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Citation and Style Guides: MLA

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MLA Style

Developed by the Modern Language Association, MLA Style is widely used in the humanities.

Basic MLA Rules


  • No More Underlining! MLA now requires italicizing titles of independently published works (books, periodicals, films, etc).
  • No More URLs! While website entries will still include authors, article names, and website names, when available, MLA no longer requires URLs. Writers are, however, encouraged to provide a URL if the citation information does not lead readers to easily find the source.
  • Continuous Pagination?  You no longer have to worry about whether scholarly publications employ continuous pagination or not. For all such entries, both volume and issue numbers are required, regardless of pagination.
  • Publication Medium. Every entry receives a medium of publication marker. Most entries will be listed as Print or Web, but other possibilities include Performance, DVD, or TV. Most of these markers will appear at the end of entries; however, markers for Web sources are followed by the date of access.
  • New Abbreviations. Many web source entries now require a publisher name, a date of publication, and/or page numbers.
  • When no publisher name appears on the website, write N.p. for no publisher given.
  • When sites omit a date of publication, write n.d. for no date.
  • For online journals that appear only online (no print version) or on databases that do not provide pagination, write n. pag.for no pagination

    Some basic rules for MLA citations are:

    • All citations should be double spaced
    • Indent after the first line of each entry
    • Entries are not numbered
    • Alphabetize by the first word of the entry
    • If an element is not present, omit it
    • If no author is listed, begin with title
    • Italics must be used for titles of books and periodicals (If italics are used, the font must be obviously different from the standard print)
    • Capitalize titles of books and articles according to convention, no matter how they appear in a database or catalog
    • Editions of books are noted after the title in the following format: 2nd ed. First editions are not listed as such. If no edition is listed, omit the edition section
    • List the city of publication only.
    • Dates are in Day Month Year format (e.g. 12 Dec. 1992) with all months abbreviated to three letters followed by a period (Jan., Feb., Mar., Apr., Aug., Sep., Oct., Nov., Dec.) except May, June, and July, which are left as is
    • Page numbers in MLA are sometimes shortened. If the page numbers are three or more digits, shorten the second number to two digits when possible. Examples: 8-9; 44-49; 112-23; 492-506; 1253-66.
    • All citations end with a period
    • When including the name of the database where you located the full-text, do not just write EBSCOhost. EBSCOhost is NOT a database. Academic Search Complete, Business Source Complete, etc., are databases. You must include both the name of the database AND the vendor separately: Academic Search Complete. EBSCO.
    • Italics must be used with the title of the database.

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