On this page you will find an overview of the core elements of MLA style, as well as guidelines for formatting your paper (see bottom of page)
Use this sheet to collect the information needed for your citation.
Click below to download the template
Every entry in your works cited list will contain the core elements in the order in which they are listed below.
Each element within the citation should also be followed by the punctuation mark shown.
Elements not relevant to the resource being cited may be omitted.
What goes in an in-text citation?
The goal of an in-text citation is to direct your reader to the full citation of your source with minimal disruption to the flow of your text. In text citations are typically made up of two parts:
These short references help the reader identify which of your sources the citation comes from as well as the precise location of the quotation within the source.
If the source does not use page numbers or any other kind of numbering system, you may omit the number from the in-text citation. Some sources will use paragraph numbers rather than page numbers. If this is the case, use the paragraph number, preceded by the label par. or pars. ex: (Chan, par. 41).
Paraphrasing is an effective way to convey others' ideas in your own voice.
Give the reader an accurate and comprehensive account of the ideas you have gathered from the source by describing it in your own words, while giving credit to the original creator. You may reference the author either in your text or in the parenthetical citation, as in the examples below.
Example 1 - with signal phrase
Author William Zinsser argues that in order to write well, one must think clearly and work at it, just as if one were doing any other logical task (12).
Example 2 - without signal phrase
In order to write well, one must think clearly and work at it, just as if one were doing any other logical task (Zinsser 12).
Use a direct quote only when the exact words used by the author are important to your argument.
Long quotations (running for four lines or more) should be offset from the text, with the parenthetical reference at the end of the quotation.
Short quotations (running fewer than four lines) should be incorporated into the text with the parenthetical reference at the end of the sentence, before the period.
The rules about signal phrases apply to direct quotations as well - if you include the author's name in your text, you may omit it from the parenthetical citation.
Direct quotation with signal phrase (MLA):
According to author William Zinsser, “Thinking clearly is a conscious act that writers must force upon themselves, as if they were working on any other project that requires logic: adding up a laundry list or doing an algebra problem” (12).
Direct quotation without signal phrase (MLA):
The processes involved in thinking and writing are very closely connected. “Thinking clearly is a conscious act that writers must force upon themselves, as if they were working on any other project that requires logic: adding up a laundry list or doing an algebra problem” (Zinsser 12).
The author refers to the person or entity that created the source.
Authors can include individual people writing books and articles, Film directors, government agencies, corporations, and many more.
List the author last name first: Brown, Brene.
If the person you are listing as the creator is someone other than an author, such as an editor or translator, include a label that indicates this.
Example: Nunberg, Geoffrey, editor.
If the source was created by an organization, such as an institution, government agency, corporation, etc. list the name of the organization as the author.
However, if the authoring organization is also the publisher, do not list it in the author spot. Begin the entry with the source title and list the organization only in the publisher spot.
What if there are multiple authors?
When a source has two authors, list them in the order in which their names appear in the work. Only the first person will be listed last name first. The second person's name should appear in normal order.
Example: Dorris, Michael, and Louise Erdrich
When a source has three or more authors, list only the first person's name (last name, first name), followed by et al (and others).
Example: Brown, Peter C., et al.
What if there is no author listed?
Do not list the author as Anonymous, rather simply skip the author element and begin the citation with the source title.
Who else played a role in creating the work?
Other contributors are people other than the main author who participated in creating the work.
List these names after the title of the container (if applicable) preceded by a phrase describing their role.
Listing the publisher is not necessary for the following types of works:
The location usually applies to where you found the source. It could be a range of page numbers within a book or article, the URL for a website, or the DOI number for an article in a database.
Location DOES NOT refer to the city in which a source was published.