How to Cite a Person in MLA Format

Citing sources properly is essential to creating an effective research paper. Including citations helps to avoid plagiarism and demonstrates a writer’s integrity. According to the "MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, 7th edition," all information taken from outside sources must be cited in a research paper, including formal interviews and personal conversations. In terms of MLA citations, a personal conversation follows the same format as a formal interview.

In-Text Citations

Step 1

Provide the last name of the person interviewed for a personal communication -- such as an interview, letter or email. Place the name in parentheses at the end of the copied words and/or ideas; this name should appear before the final punctuation. For a published interview or speech, include the page number, for example: (Doe 22). If the source is a personal interview or speech that does not appear in a printed form, no page number is required: (Doe).

Step 2

Alternatively, state the source within the text, as follows: According to Jane Doe.

Step 3

Incorporated footnotes and endnotes into your paper on a limited basis. While MLA discourages extensive use of lengthy notes, it does allow endnotes or footnotes for bibliographic purposes and explanatory reasons. Indicate endnotes and footnotes with superscript numbers that appear after the punctuation to which the note refers, for example:

National common core standards encourage citing textual evidence when reading informational texts. 7

Step 4

Begin footnotes four lines below the main text. Indent the first line five spaces. Footnotes should be single spaced, but double-space between notes.

Works Cited

Step 1

For a personal interview, letter or email, list the entry in alphabetical order by the last name of the author. Begin the entry with the speaker’s last name, a comma and the first name followed by a period. Explain the type of communication that took place with a phrase like “personal interview” followed by a period. Include the date that the conversation occurred in a day-month-year order with no punctuation, such as:

Doe, Jane. Personal interview. 12 November 2007.

Step 2

For a published or broadcast interview, start with the last name of the interviewee. If the interview is part of a publication or broadcast, include the title of the interview in quotation marks followed by a period. Explain the type of communication by stating “interview.” Include the date. State the medium that is used to access the interview, such as radio, print, television or DVD.

Use the following format for your entry:

Doe, Jane. “Helping Others Understand the Value of Service.” Interview. 12 November 2007. Radio.

Step 3

Cite letters as personal communication using the following format:

Author’s Last Name, Author’s First Name. Letter to the Author. Date of Letter.

Step 4

To cite an email correspondence, start with the author’s last name followed by his first name. State the title of the email, which should be taken from the subject line and put in quotation marks. After the title, put "Message to [insert the Recipient's Name here]." Then provide the date that the email was sent. Provide the medium, as follows:

Smith, John. “New Ideas.” Message to Jenny Smith. 3 April 2014. Email.

Step 5

In the case of a speech, provide the speaker’s name, then give the title of the speech in quotation marks, followed by the name of the meeting and organization, the location of the speech and the date. Describe the type of presentation, such as lecture, keynote address, reading, conference presentation.

Use the following format for the fully entry:

Smith, John. “Making Common Core Accessible to All Students.” Medford University. New York, NY. 29 May 2012. Keynote Address.

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