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MLA Style

Your guide to citations and works cited in MLA Style, 9th Edition

Citation Basics

When you use someone else's words or ideas in an assignment, you must cite them. By citing them, you are acknowledging that the words/ideas are not your own.

This will make it clear to your instructor what ideas are your own, and what ideas belong to someone else.

It's perfectly okay to use someone else's ideas, as long as you cite them!

There are TWO elements to a citation:

In-text citation: These appear in your paper, and indicate to your reader that the information immediately preceding the citation came from another source.

Works Cited: This is the list of sources at the end of your paper that list all of the sources you used in your assignment.

A citation is not complete unless both elements -- an in-text citation, and corresponding Works Cited entry -- are present.

Note: You only have to cite sources that you used in your assignment. If you read an article and it was helpful, but you did not use it in your assignment, do not include it in your Works Cited.

General Format for Works Cited

Remember that the specific format for Works Cited varies depending on the type of source. You may omit any element that does not apply, except for title of source:

Works Cited General Format

Author Surname, Author Given Name, Author Initial(s) (if present). Title of Source. Title of Container, Contributor, Version, Number, Publisher, Publication date, Location.

Hong, Cathy Park. Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning. One World, 2020.

When a source is part of a larger whole, for example a chapter in a book or an article in a journal, the larger whole is the container.

In the Works Cited list, the part (article, section, chapter or web page) is listed in quotation marks. The container or whole (journal, book, entire website) is listed in italics.

Container General Format

Author, Title of Source. Title of Container, Contributor, Version, Number, Publisher, Publication Date, Location.

Eliot, T.S. "Rum Tum Tugger." Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats, illustrated by Edward Gorey, Harcourt Brace, 1982, pp. 13-16.

General Format for In-Text Citations

In-Text Citation General Format

When citing a source, include the author(s) surname in your in-text citation.

(Author Surname).


Include a page number if a specific part of the work is quoted or paraphrased.

(Author Surname page number).

(Gupta 12).

If your source does not have page numbers, but uses another label -- such as paragraphs (par. or pars.) section (sec. or secs.), lines (line or lines) chapters (ch. or chs.), or other indicators of place in the work, include them in your in-text citation. Only use numbers that are used by your source!

(Author Surname label)

(Jeong par. 2).


Multiple Authors: Works Cited and In-Text Citations

1 Author
For sources with only one author, begin the Works Cited entry with the author's last name, followed by a comma and the rest of the name as presented in the work.

Jones, John R.E. Fish and River Pollution. Butterworth, 1964.

Follow this example for in-text citations:

(Jones 15).

2 Authors
For sources with two authors, include them in the order in which they appear on the source. Begin the Works Cited entry with the first author's last name, followed by a comma and the rest of the name. Follow the first author's name with the word and then the second author's name in the normal order (first name initials last name).

Jones, Thomas B. and Nenad G. Nenadic. Electromechanics and MEMS. Cambridge UP, 2013.

In-text citations include both author last names and the page number (if applicable):

(Jones and Nenadic 144).

3 or more Authors
For sources with 3 or more authors, include the first author followed by a comma and et al. (et al. replaces the additional authors):

Friedman, Marilyn M., et al. Family Nursing: Research, Theory, & Practice. Prentice Hall, 2003.

In-text citations include only the first author's last name followed by et al. and the page number (if applicable):

(Friedman et al. 213).

Corporate Author

When a corporate entity is the author of a source, use the corporate name:

Public Health Agency of Canada. Curbing Childhood Obesity: A Federal, Provincial and Territorial Framework for Action to Promote Healthy Weights. Government of Canada, 2012,

When a source is published by an organization that is also it's author, begin the entry with the title, skipping the author element, and list the organization only as publisher:

Bridging Learning Gaps for Youth: UNESCO Regional Education Response Strategy for the Syria Crisis (2016-2017). UNESCO, 2016,

Open License Statement

MLA Style by Centennial College Libraries is licensed under a CC-BY-NC-SA 4.0 license unless otherwise stated.


How you specify a source's location depends on the format of the source. 

Print Sources

A range of page numbers preceded by pp. specifies the location of a chapter, section or article in a book or journal.

Online Sources

If available, use a DOI number or permalink for online sources. Otherwise, copy the URL from the browser.

For eBooks and articles from library databases, include the database or platform name in italics.

Punctuation & In-text Citations

Citations are part of your sentence structure, and closing punctuation follows the citation.

Citations mid-sentence

When a quote appears in the middle of a sentence, follow the quote with the in-text citation, then complete your sentence immediately following the citation.

Blah blah blah blah, "this is a direct quote from a source in the middle of a sentence" (Author page) blah blah blah blah.

Citations at the end of a sentence

When a quote appears at the end of your sentence, close the quote with double quotation marks and follow immediately with the in-text citation. Follow the citation with the closing punctuation for the sentence.

Blah blah blah, blah blah blah blah blah "this is a direct quote from a source, note the period comes after the citation" (Author page).

Access Date

Include an access date if the work lacks a publication date, or if you suspect the work has been altered or removed.

If you choose to include an access date, it appears after the location information (URL or DOI).

Publication Date

Write the date as it is presented on your source in the format Day Month Year, Time. Use as much information as is available and relevant to the retrieval of the source.

For example, year of publication is sufficient for books, while Day Month and Year is required for daily newspapers.

Months longer than 4 letters should be abbreviated -- for example, November becomes Nov.

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