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Citation 101

An overview and guide to citation styles
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MLA Style

MLA Style emphasizes writing with clarity, precision, and inclusion. This guide is designed to help you ensure that your paper meets the guidelines established by the Modern Language Association.

Writers using MLA Style must strive to use language that is free of bias and avoid perpetuating prejudicial beliefs or demeaning attitudes in their writing. Just as you have learned to check your writing for spelling, grammar, and wordiness, practice reading your work for bias. Please visit the MLA Style website for more information about their specific guidelines. 

The Ninth Edition of MLA Style was designed with modern word processing programs in mind. Most default settings in programs like Microsoft Word and Google Docs already comply with MLA Style. There are a few adjustments you may need to make.

Document Formatting

MLA has specific rules for formatting the first page of student papers. Below you will find basic parameters but, more detailed information can be found online at the link provided both below and on the Additional Resources tab for MLA.

Margins: Use 1” margins on all sides of your paper.

Font: Times New Roman, 12 point. Never use bold type.

Line Spacing: Use double-spacing for the entire paper. This includes name, professor, course, due date, title, includes headings (if used), block quotes, and works cited. Do not add blank lines before or after headings. Do not add extra spacing between paragraphs.

Last Name and Page Number:  Put your last name and page number in the top right corner of every page, including the first page as a header.

Additional Information:  Student Name: Top left, first line, Professor Name(s): Top left, second line, Course Name and Number: Top left, third line, Date: Top left, fourth line.  The date is the due date of the paper, Day Month Year. Never abbreviate the month in the body of the paper (follow the abbreviation rule for works cited page) or use commas.

Title: Centered, use upper and lower case.

Instructors' guidelines supersede MLA Style. Please double-check with your professor for any specific requirements for your paper.

Formatting Elements of a Citation

MLA Style uses the author-page number citation system, meaning that a brief citation directs the reader to a full reference list found on the works cited page. Cite only those ideas and works that you have incorporated into your paper. Use the following information to help you create complete reference list entries. In MLA there are nine different elements in total, however, not always used depending on the source. For the reference elements (author, date, title, and source), basic information and examples are shown. Use this information to identify the reference elements for your own work. Visit MLA Style Center for more information on how to set up your citation for different types of resources.


Types of Authors Examples
Individual Author: Write the author's last name, followed by the first name followed by middle name or middle initial. Put a comma between the last name and first name with no comma for the middle name or middle initial. If middle initial was used place a period after the initial. Put a period and space after each initial.  With two authors the second author is separated with comma followed by the first name middle name or middle initial last name period (not inverted). If more than two authors, only write out the first author followed by, et al.

Bilias-Lolis, Evelyn.

Schwartz, Richard C., and Martin Sweezy.

Abdel Hadi, et al.

Username: Provide the username, including @ if part of the name.  If both a username and a real name are known, put the username in square brackets after the real name. Put a period at the end.

Vogue [@voguemagazine].

Lebron James [@KingJames].
Group Author: Provide the full name of the group. Put a period after the group name.


World Health Organization.

Note: If there is no Author, start the reference with the work's title.

Note: Adapted to MLA Style from APA Style scaffolded reference elements worksheet, by American Psychological Association, 2021, APA,

Types of Dates Examples
Year Only: Use the year for most works (e.g., journal article, book).  End with a comma. 2020,
Specific Date: Use a more specific date (e.g., day month year, or month year) for works published on a regular basis.  Write the day month and year, no comma's  abbreviate month names if they are more than four letters.  End with a comma.

6 Apr. 2016,

July 2018,
No Date:  If there is no date for the work, omit that element.

Note: Adapted to MLA Style from APA Style scaffolded reference elements worksheet, by American Psychological Association, 2021, APA,

Types of Titles Examples
Works that stand-alone (e.g., book, report, film, social media post, webpage): Italicize the title and capitalize it using headline case, capitalizing all of the major words. Follow with a period. Any identifying information (e.g., edition, volume, report number) follow the title with a period afterwards followed by a comma. Do not italicize the period or identifying information. Entrenchment and the Psychology of Language Learning: How we Reorganize and Adapt Linguistic Knowledge.

Practical Ethics for Psychologists: A Positive Approach. 3rd ed.,

Guide to Patient and Family Engagement: Environmental Scan Report. Publication no. 12-0042-EF.,

Inside the mind of a master procrastinator | Tim Urban.
Works that are part of a greater whole (e.g., journal article, edited book chapter, TV episode): Write the title without italics, however, encase the title with quotation marks. Capitalize the title using headline case, capitalizing all of the major words. For episodes, list the episode title in quotation marks, the name of the show (in italics), the names and roles of any relevant contributors, the season and episode numbers, main production or distribution company, and year. "Experimental Evidence for the Effects of Job Demands and Job Control on Physical Activity After Work."

"Mindful Gratitude in the Schools: Building Capacity Across the Tiers."

"The Constant." Lost, created by Carlton Cuse Damon Lindelof, season 4, episode 5, American Broadcasting Company, 2008.

Note: Adapted to MLA Style from APA Style scaffolded reference elements worksheet, by American Psychological Association, 2021, APA,

Types of Sources Examples
Works that stand-alone (e.g., book, report, film, social media post, webpage): The source is the publisher of the work, database or archive, social media site, or website, plus any DOI or URL. Imagine Entertainment.

Instagram. CGDaLBKplB-/.
Works that are part of a greater whole (e.g., journal article, edited book chapter, TV episode): The source is the greater whole (e.g., journal, book, TV show), plus any DOI or URL. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, vol. 88, no. 5, pp. 445–54,

The Clinician’s Guide to Anxiety Sensitivity Treatment and Assessment, edited by A. J. Smits, et al., Elsevier Academic Press, pp. 179–93, B978-0-12-813495-5.00009-7.
Periodicals (e.g., journal, magazine, newspaper, blog): Provide the periodical name in italics, version, number (vol. 51, no. 4,), publisher, publication date, page(s) ending with a period. If there is a DOI or URL use comma after the page(s) then end with a period. Social Psychology, vol. 51, no.4, pp. 219–38,

Journal of Affective Disorders, vol. 273, pp. 265–73, Accessed 11 Aug. 2021.

PLoS ONE, vol.15, no. 8, article e0238415, https://

Time, vol. 176, no. 18, pp. 40–50.
Books and reports: Write the publisher name as shown on the work and without italics, followed by a comma. Do not include designations of business structure (e.g., Inc., Ltd., LLC). If two or more publishers are listed, include all of them in the order shown, separated by a forward slash (/). When the author is the same as the publisher, omit the publisher from the source. When numerous layers of government agencies are listed on a report, include the name of the parent agency not in the group author name in the source. End with any DOI or URL followed by a period. The Guilford Press, 2020,

American Psychological Association / De Gruyter Mouton, 2021,

Edited book chapters: The source is the book of which the chapter is a part. Write the words “edited by” followed by the full name in order first name middle name last name or the initials of the editor; for two editors separate with the word and. When there are three or more editors only reference the first followed by comma et al., the publisher, date published, and the page(s) follow with a period or a comma if a DOI or URL exists. End the citation with a period. edited by C. Maykel and M. A. Bray, American Psychological Association, 2020, pp. 161-72,
Webpages: Provide the website name in title case without italics. When the author is the same as the website name, omit the website name from the source. End with the URL. The access date should be provided if there is no publication date or if there is a chance that the information may be altered or removed. World Health Organization. evidence/special_initiative_2019_2023/ en/. Accessed 11 May 2021.

Note: Adapted to MLA Style from APA Style scaffolded reference elements worksheet, by American Psychological Association, 2021, APA,

Formatting a Works Cited Page

The works cited entry can have up to nine elements: the author, title of the source, title of container, contributor, version, number, publisher, publication date, and location. Locating these elements will help you create a reference entry for any type of work. 

  • Your works cited should appear at the end of your paper. It provides the information necessary for a reader to locate and retrieve any source you cite in the body of the paper.
  • Your references should begin on a new page separate from the text of the essay; label this page Works Cited, centered at the top of the page (do NOT underline, use bold type, or use quotation marks for the title).
  • Each source you cite in the paper must appear in your works cited list; likewise, each entry in the works cited list must be cited in your text.
  • All text should be double-spaced just like the rest of your essay. The font of your reference list should be consistent with the rest of your paper. You should also have a page header that contains your last name and the page number.
  • All lines after the first line of each entry in your works cited list should be indented one-half inch from the left margin. This is called a hanging indent. For more information on how to create a hanging indent, here are some instructions that go into greater detail.

For more information on how to format your Works Cited page, please visit this guide provided by the Purdue Owl.


MLA Works Cited Page: Basic Format

MLA Sample Paper

How to Create a Hanging Indent in Word on Mac and PC

Formatting In-Text Citations in MLA:

When using MLA format, follow the author-page number method of in-text citation. This means that the author's last name and the page number of publication for the source should appear in the text at the appropriate point.

  • One author: (Bolger 57).

  • Two authors: (Soto and John 117).

  • Three or more authors: (Nguyen et al. 876-99).

  • An author named in the sentence, only add the page number in parentheses: Bolger states that children's milestones are part of medical training (57).

  • A source within another source: (qtd. in Johnson 10).

Regardless of how they are referenced, all sources that are cited in the text must appear in the reference list at the end of the paper. For more in-depth information please visit:

MLA Style Center