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MLA Style Guide (8th edition): Home

Quick reference guide to MLA style: how to do in-text citations and Works Cited page



The new style of MLA citation focuses on principles that should work for all kinds of sources (such as books, articles, videos, or songs) instead of complex requirements.  Your citations should be streamlined to contain essential information for the type of paper you are writing.  

You will need to use in-text citations in the body of your paper to give basic information every time you use an outside source, whether you are quoting from it, or using an idea to help in your argument.  Check the "In-Text Citation" tab for examples.  

The final page of your paper will be a Works Cited page, in which you list complete information for all of the sources you used.  You can find specific examples of different kinds of citations in this guide, at other tabs.   Always use the hanging indent format for your Works Cited page; this distinguishes a citation from other text.   Start with this list of core elements that should be included in each citation, in this order, with the punctuation that follows each element:

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

For more information, consult the new 8th edition of the MLA Handbook, available at the reference desk and in the circulating collection at LB2369 .G53 2016.  You can also see guidelines at the MLA Style Center or the Online Writing Lab at Purdue University.

Using MLA Style

For a quick rundown of MLA style, watch this video:

Most of the time, you won't have to write your own citations.  This video shows you how to get them from databases and the library catalog:


Rules for Works Cited entries


Author: Begin with the author’s last name, followed by a comma and the rest of the name, as presented in the work. End with a period.

Said, Edward W. Culture and Imperialism. Knopf, 1994.

Title of source: The title of the source should follow the author’s name. Depending upon the type of source, it should be listed in italics or quotation marks.

  • A book should be in italics:

Henley, Patricia. The Hummingbird House. MacMurray, 1999.  

  • An article in a website or periodical (journal, magazine, newspaper) should be in quotation marks, with the hosting website or periodical title in italics:

Lundman, Susan. "How to Make Vegetarian Chili." eHow,

Bagchi, Alaknanda. "Conflicting Nationalisms: The Voice of the Subaltern in Mahasweta Devi's Bashai Tudu." Tulsa Studies in    Women's  Literature, vol. 15, no. 1, 1996, pp. 41-50.

  • A song or piece of music on an album should be in quotation marks:

Beyoncé. "Pray You Catch Me." Lemonade, Parkwood Entertainment, 2016,

Title of container: The new edition of MLA refers to containers, which are the larger wholes in which the source is located. If you want to cite a poem that is listed in a poetry collection, the individual poem is the source, while the larger collection is the container. The title of the container is usually italicized and followed by a comma.  A container may be a book, a website, a television series, or something else.

Kincaid, Jamaica. "Girl." The Vintage Book of Contemporary American Short Stories, edited by Tobias Wolff, Vintage, 1994, pp. 306-07.

 “94 Meetings.” Parks and Recreation, created by Greg Daniels and Michael Schur, performance by Amy Poehler, season 2, episode 21, Deedle-Dee Productions and Universal Media Studios, 2010.

Zinkievich, Craig. Interview by Gareth Von Kallenbach. Skewed & Reviewed, 27 Apr. 2009, Accessed 15 Mar. 2009.

  • A container may be within a larger container. Maybe you found a scholarly article on ProQuest or watched a TV show on Hulu. You should cite these larger containers so that your readers can follow you to the source you used.

“94 Meetings.” Parks and Recreation, season 2, episode 21, NBC, 29 Apr. 2010. Netflix,

Langhamer, Claire. “Love and Courtship in Mid-Twentieth-Century England.” Historical Journal, vol. 50, no. 1, 2007, pp. 173-96. ProQuest, doi:10.1017/S0018246X06005966. Accessed 27 May 2009.

Other contributors: In addition to the author, there may be other contributors to the source who should be credited, such as editors, illustrators, translators, etc. Include their names if their contributions are relevant or important.  Terms like editor, illustrator, translator, etc., are no longer abbreviated.

Foucault, Michel. Madness and Civilization: A History of Insanity in the Age of Reason. Translated by Richard Howard, Vintage-Random House, 1988.

Woolf, Virginia. Jacob’s Room. Annotated and with an introduction by Vara Neverow, Harcourt, Inc., 2008.

Version: Include the edition or version of your source, if that information is given.

The Bible. Authorized King James Version, Oxford UP, 1998.

Crowley, Sharon, and Debra Hawhee. Ancient Rhetorics for Contemporary Students. 3rd ed., Pearson, 2004.

Number: Include the volume and issue number from a journal.  If your source is part of a series, like a TV show or a volume of an encyclopedia, the number must be in the citation.

Dolby, Nadine. “Research in Youth Culture and Policy: Current Conditions and Future Directions.” Social Work and Society: The International Online-Only Journal, vol. 6, no.2, 2008, Accessed 20 May 2009

“94 Meetings.” Parks and Recreation, created by Greg Daniels and Michael Schur, performance by Amy Poehler, season 2, episode 21, Deedle-Dee Productions and Universal Media Studios, 2010.

Publisher: The publisher produces or distributes the source to the public. If there is more than one publisher, and they are all are relevant to your paper, then you should list them in your citation, separated by a forward slash (/).

Klee, Paul. Twittering Machine. 1922. Museum of Modern Art, New York. The Artchive, Accessed May 2006.

Women's Health: Problems of the Digestive System. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, 2006.

  • Note: the publisher’s name need not be included in the following sources: periodicals, works published by their author or editor, a website whose title is the same name as its publisher, a website that makes works available but does not actually publish them (such as YouTube, WordPress, or JSTOR).

Publication date: The same source may have been published on more than one date, such as an online version of an original source or a TV show that aired on one date but released on Netflix later. When the source has more than one date, it is fine to use only the date that is most relevant to your use of it. If you’re unsure about which date to use, go with the date of the source’s original publication.

  • In the following example, Mutant Enemy is the primary production company, and “Hush” was released in 1999. This is the way to create a general citation for a television episode.

“Hush.” Buffy the Vampire Slayer, created by Joss Whedon, performance by Sarah Michelle Gellar, season 4, Mutant Enemy, 1999.

  • If you are discussing the context in which the show first ran, you should cite the full date. You would then use WB Television Network (rather than Mutant Enemy), because it was the network (rather than the production company) that aired the episode on the date you’re citing.

“Hush.” Buffy the Vampire Slayer, created by Joss Whedon, performance by Sarah Michelle Gellar, season 4, episode 10, WB Television Network, 14 Dec. 1999.

Location: You should be specific in identifying a work’s location.  An essay in a book, or an article in journal should include page numbers.

Adiche, Chimamanda Ngozi. “On Monday of Last Week.” The Thing around Your Neck, Alfred A. Knopf, 2009, pp. 74-94.

  • The location of an online work should include a URL and the date you accessed it, since the location can change.  Do not include the http:// section.

Wheelis, Mark. "Investigating Disease Outbreaks Under a Protocol to the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention." Emerging Infectious Diseases, vol. 6, no. 6, 2000, pp. 595-600, Accessed 8 Feb. 2009.

Optional elements: The new edition is supposed to streamline citations, so you should include any information that will help readers find sources, but leave out distracting extras.  You may include elements such as relevant dates of different publications, the city of publication, and URLs or digital object identifiers for journal articles.  For more details, check the MLA Handbook or Purdue OWL.


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Find more help

Purdue University's Online Writing Lab (OWL) has an excellent online style guide.  Take a look for more help!

Want to try a new, free software tool to build your bibliography?  MyBib is the best tool we've seen for building and keeping a list of citations.  It's easy to use and lets you switch between several styles.  Try it out at

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Citation examples are from the Purdue Online Writing Lab’s MLA Style Guide.