MLA Citation & MLA Format — A Roadmap For Researchers
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MLA Citation & MLA Format — A Roadmap For Researchers

Alok Kumar
Alok Kumar

Table of Contents

MLA Citation provides a standardized method for acknowledging sources in academic writing.

Using the Modern Language Association (MLA) format ensures consistency and clarity, making it easier for readers to locate and verify sources.

This guide offers a comprehensive overview of the MLA format, highlighting its importance in the academic world and offering insights into its correct application.

As we delve deeper, you'll understand the essentials of MLA Citation and its role in producing credible and reliable research.

Without much ado, let's get started!

What is MLA Citation?

MLA (Modern Language Association) citation format is one of the most widely used forms of citation in the academic world today. The MLA citation style is used in the humanities, especially for literature and language studies. It is also the standard citation style in the social sciences, including many journals and articles related to psychology, communication, and cultural studies to cite sources.

The MLA citation style includes in-text citations, which are placed within the body of a paper, and full bibliographic information that is included on a reference page. The purpose of citing sources is to give credit to the original authors or creators of ideas and information. It also allows readers to find more information about the topic by looking at other sources that cite the same work.

The MLA Handbook is an essential reference for writers, editors, students, and professionals for MLA citations. It presents guidelines on all aspects of research tasks: citing sources; gathering source material; organizing that material; writing clearly, and documenting sources in print or electronic format. The latest and 9th edition of the MLA Handbook provides information about documenting sources and avoiding plagiarism, along with examples for citing books, articles, websites, CD-ROM, DVD formats, and more.

The History of the Modern Language Association (MLA)

The Modern Language Association, popularly called MLA, is an association of scholars in the humanities devoted to the study of language and literature. It was founded in 1883 and was one of the first scholarly societies in the United States.

The MLA's mission is to promote the study and teaching of languages and literature. This means that members try to create forums where people can exchange ideas about language and literature. They also try to educate people about how language and literature affect our lives.

The MLA publishes a journal, PMLA (Publications of the Modern Language Association of America), which examines current topics in literary studies and related fields. In addition to its journal, it also publishes a newsletter - PMLA Spectrum; a directory of periodicals; bibliographies on various topics; monographs; and an annual report. The MLA also sponsors several awards for outstanding publications by graduate students, professors, and independent scholars.

The association is best known for its style manual for English-language research papers and citations that have been published since 1906 under various titles (e.g., Publication Manuals [1906], Style Manuals [1952], Guide to Scholarly Publishing).

Click here to view an interactive timeline of the MLA history.

Components of MLA Citation

An MLA Citation has two major components: In-text and Works Cited.

In-text citation vs. Works Cited is a question you may have come across before. It is important to understand that the two are separate and should not be confused with each other.

In-text Citation

Works Cited

An abbreviated reference that writers use in the body of a scholarly paper.

A list of complete citations that appear at the end of a research paper. 

Informs the reader about the original source of an idea and the year of publication.

Informs the reader about the complete source of information. 

Appears in the body of a research paper.

Appears at the end of a research work. 

Includes the author’s name and the publication year of the source. 

Includes all the details about a particular source i.e. author’s name, title, publication year, page number, etc. 

In-text Citation

An in-text citation is a reference to a source used within your essay or paper. You can use an in text citations when you quote directly from a source or paraphrase someone else's words. If you use another author's words, then it is important to cite them as well so that others will know where you got this information from.

In text citations are used to give credit to your sources within your paper. They are placed in parentheses or quotation marks depending on the type of source you are citing.

For example, if you are writing about Albert Einstein's theory of relativity, you could write, "Einstein believed that time passes more slowly as one travels near the speed of light" (Vander Meer & Walker). This sentence uses Vander Meer & Walker's words (the author) and directs readers back to the page number where they can find more information about this topic.

As a result, in text citations are commonly referred to as "hanging" or "parenthetical" citation format.

Works Cited

The Works Cited page is where all your sources will be listed alphabetically by author’s/authors the last name followed by page number(s) if applicable, along with any other relevant information about the source. The Works Cited page is located at the end of your research paper, and it includes all of the sources you used to write your paper, including both print and electronic sources (e.g., books, articles). MLA works cited page is essential while citing your paper according to MLA citations.

An MLA Works Cited entry is built up of nine core elements:

Author. “Title of the Source.” Title of the Container, Other Contributors, Version, Number, Publisher, Publication Date, Location.

Using the above nine core elements, MLA works cited entry for any type of source can be created - a book, journal, article, website, or anything.

Components of Works Cited MLA Entry

In-text Citation Examples

Citation and reference styles vary among different fields of study, but they all require that a writer include enough information so that readers can locate the source material. As mentioned earlier, in text citations are also known as a parenthetical citation and means that you place required information about available sources in parenthesis right after you cite or quote in a paragraph.

Here are various in text citations according to MLA format with examples:

Single known author

When using someone else's words, you should identify the author and add the page number if applicable and available. If the author's name is already mentioned in a sentence, you only need to include the page number in the parenthetical citation in MLA style.


  1. Best writers, according to Collins, usually start with careful planning and strategic thinking (4).
  2. Best writers tend to start with “careful planning and strategic thinking” (Collins 4).

Multiple book authors

If you must cite two or more authors for a book, list the last author names in the text of your paper or a parenthetical citation.


  1. Shakespeare’s style of writing, as researched by Andrews and Burke, proved that natural settings are essential for rhyming patterns (7).
  2. According to authors, natural settings in Shakespeare’s style of writing “have been essential for rhyming patterns” (Andrews and Burke 7).

No author or organization

When there is no known author of a source, use the shortened title of your article. If it is short, just put it in quotation marks, but if it is a long title, then italicize it. If a page number is available, provide it as well.


The impact of plastic bottle pollution in the United States has been carefully monitored, but the State of California had special policies implemented that could “significantly improve this situation by using school children and college students help” (“State of California Environmental Programs”).

No page number

In the MLA-9 style, if there is no page number, you should use chapter or paragraph numbers. However, if there is not a clear indication of chapters or paragraphs in the source, you do not need to include them.

Multiple sources in one citation

In such a case, separate your citations by a semi-colon.


… according to multiple research methods (Allen 4; Downes 32).

Different authors with the same last name

If such an instance occurs, provide the first initials of both or all the authors.


PTSD disorder should be eliminated at early stages, as innovators think (R. Corn 11), and conservators believe that chemical treatment is efficient at any stage (V. Corn 45).

Multiple works from the same author

In such a case, you should also add the title of the book or the article in the MLA style.


  1. (Walden, “Artistic Creativity in Jazz Music” 32) [if it is an article]
  2. (Walden, Musical Theory in the Middle East 121) [if it is a book]

Two or more works by the same author in the same year

If such an instance occurs, distinguish the source by adding a lower-case letter after the year in the MLA Style.


The evidence traits have always led to fashion agencies (Laurens, 2005a)

Multivolume works

In such a case, ensure to include the volume number followed by colon and space.


… as Hicks pointed out in Alchimia Naturalle (1: 12-19)

Electronic sources

In case the author is unknown, it comes first in electronic source in-text citation. However, if there is no author, we start with a title.

Indirect sources

An indirect source is cited in another source. In such cases, use “qtd. in” to specify the source you are referring to.


Nash believes that Montessori schools are “too liberal in terms of Physics and Chemistry with a focus on needless art and creativity” (qtd. in Rudnick 231).

Works Citation Examples

The works cited page lists all your sources in alphabetical order by their titles or authors' names. This allows readers to easily find the source they want to look up more information about without having to read through all of your citations one by one.

Here’s a general format of the works cited page:

Author’s Last Name, First Name. Title in italics. Source or name of publisher, then the year of publishing.

Here are various MLA works citation types with examples.

Multiple book authors

According to MLA works cited format, if a source has multiple authors, place the authors' names in order as they appear in the journal or book.


Anderssen, Paula, and Neal Lerner. The Guide to Teen Tutoring. Carol Publishing, 2000.

If there are three or more authors, mention only the first author, followed by the Latin phrase et al.


Anderssen, Neal Lerner, et al. The Teenage Rebels. University Press, 2007.

Journal Articles and Academic Journals


Author(s). “Title of Article.” Title of Journal, Volume, Issue, Year, pages.


Brown, Linda. “Conflicting Interests: The Voice of Suburban America.” America’s Social Studies, vol. 11, no. 1, 2014, pp. 21-32.

Website MLA Citation


Editor, author, or organization’s name (if available). Name of Site. Version number, Name of institution/organization affiliated with the site (sponsor or publisher), date of resource creation (if available), URL, DOI, or permalink. Date of your access (if applicable).


“Network Security in the State of Utah.” National Security Agency, 2007, Accessed 22 Feb. 2019.

Work in an Anthology


Author, First name. “Title.” Title of Collection, edited by Editor’s Name(s), Publisher, Year, Pages of entry.


Shakespeare, William. “Sonnet 13.” 50 Best-Loved Poems, edited by Philip Bunbury, Penguin Books, 20055, p. 156.

Social Media Citation

YouTube Citation Format:

Last name, First name of the Author. “Title of the film or video.” Title of the website, Publication date, URL.

NOTE: MLA 9th edition style format suggests using real names of the authors instead of nicknames or channel names.

Facebook Citation Format:

Author Last Name, First Name, or Account Name. Description of Post. Facebook, Day Month Year of Post, Time of Post, URL. Accessed Day Month Year post was viewed.

Twitter Citation Format:

Twitter Handle (First & Last Name if available). “The whole tweet copied.” Twitter, Day Month Year of Tweet, Time of Tweet, URL.

Blogs and Magazines


Author or Username (if a real name is not available). “Title of Blog Post.” Name of Blog, Blog Network/Publisher, Day Month Year of the blog post, URL. Accessed Day Month Year.

Songs Citation


Artist or band name. “Song title in quotation marks.” Album name italicized, Recording manufacturer, publication date.

Movie Citation


Film title. Name of the director, Studio or distributor, release year. If relevant, list performer names after the director’s name.

Lectures and Presentations


Speaker name. “Title of a speech (if available) in quotation marks.” Title of the particular conference or a meeting, name of an organization. Venue and city. Description.

These are some of the many types of work citation types present. And the best part is that you need not remember all these citation formats. Just head over to an MLA Citation Generator and get your citations in a jiffy.

What is MLA Format?

MLA format is a citation style created by the Modern Language Association and used primarily in the humanities to cite sources. It is similar to APA (American Psychological Association) and Chicago (The Chicago Manual of Style) formats - with all three using parenthetical citations to document sources. The key difference between MLA and other citation styles is that MLA allows users to create their footnotes and endnotes within a text.

In MLA format paper, the writer includes a title page that includes information about the source being cited, including its author(s), title, publication date and location (if relevant), publisher's name, volume number, and inclusive page numbers if applicable. The writer then lists all other works cited in alphabetical order on pages that follow directly after the title page. Each entry includes basic bibliographic information about each source, following standard rules for formatting such as punctuation and capitalization requirements. In addition, some entries may include more specialized elements such as annotations or quotations from an article or book chapter.

By now you would have ideally got a good idea about MLA Citation and MLA Format. Before we jump further, it's equally important for you as a scholar or researcher to learn about 'citation' and why does is actually matter.

What is a Citation?

Citation, as defined by Merriam-Webster's Dictionary, is "the act of citing or referencing," but what does this essentially mean? The citation refers to how people acknowledge that a source of information has been used in the writing of their work.

Citation is a reference to any type of information that has been used in research. It helps you acknowledge where your ideas come from and helps others build upon your work. It is an integral part of academic integrity. Without citation, research would be an exercise in guessing what sources might have influenced another person's work.

Why does Citation Matter?

Citations have become increasingly important with the advent of online databases like Google Scholar and JSTOR. These sources have made it easier than ever for researchers to verify the facts and figures used within their papers. However, even though it might be easy to track down information on the web, this does not mean that authors should feel free to copy and paste any piece of information they find without citing its original source.

Citation is an important part of academia and intellectual integrity. It is the formal way to acknowledge that you used information from a source. The purpose of citation is to attribute credit to a source or sources for your research. Citations allow others reading your work to know where you found the information that you used. It provides evidence that you did not steal someone else's work and claimed it as your own, hence giving credit to those who are the original creators of the information. In addition, it helps create a more professional image for yourself within your academic institution by demonstrating initiative and citing all resources used in any research project.

In a nutshell, citations help you avoid any remote chances of plagiarism.

Interested in getting in-depth knowledge on plagiarism? Refer to our Plagiarism Guide and learn more.

Components of a Citation

The three most common pieces of information that are included in citations are — the author's name, the title of the work, and the publication of the information.

Author: The author's last name and first initial (or initials) followed by the year of publication.

Title: The title of the article is in italics.

Publication Information: The name of the journal or magazine, volume number, issue number, pages, date accessed, and URL (if available).

It is important to note that other factors may be included in citations as well, for example, if a quote from a certain text is used within another text or if a certain work is being cited multiple times within another work. This differs from one discipline to another; for example, citations in history textbooks may differ from those in literature textbooks.

MLA Citation - General Rules (9th Edition)

If you already know the basic rules of MLA 8th edition citing and basic MLA guidelines, you will already know the common formatting that must be applied. What has changed for the most part in the MLA 9th edition relates to inclusive language and the “Works Cited and Consulted” tag for your Bibliography page.

Listed below are some general rules for MLA Citation Format 9th edition.

When you type a paper, be sure to print it on a computer using a standard white 8.5 x 11 inches document.
Double-space your text, and use Times New Roman or Arial as the font.
The recommended font size for a document is 12 pt.
Punctuation marks should be followed by only one space unless otherwise specified.
In MLA format, margins are set to 1 inch on all sides.
Your first line paragraph should be indented half an inch from the left margin. Use the tab key to do this.
The header should contain a page number in the upper right-hand corner of every page unless specified otherwise.
When using longer sources, always use italics when referring to the title of the source or when noting the thesis statement.
Footnotes or endnotes should be listed on a separate page before your Works Cited page. Such a section should be centered, unformatted, and named “Notes.”
The title page is not required for an MLA paper unless requested by your instructor. If you are instructed to include a title page, use the MLA Title Page Generator to avoid mistakes.
The title of the paper should be centered. The shortening of the title is acceptable if it does not change the meaning of the title, according to MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers.
Remember to create a header with your last name in the upper right-hand corner, followed by a space and then the page number.
In MLA 9, seasons are not capitalized in Works Cited entries (Autumn, Summer, Spring, or Winter). They do not relate to the months of the year.

MLA Citation Generator — Every Researchers One Stop Solution

What is MLA Citation Generator?

MLA Citation Generator is a free tool that allows you to create a citation for your research paper in MLA format. It is a free tool that generates citations and bibliographies for books, articles, websites, and more. You can create a citation for any source in seconds. Simply enter the name of the source, select an appropriate template and click "Generate." You can also use the tool to create a bibliography.

Who can use MLA Citation Generator?

This tool is designed for anyone who needs to create a bibliography or reference list in MLA style. It is especially useful for students conducting research in college or university courses that require MLA-style citations. This tool will help you understand how to add citations properly to your work and avoid plagiarism issues. In addition, it can also be used by professors who want to make sure their students cite their sources correctly. If you plan on publishing any of your written work or submitting it as part of an assignment, then you will want to make sure it follows this standard format by using this tool!

Why use MLA Citation Generator?

The main reason for students, scholars, and researchers to opt for a tool like MLA Citation Generator is the scarcity of time or resources to look up citations themselves and to avoid incorrect citations. It also eliminates any potential problems caused by misspelling a source's name or other information about it, which is common when writing manually in MLA-style format. Some of the prominent advantages of an MLA Citation Generator tool include:

  • It's fast: You don't have to spend hours manually typing out each entry for every source you need to cite. With just a few clicks of your mouse, your citations will be done!
  • It's accurate: MLA Formatting guidelines are followed closely by this generator, so there will never be any mistakes or issues with formatting or spacing when using it! The generator also double-checks each citation to make sure it looks exactly like one should look.

With SciSpace, you do not need a word template to create a generic template for MLA. The platform helps automatically format your research paper to MLA formatting guidelines and citation style. Finally, you can download a submission-ready research paper in pdf, LaTeX, and Docx formats. Sounds cool, right? Try SciSpace Generic Template for MLA format today.

SciSpace Generic Template for MLA

The Final Word

Citations are the backbone of academic writing. They show your work has been reviewed, give credit for any borrowed material, and provide an easy way to track down sources if you need them again. But citations can be hard to create, especially when you're first starting.

One of the best ways to avoid problems with citations is to use an MLA Citation Generator. This tool will generate a properly formatted citation based on your chosen source material in seconds. You can then copy and paste it straight into your paper or project.

SciSpace offers an online citation generator tool that allows you to create citations in MLA format quickly and easily. You don’t need to know the exact citation rules or how to use them – just enter the information needed by the system, and it will do all the work for you! Also, we've created a comparison blog to help you decide pick the right citation generator. Take a look at it here!

Thank you for coming this far! Hope the guide helped you get a fair understanding of MLA Citation and the necessary guidelines around MLA Formatting.

Before You Leave

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. What is the MLA citation format for a website?

MLA style requires that you include all the required information in your works cited entries, including the author’s name, the title of the page (in quotation marks), the name of the website (in italics), the publication date, and the URL (without “https://”).

2. Why should you use MLA citation format in your work?

Using MLA citation while writing papers help your instructor or professor understand your work and also assists in reducing the chances of you plagiarizing someone else's ideas.

3. What are the main formatting features of MLA citation?

MLA citation format consists of the following basic elements — Author's Last Name, First Name; "Title of Source"; Title of Container; Other Contributors; Version, Numbers, Publisher, Publication Date, Location.

4. What is the key difference between MLA and APA styles?

The main differences between the Modern Language Association (MLA) and the American Psychological Association (APA) citation styles are how title pages, in-text citations, and reference lists are created. While MLA uses author-page numbering for in-text citations, APA uses author-date style.

5. Can I check my MLA paper for accuracy?

One of the faster and more accurate ways to check your paper for accuracy and MLA citations is by using the SciSpace Generic Template for MLA Format.

6. What version of MLA style should I use?

MLA 9 is the latest version of the MLA citation and comes with significant improvements over the earlier MLA 8 edition. MLA 9 provides ample guidance on both in-text citation and works cited list. MLA 9 offers 333 sample citations as compared to 164 offered by MLA 8.

7. What information should I include in an MLA Works Cited entry?

A standard MLA Works Cited entry consists of the following nine core elements. Author. “Title of the Source.” Title of the Container, Other Contributors, Version, Number, Publisher, Publication Date, Location. It’s important to note that out of these nine elements, you should only include the information that is relevant to your work.

8. What are the 3 main components of MLA formating style?

The MLA format requires that your paper include the following elements: a body, (if applicable) footnotes, and a works cited page.

9. Why aren’t URLs accepted as sources in MLA format?

The latest edition of the MLA Handbook advises including URLs in works-cited-list entries for online works, but it also cautions readers to consider several drawbacks: they can cause clutter, become obsolete, and have limited use in a print work. URLs may also be inaccessible when the pages to which they refer are behind a paywall.

10. Why are MLA citations important?

MLA Style is the most commonly used style among academic writers because it allows readers to identify and trace citations in a text. Most editors and instructors encourage everyone to use MLA Style so there is consistency of style within a given field.

11. What is the purpose of MLA style?

MLA Style is one of the standard styles used in academic writing, and it has rules for students to follow when writing and formatting papers. Using MLA Style not only helps your instructors read and understand your work, but the act of creating citations and citing sources helps prevent plagiarism.

12. For which area is MLA commonly used?

MLA style is the most commonly used citation style in the language arts, cultural studies, and other humanities disciplines.

13. How do you cite in text MLA?

MLA in-text citation style uses the author's last name and the page number from which the quotation or paraphrase is taken.

14. How do you introduce a citation MLA?

According to the MLA Handbook, one should begin a quotation with an introductory phrase naming the source and follow it with a comma. If you change the case of a letter in a quotation, you must indicate this with brackets.

15. What are the 9 core elements of an MLA citation?

All MLA citations will follow a template of applicable core elements: author, title, container, contributors, version, number, publisher, date, and location.

16. What is standard MLA format?

Use 8 ½ x 11” white paper with one-inch margins on the top, bottom, and sides. The first word in every paragraph should be indented ½” from the left margin. Block quotations should be indented 1" from the left margin. Use a font that is easy to read, such as Times New Roman.

17. What are the two types of research according to MLA?

When writing a research paper, you can choose between two types: an informational paper and an analytical paper. An informational paper presents factual information in a coherent and organized way. An analytical paper includes your own analysis of the topic, as well as research findings from primary and secondary sources.

18. What are the two parts of MLA documentation?

The two most important things to learn about the Modern Language Association parenthetical documentation system are how to compose a list of works cited and how to cite these sources in your paper.

19. How do you write an outline in MLA format?

To write an MLA outline, draft your thesis statement and place it at the beginning of the paper. Then list major points to support your ideas and arguments with Roman numerals. Follow each point with a capital letter label for easier organization of your ideas.