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Citing Sources: MLA

NCC Library and Learning Center MLA Handout

MLA Handbook

Find the complete MLA Handbook in the library collections.

Basics of MLA Citation

MLA format, the citation style created by the Modern Language Association, is used often in English, in other language studies, and in the humanities. It requires in-text citations (sometimes known as parenthetical citations) within the body of your paper, and a Works Cited list that includes all your sources at the end of the paper. 

In-text citations identify the source and lead your reader to the corresponding complete citation for it in your Works Cited. Typically, they consist of the author's last name and a page number. The citation on your Works Cited gives your reader additional information they may need to find the source in the form you found it. 

MLA also has specific rules related to capitalization, abbreviations, the appearance of dates, and punctuation in citations that are unique to this style and help distinguish it from others.


Core Elements for All Works

Each entry in the list of Works Cited is composed of facts common to most works—the MLA core elements. They are assembled in a specific order and followed by specific punctuation:

  1. Author.
  2. Title of source.
  3. Title of container,
  4. Contributors,
  5. Version,
  6. Number,
  7. Publisher,
  8. Publication date,
  9. Location.

Working with this template and the information indicated on your source, you should be able to create an accurate Works Cited entry for almost any source you use. 

In-text Citations: (Author Page) Format

MLA uses the (author page) format for in-text citations.  Please see the examples below for examples with one author, two authors, three or more authors, and short quotations.

One Author:

An in-text citation for a work with one author consists of the last name and page number:

The kid enjoys violence and retains innocence throughout his journey (McCarthy 24). 

Two Authors:

An in-text citation for a work with two authors consists of the last names of both authors and the page number:

Scholars of the period agree that the battle of Philippi took place in 42 B.C. slightly west of the ancient city (Batura and Sears 359).

Three or more authors:

An in-text citation for a work with three or more authors consists of the first author's last name followed by et al. and the page number:

Objective assessment of the effects of marijuana use in comparison with other drugs is necessary (Sledzinki et al. 65).

Short Quotations:

Place the in-text citation directly at the end of the sentence in (author page) format:

A theme often discussed in historical and literary works is that "men of God and men of war have strange affinities" (McCarthy 103).

Works Cited Citation Examples

Book - one author:

McCarthy, Cormac. Blood Meridian, or, The Evening Redness in the West. Penguin Random House LLC, 1985.

Journal article - two authors:

 Butera, C. Jacob and Matthew A. Sears. “The Camps of Brutus and Cassius at Philippi, 42 B.C.” Hesperia: The Journal of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens, vol. 86, no. 2, 2017, pp. 359–377. JSTOR,

Journal article - three or more authors:

Śledziński, Paweł, et al. “The Adverse Effects of Marijuana Use: The Present State and Future Directions.” Journal of Child & Adolescent Substance Abuse, vol. 28, no. 2, Mar. 2019, pp. 65–72. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1080/1067828X.2018.1561580.

See the NCC Library & Learning Center's MLA Citation handout at the top of this page for more in-depth information and examples of MLA in-text citations and Works Cited list entries.