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Citation Guide: MLA

Guide to the MLA and APA Citation Styles; Latest Update 2016

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Online MLA Help

Basic MLA Rules

NEW RULES...

  • No More Underlining! MLA now requires italicizing titles of independently published works (books, periodicals, films, etc).
  • No More URLs! While website entries will still include authors, article names, and website names, when available, MLA no longer requires URLs. Writers are, however, encouraged to provide a URL if the citation information does not lead readers to easily find the source.
  • Continuous Pagination?  You no longer have to worry about whether scholarly publications employ continuous pagination or not. For all such entries, both volume and issue numbers are required, regardless of pagination.
  • Publication Medium. Every entry receives a medium of publication marker. Most entries will be listed as Print or Web, but other possibilities include Performance, DVD, or TV. Most of these markers will appear at the end of entries; however, markers for Web sources are followed by the date of access.
  • New Abbreviations. Many web source entries now require a publisher name, a date of publication, and/or page numbers.
  • When no publisher name appears on the website, write N.p. for no publisher given.
  • When sites omit a date of publication, write n.d. for no date.
  • For online journals that appear only online (no print version) or on databases that do not provide pagination, write n. pag. for no pagination

  • Some basic rules for MLA citations are:

    • All citations should be double spaced
    • Indent after the first line of each entry
    • Entries are not numbered
    • Alphabetize by the first word of the entry
    • If an element is not present, omit it
    • If no author is listed, begin with title
    • Italics must be used for titles of books and periodicals (If italics are used, the font must be obviously different from the standard print)
    • Capitalize titles of books and articles according to convention, no matter how they appear in a database or catalog
    • Editions of books are noted after the title in the following format: 2nd ed. First editions are not listed as such. If no edition is listed, omit the edition section
    • List the city of publication only.
    • Dates are in Day Month Year format (e.g. 12 Dec. 1992) with all months abbreviated to three letters followed by a period (Jan., Feb., Mar., Apr., Aug., Sept., Oct., Nov., Dec.) except May, June, and July, which are left as is
    • Page numbers in MLA are sometimes shortened. If the page numbers are three or more digits, shorten the second number to two digits when possible. Examples: 8-9; 44-49; 112-23; 492-506; 1253-66.
    • All citations end with a period.
    • Italics must be used with the title of the database.

     

    Authors and Editor format

    Authors in MLA Format

    Authors are formatted the same in all material formats.

    • List first author with the last name first
      • Examples: Smith, John D.
      • Smith, John David.
    • Two authors are separated by a comma after the first author and the word and
      • Example: Smith, John D., and Rosemary L. Jones.
    • Only the first author's name is inverted. Second and third authors are formatted normally
    • Three authors are separated with commas and the word and
      • Example: Smith, John D., Rosemary L. Jones, and Steven G. Harper.
    • List up to three (3) authors; above that number, use the first and et al.
      • Example: Smith, John D., et al.

    Authors that are organizations, corporations, government entities, etc.

    • Do not invert or use abbreviations.
      • Examples:
        • United States Department of Commerce.
        • General Motors Corporation.
        • American Civil Liberties Union.

    Editors

    If an entire edited book with authored chapters is cited, the editor is listed as the author with the abbreviation "ed." after his name, or "eds." if there are more than one editor. Multiple editors are formatted the same way as authors.

    • List first editor with the last name first, followed by a comma and "ed."
      • Example: Smith, John D., ed.
    • Two editors are separated by a comma after the first author and the word and and are followed with a comma and "eds."
      • Example: Smith, John D., and Rosemary L. Jones, eds.
    • Only the first editor's name is inverted. Second and third authors are formatted normally
    • Three editors are separated with commas and the word and and are followed with a comma and "eds."
      • Example: Smith, John D., Rosemary L. Jones, and Steven G. Harper, eds.
    • List up to three (3) editors; above that number, use the first and et al.
      • Example: Smith, John D., et al., eds.

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