors,
  • Version,
  • Number,
  • Publisher,
  • Publication date,
  • Location.

NOTE: Elements being discussed below are bolded for emphasis. Don’t bold them in your own citations.

Author.

Put a period after the author’s name, if one author. Place a period after the last author’s name, if multiple. Place commas between authors’ names, if multiple.

One Author

Last name, first name.

Bernstein, Mark.

Two Authors

Last name, first name(s), and First name(s) Last Name.

Tyson, Phyllis A., and Michael G. Gordon.

Three or More Authors

Last name, first name, et al.

Helfer, Meredith, et al.

Authors can also refer to other position types like editors, film and television contributors, pseudonyms, or organization authors in other forms of media.

Edited Volumes

When referring to an entire work of an edited volume rather than a specific essay in an anthology, list the editors in the author section. After their name, insert a comma and a description of their role.

Example: Murphy, Christina and Steve Sherwood, editors. The St. Martin’s Sourcebook for Writing Tutors, 3rd edition, Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2008.

Film and Television Contributors

If a source is talking about the contribution of a specific individual within a film or movie, then insert that name in the author spot, add a comma, and describe their role (performer, creator, director, narrator, etc.).

Example: Thurman, Uma, performer. Kill Bill (Vol. 1). Directed by Quentin Tarantino, Miramax, 2003.

Pseudonyms

If citing a source with a pseudonym, username, or handle name treat that name as an author.

Example: robcanter. “‘Shia LaBeouf’ Live.” YouTube, 21 Oct. 2014, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o0u4M6vppCI

Organization Author

When a government agency, an organization, institution, or even a corporation is responsible for the information rather than an individual, omit the author information and only list the agency in the container or publisher location.

Example: “Panic Disorder.” National Institute of Mental Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2017, https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/prevalence/panic-disorder-among-adults.shtml. Accessed 3 Feb. 2017.

Title of Source.

  • Do not drop A, An, or The as the first word of a title; however, alphabetize according to the next word after the article, if it is the first part of a citation.
  • Capitalize all nouns, adjectives, adverbs, and pronouns (do not capitalize conjunctions, articles, or prepositions unless they are the first word of a title or subtitle). Even if the published work uses alternative capitalization, in MLA, this would be standardized.
  • Place a period after the title of the source.
  • The title of the source and its formatting help readers understand what the source is (whether it is part of a larger collection or stands on its own).

Self-Contained Works

Italicize titles of self-contained works like journals, books, plays, TV series, anthologies, films, website titles, albums, etc.

Example: Supernatural. Created by Eric Kripke, performances by Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki, season 4, Warner Bros. Television, 2008.

Sources Part of a Larger Collection

Place works considered part of a whole like short stories, essays, articles, TV episodes, short films, webpages, tweets, and songs in quotation marks.

Example: “Heaven and Hell.” Supernatural, created by Eric Kripke, performances by Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki, season 4, episode 10, Warner Bros. Television, 2008, disc 3.

Title of Container,

  • The container is the part that holds the source. Most sources will have containers unless it is a self-contained source (see previous section on “Title of Source”). Examples of containers might include an anthology, a periodical (magazine, journal, or newspaper title), a website title, or a television series title.
  • The title of the container is usually placed in italics and is followed by a comma.

Anthology Title

Example: Boquet, Edith. “Intellectual Tug-of-War: Snapshots of Life in the Center.” The St. Martin’s Sourcebook for Writing Tutors, 3rd edition, edited by Christina Murphy and Steve Sherwood. Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2008, pp. 116-29.

Periodical

Example: Tyson, Phyllis A., and Michael G. Gordon. “The Psychology of Women.”  Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, vol. 46, 1998, pp. 361-64.

Website Title

Example: Bernstein, Mark. “10 Tips on Writing the Living Web.” A List Apart: For People Who Make Websites, 16 Aug. 2002, http://alistapart.com/article/writeliving.

Television Series

Example: “Not Everything is About Annalise.” How to Get Away with Murder, created by Peter Nowalk, performances by Viola Davis and Alfred Enoch, season 3, episode 11, ABC, 2 Feb. 2017.

Multiple Containers

For online sources, it is necessary to indicate the original publishing information (one container) while also referencing the database used to access that source (another container). In other words, a source that is from a journal might be stored and accessed in a library database like JSTOR, Academic Search Complete, or LexisNexis.

When this happens, include information for the journal, and then the database information.

Database

Hongmei, Yu. “From Kundun to Mulan: A Political Economic Case Study of Disney and China.” Asianetwork Exchange, vol. 22, no. 1, 2014, pp. 13-22. Academic Search Complete, http://ezproxy.uis.edu:2048/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/l ogin.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=102103444&site=ehost-live

Television Database

“Not Everything is About Annalise.” How to Get Away with Murder, created by Peter Nowalk, performances by Viola Davis and Alfred Enoch, season 3, episode 11, ABC, 2 Feb. 2017. Hulu, https://www.hulu.com/watch/1030716.

Other Contributors,

  • Name them if they are relevant to the research. After the name(s), insert a comma.
  • Precede name with what their role is with phrases like: edited by, directed by, illustrated by, narrated by, translated by, or performance by.

Editors

Example: Boquet, Edith. “Intellectual Tug-of-War: Snapshots of Life in the Center.” The St. Martin’s Sourcebook for Writing Tutors, 3rd edition, edited by Christina Murphy and Steve Sherwood. Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2008, pp. 116-29.

Show Creators/Performers

Example: Mad Men. Created by Matthew Weiner, performances by John Hamm, Elisabeth Moss, January Jones, John Slattery, and Vincent Kartheiser, season 1, Lionsgate, 2008.

Version,

If the source is an edition (#th edition), volume number (vol. #), or season number (season #), then put that information in this section.

Place a comma after this information.

Edition Number

Boquet, Edith. “Intellectual Tug-of-War: Snapshots of Life in the Center.” The St. Martin’s Sourcebook for Writing Tutors, 3rd edition, edited by Christina Murphy and Steve Sherwood. Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2008, pp. 116-29.

Volume Number

Jackson, Gabriel. “Multiple Historic Meanings of the Spanish Civil War.” Science and Society, vol. 68, no. 3, 2004, pp. 272-76. JSTOR, 10.1521/siso.68.3.272.40301

Season Number

“Heaven and Hell.” Supernatural, created by Eric Kripke, performances by Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki, season 4, episode 10, Warner Bros. Television, 2008, disc 3.

A source may not have an edition number; instead, use a short phrase to describe what the version is. Some phrases can include director’s cut, extended version, national edition, etc.

Kramer, Cosmo F.  “A Health Threat Baffling for Its Lack of a Pattern.” New York Times, national edition, 22 June 2003, p. A14.

Number,

If the source is an issue number (no. #), or episode number (episode #) put that information in this section.

After this information, insert a comma.

Issue Number

Jackson, Gabriel. “Multiple Historic Meanings of the Spanish Civil War.” Science and Society, vol. 68, no. 3, 2004, pp. 272-76. JSTOR, 10.1521/siso.68.3.272.40301

Episode Number

“Not Everything is About Annalise.” How to Get Away with Murder, created by Peter Nowalk, performances by Viola Davis and Alfred Enoch, season 3, episode 11, ABC, 2 Feb. 2017. Hulu, https://www.hulu.com/watch/1030716.

Publisher,

The publisher is considered the entity that is primarily responsible for organizing or producing that work. For films, the publisher will likely be the distributor.

Place a comma after this information.

Kill Bill (Vol. 1). Directed by Quentin Tarantino, performances by Uma Thurman, David Carradine, Michael Madsen, and Daryl Hannah, Miramax, 2003.

In some cases, a publisher’s name might be left off if the source is a periodical or if the author, editor, or container has essentially the same name as the publisher.

For example, The New York Times is published by The New York Times Company, which is not significantly different, so we would not need to repeat the publisher. However, a network like WGN, which is produced by the Tribune Company, may need that publisher information.

Publication Date,

The publication date specifies when a source was disseminated. This date could be when a source was published, released, posted online, or when a source originally aired.

 Use the dates most relevant to the research. If using an article found online, but it was also published in print, use the online date of posting. If talking about the historical context of when a television episode aired, the original air date might be more appropriate.

The publication date can either be a year or include the full day, month, and year.

Add a comma after the publication date.

Abbreviate the months using the following: Jan., Feb., Mar., Apr., May, June, July, Aug., Sept., Oct., Nov., and Dec.

Kramer, Cosmo F.  “A Health Threat Baffling for Its Lack of a Pattern.” New York Times, national edition, 22 June 2003, p. A14.

“Heaven and Hell.” Supernatural, created by Eric Kripke, performances by Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki, season 4, episode 10, Warner Bros. Television, 20 Nov. 2008, disc 3.

Location.

How to specify locations will vary between different kinds of sources like print, web, and film sources.

Place a period after the location.

Print Sources

If only using a specific section in the book, cite the page range. For one page, use p. #; for a range of pages, indicate the range using pp. #-#.

Tyson, Phyllis A., and Michael G. Gordon. “The Psychology of Women.”  Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, vol. 46, 1998, pp. 361-64.

Web Sources

Use URLS or DOIs when applicable.

The Purdue OWL Family of Sites. The Writing Lab and OWL at Purdue and Purdue University, 15 Jan. 2015, https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/. Accessed 3 Feb. 2017.

Optional Elements.

While the core elements are required (if they exist), there are some optional elements MLA 8th edition includes that may be used if they are relevant to the research and source. These elements can be placed in the middle or end of the core elements: Date of Original Publication, City of Publication, Other Facts, or Date of Access.

Date of Original Publication,

This information may be relevant if a source has been republished and can give a reader perspective to the source’s history.

This date is placed after the title of the work.

Highsmith, Patricia. The Cry of the Owl. 1962. London, Vintage Books, 1999.

City of Publication,

If a source has an unexpected publishing location (like the British version of a work in an American writing context), then putting the city of publication may be useful.

If a source has an unfamiliar publisher located outside the writing context, then it may be useful to cite the city as well.

Place this before the publishing information.

Rowling, J.K. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. London, Bloomsbury, 1997.

Other Facts.

If the source is something that may not be a traditional source for the research context like a transcript, thesis, live lecture, or address, then put a descriptive term at the end of the citation to indicate its purpose.

Peak-Nordstrom, Erica and Alex Ayers. “What is Rhetoric?” Writing Workshop, The Learning Hub, 2 Feb. 2017. Live presentation.

Date of Access.

Access dates that describe the version which was examined is important since the content and URLs can often change.

“Panic Disorder.” National Institute of Mental Health, U. S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2017, https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/ prevalence/panic-disorder-among-adults.shtml. Accessed 3 Feb. 2017.

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Example Works Cited Page

Works Cited

Bernstein, Barton J.  “Atomic Diplomacy: Hiroshima and Nagasaki.”  Diplomatic History, vol. 28, no. 3, 1991,

pp. 126-29.

Bernstein, Mark. “10 Tips on Writing the Living Web.” A List Apart: For People Who Make Websites, 16 Aug.

2002, http://alistapart.com/article/writeliving.

Bradway, Becky. Pink Houses and Family Taverns, Indiana University Press, 2002.

Boquet, Edith. “Intellectual Tug-of-War: Snapshots of Life in the Center.” The St. Martin’s Sourcebook for

Writing Tutors, 3rd edition, edited by Christina Murphy and Steve Sherwood, Bedford/St. Martin’s,

2008, pp. 116-29.

“Heaven and Hell.” Supernatural, created by Eric Kripke, performances by Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki,

season 4, episode 10, Warner Bros. Television, 2008, disc 3.

Helfer, Meredith, et al. The Battered Child. 5th ed., University of Chicago Press, 1997.

Hongmei, Yu. “From Kundun to Mulan: A Political Economic Case Study of Disney and China.” Asianetwork

Exchange, vol. 22, no. 1, 2014, pp. 13-22. Academic Search Complete, http://ezproxy.uis.edu:2048

/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=102103444&

site=ehost-live

Jackson, Gabriel. “Multiple Historic Meanings of the Spanish Civil War.” Science and Society, vol. 68, no. 3,

2004, pp. 272-76. JSTOR, doi: 10.1521/siso.68.3.272.40301

Kill Bill (Vol. 1). Directed by Quentin Tarantino, performances by Uma Thurman, David Carradine, Michael

Madsen, and Daryl Hannah, Miramax, 2003.

Kramer, Cosmo F.  “A Health Threat Baffling for Its Lack of a Pattern.”  New York Times, national edition, 22

June 2003, p. A14.

Mad Men. Created by Matthew Weiner, performances by John Hamm, Elisabeth Moss, January Jones, John

Slattery, and Vincent Kartheiser, season 1, Lionsgate, 2008.

Murphy, Christina and Steve Sherwood, editors. The St. Martin’s Sourcebook for Writing Tutors, 3rd edition,

Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2008.

“Panic Disorder.” National Institute of Mental Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2017,

https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/prevalence/panic-disorder-among-adults.shtml.

Accessed 3 Feb. 2017.

“Not Everything is About Annalise.” How to Get Away with Murder, created by Peter Nowalk, performances by

Viola Davis and Alfred Enoch, season 3, episode 11, ABC, 2 Feb. 2017. Hulu, https://www.hulu.com

/watch/1030716.

Peak-Nordstrom, Erica and Alex Ayers. “What is Rhetoric?” Writing Workshop, The Learning Hub, 2 Feb.

2017. Live presentation.

Peterman, Jay S. “Eat This Now!” US News and World Report, 28 Mar. 2005, pp. 56-58.

robcanter. “‘Shia LaBeouf’ Live.” YouTube, 21 Oct. 2014, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o0u4M6vppCI.

Rowling, J.K. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. London, Bloomsbury, 1997.

Staff Handbook 2016-2017. The Learning Hub, 11 Aug. 2016. Employee handbook.

“State Universities Retirement System (SURS).”  Employee Benefits, University of Illinois, 1 July 2015, pp.

18-19. Handbook.

The Purdue OWL Family of Sites. The Writing Lab and OWL at Purdue and Purdue University, 15 Jan. 2015,

https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/. Accessed 3 Feb. 2017.

Tyson, Phyllis A., and Michael G. Gordon. “The Psychology of Women.” Journal of the American Psychoanalytic

Association, vol. 46, 1998, pp. 361-64.

Wiesel, Elie. Nightline. Interviewed by Ted Koppel, WABC, 18 Apr. 2002. TV Broadcast.

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