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MLA Style Citation Guide: Home

Reflects the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers (8th ed.)


Note: MLA has recently updated their citation standards from 7th to 8th edition. This guide's examples have been updated to reflect those changes, except where noted in the title. If you need help, contact a librarian.

General Works Cited Guidelines

  • Works Cited should begin on a separate page following your paper.  Label the page Works Cited and center it.  The rest of the page format should be identical to your MLA-formatted paper (one inch margins, page number header, etc.).

  • Double space all citations, do not skip spaces between entries.

  • Indent the second and subsequent lines of citations 0.5 inches to create a hanging indent.  (Under normal Microsoft Word settings, hitting "TAB" once should indent 0.5 inches, but you may want to check the built-in ruler to be sure.)

  • If you're citing a material that was initially in print, but that you retrieved from an online database (Ex: Academic Search Complete), include that database in italics.  

  • Capitalize each word in the titles of books or periodical articles, but do not capitalize articles (the, a, an), prepositions, or conjunctions.

  • Alphabetize your entries according to the first letter of the author's last name or title (in the absence of an author).

  • Omit citation information that doesn't exist, but check to see if you need to indicate it in some other way.  (For example, if a work's citation normally requires a page number and doesn't have one, standard notation is to write "N. pag." (without quotes)  where the page number would normally go, or n.d. if there is no date of publication.  However, you would not write "N. A." if there is no author.  Skip it and place the title first. 

  • Titles of short works (Periodical articles, essays) should be placed in quotation marks.  Titles of long works (Books, complete websites, plays, etc.) should be italicized.

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Core Elements - 8th Edition

A Works Cited entry for MLA 8th edition utilizes several core elements. These core elements provide a means to cite almost everything, without worrying as much about the minutiae formerly required depending on the medium of the material cited. 

The core elements are as follows, in order of how they should appear. Depending on the source, omit core elements that do not apply.

  1. Author. (The writer(s) of the book)
  2. Title of source. (The book title, or chapter/essay/poem/etc. title if part of a larger work or anthology which would then be the container. Use italics or quotation marks depending on the type of source - see the Purdue OWL for further information.)
  3. Title of container, (The larger whole a source is located within - the name of the anthology or book, the name of the TV series if citing an episode, etc.)
  4. Other contributors, (Editors, Translators, Illustrators, etc. In 8th edition, write their title/contribution out rather than abbreviating it.
  5. Version, (If the source has an edition or version, include it.
  6. Number, (If the source is part of a numbered sequence such as a journal, or book with multiple volumes, the numbers must be listed.)
  7. Publisher, (Whichever entity produces or distributes the source to the public. If there is more than one, list them in the citation separated by a forward slash (/)
  8. Publication date, (This can be tricky. Depending on what makes the most sense with your research, go with that date. Original date of publication/production/release is safe. However, let's say you're discussing the historical impact a work made the date it was aired or broadcast - say, Orson Welles' radio broadcast of the War of the Worlds. In that case, the date it is presented, even if it is not the original publication date, is more important in context to your work.) 
  9. Location. (Page numbers for a source in a book or journal, URL or DOI for the location of an online work.)

Note that when using these core elements to produce a works cited entry, use the punctuation following each core element - either a period or comma. Remembering which semicolon or colon needs to go where is a thing of the past with MLA 8th edition.

The Purdue OWL

An additional website with details and guidelines for MLA-Style formatting is the Purdue Online Writing Lab's MLA Formatting and Style Guide. It has been updated in places to reflect 8th edition MLA style.