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Citation and Evaluating Resources Guide: MLA Citation Guide

About MLA

MLA style developed by the Modern Languages Association is used at Southpointe Academy in our Language and Literature, English, Individuals and Society and Social Studies and Languages classes. 

In MLA style, you use in-text citations and a Works Cited List. While footnotes are not used, there are some instances where you would use Notes as outlined in this guide.

In Text Citation Structure

Any sources that you directly quote, paraphrase or draw inspiration from must be cited in text. Below outlines the different ways to create in text citations for a variety of different formats.

In text citations provide your reader with two important pieces of information that correspond with the full citation in the Works Cited list. In text citations allow the reader to immediately see the citation and reference it in the Works Cited list if required. 

The two pieces of information in text citations provide are:

  • The first element from the corresponding Works Cited list. In most cases this is the author's last name.
  • The location of the cited information. This is most often in the form of a page number, but can also come in the form of paragraph location, line number, figure number or act or scene.

Standard Formatting of the In Text Citation

  • Put the page number in parentheses
  • Include the author's name (or the title for works with no author) in the sentence or in the parentheses before the page number.

    Eliot argues that Hamlet is a problematic play because his actions to not make logical sense within the context of the play (3-4).

    One of the main arguments for the danger of Hamlet as a sympathetic character centres around the unreliable nature of his narrative (Eliot 3-4).

    The article "No Fear Shakespeare: Introduction" outlines the major theme of madness as central to the driving force of the play (1).

    The main conflict in Hamlet centres around whether or not he audience believes he is mad ("No Fear Shakespeare" 1).

  • If it is clear from the context which work you are citing, use only the page number.

    In Sense and Sensibility when Marianne states "If I could but know his heart, everything would become easy" (2) Elinor is surprised.

  • Place the parenthetical reference at a natural pause in the text or after the quotation marks for direct quotations.
     
  • Multiple authors: 2-3 authors use the last names of each. For more than 3 authors, use the first author's last name and et al.

    (Johnson, Patel, and Alberts 765)

    (Jones et al. 454)

  • For authors with the same last name, include their first initial.

    (C. Bronte 38)

    (E. Bronte 210)

  • For multiple works by the same author, include a shorten form of the title.

    We should all try to "live in the Past, the Present, and the Future" (Dickens, A Christmas Carol 95).

  • For works with no page numbers, use explicitly numbered parts of the work (paragraphs, sections, chapters). Use author (or title) alone if there are no numbered parts.

    (Rankins, ch. 2) (Jones para. 5) (Hopper lines 5-10) (Shakespeare act number.scene number.line numbers) 

  • For time-based works, use a time stamp in the form of hh:mm:ss.

    ("Hell Hath No Fury" 00:15:23-00:18:58)

 

MLA Works Cited

A Works Cited List provides a detailed record of any sources you directly quoted, referenced, paraphrased or drew inspiration from in your assignment. All works you produce where you use information or ideas from another person's work must include a Works Cited list including presentations and visual pieces.

Basic Formatting of the Works Cited List

  • Place the Works Cited list at the end of your paper, as the last slide in a presentation, or as a separately submitted document if the inclusion of the Works Cited List would disrupt the artistic integrity of the final piece.
  • The first line of the citation must be aligned to the left of the document, but second and subsequent lines must be indented. Use the tab feature when typing to properly indent.
  • Entries must be arranged in alphabetical order by the first element. This is usually the author's last name, in the case of an article without an author, this would be the title of the article (excluding initial articles such as A, An or The).
  • If two authors have the same name, use the first letter of their first name to decide alphabetical order.
  • For multiple works by the same author, alphabetize by title.

Please see here for a sample MLA Works Cited List.

Below are the most commonly used sources cited in MLA format. If you can not find the source style below, come see your Teacher Librarian for help. 

Book With One Author:

Author's Last Name, Author's First Name. Title of Book. Publisher, Publication Date.

Example:

Smith, John. The Common House Cat. Catington Press, 1992.

Book With Two Authors:

Sometimes books will have more than one author. When there are two authors, you would list both authors in the order they appear on the book in the following format.

First Author's Last Name, First Author's First Name, and Second Author's First Name Second Author's Last Name. Title of the Book. Publisher, Publication Date.

Example:

Harrison, Matthew, and Diane Archer. The Secret Life of Sloths. Wildlife Publications Inc., 2016.

Book With More Than Two Authors:

You may also come across books with three or more authors. In this case, list only the first author as listed on the book followed by the phrase et al. (Latin for "and others") instead of listing the rest of the author's names. (Please note there is always a period after the "al" in et al.)

Example:

Burns, Robert, et al. Bears, Boars and Other Wild Beasts: A Field Guide. Hawaii State University Press, 2002.

Work in an Anthology or Collection:

If you are referencing an essay or a chapter of a book that comes from a larger work or anthology, the basic format is as follows:

Last name, First name. "Title of Essay." Title of Collection, edited by Editor's Name(s), Publisher, Year, Page range of entry.

Example:

Latmer, Juliet. "How to Write a Basic Essay." A Student's Guide to Writing, edited by Jack Jackson, Writer's Press, 2009, pp. 56-58.

If the work you are referencing comes from a collection has been put together by the author of the pieces and, therefore, there is not editor, you would simply leave out the editor portion of the citation.

Example:

Whitman, Walt. "I Sing the Body Electric." Selected Poems. Dover, 1991, pp.12-19.

For more help for the proper citation form of books, please see here, or ask your Teacher Librarian.

Citing Electronic Sources (Including Databases):

Because electronic sources vary so greatly and because information often changes on websites, you may not always be able to provide all of the information listed below. When using electronic sources, try to collect as much of the information as possible. If you find most of the information list below is missing from your source, you may need to evaluate whether or not your source is a reliable one. It is strongly suggested you collect this information as you research as the website you are researching from may not be easily available later on.

  • Author and/or editor names (if available)
  • Article name in quotation marks.
  • Title of the website, project, or book in italics.
  • Any version numbers available, including editions (ed.), revisions, posting dates, volumes (vol.), or issue numbers (no.).
  • Publisher information, including the publisher name and publishing date.
  • Take note of any page numbers (p. or pp.) or paragraph numbers (par. or pars.).
  • URL (without the https://)  DOI or permalink.
  • Date you accessed the material (Date Accessed).
  • Remember to cite containers after your regular citation. Examples of containers are collections of short stories or poems, a television series, or even a website. A container is anything that is a part of a larger body of works.

Basic Citation Format (remember your citation may not include all of this information if you could not find it):

Author. Title. Title of container (self contained if book), Other contributors (translators or editors), Version (edition), Number (vol. and/or no.), Publisher, Publication Date, Location (pages, paragraphs and/or URL, DOI or permalink). 2nd container’s title, Other contributors, Version, Number, Publisher, Publication date, Location, Date of Access (if applicable).

For Detailed examples of the many different ways you can cite an electronic source, please see here. Any questions, please ask your Teacher Librarian for help.

 

Citing Images in MLA

Section 30.04 in the Copyright Act allows teachers and students to use and share material, including images, that have been made publicly available so long as the source of the image is properly cited. The only exception to this being if the image has been clearly labeled as not to be reused for educational purposes (this information is usually listed under the Terms of Use description) or if the image is password protected. In these cases, you can not use the image unless you gain specific permission from the creator. 

How to Cite an Image in Your Works Cited List:

In MLA style, your image citation must follow the format below:

Creator's last name, first name. Title of Image or Description of image. Date of creation. Title of the Website where the image is located. Website URL (linked to the website title if your works cited is digital or typed out if your works cited is on paper. Publisher or sponsor of the site (if available). Date of access (Day Month Year).

Example:

Tafreshi, B. A Scorching Souffle. 2. Jan. 2017. ESO Picture of the Week. European Southern Observatory. (24. Jan. 2017).

Incorporating and Image into Your Text:

Any image you use in your essays or in presentations must be cited in text in the following way. The only exception to this is if citing the image in text will disrupt the artistic integrity of your piece or your presentation. If this is the case, you do not have to cite the image in text, but must still provide a Works Cited list either attached to the assignment or as the last slide in your presentation.

Any images that are cited in-text must also be cited in your Works Cited list at the end of your assignment in the format outlined above.

When incorporating an image into your assignment, you must do the following:

All images are referred to as figure or fig. and are numbered in the order they appear (ie: fig 1. or fig 2.). Do not capitalize figure or fig. or refer to it as the "the figure below" or "the figure above".

For in text citations, place the figure reference as close to the text referencing it as possible.

Directly below the image, provide the capitalized Figure label with the corresponding figure number and the citation information in the formal listed below:

Fig. #. Descriptive title or caption, from Image Creator's First Name Last Name; Description or Title of ImageTitle of the website where the image is located; Publisher or sponsor of the site; Date of Creation; Date of access.

Example of an In-Text Image Citation:

A cover of clouds, or a souffle (figure 1) is a common sight in the Chilean Andes. Several state of the art facilities have been developed to chart the progress of these formations across the skies.

Fig. 1. A souffle cloud formation being observed in the plains of Chile, from Tafreshi, B. A Scorching Souffle; ESO Picture of the WeekEuropean Southern Observatory; 2. Jan. 2017; 24. Jan. 2017.

Sample MLA Formatted Paper

Citing Other Sources

While websites, articles, books and images are the most likely materials students need to cite, there are times when you will need to cite other sources of information. Outlined below are the most common sources beyond the ones already covered in this guide that you are likely to have to cite.

Personal Interviews and Oral Accounts:

Many students do not realize that they must cite information gained from interviews. Because an interview is the intellectual property of the person being interviewed, you must cite anything paraphrased or directly quoted from the interview in your work. 

Interview Citation format: Last Name of Interviewee, First Name of Interviewee. Descriptive Phrase to Describe the Interview. Day Month Year.

Example: Smith, Bob. Personal Interview on Childhood Memories. 12 February 2017.

Surveys and Questionnaires:

If you use information from a survey or questionnaires conducted by another person or group, or conducted by yourself through the course of your research, you must cite anything paraphrased, directly quoted or represented in graph format in your work.

Survey and Questionnaire Citation format: Last Name of the Person Conducting the Survey, First Name of the Person Conducting the Survey. "The Name of the Survey or Questionnaire". Day Month Year.

Example: Jones, Sarah. "Survey on the Popularity of Gaming with Grades 6-9 Students". 13 November 2017.

Personal Letters:

There may be times, especially when using primary source documents as a source of research, where you may need to either paraphrase or quote information from a personal letter written to you. If this is the case, the correct format to do so is below.

Personal Letter Citation Format: Writer's Last Name, Writer's First Name. Letter to the Author, date the letter was received. TS or MS (Use TS if the letter was typed and MS if it was handwritten.)

Example: Hawkins, Mary. Letter to the author. 23 October 2017. MS.

Speeches, Lectures and Conferences:

During the course of your research, you may have attended a speech, lecture or conference that helped shape your thinking. Anything you use from these sources must be cited in the following way.

Speech, Lecture or Conference Citation Format: Speaker's Last Name, Speaker's First Name. "Title of the Event". Location of the Event. Date of the Event. Type of Event.

Example:  Spencer, Edward. "The Origin of Time". Hyatt Regency, New York. 12 June 2017. Conference.

Podcasts:

Podcasts can be a valuable source of information, especially to gain background information on a topic or to connect with the opinions of a specific group of people. Any information you learn from a podcast that you use directly in your work, or that influences your work must be cited in the following way:

Works Cited List:

Last name, First name of the creator. "Title of podcast." Title of website, Version, Numbers, Publisher, Publication date, URL.

Example: 

Baker, Elena. "The Old Man on My Shoulder." But That's What Happened from This American Life, 661, WBEZ Chicago, 9 November 2018, www.thisamericanlife.org/661/but-thats-what-happened

In Text Citation: (Author/or Title)

Example: (Baker) or (The Old Man on My Shoulder)

TV Episodes:

If you are using TV episodes in your research or your assignment, you must cite them in the format listed below.

Works Cited List:
 
"Episode Name." Series Name, written by, directed by, Distributor Name, date of distribution.
 
For example:
"The One Where Chandler Can't Cry." Friends: The Complete Sixth Season, written by Andrew Reich and Ted Cohen, directed by Kevin Bright, Warner Brothers, 2004.
 
In text citation: 
("Title of Episode" Start Time of Relevant Section-End Time of Section)
 
For example: ("The One Where Chandler" 00:14:56-00:15:33)

Computer Code

While it may seem more efficient code as a basis for your own work, failing to properly cite the source of the code is considered plagiarism. The Canadian Government Guide to Copyright outlines how computer code is considered to be the same as a piece of literature and, therefore, is considered under the same copyright laws as literature. It is a unique piece of work that utilizes the language of coding to create original work. Just as you would not use a piece of literature without citing it, the same applies to computer code.

 

It is often difficult for programmers to know which resources need to be cited and which do not. A simple rule of thumb to apply to this is the rule of common knowledge (for more information on this, please refer to the first page of this lib guide). As a general rule, if you use a function or an algorithm that you did not create and was created by someone else, you must cite it. The only exception would be if there is only one way to program a specific task or it is such a common task. In these cases you would not need to cite. If you are not sure if a section of code needs to be cited, ask your teacher.

 

How to Cite a Computer Code

To cite a computer code, use the following format:

Author(s) name (Individual or corporation) (Date) Title of program/source code (Code version) [Type (e.g. computer program, source code)] Web address or publisher (e.g. program publisher, URL)

Example:  Jones, Q (2016) GraphicsDrawer source code (Version 2.0) [Source code]. http://www.graphicsdrawer.com