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MLA Style: Citation Elements

Author(s)

  • Start with the author's full name, if given.
  • Reverse only the first author's name for alphabetizing of list on your Works Cited page(s), e.g., John Smith should be Smith, John.
  • Two or three authors? Reverse first author's name, add a comma, and type other author names in direct order (first name last name, e.g., John Smith).
    Example:  Schultz, Charles, and Joe Cool.
  • Four or more authors? Reverse the first author's name, add a comma, and add "et al."
    Example:  If Charles Schultz, Joe Cool, Charlie Brown, and Linus VanPelt are the authors:  Schultz, Charles, et al.
  • Author names within a citation do not have to be alphabetized. Leave them in the order they are listed on the title page.

Author, Editor, Compiler?

  • When citing a work for which there are editors or compilers and no authors AND you mean to cite the ENTIRE work, place the editors and compilers in the position in the citation where you usually place authors of a book. Follow the rules above for authors if there is more than one editor or compiler. In addition, after the editor(s) or compiler(s) names, insert the abbreviation "ed." for one editor; use "eds." for more than one editor.
  • When citing a particular work within a book that is a collection of works, place the author of the individual work in the position in the citation where you usually place the author of a book. In this type of citation, the editor(s) of the book are included in the citation after the book's title with the abbreviation for editor placed before the editor's name.
  • For examples of the bulleted items in this section, refer to the Citing Books of this LibGuide.

Web Pages/Documents: If you cannot find an author, the author element is not included in the citation. For the format of a citation for a Web page or document without an author, refer to the Citing Web Pages tab of this LibGuide.

Title

Use title case: Capitalize the first word of the title and all nouns, pronouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, and subordinating conjunctions.

Web Pages and Sites:   Not sure of the title of a Web page or document, refer to the box titled Find the Title of a Web Page/Document at the bottom of the Citing Web pages tab of this LibGuide. If a site has no title, use a generic description, e.g., "Home Page."

Date

Web: If citing a Web page or a Web site, include both the date of publication and the date accessed. When published date is not available, use "n.d." to indicate that no date is available.

Date of access:  Required only for resources accessed online (i.e., Medium of publication is "Web"); include day, month, and year, formatted as follows:  11 Aug. 2009.

Publication Details

  • Articles
    • Publication name: Omit initial articles (A, An, The) from publication name.
    • Volume and issue:  List both volume and issue number, if provided.
  • Books
    • Publication City: More than one? Use the first. Do not include state.
    • Publisher's name: Omit initial article (A, An, The), business abbreviations (co., corp., inc., ltd.), descriptors (press, publisher).
    • For university presses, abbreviate "U" and "P" (e.g., "Radford UP" or "U of Iowa P").
    • Publication date not available? Use copyright date.
    • Medium of publication: For print sources, use "Print." For online sources, like e-books, use "Web."
  • Web Publications: A required element is publisher or sponsor. To locate a publisher or sponsor of a Web publication, look for:
    • Copyright information, usually at the bottom of the page.
    • An "About," "About us," or "About this site" link.

Medium of Publication

  • Print sources:  "Print."
  • Online sources: "Web."

Page Numbers (Articles)

  • Newspaper articles
    • Newspaper source with individual sections, and separate pagination: Include the section letter and page number, e.g., B4.
    • Newspaper source printed across multiple, non-consecutive pages: Use the first page number followed by the plus sign (+), e.g., B4+.
  • Online journal articles:
    • When page numbers are available, use inclusive page numbers (indicate range of pages on which article appears, e.g., 4-25).
    • When no page numbers are available, insert "n. pag." in place of numbers.
  • Online magazine and newspaper articles: No page numbers are expected

URLs

No longer required by MLA. Include if you feel it would be helpful or if instructed by your professor. Place URL after date of access within angle brackets followed by a period. Refer to the Citing Web pages tab of this LibGuide to see the format of a citation for a Web page.

Breaking a URL:  If you do include a URL in a citation for a Web page or document, you can break/wrap the URL onto another line after a slash.

Order of Entries

  • Entries in the reference list should be arranged alphabetically.
  • Referencing two or more works by the same author? Sort entries by date in ascending order (oldest should appear first).
  • Referencing two or more works by the same author with the same publication date? Sort entries by title.
  • Referencing works by multiple authors, and the first named author is the same in more than one entry? Determine order of entries by the second or next occurring author that is not a match for both works. So, a book by Jones, B., & Marks, A. would come before a book by Jones, B., & Smith, J. in the reference list.