MLA Encyclopedia Citation

Create MLA Citations for Free!

←Back to MLA Citation GuideFind out more about MLA format

How to cite an encyclopedia/dictionary entry in a bibliography using MLA

The most basic entry for an encyclopedia/dictionary consists of the author name(s), article title, encyclopedia/dictionary name, year published, and medium.

Last Name, First Name. “Article title.” Encyclopedia/Dictionary name. Year Published. Medium.

Smith, John. “Internet.” Encyclopedia Britannica. 2009. Print.

The first author’s name should be reversed, with a comma after the last name and a period after the first name (or any middle name). The name should not be abbreviated and should be written exactly as it appears in the encyclopedia/dictionary. Titles and affiliations associated with the author should generally be omitted. A suffix, such as a roman numeral or Jr./Sr. should appear after the author’s given name, preceded by a comma.

For a page with two or more authors, list them in order as they appear in the encyclopedia/dictionary. Only the first author’s name should be reversed, while the others are written in normal order. Separate author names by a comma, and place the word “and” before the last author’s name. For articles with three or more authors, you may either include each author in the citation or only include the first author, followed by the abbreviation “et al.”

Smith, John, Jane Doe, and Bob Anderson. “Internet.” Encyclopedia Britannica. 2009. Print.

Smith, John, et al. “Internet.” Encyclopedia Britannica. 2009. Print.

The full article title should be placed within quotations. Unless there is puncutation that ends the article title, place a period after the title within the quotations. After the article title, include the encyclopedia/dictionary name and italicize it, followed by a period. If an edition is stated, cite it after the encyclopedia/dictionary name, followed by the abbreviation “ed.” Conclude the citation with the year of publication and a period.

Smith, John. “Internet.” Encyclopedia Britannica. 8th ed. 2009. Print.

If there are no authors for the article, begin the citation with the article title instead.

“Internet.” Encyclopedia Britannica. 8th ed. 2009. Print.

If the reference book is familiar and widely appears in new editions on a regular basis, do not give full publication information. If it is a less familiar reference book, especially one that only had one edition, give full publication information, including the city of publication and the publisher name.

Smith, John. “BibMe.” Web Application Encyclopedia. Pittsburgh: Scholastic, 2009. Print.

If the encyclopedia/dictionary arranges articles alphabetically, do not cite the page number(s) or number of volumes. If articles are not arranged alphabetically, you may want to include page number(s) and/or volume number, which is preceded by the abbreviation “Vol.” The volume should be cited after the encyclopedia/dictionary name (or any edition), and before any publication information. After the publication year, include the page numbers on which the article appears, along with a period. Cite all inclusive page numbers – if the article spans pages that are not consecutive, cite only the first page, followed by a plus sign.

Smith, John. “BibMe.” Web Application Encyclopedia. 8th ed. Vol. 15. 2009. 21-33. Print.

Smith, John. “BibMe.” Web Application Encyclopedia. 8th ed. Vol. 15. 2009. 21+. Print.

Next cite the medium in which the article was published (e.g. Print, Web). If “Print” is the type of medium being cited, it should end the citation, along with a period. If “Web” is the medium, also include the website name and the date on which you accessed the article online. The website name should be italicized and placed before the medium, along with a period. The accessed date should follow the medium and be formatted using the international format of “day month year.” Follow the accessed date with a period.

Smith, John. “BibMe.” Web Application Encyclopedia. 8th ed. 2009. Web Application Encyclopedia ONLINE. Web. 21 Feb. 2009.

You may choose to include the web address of the page, but only when the reader needs the URL to access the page or otherwise required by your professor. Although MLA guidelines previously recommended including URLs in a bibliography entry, that is no longer the case. In general, URLs are subject to change and can become outdated, refer to a session in use, and be very long. Users are more likely to find an article now by searching titles or author names. If you choose to include a URL, place it after the date of access (and its subsequent period) by enclosing it in angle brackets. Place a period after the angle brackets.

Smith, John. “BibMe.” Web Application Encyclopedia. 8th ed. 2009. Web Application Encyclopedia ONLINE. Web. 21 Feb. 2009. <>.

If you are citing a dictionary definition and need to specify a certain definition, place the abbreviation “Def.”, the definition number/letter, and a period between the entry title and the dictionary name.

“Scofflaw.” Def. 2. Webster’s English Dictionary. 5th ed. 2009. Print.

←Back to MLA Citation Guide

entry in text body citation fast easy
“If you write one story, it may be bad; if you write a hundred, you have the odds in your favor.”
– Edgar Rice Burroughs