Skip to Main Content

Referencing: MLA

Modern Language Association (MLA) Style

MLA style is a referencing method developed by the Modern Language Association.

It consists of two parts: a brief in-text citation in the body of your essay and a detailed list of the “Works Cited” at the end of the work.


Consists of (Surname Page)

Use the first element from the Works Cited entry (usually the Author’s Surname and page number/s in parenthesis, e.g. (Smith 173). If the author’s name appears in the body of your essay itself, use just the relevant page number/s in the parenthesis, e.g. "... Smith claims that....applies (173)." There is no punctuation between the author's name and the page number/s.

Works Cited List

Consists of all sources used in the assignment, organised alphabetically at the end of the document. It includes:

Author. "Title of source." Title of container, Other contributors, Version, Number, Publisher, Publication date, Location.

See section below for details.

A selection of examples are including in the following document

The following guidelines apply to any type of source, in any format.

MLA In-text Citations

Author Variations

If citing two or more different sources for the same point, separate multiple citations by a semi-colon within the same parentheses, e.g. (James 19; von Kelaita 67-68).

Where there is no known Author (Personal or Institutional) use a short form of the work's Title in "quote marks."

For multiple Authors, include up to two Author Surnames with "and," for a source with three or more authors, list only the first Author’s Last Name, and replace the additional names with "et al." e.g. (Lancaster, et al.).

Where citing different Authors with same Last Names, provide both Authors' First Initials, e.g. (R. Miller 12) and (A. Miller 46).

For multiple works by the same Author, include a Shortened Title for each work to distinguish it from the others. Put Short Titles of books in italics and articles in "quote marks" after the Surname, e.g. (Smyth, “Memories of Motherhood” 77).


Page numbers are normally used, however paragraph numbers (Hemingway par. 7) or line numbers (Dante line 90) may be used for poetry.

Editions and Volumes

For classic and literary works with multiple editions and versions, give the page number of your edition followed by a semicolon, and then the abbreviations for volume, book, part, chapter, section, or paragraph (as appropriate). For example: "... Marx and Engels described human history as marked by class struggles (79; ch. 1).

When citing multi-volume works, always include the volume number followed by a colon. Put a space after the colon, then provide the page number(s) (If you only cite from one volume, provide only the page number in parentheses.) "... as Quintilian wrote in Institutio Oratoria (1: 14-17)."

Indirect Quotes

When citing an Author quoted in your source, note the Author in your assignment, but only cite the source you have used, e.g. "... Johnson says, 'this' (as qtd. in du Bois 46)."

For example, citing Garner as quoted in pages 62-71 of Volume 2, Section 9 of a classic work by one of two different Authors named Schmidt:

"... as Garner says... (qtd. in G. Schmidt et al. 2: 62-71; sec. 9)."

Works Cited

Schmidt, Gerold, et al. The Longman Anthology of World Literature. Vol. 2, Pearson Education, 2009.

Schmidt, Mary, et al. The Unfinished Nation: A Concise History of the American People. 7th ed., McGraw Hill, 2014

MLA Works Cited End-text Referencing Key

MLA Works Cited

Works Cited is a list of sources from which you have borrowed information or ideas. You need to acknowledge – or cite – all your sources.

Arrange the works in alphabetical order by the first element, usually the author’s surname. The elements of each entry, including the formatting and punctuation, are as follows. Omit any element which is not relevant. Format the second and subsequent lines of each entry with a hanging indent.

Author. "Title of source." Title of container, Other contributors, Version, Number, Publisher, Publication date, Location.

  • Author: Surname, Other names as per work; for two authors authors list second in full natural name order, for three or more, list only First Surname, Given Names and "et al."; include full description of role if necessary, i.e. "translator"
  • Title of source: As per work; see specific examples for capitalisation, formatting and punctuation; if the source title is the whole work, place in italics and omit title from container, if a "part" place in "quotes" and include full container title as below
  • OPTIONAL ELEMENT #1: Includes other contributors to individual Source (not whole Container), and original publication date;
  • Title of container: e.g. Whole publication title, collection of essays, journal, newspaper, television series, web site
  • Other contributors: Where not central creators e.g. editor, director, performer, illustrator, translator
  • Version: e.g. Edition, director’s cut, metric version, unabridged
  • Number: e.g. Volume, issue, episode
  • Publisher: Primarily responsible for publication or distribution of work; not needed for periodicals
  • Publication date: The version actually used
  • Location: Location in container, e.g. page number/s in anthology, disc # in set, DOI / URL, gallery, artefact number in archive
  • OPTIONAL ELEMENT #: Includes: Date of Access, Medium of Publication, Publication history, Series Titles and total Volumes, and Theses information

MLA Resources

by MLA Style Center

by OWL at Purdue University

MLA & APA Styles

APA 7th Edition versus MLA Referencing Styles