How to Cite a Short Story in MLA Format
In 1951, the Modern Language Association (MLA) distributed its first style guidelines to help create consistency among papers and publications in the English, language and literary studies disciplines. Following today's MLA guidelines also helps you avoid charges of plagiarism, which can have serious consequences. Short stories are one type of source you might need to cite using MLA format.
According to the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers (7th edition), citations from a short story should typically follow the same format as those for other sources, including the author's last name, a space and the page number from which the quote or paraphrase comes, with no punctuation between:
For short quotes, put quotation marks around the information taken word-for-word from the story. The end quotation mark should appear before the citation, but the period should be placed after the parentheses.
For quotes that run more than four typed lines, indent the entire quote half an inch from the left margin. Leave off the quotation marks because the indent tells the reader it is a quote, and in this case put the period before the citation.
Works Cited Page
When citing a short story that appears in an anthology, start the Works Cited entry with the author of the short story. Start with his last name, put a comma after it, and then include his first name with a period after it. Write the title of the short story next, in quotation marks, capitalizing the first word and any important words within it. Then put the title of the collection, italicized, capitalizing the first word and important words, with a period at the end. Include the editor's name in regular name order after the word "Ed." (without the quotation marks) to indicate that this person is the editor. Follow this with a period.
Type the city of publication, a colon, the name of the publishing company, a comma, and the year, followed by a period. Give the page numbers on which the story appears with a period at the end. Finally, include the medium of publication, such as "Print" (without the quotation marks), followed by a period. Your citation should look like this:
Smith, Sue. "The Story Name." The Book of Stories (italicized). Ed. Joe Jones. New York: Penguin, 2000. 354-360. Print.
For an online source, type the author name, the title of the story (in quotation marks) and the publisher information (if given). After the date, put the site name, italicized, followed by a period. Use "Web" as the publication medium and then list your access date by day, month and year.
Smith, Sue. "The Story Name." New York: Penguin, 2000. The Site of Stories (italicized). Web. 3 March 2013.
Inclusion of a URL is unnecessary.
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- MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers (7th edition); Modern Language Association
Kristie Sweet has been writing professionally since 1982, most recently publishing for various websites on topics like health and wellness, and education. She holds a Master of Arts in English from the University of Northern Colorado.