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MLA 9th Edition: MLA Citation

The Purpose of this guide is to help you use MLA style to format your writing and cite your sources.  MLA style is used for student and professional writing in the arts, English, language arts, foreign language, literature, and cultural studies.

MLA Core Elements

MLA Core Elements

MLA Example Paper

Click the image for an informative example of a MLA paper with explanations of formatting:

More MLA Paper Format Examples

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Author Lastname, Firstname. "Title of Source." Title of Container, Other Contributors, Version, Number, Publisher, Publication date, Location.


Example (magazine article)

Kunzig, Robert. "The New Europeans: Voices from a Changing Continent". National Geographic, vol. 258, no. 5, Nov. 2015, pp. 58-75.

Citation Instructions By Category


Category Notes
1. Author

Begin the entry with the author’s last name, followed by a comma and the rest of the name, as presented in the work. End this element with a period.

Said, Edward W. Culture and Imperialism. Knopf, 1994.

When the source has two authors, include them in the order in which they are presented in the work.  Reverse the first (like above), follow it with a comma and and, then give the second name in normal order.

Dorris, Michael, and Louise Erdrich. The Crown of Columbus. Harper Collins Publishers, 1999.

When the source has three or more authors, reverse the first of the names (like above), follow it with a comma and et al.

Burdick, Anne, et al. Digital Humanities. MIT P, 2012.

2. Title of Source

The title of the source should follow the author’s name. Depending upon the type of source, it should be listed in italics or quotation marks.

A book should be in italics:
Henley, Patricia. The Hummingbird House. MacMurray, 1999.  

A website should be in italics:

Lundman, Susan. "How to Make Vegetarian Chili." eHow,

A periodical (journal, magazine, newspaper article) should be in quotation marks:

Bagchi, Alaknanda. "Conflicting Nationalisms: The Voice of the Subaltern in Mahasweta Devi's Bashai Tudu." Tulsa Studies in Women's Literature, vol. 15, no. 1, 1996, pp. 41-50.

A song or piece of music or album should be in quotation marks:

Beyoncé. "Pray You Catch Me." Lemonade, Parkwood Entertainment, 2016,

NOTE: MLA recommends including URLs when citing online sources.  

NOTE: If a journal article provides a doi (digital object identifier) it is preferred over a URL

3. Title of Container

MLA now refers to containers as a core element.  These are the larger units in which the source is "contained." In some cases, there may also be a SECOND container.
Kincaid, Jamaica. "Girl." The Vintage Book of Contemporary American Short Stories, edited by Tobias Wolff, Vintage, 1994, pp. 306-07.

In some cases, a container might be within a larger container.  You may retrieved an article from a journal using a library database.  You might have read a book of short stories on Google Books, or watched a television series on Netflix

Langhamer, Claire. “Love and Courtship in Mid-Twentieth-Century England.” Historical Journal, vol. 50, no. 1, 2007, pp. 173-96. ProQuest, doi:10.1017/S0018246X06005966. 

“94 Meetings.” Parks and Recreation, season 2, episode 21, NBC, 29 Apr. 2010. Netflix,

The container may also be a television series, which is made up of episodes.

“94 Meetings.” Parks and Recreation, created by Greg Daniels and Michael Schur, performance by Amy Poehler, season 2, episode 21, Deedle-Dee Productions and Universal Media Studios, 2010.

A website can also be a container and contains articles, postings, and other works.

Zinkievich, Craig. Interview by Gareth Von Kallenbach. Skewed & Reviewed, 27 Apr. 2009, 

4. Other Contributors

Contributors, such as editors, illustrators, translators, etc. may have contributed to the work. As needed to identify a source, include their names in your documentation.

IMPORTANT: Contributors like editor, illustrator, translator, etc., are no longer abbreviated.

Foucault, Michel. Madness and Civilization: A History of Insanity in the Age of Reason. Translated by Richard Howard, Vintage-Random House, 1988.

Woolf, Virginia. Jacob’s RoomAnnotated and with an introduction by Vara Neverow, Harcourt, 2008.

5. Version

If a source is listed as an edition or version of a work, include it in your citation.

Crowley, Sharon, and Debra Hawhee. Ancient Rhetorics for Contemporary Students. 3rd ed., Pearson, 2004.

The BibleAuthorized King James Version, Oxford UP, 1998.

6. Number

If a source is part of a numbered sequence, such as a multi-volume book, or journal with both volume and issue numbers, those numbers must be listed in your citation.

Dolby, Nadine. “Research in Youth Culture and Policy: Current Conditions and Future Directions.” Social Work and Society: The International Online-Only Journal, vol. 6, no. 2, 2008, 

“94 Meetings.” Parks and Recreation, created by Greg Daniels and Michael Schur, performance by Amy Poehler, season 2, episode 21, Deedle-Dee Productions and Universal Media Studios, 2010.

Quintilian. Institutio Oratoria. Translated by H. E. Butler, vol. 2, Loeb-Harvard UP, 1980.

7. Publisher

A Publisher may not be a book publisher, but a museum, an association, a studio, etc.

Klee, Paul. Twittering Machine. 1922. Museum of Modern Art, New York. The Artchive, Accessed May 2006.

Women's Health: Problems of the Digestive SystemAmerican College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, 2006.

Daniels, Greg and Michael Schur, creators. Parks and RecreationDeedle-Dee Productions and Universal Media Studios, 2015.

IMPORTANT: The publisher name is not included in the following:

  • Periodicals
  • Self-published works
  • Web site whose title is the same as its publisher
  • Web site that provides works BUT but does NOT actually publish them
    such as YouTubeWordPress, or JSTOR).
8. Publication Date

When the source has more than one date, use the date that is most relevant to your use. If you’re unsure, go with the date of original publication.

In the following example, Mutant Enemy is the primary production company, and “Hush” was released in 1999. 

“Hush.” Buffy the Vampire Slayer, created by Joss Whedon, performance by Sarah Michelle Gellar, season 4, Mutant Enemy, 1999.

However, it may be necessary to give fuller or modified date information. If referring to a specific date, for example, use that date instead of just the year. Thus the network and full date is cited NOT the producer.

“Hush.” Buffy the Vampire Slayer, created by Joss Whedon, performance by Sarah Michelle Gellar, season 4, episode 10, WB Television Network, 14 Dec. 1999.

NOTE: These kinds of distinctions can be rather challenging. If unsure, as always, ask your instructor.

9. Location

The location in MLA has two meanings. 

  • The location in a cited work: Page numbers, for example

  • The container in which the work was issued: Library Database or Web Site

An essay in a book, or an article in journal should include page numbers. Use pp for a page range.

Adiche, Chimamanda Ngozi. “On Monday of Last Week.” The Thing around Your Neck, Knopf, 2009, pp. 74-94.

The location of a fully web based online work should include a URL.

Wheelis, Mark. "Investigating Disease Outbreaks under a Protocol to the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention." Emerging Infectious Diseases, vol. 6, no. 6, 2000, pp. 595-600, 

Note: MLA 9 requires a DOI or URL for articles found in a database.  A DOI is preferred; if it's not available, look for the permalink or stable URL. Include the http:// or https:// for DOIs.