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Citing Sources

Style Manual

Examples in this guide are based on the following:

Additional help

This guide is intended to be a quick reference. For specific information, you should refer to the MLA Handbook. The examples below are consistent with the MLA Handbook, 9th edition, 2021.

The latest edition includes these major changes:

  • More guidance on how to use MLA core elements to create a Works Cited list by explaining the definition of each element in different types of documents (it will not always be literal), where to find each element, and how to style it. The MLA 9 was designed so that the core element strategy will become even more accessible through more examples and explanations, such as how to use notes, websites, interviews, and YouTube videos. 
  • A deeper dive into in-text citations, a category many users expressed struggles with.
  • Reintroduction of MLA guidance on research papers, absent in MLA 8, with expanded instructions.
  • A new chapter on inclusive language.
  • Expanded guidelines on grammar mechanics.

In-Text Citations

In-text citations

In addition to listing all the sources consulted during the writing of your paper on the Works Cited page, it is also necessary to identify what content was used, and where in the source it was found. MLA style uses an in-text citation or a parenthetical reference immediately following the borrowed content. If the author’s name is included in the text, do not repeat it in the citation. You must also include the page number where the information was found in the source. Below are two examples of parenthetical references.

Author’s name included in the text According to Heartney, Paine’s art is a result of observed contradictions between the interaction of nature and industrial development (18).
Author’s name included in the citation Paine’s art is a result of observed contradictions between the interaction of nature and industrial development (Heartney 18).
Type of resource In-text citation example

One author

Wordsworth stated that Romantic poetry was marked by a "spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings" (263).

Romantic poetry is characterized by the "spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings" (Wordsworth 263).

Wordsworth extensively explored the role of emotion in the creative process (263).

Two author

Best and Marcus argue that one should read a text for what it says on its surface, rather than looking for some hidden meaning (9).

The authors claim that surface reading looks at what is “evident, perceptible, apprehensible in texts” (Best and Marcus 9).

Three or more authors

According to Franck et al., “Current agricultural policies in the U.S. are contributing to the poor health of Americans” (327).

The authors claim that one cause of obesity in the United States is government-funded farm subsidies (Franck et al. 327).

No author We see so many global warming hotspots in North America likely because this region has "more readily accessible climatic data and more comprehensive programs to monitor and study environmental change . . ." ("Impact of Global Warming").

Examples courtesy of Purdue OWL.

Works Cited

Works Cited

The Works Cited page should list all materials that have been cited in the text of your paper. This list should be in alphabetical order by the author’s last name, or by title if there is no author. Main titles should be italicized. The first line of each entry should be flush with the left margin, and each additional line should be indented by one-half inch. The page should be single spaced and placed at the end of the paper.

With the latest edition, the citation style is focused on core elements of the work, rather than the format of the work. The following is a list of the core elements, including the proper punctuation, that you will be using to create your citations:

Title of source.
Title of container,
Other contributors,

Publication date,

In an actual citation on your Works Cited page, it would look like this: 

Lastname, firstname. Title. Title of container, other contributors, version, number, publisher, publication date, location.

Type of resource Example from works cited page
Book or exhibition catalog – single author Heartney, Eleanor. Roxy Paine. Prestel, 2009.
Article from online database

Kemske, Bonnie. “The Beauty of Imperfection.” Ceramic Review, 225, May/June 2007, pp. 30-33. ArtFullText.

Original work of art Krasner, Lee. Celebration. 1960. Oil on canvas. Cleveland Museum of Art.
Article or essay from a book

Holmes, Wendy. “Decoding Collage: Signs and Surfaces.” Collage: Critical Views, edited by Katherine Hoffman, UMI Research Press, 1989, pp. 193-212.