MLA tip sheet -Citation Style Guides - E-reference - Library - University of Canterbury

MLA Referencing

MLA Citation Style

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 for Writers of Research Papers (7th ed. 2009).

MLA uses a two-part system of citation:
1) In-text citation: short parenthetical citations, embedded within the text of the essay itself.
2)  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: ie capitalize each word in the titles of articles, books, etc, but do not capitalize 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.

In-text citation

The usual information includes in an in-text citation is (Author-surname page-number)  - no commas and no 'p.' or 'pg' is 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 is 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).

If you mention the name of the author in the context of your sentence, or it is obvious that you are continuing with discussing the same source, you may not have to provide the surname in citation again, or even (if it is from the same page as an immediately prior citation) the page number again.
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.
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" 439-445), 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" 520-522)."

Works Cited

Your essay should conclude with a Works Cited list (a full list of works consulted). Entries are listed alphabetically by the author's last name (or, for entire edited collections, editor names). Author names are written last name first; middle names or middle initials following the first name.
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 every entry after the first.
If there is no author, place the item by the first letter of its title, ignoring 'A' and 'The'.
For every entry, you should determine the medium of publication. Most entries will likely be listed as Print or Web sources, but other possibilities may include Film, CD-ROM, or DVD.


Books with one author
Winterson, Jeanette. Oranges Are Not the Only fruit. New York: Atlantic Monthly Press, 1987. Print.

Books with 2 to 3 authors
Reverse the name of the first author only.
Kuiper, Koenraad and W. Scott Allan.  An Introduction to English Language: Word, Sound, and Sentence. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004. Print.

Books with more than 3 authors
The name of the first author should be given, followed by et al ("and others") eg Quirk, Randolph, et al. Print.
give all names in full, in the order in which they appear on the title page.

Book prepared by an editor
Austen, Jane. Sense and Sensibility. Ed. Claudia Johnson. New York: Norton, 2001. Print.

Translated Book
Hildegard of Bingen. Selected Writings. Trans. Mark Atherton. New York: Penguin, 2001. Print.

Book with no author
Use the title of the book.
eg The New English Bible. NY: Oxford University Press, 1972. Print.

Entire Online Book
Give the publication information for the original book. Add the electronic publication information where available eg date of electronic publication. Include the URL or DOI.
Nesbit, Edith. Ballads and Lyrics of Socialism. London: The Fabian Society, 1908. Victorian Womens Writers Project. Web. 4 Oct. 2010.
Frost, Robert. North of Boston. 2nd ed. New York: Henry Holt and Co., 1915. Google Books. Web. 30 June 2009.

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, ed. Edward D. Kennedy. New York: Garland, 1996. 257-80. Print.

Work in an Anthology
Wendt, Albert. "The Balloonfish and the Armadillo." The Picador Book of Contemporary New Zealand Fiction. Ed. Fergus Barrowman. 153-169. Print.

Introduction, Forward, or Preface
Drabble, Margaret. Introduction to Middlemarch, by George Eliot. New York, Bantam, 1985. vii-xvii. Print.

Multi-volume sets
Work published as part of a multi-volume series
Ruskin, John. The Stones of Venice. In Works, vols 9-11. Print.
___________ The Works of John Ruskin, ed. E.T. Cook and Alexander Wedderburn. 39 vols. London: George Allen, 1903-12. Print.

[Also an example of citing another work by the same author]

Part of an Online Book
Matz, Jessie. "Postcolonial Modernity", in The Modern Novel: A Short Introduction, Blackwell Publishing Ltd, Oxford, UK: Web. 25 Feb. 2008. doi: 10.1002/9780470776155. ch8.

Reference Books

Frequently updated, well-known reference title: brief
"Noon." Def. 4b. The Oxford English Dictionary. 2nd. ed. 1989. Print.
[Also illustrates choice of one particular definition]

Specialised /lesser known reference title: in full
"Epic". Oxford Dictionary of the Renaissance. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2003. Print.

Article from an online encyclopedia
"Canterbury Tales, The."  The Oxford Companion to English Literature. Ed. Margaret Drabble. Oxford University Press, 2000. Oxford Reference Online. Web. 11 July 2005.

Entry from the OED Online
"magazine, n." OED Online. June 2003. Oxford University Press. Web. 10 Dec. 2004.

(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 on 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. Web. 18 Jan. 2010.

Journal Articles

Enclose the title of the article in quotation marks. Italicise the title of the journal.  NB: Issue numbers are only needed if the part numbers are individually paginated.

Journal article
Mayer, Jed. "Germinating Memory: Hardy and Evolutionary Biology." Victorian Review 26.1 (2000): 82-97. Print.

Reprinted article
Barnard, Rita. "Dream Topographies: J.M. Coezee and the South African Pastoral." South Atlantic Quarterly 93.1 (1994): 33-58. Rpt. in Contemporary Literary Criticism. Ed. Jeffrey Hunter. Vol. 117. Detroit: Gale, 1999. 65-74.

Film, DVD or video recording

Jackson, Peter, et al. The Lord of the Rings, the Fellowship of the Ring. Special extended DVD ed. United States: New Line Home Entertainment : New Line Cinema, 2002.

Welles, Orson, dir. “The War of the Worlds.” By H.G. Wells. Adapt. Howard Koch. Mercury Theatre on the Air. CBS Radio. WCBS, New York, 30 Oct. 1938. Radio.

Web sites

Macrae-Gibson, O. D. "Christ and Satan." The Complete Corpus of Anglo-Saxon Poetry. Web. 14 July 2005.
NB: URL is no longer required.

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 cite them from where you found them, that is, from the Learn course website. Note that the last date in the citation relates to the date when you downloaded or accessed the text.
An example:
Ondaatje, Michael. From Running in the Family. (1982). ENGL201, The Essay and Beyond: Learn website. U of Canterbury, 2012. Web. 20 May 2012.


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, dependent on whether you are citing the lecture as delivered or the lecture in note form, archived, for example, on Learn.
Examples of a lecture and the lecture notes online:
Armstrong, Philip. "Humanism and the Rise of the Essay (II)." U of Canterbury. Christchurch, N.Z. 2 March 2012. Lecture.
Armstrong, Philip. "Humanism and the Rise of the Essay (II)." U of Canterbury. Christchurch, N.Z. 2 March 2012. Lecture. ENGL201, The Essay and Beyond: Learn website. U of Canterbury, 2012. Web. 2 May 2012.
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.

Further Information

For more information and examples see

Much of this information has been taken from the UC English Department Essay Writing Guide 2014.
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