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MLA Citation Examples

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MLA (Modern Language Association) style is frequently used to write papers and cite sources within the liberal arts and humanities. The MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers is in its 9th ed.) and provides guidance on the mechanics of prose, in-text citations, endnotes/footnotes, and the “Works Cited” page.

In MLA style, two citations are used to cite a source:

  1. A short citation used in the text (called the in-text citation).
  2. A full citation (called the works-cited-list entry) in the works cited list, which appears at the end of a paper after endnotes, if any.

The works-cited-list entry provides the complete details of a source. An in-text citation is a short citation that is placed next to the text being cited. The in-text citation lets the reader know that the information is derived from the cited source.

In order to properly cite a source in MLA style, you must have both citation types in your paper. Every in-text citation has a works-cited-list entry. Every works-cited-list entry has at least one (maybe more) corresponding in-text citation(s).

In-text citations

The basic element needed for an in-text citation is the author’s name. The publication year is not required for in-text citations. Sometimes, page numbers or line numbers are also included, especially when a text is quoted from the source being cited. In-text citations are mentioned in the text in two ways: as a citation in prose or as a parenthetical citation.

Citation in prose

Citations in prose are incorporated into the text and act as a part of the sentence. Usually, citations in prose use the author’s full name when cited the first time in the text. Thereafter, only the surname is used. Avoid including the middle initial, even if it is present in the works-cited-list entry. An example of the first citation in prose for one author is given below:

Don Dumond re-examines the Eskimo-Aleut prehistory.

Parenthetical citation

Parenthetical citations add only the author’s surname at the end of the sentence in parenthesis. An example of a parenthetical citation is given below:

A re-examination of the Eskimo-Aleut prehistory was done (Dumond).

When and how to include other components

When you quote a specific line from the source, you can include a page number or a line number in in-text citations. Examples of both citation in prose and parenthetical citation are given below. Do not add “p.” or “pp.” before the page number(s).

According to Ann Fienup-Riordan, “The world is following its people” (57).

In-text citations should be concise. Do not repeat author names in parenthesis if the name is mentioned in the text. If you want to cite a chapter number, a scene, or a line number, follow the below guidelines:

Citation in prose:

chapter 4

scene 7

line 57

Parenthetical citation:

(ch. 4)

(sc. 7)

(line 57)

Examples of in-text citations

Here are a few examples of in-text citations for different numbers of authors:

One author

Use both the first name and surname of the author if you are mentioning the author for the first time in the prose. In subsequent occurrences, use only the author’s surname. Always use only the surname of the author in parenthetical citations.

Citation in prose:   

First mention:

Sean Gleason studies ….

Subsequent occurrences:

Gleason analyzes ….

Parenthetical:  

….(Gleason)

Two authors

Use the first name and surname of both authors if you are mentioning the work for the first time in the prose. In subsequent occurrences, use only the surnames of the two authors. Always use only the surnames of the authors in parenthetical citations. Use “and” to separate the two authors in parenthetical citations.

Citation in prose:          

First mention:

Paul John and Ann Fienup-Riordan state that ….

Subsequent occurrences:

John and Fienup-Riordan ….

Parenthetical:  

….(John and Fienup-Riordan)

Three or more authors

For citations in prose, use the first name and surname of the first author followed by “and others” or “colleagues.” In parenthetical citations, use only the surname of the first author followed by “et al.”

Citation in prose:        

Harold Napoleon and colleagues….

Harold Napolean and others ….

Parenthetical:  

….(Napoleon et al.)

Corporate author

For citations in prose, treat the corporate author similar to how you would treat author names. For parenthetical citations, shorten the organization name wherever possible.

Citation in prose:

Modern Language Association of America….

Parenthetical:  

….(Modern Language Association)

No author

If there is no author for the source, use the source title in place of the author’s name for both citations in prose and parenthetical citations.

When you add such in-text citations, italicize the text. If the source title is too long, use a shortened version of the title in the prose.

Citation in prose:        

Sensing the Story describes that …. (237)

Parenthetical:  

….(Sensing 237)


Works-cited-list entries

Works-cited-list entries are also called full citations. There are four main details that most reference list entries have:

  1. The author field
  2. The publication year
  3. The title of the work
  4. The source from where the reference can be obtained (e.g., URL, DOI, etc.)

Depending on the source type, you will also need additional details like volume number, publication title, contributors, medium, etc.

Examples of works-cited-list entries

Below are a few examples of different types of works-cited-list entries along with their templates. The examples given are for one author.

Book

The title of the book is set in italics and title case.

Template:

Surname, F. M. Title of the Book. Publisher, Publication Date. Page range.

Example:

Brodie, Ian. A Vulgar Art: A New Approach to Stand-Up Comedy. UP of Mississippi, 2014.

Journal article                            

The title of the article is in title case and set inside the quotation marks. The journal title is in italics. Include “vol.” before the volume number and “no.” before the issue number. Use “pp.’’ before the page range.

Template:

Surname, F. “Title of the Article.” Journal Title, Volume, Issue, Publication Date, Page range.

Example:

Baker, Steve. “Sloughing the Human.” Performance Research, vol. 5, no. 2, 2000, pp. 70–81.

Newspaper or magazine article

Newspaper and magazine articles take the same style. The title of the article is in plain text and title case; it is placed inside quotation marks. The title of the newspaper or the magazine is set in italics. Follow the format given in the template and example for setting the date, month, and year.

Template:

Surname, F. “Title of the Article.” Newspaper or Magazine Name, Publication Date, URL.

Example:

Schwartz, Oscar. “You Thought Fake News Was Bad? Deep Fakes Are Where Truth Goes to Die.” Guardian, 12 Nov. 2018, www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/nov/12/deep-fakes-fake-news-truth.

Webpage of a website

The webpage title is in plain text, while the website name is set in italics. Follow the format given in the template and example for setting the date, month, year, and URL.

Template:

Author or Organization Name. “Title of the webpage.” Website Name, Publication Date, URL.

Example:

Midgelow, Vida L. “Experiences and Perceptions of the Artistic Doctorate: A Survey Report.” Artistic Doctorates in Europe, 5 Feb. 2018, www.artisticdoctorates.com/2017/12/28/experiences-and-perceptions-of-the-artistic-doctorate-survey-report/.

YouTube video

The video title is set in title case and inside quotation marks. This is followed by the word “YouTube.” Then the uploader’s name is given in the first name-surname format followed by the uploaded date. Finally, the URL is given.

Template:

“Title of the Video.” YouTube, uploaded by Uploader’s Name, Day Month Year, URL.

Example:

“Behind the Scenes Chili’s Baby Back Ribs Spot.” YouTube, uploaded by Alvin Chea, 11 Sept. 2017, www.youtube.com/watch?v=gTDLh7gNRYA.

Works cited entries for different numbers of authors

The number of authors in the source decides how the author name(s) will be set in the works cited list. Here, you will see many journal references with different numbers of authors.

One author

List the author name followed by the publication year.

Template:

Surname, F. “Title of the Article.” Journal Title, Volume, Issue, Publication Date, Page range.

Example:

Langellier, Kristin M. “Personal Narratives: Perspectives on Theory and Research.” Text and Performance Quarterly, vol. 9, no. 4, 1989, pp. 243–76.

Two authors

The first author’s name is styled in surname-first name order, whereas the second author’s name is styled in first name-surname order. The authors’ names are separated by “and.”

Template:

Author Surname, F. M., and Firstname Surname. “Title of the Article.” Journal Title, Volume, Issue, Publication Date, Page range.

Example:

Broderick, Michael, and Sean Gleason. “We Kill Our Own: Towards a Material Ecology of Farm Life.” Text and Performance Quarterly, vol. 36, no. 4, Oct. 2016, pp. 250–64.

More than 2 authors

List only the first author’s name in the surname-first name order followed by a comma. Then, use “et al.”

Template:

Author Surname, First name, et al. “Title of the Article.” Journal Title, Volume, Issue, Publication Date, Page range.

Example:

Hillerdal, Charlotta, et al. “Nunalleq: Archaeology, Climate Change, and Community Engagement in a Yup’ik Village.” Arctic Anthropology, vol. 56, no. 1, Nov. 2019, pp. 4–17.

 


Resource Types

For additional information on MLA format, select from one of the resource types below. For help creating MLA citations, check out the BibMe MLA citation generator.

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