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MLA Citation Help: Home

Citation Intro

► Why cite?

  1. To demonstrate that you researched and you can identify a good source...this makes your argument stronger if you used relevant, reputable, trustworthy sources;
  2. To give your readers a map to your sources, so they can easily get more information; and
  3. To give credit to original sources ... you wouldn't want someone to use your work without giving you credit--don't do it to others.

 Remember: The citations provided by databases often include mistakes. In fact, databases themselves include disclaimers warning you to check the citations. As a scholar, it is your responsibility to check your citations for accuracy. So be very careful if you decide to copy-and-paste a citation from a source.

► Finally, want to make it easy on yourself? Use NoodleTools! If you need help, ask in the library.

General Rules for MLA Citation 8th edition

In the MLA 8th edition, a work's format ("book," "webpage," "database article," etc.) isn't the most important consideration (if you're not sure where to start in NoodleTools, check here).

Cite everything by using the MLA list of Core Elements (info common to most works) in this specific order:

  1. Author's last name, First name.
  2. "Title of Source."
  3. Title of Container,
  4. Other contributors,
  5. Version,
  6. Number,
  7. Publisher,
  8. Publication date,
  9. Location. [where is it? page numbers in a book, URL if it's a website, etc.]
  10. (if necessary:) 2nd Container’s Title, Other contributors, Version, Number, Publisher, Publication date, Location.

If you have looked hard for a piece of information but cannot find it, skip it.

There is often more than one way to correctly cite a source. If you have a question about citation, ask Ms. Biancolo or your teacher.

The following is an example of a good citation. In this example, my article only has the highlighted elements, so I skip the ones my article doesn't have:

  1. Author.
  2. "Title of Source."
  3. Title of Container,
  4. Other Contributors,
  5. Version,
  6. Number,
  7. Publisher,
  8. Publication date,
  9. Location. 
  10. (if necessary:) 2nd Container’s Title, Other contributors, Version, Number, Publisher, Publication date, Location.

Cunningham, Paige Winfield. "The Hopeful News About Moderna's Coronavirus Vaccine is Extremely Preliminary." Washington Post, 19 May 2020. Gale In Context: Opposing Viewpoints,

1. Author

Consider the "Author" as the person or entity that is most important to your research.

For example, "author" could be the person who wrote a book:

Backman,Fredrik. A Man Called Ove. Translated by Henning Koch, Washington Square, 2015.

OR if your paper is about translation, it could be the translator: 

Koch, Henning, translator. A Man Called Ove. By Fredrik Backman, Washington Square, 2015.

  • Have 2 authors? List them like so: James Young, and Dr. Dana Huff.
  • More than 2 authors?: Carter, Marketta, et al. 
  • An author that is not a person (like a company, agency, etc.)?: Treat the company as if it were the author unless it is also the publisher (then skip the author):

United Nations. Inclusive Wealth Report 2014: Measuring Progress Toward Sustainability. Cambridge U, 2015. 

Shelter from the Storm: A Transformative Agenda for Women and Girls in a Crisis-Prone World. United Nations Population Fund, 2015.

2. Title of Source

The "Title of Source" could be the title of a book, a journal article, or a web page. In general, if the work is self-contained (like a book, a magazine, a play) the title goes in italics. Any smaller part inside a larger work goes in quotation marks:

Jenkins, Toby S. My Culture, My Color, My Self. Temple UP, 2013.

Hayley. "9 Book Characters You Would Want to Take a Road Trip With." GoodReads, 29 Sept. 2017,

Hughes, Langston. "Slave on the Block." The Ways of White Folks, Vintage Classics, 1990, pp. 19-31.

When a source is untitled, make up a basic description:

Hancock Shakers. Cherry Wood Build-in 10-Drawer Chest. 1830, Hancock Shaker Village, Hancock, Mass.

3. Title of Container

The Title of Container is whatever holds the "Source." For example, the container may be a book that is a collection or anthology, a journal or magazine, or a website. The Title of Container goes in italics:

Oyeyemi, Helen. "Is Your Blood as Red as This?" What is Not Yours is Not Yours, Penguin, 2016.

A Container may be nested inside a larger Container, and you want to cite both. And all Containers go in italics:

Horrigan, John B. "Americans are Not Fully Trusting of Information from Key Sources." The Elements of the Information-Engagement Typology, Pew Research Center, 7 Sept. 2017. How People Approach Facts and Information,

Wipplinger, Jonathan O. “Singing the Harlem Renaissance: Langston Hughes, Translation, and Diasporic Blues.” The Jazz Republic: Music, Race, and American Culture in Weimar Germany, University of Michigan P, Ann Arbor, 2017, pp. 165–196. JSTOR,

4. Other Contributors

Include "Other Contributors" if they played a key role in your Source. This could be the editor of an anthology, an illustrator, a translator, a reader of an audiobook, or a performer in a movie.

Jalall, al-Diln, Rumi. "The Snake-Catcher and the Frozen Snake." 1200s? The Essential Rumi, translated by Coleman Barks, expanded ed., HarperCollins, 2004, pp. 220-22. 

Dinklage, Peter, performer. "Blackwater." Game of Thrones, directed by Neil Marshall, written by George R. R. Martin, season 2, episode 9, HBO, 27 May 2012. 

Larsen, Gary. Question in the back. Comics I Don't Understand, posted by Cidu Bill, 10 Aug. 2017.

5. Version

"Version" may also be called "Edition." You may see "expanded," "updated," "1st," "2nd," etc.

The Complete Dead Sea Scrolls in English, translated by Geza Vermes, revised ed., Penguin, 2004.

Du Bois, W. E. B. and Eugene F. Provenzo. Illustrated Souls of Black Folk, annotated, illustrated, documentary ed., Routledge, 2015. EBSCOhost,

6. Number

"Number" could be the volume number of a multi-volume set, the volume & issue numbers of a journal article, a comic book number, or an episode of a TV show.

Washburn, Mara H. "Cultivating Greater Acceptance of Women in Technology: A Pilot Study." International Journal of Information and Communication Technology Education, vol. 3, no. 1, 2007, p. 22. Academic OneFile,

Wilson, G. Willow. Crushed. Ms. Marvel, illustrated by Elmo Bondoc and Takeshi Miyazawa, vol. 3, Marvel Comics, 2015. 

7. Publisher

"Publisher" is the organization responsible for making the Source available to you. It could be a university that hosts a website, a museum that houses an artifact, or the publisher of a book.

On a website, find "Publisher" on the bottom of the homepage, in "About Us," or in the title bar.

Lumpkin, Angela. "Examples in Several Sports of Discrimination Against and Effects on African Americans." Modern Sport Ethics: A Reference Handbook. 2nd ed., ABC-CLIO, 2017, pp. 280-84. Contemporary World Issues.

Van Winkle, Sara. "Legal Resistance." Black Women in America, edited by Darlene Clark Hine, 2nd ed., vol. 2, Oxford UP, 2005, pp. 257-270.

You may SKIP "Publisher" for the following:

  • A magazine, journal, or newspaper
  • A self-published work
  • A website that has the same name as the Publisher
  • A database or website that did not contribute to creating or making a source available (YouTube, ProQuest, etc.). This database or website may be included as a Container. 

The only time you need to include City of Publication is if it really matters to a reader's understanding of your Source. For example, if a publisher releases editions in different countries with different spellings. You might want to do this:

Rowling, J. K. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. 20th anniversary ed., London, Bloomsbury, 2017.

8. Publication Date

Date can be tricky if you are citing an article (that has a date) that was previously published in a journal (that has a different date). Use the date that is most relevant for you -- whatever you are actually looking at and using as a Source. In this example, you would cite the date of the online article because that is what you are using as your Source. 

If you are citing a book and you find more than one Date, use the most recent one.

You might add an original Date of Publication if it will give your reader insight into the Source:

Darwin, Charles. On the Origin of Species, 1859. Illustrated ed., Sterling, 2008.

9. Location

"Location" depends: Is it a book? Location is the page numbers. Is it a website? Location is a URL or DOI. Is it a physical object? Location is the museum where it lives.

For example, if you see a famous Whistler painting while in Paris, the Location is the museum in Paris:

Whistler, James Abbott McNeill. Arrangement in Grey and Black No. 1, 1871, Musée d'Orsay, Paris.

If you are seeing the painting online, the name of the museum is the "Publisher" of the website, and the Location is the museum's website:

Whistler, James Abbott McNeill. Arrangement in Grey and Black No. 1, 1871, Musée d'Orsay,

(In the case of this painting, you might want to work its popular title "Portrait of the Artist's Mother" or "Whistler's Mother" into the text of your paper)

In the case of a website or a database, you may also include Date of Access (the date you looked at the website). Since online information changes so often, you might want to include this information even though MLA 8th ed doesn't require it.

Moyer, Melinda Wenner. "More Guns Do Not Stop More Crimes, Evidence Shows." Scientific American, Oct. 2017, Accessed 12 Oct. 2017.

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