MLA Citations

The authority on MLA citations is the most recent MLA handbook. Online, you can find updated information about how to do correct MLA citations at Owl at Purdue. That website also has excellent tips on writingConcordia University in Montreal keeps these things updated as well.

Citation websites, such as easy bib and zotero are highly recommended, but their results should always be checked against Purdue.

The Basics

MLA format follows the author-page method of in-text citation. This means that the author’s last name and the page number(s) from which the quotation or paraphrase is taken must appear in the text, and a complete reference should appear on your Works Cited page. The author’s name may appear either in the sentence itself or in parentheses following the quotation or paraphrase, but NOT BOTH.  The page number(s) should always appear in the parentheses, not in the text of your sentence. For example:

Wordsworth stated that Romantic poetry was marked by a “spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings” (263).

Romantic poetry is characterized by the “spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings” (Wordsworth 263).

Wordsworth extensively explored the role of emotion in the creative process (263).
A common error is this one:
Wordsworth stated that Romantic poetry was marked by a “spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings” (Wordsworth 263).
Don’t do this! State the author name only once!

Both citations in the examples above, (263) and (Wordsworth 263), tell readers that the information in the sentence can be located on page 263 of a work by an author named Wordsworth. If readers want more information about this source, they can turn to the Works Cited page, where, under the name of Wordsworth, they would find the following information:

Wordsworth, William. Lyrical Ballads. London: Oxford UP, 1967. Print.

Two tips:

1. While you are writing your paper, get into the habit of always noting the author and page number of all of your quotes using the simple MLA format of (Last name page number) (Parr 51).

2. Be aware of the fact that Citation Styles change often, sometimes every year. As such, handouts and stable tips-sheets that detail style are more often than not, outdated. The same goes for automatic bibliographic citation services and the “create a citation” options on some databases. Dawson Library website creates incorrect citations. Do not use them unless you have already verified that they have been updated to the most recent changes.