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MLA Quick Citation Guide

Tips & Guidelines

MLA 8th edition follows these 3 principles: 

  1. Cite simple traits shared by most works
  2. There is often more than one correct way to cite a source
  3. Make your citations useful to readers 

Additionally, we encourage you to check with your professor!

Citing Two Authors

If there are two authors, cite the the authors as follows (list authors in the order they are given on the page, not alphabetically):

Last Name, First Name of First Author, and First Name Last Name of Second Author.

Example: Smith, James, and Sarah Johnston.

Citing Three or More Authors

If there are three or more authors, cite only the name of the first author listed with their Last Name, First Name Middle Name followed by a comma et al.

Example: Smith, James, et al.

What’s New in the Ninth Edition of the MLA Handbook? (Spring 2021)

  • a new, easy-to-follow explanation of in-text citations
  • a new chapter containing recommendations for using inclusive language
  • a new appendix with hundreds of sample works-cited-list entries listed by publication format, including books, databases, websites, YouTube videos, interviews, and more
  • updated guidelines on avoiding plagiarism
  • a new chapter on formatting a research paper

Commonly Used Terms

  • Access Date: The date you first look at a source. Add the access date to the end of citations for all websites except library databases.
  • Citation: The details about one source you are citing.
  • Citing: The process of acknowledging the sources of your information and ideas.
  • In-Text Citation: A brief note in your paper or essay at the point where you use information from a source to indicate where the information came from. An in-text citation should always match more detailed information that is available in the Works Cited List.
  • Paraphrasing: Taking information that you have read and putting it into your own words.
  • Plagiarism: Taking the ideas or words of another person and using them as your own.
  • Quoting: Copying words of text originally published elsewhere. Direct quotations generally appear in quotation marks and end with a citation.
  • Works Cited List: Contains details on ALL the sources cited in a text or essay, and supports your research and/or premise.