How to Cite a Wikipedia Article in MLA Format

Wikipedia is a free-content encyclopedia whose volunteer contributors publish reference articles and post them onto the website. Because nearly anyone can contribute to the article's content, many question the reliability of Wikipedia as a source. But, if you choose to cite Wikipedia, Modern Language Association style provides guidance on how to cite an entry as a Web-based article.

Works Cited

Because Wikipedia does not publish a formal name of its authors, use the rules for citing a Web article with no author. In the Works Cited page, use the following structure:

"Title of Article." Title of Website in italics. Name of publisher. Date of publication. Web. Date of access. The date is formatted as day, abbreviated month and year.

To find the date of publication for a Wikipedia article, the website lists how many days ago an article was updated in the upper left-hand corner of the article. Subtract the number of days from the current date to determine the date.

As an example, citing an article about Wikipedia would read:

"Wikipedia: About." Wikipedia. 7 Jan. 2015. Web. 29 Jan. 2015.

Per MLA style, give the website address only if the reader would have trouble finding the website without knowing it.

In-Text Citation

Any source information provided in-text must correspond with information provided on the Works Cited page.

Because Wikipedia's authors are not known, citing a Wikipedia article follows the same rules for citing Web articles with no author.

When an article has no known author, use a shortened title of the work instead of an author's name. Put the title of the article in quotation marks and provide a page number.

For example, an in-text citation of a paper about Wikipedia would read:

Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that uses content written by volunteer contributors ("About Wikipedia" 1).