How Do You Cite Something In MLA Format?

Modern Language Association (MLA) style is to the humanities what American Psychological Association (APA) style is to the social and behavioral sciences. Students, professors and writers, particularly in English, use the MLA format to structure essays and papers. While MLA style covers a wide range of areas, from punctuation to section headings, it is best known as a system for documenting the sources used in papers that require research.

In-Text Citations

Step 1

Close to the cited material give the author's last name and the page number of the quotation or paraphrase you are using from another person's work. MLA style allows you to present this documentation in several ways.

Step 2

Quote material directly from a source following the example below. You can include the author's last name as part of your sentence or enclosed with the page number in a parenthetical citation.

Masters notes that "the age of the text seemed irrelevant to the students" (112). He never believed that "they had an ounce of respect for literature" (Masters 113).

Step 3

Handle an MLA in-text citation the same way when paraphrasing material.

Masters claimed that the students did not care how old the books were (112). He doubted that they respected the works they read (Masters 113).

Step 4

Use a shortened title of the work when the author is unknown, as shown below. Use quotation marks around the title for short works, such as articles. Italicize the title for longer works, including books.

Cycling suffered a major setback when Landis made doping accusations ("Landis overshadows Tour of California" 15).

Works Cited List

Step 1

Order Works Cited list entries alphabetically. The author's last name comes first followed by first name followed by middle name or initials.

Kunstler, James

Kunstler, James H.

Kunstler, James Howard

Step 2

List author's name as follows for works with two authors:

Jones, Paula, and Neal Rodgers.

Use one of the two following methods for works with three or more authors:

Jones, Paula, et al.

Jones, Paula, Neal Rodgers, Cynthia L. Clark, and Geoff Simon.

Step 3

Complete a book citation in MLA style. Italicize the title of the book.

Jones, Paula and Neal Rodgers. A Guide to Touring Toronto. New York: Random House, 2010. Print.

Step 4

Organize a journal article citation as illustrated below. MLA style requires that you put the article title in quotes and italicize the name of the journal.

Jones, Paula. "Toronto in the 19th Century." Journal of Urban History 12.1 (2009): 32-54. Print.


Consult the MLA handbook for examples of other types of citations not listed in this article.


If there is no author, alphabetize the Works Cited reference by the article title, book title, or the name of the website.