MLA referencing (9th ed.)
MLA citation Style
Download the MLA 9th Quick Guide (0.2 MB)
The MLA (Modern Language Association) style is most commonly used to write papers and cite sources within the liberal arts and humanities. The following examples are based on the MLA Handbook (9th ed., 2021).
MLA uses a two-part system of citation:
- In-text citation: short parenthetical citations, embedded within the text of the essay itself.
- A “Works Cited” list that follows up these references with fuller details of the sources, in an alphabetically ordered list. This includes both primary and secondary texts you used in writing your assignment. All entries in the Works Cited page must correspond to the works cited in your main text.
- Titles of whole books, plays, films and artworks should be in italics. In the context of using EndNote, this style is referred to MLA-italics.
- Titles of chapters, articles, essays and poems that are part of longer works should be in “quotation marks” with no italics.
- ‘Title case’ should be used, i.e. capitalise each word in the titles of articles, books, etc, but do not capitalise articles (the, an), prepositions, or conjunctions unless one is the first word of the title or subtitle: Gone with the Wind, The Art of War, There Is Nothing Left to Lose.
- The first line of a reference should have a hanging indent.
The usual information included in an in-text citation is (Author’s surname and page number), or just (page number) if the author is named in the sentence. No commas and/or ‘p.’ or ‘pg’ are needed. The reference appears in brackets at the end of the sentence that contains the quotation from or reference to your source. Punctuation comes after the citation. A full reference to the resource should then be included in the Works Cited page at the end of the essay. For example:
- Author mentioned in text: Jones emphasises this point (156-7).
- Author mentioned only in reference: This point has been emphasised (Jones 156-7).
- Material found in indirect source: Greenwood supports this view (in Jones 66).
With some electronic sources, you will have page numbers to refer to (especially PDF format files), but if the source isn’t paginated, don’t worry about providing page numbers in the in-text citation for that source. Instead, you may include section (sect./sects.), chapter (ch./chs.) or paragraph (par./pars.) numbers if they are given in the source. If the author’s name is not mentioned in your prose, include the name in the citation followed by a comma, e.g.
There is little evidence here for the claim that “Eagleton has belittled the gains of postmodernism” (Chan, par. 41).
When creating in-text citations for media that has a runtime, such as a movie or podcast, include the range of hours, minutes and seconds you plan to reference, like so (00:02:15-00:02:35).
If you are dealing with more than one source by the same author, include a short version of the title of the text within the citation to help distinguish between the sources. For example:
“Montaigne’s understanding of the potential for barbarity within “civilisation” is portrayed, for instance, in examining the relative associations with ostentatious transport (“Of Coaches” 439-45), perfume and cosmetics used to cover commonplace stench (“Of Smells” 213), and the primitive understanding of medicine in the France of his day (“Of Experience” 520-22).”
Your essay should conclude with a Works Cited list (a full list of works consulted). Entries should consist of as many of the following core elements as appropriate, in the recommended order of: Author, Title of source, Title of container (e.g. journal, database, website, etc.), Contributors, Version, Number, Publisher, Publication date, Location.
Entries are listed alphabetically by the author’s last name (or, for entire edited collections, editor names). Author names are written as Last name, First name (or initial) any middle names or additional initials. For example Smith, Alison M.
If you have cited more than one work by a particular author, order the entries alphabetically by title, and use three hyphens in place of the author’s name for subsequent entry.
If there is no author, place the item by the first letter of its title, ignoring ‘A’ ‘An’ and ‘The’.
Books with one author
Winterson, Jeanette. Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit. Atlantic Monthly Press, 1987.
Books with two authors
Reverse the name of the first author only.
Kuiper, Koenraad, and W. Scott Allan. An Introduction to English Language: Word, Sound, and Sentence. Palgrave Macmillan, 2004.
Books with three or more authors
The name of the first author should be given, followed by et al. (‘and others’), e.g. Quirk, Randolph, et al.
give all names in full, in the order in which they appear on the title page.
Edition of a book
Crowley, Sharon, and Debra Hawhee. Ancient Rhetorics for Contemporary Students. 3rd ed., Pearson, 2004.
Book prepared by an editor
Austen, Jane. Sense and Sensibility, edited by Claudia Johnson. Norton, 2001.
Hildegard of Bingen. Selected Writings, translated by Mark Atherton. Penguin, 2001.
Book with a corporate author
Use the institution or organisation as the author, unless the institution is also the publisher when the title comes first.
United Nations. Consequences of Rapid Population Growth in Developing Countries. Taylor and Francis, 1991.
State of World Population 2015: Shelter from the Storm: A Transformative Agenda for Women and Girls in a Crisis-Prone World. United Nations Population Fund, 2015.
Book with no author
Use the title of the book.
The New English Bible. Oxford UP, 1972.
Entire online book
Give the publication information for the original book. Add the electronic publication information where available, e.g. date of electronic publication. Include the full URL or DOI. Including the date of access for online resources is optional in MLA 9th edition; it is recommended for pages that may change frequently or that do not have a copyright/publication date.
Nesbit, Edith. Ballads and Lyrics of Socialism. The Fabian Society, 1908. Victorian Womens Writers Project. 4 Oct. 2010. http://webapp1.dlib.indiana.edu/vwwp/view?docId=VAB7021. Accessed 31 Jan. 2017.
Frost, Robert. North of Boston. 2nd ed., Henry Holt and Co., 1915. Google Books, http://books.google.co.nz/books?id=Rt4mI5SV_5wC.
Published conference proceedings
Proceeding of the Third Pan-Pacific Science Congress, Tokyo, October 30th – November 11th, 1926, Held Under the Auspices of the National Research Council of Japan, and through the Generosity of the Imperial Japanese Government. National Research Council of Japan, etc. Tokyo, 1929.
Book chapters and sections
Essay published in a collection
Mancoff, Debra N. “To Take Excalibur: King Arthur and the Construction of Victorian Manhood.” King Arthur: A Casebook, edited by Edward D. Kennedy. Garland, 1996, pp. 257-80.
Work in an anthology
Wendt, Albert. “The Balloonfish and the Armadillo.” The Picador Book of Contemporary New Zealand Fiction, edited by Fergus Barrowman. Picador, 1966, pp. 153-69.
Introduction, forward or preface
Drabble, Margaret. Introduction to Middlemarch, by George Eliot. Bantam, 1985, pp. vii-xvii.
Citing a specific volume within a multi-volume set:
Damrosch, David, et al. The Longman Anthology of World Literature. 2nd ed. vol. 2. Pearson Education, 2009.
Citing the whole multi-volume set:
Ruskin, John. The Works of John Ruskin, edited by E. T. Cook and Alexander Wedderburn. George Allen, 1903-12. 39 vols.
Part of an online book
Lee, Hermione. “Salman Rushdie’s Fathers.” The Contemporary British Novel, edited by James Acheson and Sarah Ross, Edinburgh UP, 2005, pp. 95-105. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com.ezproxy.canterbury.ac.nz/lib/canterbury/detail.action?docID=264948. Accessed 31 Jan. 2017.
Frequently updated, well-known reference title: brief
“Noon.” Def. 4b. The Oxford English Dictionary. 2nd. ed., 1989.
This also illustrates the choice of one particular definition.
Specialised or lesser known reference title in full:
“Epic.” Oxford Dictionary of the Renaissance. Oxford UP, 2003.
Article from an online encyclopedia
“Canterbury Tales, The.” The Oxford Companion to English Literature, edited by Margaret Drabble, Oxford UP, 2000. Oxford Reference Online, http://www.oxfordreference.com.ezproxy.canterbury.ac.nz/view/10.1093/acref/9780192806871.001.0001/acref-9780192806871-e-1296?rskey=1arK62&result=3.
Entry from the OED (Oxford English Dictionary) Online
“magazine, n.” OED Online. 3rd ed, Dec. 2016. Oxford UP, 2017, http://www.oed.com.ezproxy.canterbury.ac.nz/view/Entry/112144?rskey=8t7TQ6&result=1&isAdvanced=false#eid. Accessed 3 Feb. 2017.
Note: the first date is the OED entry date, the second is the access date.
Entry from Grove Music Online
When you are reading an article, click the orange Cite button at the top of the page to generate the reference in the MLA style
Talbot, Michael. “Vivaldi, Antonio.” Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. Oxford UP, http://www.oxfordmusiconline.com/subscriber/article/grove/music/40120pg8.
Enclose the title of the article in quotation marks. Italicise the title of the journal. Issue numbers are only needed if the part numbers are individually paginated. Use lowercase capitalisation for seasons in journal references, e.g. spring, summer, fall, winter.
Mayer, Jed. “Germinating Memory: Hardy and Evolutionary Biology.” Victorian Review, vol. 26, no. 1, 2000, pp. 82-97.
Barnard, Rita. “Dream Topographies: J.M. Coezee and the South African Pastoral.” South Atlantic Quarterly, vol. 93, no. 1, 1994, pp. 33-58. Reprinted in Contemporary Literary Criticism, edited by Jeffrey Hunter, vol. 117. Gale, 1999, pp. 65-74.
Film, DVD or video recording
The Lord of the Rings, the Fellowship of the Ring, directed by Peter Jackson et al. Special extended DVD edition, New Line Home Entertainment, 2002.
“The Blessing Way.” The X-Files. Fox, WXIA, Atlanta, 19 Jul. 1998.
“94 Meetings.” Parks and Recreation, season 2, episode 21, NBC, 29 Apr. 2010. Netflix, http://www.netflix.com/watch/70152031.
Felluga, Dino Franco. Guide to Literary and Critical Theory. Purdue U, 28 Nov. 2003, http://www.cla.purdue.edu/english/theory/. Accessed 3 Feb. 2017.
Sources accessed from LEARN
For sources that you access from your course’s LEARN website, please use the following format, adapting it to whichever of the sources you use. Your lecturer will probably have provided details of where these texts have come from, but you need to include in your citation when and from where you accessed them, e.g. from the LEARN course website or an external source. Note that the last date in the citation relates to the date when you downloaded or accessed the text.
Ingram, Marione. “Operation Gomorrah.” The Best American Essays, 2007. ENGL117, Writing the Academic Essay. LEARN website, http://learn.canterbury.ac.nz/mod/coursereadings/view.php?id=266146. Accessed 13 Jan. 2015.
If it is necessary to cite from a lecture, your in-text citation would follow the standard form, and you’d have two possibilities for the bibliography citation, depending on whether you are citing the lecture as delivered or the lecture in note form (for example archived on LEARN).
Examples of a lecture and the lecture notes online:
Armstrong, Philip. “Humanism and the Rise of the Essay (II).” U of Canterbury, 2 March 2012.
Armstrong, Philip. “Humanism and the Rise of the Essay (II).” U of Canterbury, 2 March 2012. Lecture. ENGL201, The Essay and Beyond. LEARN website. U of Canterbury, 2012. Accessed 3 Feb. 2017.
See the UC English Department Essay Writing Guide for more information on whether or not you need to provide citations when using material derived from lectures.
Paintings, sculpture and most forms of visual arts (but not buildings)
Goya, Francisco. The Family of Charles IV. 1800, oil on canvas, Museo del Prado, Madrid.
MLA Handbook Plus – online access to the MLA Handbook (9th ed., 2021).
NoodleTools Express: MLA is a useful citation tool.