The MLA system uses in-text citations rather than footnotes or endnotes. The citations in-text are very brief, usually just the author's family name and a relevant page number. These citations correspond to the full references in the list of works cited at the end of the document.
Instructions and examples in this MLA guide are based on more detailed information in:
Gibaldi, Joseph. MLA handbook for writers of research papers. 7th ed. New York : Modern Language Association of America, 2009.
In-text citations - general points
- If the author's name is mentioned in the sentence, only cite the page number.
- If the author's name is not mentioned in the sentence, cite both the name and the page number.
- Font and capitalisation must match that in the reference list.
- Long quotations (more than four lines) should be indented.
- If you are citing more than one reference at the same point in a document, separate the references with a semicolon e.g. (Smith 150; Jackson 41).
- If the work has no author, use the title.
- If you are citing two works by the same author, put a comma after the author's name and add title words. eg (Smyth, "Memories of Motherhood" 77) to distinguish between them in the in-text citation. Do this when citing each of the sources throughout the piece of writing.
- If two authors have the same surname, use their first initial e.g. (G. Brown 26).
Works Cited list - general points
- The recommended heading for the reference list is Works Cited, which should be centred.
- Each reference should be formatted with double-spacing and a hanging indent.
- Capitalise the first word of the title or subtitle, and all other significant words. (3.6.1)
- Author's names should be listed with full forenames if known.
- The name of the first author is inverted to list the family name first. If there are additional authors their names are not inverted.
- If you cite more than one work by the same author, give the name in the first entry only. Thereafter, use three hyphens instead of the name, e.g. ---.
- If a reference does not have an author, list it by title. Ignore the leading article (A, The etc.) when inserting the reference into the alphabetical works cited list.
- If you cannot validate a reference's authorship, date of publication or its authoritativeness, especially if it is an online resource, consider using another similar reference that is more authoritative instead.
- For a journal article in an online database (e.g. via the Library website) include the name of the database (italicized), the medium of publication (Web) and the date of access. (5.6.4)
- When there are two or more cities or places listed for the one publisher select the first listed place of publication. (5.5.2)
- When the title page lists two or more publishers which are not just two or more offices of the same publisher, include all of them, in the order given, as part of the publication information, putting a semicolon after the name of each publisher but the last (e.g. Cambridge: Cambridge UP; London: Routledge, 2002.). (5.5.18)
How to create a hanging indent
Watch this video to learn how to create a hanging indent when you are compiling your Works Cited list in MLA format. These instructions are for MS Word 2010.