menu

How to List a Reference in MLA


MLA (Modern Language Association) style is a commonly used format for reference and citation. MLA is most often used by students working in the area of humanities. When you cite according to MLA guidelines, you must not only cite within the text, but must also list full bibliographic information for your references in a works-cited page at the end of your paper. MLA has specific rules for the listing of different types of references.

Format references for books as follows: Author's Name. Book Title. City of Publication: Name of publisher, Year Published. Medium of Publication.

Use the following format for a dictionary or encyclopedia article: "Title of Article." Dictionary Title. Edition Number (if applicable). Year Published. Medium of Publication.

List a newspaper article in the following format: Author's Name. "Title of Article." Name of Newspaper Day Month Year Published: Page Number(s). Medium of Publication.

List a journal article in the following format: Author's Name. "Title of Article." Name of Journal Volume.Issue (Year Published): Page Number(s). Medium of Publication.

List a reference for a website as follows: Author's Name. "Title of Page." Name of Website. Name of Publisher, Day Month Year of Publication. Medium of Publication. Day Month Year of Access. <URL>.

Information on websites is not always readily available. If no publisher is listed, use "n.p." If no date of publication is listed, use "n.d."

MLA does not require that you list the URL in your reference, but if you wish to do so, the proper format is to enclose it in angle brackets.

Tips
  • A few things to keep in mind when listing references according to MLA style:
  • Always list the last name of your author first, followed by the first name. For example: Smith, John.
  • The titles of major works such as books should be italicized. So should the names of newspapers, journals and websites. The titles of lesser works, such as articles, should be enclosed in quotation marks.
  • The names of months other than May, June and July must be abbreviated. September should be abbreviated down to four letters. All other months should be abbreviated down to three letters.
  • For printed works, the medium of publication will be listed as "print." For electronic works, the medium of publication should be listed as "web."
  • Remember, in addition to listing references at the end of your paper, you must also cite sources within the text whenever you paraphrase or quote directly from a source. To do this, list the last name of the author and the page number in parentheses. For example: (Smith 45)
  • In cases where no author is credited, cite the title and the page number.