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Fundamentals of MLA

Modern Language Association (MLA) style includes parenthetical in-text citations and a works cited

MLA uses parenthetical citations as its form of in-text citation. Provide a parenthetical citation before the period directly following the information you are citing. These citations, generally, should give a specific page number for the specific information and, specifically, should correspond to a more detailed citation in the Works Cited. The essential elements for this in-text citation are a page number and the author's last name. The last name may be omitted if the sentence states or makes clear the source material.

MLA uses a works cited, an alphabetized list of sources following the end of the book or paper, for its complete list of sources referenced. This list should be alphabetized by the first item in the citation, which, in most cases, is the author's last name. The format of indentation for this list should be 0" for the first line and 1" for all following lines.

MLA 8 Outline

MLA 8, specifically, seeks to create a general citation format that can be applied regardless of material type. The following elements are used strictly in the following order:

  • Author
  • Source title
  • Container title
  • Contributors (e.g. editors)
  • Version (e.g. volume)
  • Number (e.g. issue)
  • Publisher
  • Publication date
  • Location (e.g. url, doi)

The relationship between source and container is that a source exists within a container. As an example, for an article in a journal, the article title is the source, while the journal title is the container.

The general format for this citation is:

Author. Souce title. Container title, Contributors, Version, Number, Publisher, Publication date, Location.

In-text Citation Examples

Standard case:

"Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit" (Last name 10).


If the author is not available, the title of the source may be used. 

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet consectetu adipiscing elit ("Source title" 10).


If multiple authors cited have the same last name, use the author's first initial along with their last name.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet consectetu adipiscing elit (E. Bronte 10).

"Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet consectetu adipiscing elit" (C. Bronte 10).


Examples of Full Citations for the Works Cited

Archival material:

Child, Julia. Journal, 1974. 1974. Papers of Julia Child, 1925-1993Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, Radcliffe Institute



Child, Paul. Julia Child at the White House. Produced by WGBH, 1967. Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, Radcliffe Institute,



Beck, Simone, Louise Bertholle, and Julia Child. Mastering the art of French cooking. 1st ed., Knopf, 1961.

Child, Julia. The French chef cookbook. Drawings and photographs by Paul Child, 1st ed., Alfred A. Knopf, 1968.


Journal article:

Muneal, Marc. Studies in Popular Culture, vol. 34, no. 1, 2011, pp. 152–154. JSTOR,

Nussbaum, David. "In Julia Child's Kitchen, October 5 1998". Gastronomica, vol. 5, no. 3., pp. 29-38. JSTOR, doi: 10.1525/gfc.2005.5.3.29.