Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

MLA Citation Guide

The material in this section of the guide (MLA 9th Edition) was adapted from:

Modern Language Association. MLA Handbook (9th ed.). Modern Language Association, 2021.

by Claire Pienaar on behalf of the NWP Learning Commons. Last updated December 12, 2021.

9th Edition: Citations

General template for all works cited list entries

Author. Title of Source. Title of Container, Other Contributors (translators or editors), Version (edition), Number (vol. and/or no.), Publisher, Publication Date, Location (pages, paragraphs, URL or DOI).

*if there is a second container, add its information to the end in the same order as the first container: Title of Second Container, Other contributors, Version, Number, Publisher, Publication Date, Location.

**if there is no date for your source, add an access date at the very end of the citation: Accessed Day Month Year.

Major changes in the ninth edition

The MLA Handbook (Ninth Edition) manual mostly focuses on clarifying and expanding on information from the 8th edition. However, there are several areas that are totally new or different from the 8th edition. Some of them are as follows:


New inclusive language principles. These guidelines are explained thoroughly in Chapter 3 of the MLA Handbook (Ninth Edition) (page 89), and are summarized in the "Guidelines for Inclusive Writing" tab above.


Names, terms, titles, and quotes in languages other than English should follow the grammar, punctuation, and capitalization rules of that language.

The sections covering foreign languages in the MLA Handbook (Ninth Edition) are as follows:

  • Names/terms: See sections 2.63 (page 37) through 2.82 (page 48) for guidelines on formatting individual words, capitalization, and names in foreign languages.
  • Spelling and quote translation: See sections 6.69 (page 280) through 6.76 (page 283) for information on incorporating languages other than modern English in text: when to use accents, when and how to translate quotations, etc.
  • Titles: See sections 2.91 (page 56) through 2.98 (page 58) and sections 2.116 (page 77) through 2.119 (page 79) on the formatting and styling of titles in foreign languages/including foreign language words. Also see section 2.125 (page 81) on translating titles into English, 
  • Works Cited List: see sections 5.10 (page 113) and 5.30 (page 133) covering how names and titles in other languages may be approached differently.

Works Cited List Differences


Some source containers (such as apps and streaming services for music, TV, and movies) now appear at the ends of citations even if other containers are mentioned earlier. For example:

"Penumbra." Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, season 7, episode 17, Paramount Pictures, 1999. Netflix, www.netflix.com.

Some other examples of containers put in the same spot as "Netflix, www.netflix.com" above include:

  • Hulu, www.hulu.com
  • Amazon Prime Video app
  • iTunes app
  • Spotify app


Some format labels are now included the very end of Works Cited citations for unique source types, such as "Transcript of lyrics" in the example below:

Chapman, Tracy. "Fast Car." Tracy Chapman, Elektra Records, 1988, https://genius.com/Tracy-chapman-fast-car-lyrics. Transcript of lyrics.

Some other formats cited in this way include:

  • MP3 format
  • DVD
  • PDF download
  • Manuscript
  • Transcript
  • Press release
  • Advertisement

Helpful Links

Formatting the Works Cited page requires a hanging indent. See the "Works Cited" tab in the Formatting my Paper section for more on this.

Guidelines for Inclusive Writing

A full explanation of the MLA Handbook Ninth Edition's guidelines for inclusive writing can be found in chapter 3 (page 89). A summary of its key points is included below.

References to identity. Only use terms that specify a subject's ethnicity, religion, gender, etc. (e.g., "Black Canadian MP," "nonbinary singer") when this identifying information is relevant to the discussion in your paper. If such information is not relevant, you can just say "MP" or "singer."


Gender-neutrality. When possible, use gender-neutral terms such as "humanity" or "humankind" instead of "mankind," as well as inclusive pronouns when speaking about people in general or people you don't know. Some ways to do this include:

  • Making the subject of the sentence plural and using "they" (e.g., "all the students got their tests back").
  • Rewriting the sentence so you don't need to use any pronouns (e.g., "each student received a graded exam paper").
  • Including both feminine and masculine pronouns, or alternating between them (e.g., "every student got his or her test back").
  • Using "they" in a singular, general sense (e.g., "every student got their test back").
    • You can also do this when speaking about an individual whose gender you do not know (e.g., "I heard someone in our class got their highest grade ever!")
  • Using gender-neutral neopronouns like ze/zir (e.g., "every student got zir test back").

Use specific pronouns (he, she, they, etc.) when referring to individuals whose pronouns you know (e.g., "The author, Jane Austen, is well known for her social commentary.")


Use precise language when describing groups of people or beliefs. For example, instead of "Indigenous language," which is too general, use the name of the specific language or language group you are discussing (e.g, "Chinookan languages"). 


Avoid assuming that readers share your experiences and background; be careful when using the pronouns "we/our" and be sure to clarify terms that might have different meanings to different readers (e.g., "God").


Choose terms that respect your subjects. This might include people-first language (e.g., "a person with diabetes") or identity-first language (e.g., "an autistic person") depending on the preferences of the individuals or groups you are discussing/working with.


Always consult sources (trustworthy texts and/or people) if you are unsure about the best terms to use or the best ways to use them, including choosing capital or lowercase letters (e.g., whether to write "Deaf" or "deaf").


Check dictionaries if you think a certain term might be offensive. If it is, do not repeat it in your own words - find a more respectful replacement term. If offensive terms appear in direct quotations, consider including a note to inform the reader that the term is offensive, or putting a dash in place of the second letter of the term.

How to Cite Sources in the Text

 

MLA uses parenthetical in-text citations in the format (Author Page). Do not include any punctuation between the author's last name(s) and the page number. There are two ways of citing a source in-text:

  • Method 1: Add brackets containing the author's last name and the page number at the end of a quotation or a paraphrased sentence. Note: the period should be at the end of the citation in brackets, not at the end of the quote itself.

Example: "Quote" (Freud 9).

  • Method 2: Introduce the quotation or paraphrased sentence with author's last name (you can include a first name as well, mainly if it's the first time the author is mentioned in your essay) and give only the page number in brackets at the end of the sentence, followed by a period.

Examples: Freud says, "quote" (9).

or: Sigmund Freud says, "quote" (9).

Each borrowed idea or sentence MUST be cited. Do not wait until the end of the paragraph to put in your citations.

If there are two authors, use both authors' last names for every in-text reference. Use the word "and" to join the names.

Examples:

Method 1: "quote" (Broer and Holland 13). 

Method 2: Broer and Holland state, "quote" (25). 

Tip: You can use both methods within a paper - pick whichever one works best for each sentence/context.

If there are three or more authors, use first author's last name + et al. Do not use any punctuation after the last name (no commas).

Examples: 

"Quote" (Plag et al. 44).

or, As Plag et al. explain, "quote" (64). 

Tip: Don't overdo it! If the author's name is already mentioned in a sentence, no need to put it in brackets at the end of that sentence.

 

If your source has no page numbers/line numbers, just put the last name of the author.

For example: "Quote" (Thompson).

***note that page numbers for e-books can change between different formats, so avoid using device-specific numbering systems. Unless stable page numbers are available, use a chapter or section number.

If your source has no listed author, use a short form of the title instead (or whatever information comes first in its Works Cited list entry).

For example: "Quote" ("Bhakti Poets").

Tip: If you are only citing one single source in your essay (like a novel), after the first in-text citation, you can just use page numbers rather than repeating the author's name each time.

 

If you cite two different works by the same author, include a short form of the source's title after author's last name and before the page number, so it's clear which work is being cited in each case.

For example: If our work is called "Redefining Reading: The Impact of Digital Communication Media," we can reference the work in text in the following manner: "Quote" (Baron, "Redefining" 194). 

If you cite different authors with the same last name, add their first initials to in-text citations to avoid ambiguity. If they have the same first initials, write their full first names.

Example: Work 1 = (S. A. Baron 194); Work 2 = (N. Baron 14).

For more information, see the MLA Handbook Ninth Edition, page 227: "Citing Sources in the Text"

What Is a Block Quotation?

MLA requires the use of a “block” format for quotations longer than 4 lines. For block format, the quotation marks are omitted and the text is set off by indenting the left margin as demonstrated in the following example.

Example:

At the conclusion of Lord of the Flies, Ralph, realizing the horror of his actions, is overcome by

great shuddering spasms of grief that seemed to

wrench his whole body. His voice rose under the black

smoke before the burning wreckage of the island; and

infected by that emotion, the other little boys began to

shake and sob too. (Golding 186)

 *Note that for block style quotations, the punctuation at the end of the cited passage is placed before the in-text citation.

For more information on block quotations, see section 6.35 (page 254) of the MLA Handbook Ninth Edition.

Citing Poetry In Text


When citing poetry in text, line breaks are demonstrated by using a slash ( / ), and line numbers are used instead of page numbers.

The first time you cite a poem, include the word "lines" in your citation, then the line numbers - in subsequent citations, only the numbers are needed.

Example: Many mouth metaphors are found in the second stanza, including "The stub remains / An ill-pulled tooth with a ragged edge. / Some words live in my throat / breathing like adders" (Lorde, lines 14-17). Lorde also brings in the "tongue" and the "lips," using these images to ground her more abstract ideas about words and speaking (18-19).


If you found the poem online and no line numbers are provided, just put the author's last name in your in-text citations. Don't count the lines yourself, unless your instructor has said to do so.


If you have a long quote of four lines or more, format the poetry as a block quotation (see previous tab on this page). If you need to omit some content from the middle of the block quotation, use a line of periods:

Example:

The poem also depicts the elephant's capacity for nuance and depth of thought:

In the elephant's five-pound brain
.......................................................
His thoughts while resting in the shade
Are long and solemn as novels and he knows his companions
By names differing for each quality of morning. (Acorn, lines 35-39)


Citing Poetry in the Works Cited List


Poem in a Printed Anthology

Harjo, Joy. "Deer Ghost." In In Mad Love and WarWesleyan, 1990, p. 29.


Poem Found Online

Giovanni, Nikki. "They Clapped." Poetry Foundation, 2022, https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/48229/they-clapped.

Book Template: Author last name, first name. Title of Book. Publisher, year. 

 

Single Author

Hosseini, Khaled. The Kite Runner. Riverhead Books, 2003.     


Two Authors  

Prachett, Terry, and Neil Gaiman. Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch. William Morrow, 2006.  


Three or More Authors

Clayton, Dhonielle, et al. Blackout. Quill Tree Books, 2021.


No Author (translated)

The Epic of Gilgamesh. Translated by N.K. Sandars, Penguin Books, 2006.


Short Story, Poem, or Chapter in an Edited Book/Anthology

 Chupeco, Rin. “Sugar and Spite.” Hungry Hearts: 13 Tales of Food and Love, edited by Caroline Tung Richmond and Elsie Chapman, Simon Pulse, 2019, pp. 78-101.


Ebook

Butler, Octavia E. Kindred. Kindle ed., Beacon Press, 2004.


Graphic Novel/Comic Book (with one contributor)

Spiegelman, Art. Maus. Pantheon Books, 1991.


Graphic Novel/Comic Book (with many contributors)

Watchmen. By Alan Moore, illustrated by Dave Gibbons, colored by John Higgins, DC Comics, 2005.


Introduction/Preface/Foreword/Afterword in a Book

Davidson, Basil. "Africa Rediscovered." Preface. Africa in History, by Davidson, Phoenix Press, 2001, pp. xv -xviii.


See Appendix 2, page 313 in the MLA Handbook Ninth Edition for more book citation examples, and Chapter 5, "The List of Works Cited" (starting on page 105) for more details/explanations.
Journal Article Template: Author's last name, first name. “Title of Article.” Journal Title, Volume, Issue, season Year, page range. doi or permalink/url.

 

Print Article with One Author

Comeau, Leah Elizabeth. “Representations of Women and Divinity in Medieval Tamil Literature.” Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion, vol. 35, no. 1, spring 2019, pp. 51–66.


Print Article with Two Authors

Iwundu, Ifeanyi E., and Chidi Onah. “Politics of National Honours Award in Nigeria: Chinua Achebe’s Perspectives.” IKENGA: International Journal of Institute of African Studies, vol. 19, no. 1, July 2018, pp. 230–237.


Online Article with DOI

Andrews, Meghan C. “Michael Drayton, Shakespeare's Shadow.” Shakespeare Quarterly, vol. 65, no. 3, 2014, pp. 273–306. Oxford Academic, https://doi.org/10.1353/shq.2014.0033.


Online Article without DOI (use Permalink)

Manganiello, Dominic. “Ethics and Aesthetics in ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray.’” The Canadian Journal of Irish Studies, vol. 9, no. 2, 1983, pp. 25–33. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/25512571.


See Appendix 2, page 319 in the MLA Handbook Ninth Edition for more journal article citation examples, and Chapter 5, "The List of Works Cited" (starting on page 105) for more details/explanations.
News/Magazine Article Template: Author's last name, first name. “Title of Article.” Newspaper/Magazine Title, Volume, Issue, edition, Day Month Year, pages. doi or permalink/url.

Magazine Article (in print)

Brown, Lorna. "Digital Natives." Canadian Theatre Review, edited by Peter Dickinson, Kirsty Johnston, and Keren Zaiontz, vol. 164, fall 2015, p. 31.


Magazine Article (online)

Galchen, Rivka. “Nasa's New Telescope Will Show Us the Infancy of the Universe.” The New Yorker, 16 Aug. 2021, https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2021/08/16/nasas-new-telescope-will-show-us-the-infancy-of-the-universe.


Newspaper Article (in print)

Jeromack, Paul. “This Once, a David of the Art World Does Goliath a Favor.” New York Times, late edition, 13 July 2002, p. B7.


Newspaper Article (online)

Applebaum, Anne. "The New Puritans." The Atlantic, 31 August 2021, https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2021/10/new-puritans-mob-justice-canceled/619818/.


See Appendix 2, page 321 in the MLA Handbook Ninth Edition for more news/magazine article citation examples, and Chapter 5, "The List of Works Cited" (starting on page 105) for more details/explanations.

Film Template: Title of film. Directed by Director (optional), Distributor / Other Distributor, Year of Release.

Film with Two Publishers/Distributors

The Babadook. Directed by Jennifer Kent, Entertainment One / Umbrella Entertainment, 2014.


Film Watched Through an App

Knives Out. Lions Gate / MRC, 2019. Amazon Prime Video app.


Film Watched on a Website

Parasite. Directed by Bong Joon-ho, CJ Entertainment, 2019. Hulu, www.hulu.com.

TV Episode Template: "Title of Episode." Title of Series, created by First name Last name (optional), season #, episode #, Distributor / Other Distributor, Date of Release. Method of viewing (if applicable).

TV Episode Viewed as a Broadcast

“Made in America.” The Sopranos, created by David Chase, season 6, episode 21, HBO Entertainment / Warner Bros. Television Studios, 10 Jun. 2007.


TV Episode Viewed on a Website

"Chocolate Week." The Great British Bake Off, season 11, episode 4, Love Productions / BBC Studios, 2020. Netflix, www.netflix.com.


TV Episode Viewed on Physical Media (DVD, Blu-ray)

"Pegasus." Battlestar Galactica, season 2, episode 10, NBCUniversal, 2010, disc 3. DVD.


TV Episode Without a Title

This Hour Has 22 Minutes. Created by Mary Walsh, season 28, episode 4, Entertainment One, 27 Oct. 2020.

Video Template: "Title of video." Website, uploaded by Name of Uploader, Date of upload, Link.

Online Video (YouTube, Vimeo, etc.)

“Passengers, Rearranged.” YouTube, uploaded by Nerdwriter1, 19 Apr. 2017, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gksxu-yeWcU.


TED Talk

Boroditsky, Lera. "How Language Shapes the Way We Think." TED, Nov. 2017, https://www.ted.com/talks/lera_boroditsky_ how_language_shapes_the_way_we_think.


Video Game

Gone Home. Windows version, Fullbright, 15 Aug. 2013.


See Appendix 2, page 328 in the MLA Handbook Ninth Edition for more film/TV/video citation examples, and Chapter 5, "The List of Works Cited" (starting on page 105) for more details/explanations.

Audio Source With Container Template: Artist. "Title of Song/Section." Title of Album/Container, Publisher/Record Label, Year. Listening method (if applicable).

Song from a Physical Album

The Tragically Hip. "Wheat Kings." Fully Completely, MCA, 1992.


Song Listened to on an App

Sainte-Marie, Buffy, and Tanya Tagaq. "You Got to Run (Spirit of the Wind)." True North Records, 2017. Spotify app.


Transcript of Song Lyrics (from website)

Chapman, Tracy. "Fast Car." Tracy Chapman, Elektra Records, 1988, https://genius.com/Tracy-chapman-fast-car-lyrics. Transcript of lyrics.

Audio Source Without Container Template: Artist. Title of Source. Publisher/Record Label, Year. Listening method (if applicable).

Full Music Album

The Tea Party. Triptych. EMI Music Canada, 1999.


Audiobook

Angelou, Maya. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. Narrated by Maya Angelou, audiobook ed., unabridged ed., Random House, 2010.


See Appendix 2, page 330 in the MLA Handbook Ninth Edition for more audio source citation examples, and Chapter 5, "The List of Works Cited" (starting on page 105) for more details/explanations.

Art/Image Template: Artist. Title of Artwork. Year. Gallery/Location. Medium (optional). Link (if applicable).

Sculpture/Art Object

Bourgeois, Louise. Crouching Spider. 2003, Dia Beacon, New York. Bronze, patina, and stainless steel.


Photograph (viewed in person)

Spitzer, Kali. Betsy Saw Bisou / Bisou Saw Betsy. 2018, Grunt Gallery, Vancouver.


Painting (viewed online)

Wiley, Kehinde. Shantavia Beale II. 2012. Brooklyn Museum, https://www.brooklynmuseum.org/exhibitions/kehinde_ wiley_new_republic/.


Illustration/Cartoon (online)

Munroe, Randall. "Bracket." XKCD, https://xkcd.com/1529/. Accessed 2 Sep. 2021.


Art Exhibition

Kubota Itchiku. What Do the Mountain Spirits Ponder? 22 Nov. 2018 - 20 Feb. 2019, Art Gallery of Grande Prairie, Grande Prairie, Alberta.

*note that there is no comma between the family name and given name of the artist because in Japanese, family names are traditionally written first. The same is generally true of Chinese and Korean names, and should be reflected in your MLA citations.


See Appendix 2, page 331-332 in the MLA Handbook Ninth Edition for more visual art citation examples, and Chapter 5, "The List of Works Cited" (starting on page 105) for more details/explanations.
Website Template: Author. “Title of Webpage, or Article.” Title of Web Site, Publisher (if applicable), Publication Date, Location (URL). Date of Access.

Blog Post / Article on a Webpage

Zara, Aline. "Manga: Maintaining Maximum Market Momentum." Booknet Canada, 26 Aug. 2021, https://www.booknetcanada.ca/blog/2021/8/26/manga-maintaining-maximum-market-momentum. Accessed 16 Sep. 2021.

Note: including the access date is very helpful when there is no other date for the source (n.d.), but it is usually optional.


Poem Found Online

Stevens, Wallace. "The Snow Man." Poetry Foundation, 2022, https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/45235/the-snow-man-56d224a6d4e90.


Facebook Post

Penguin Books. "From the bestselling author of Big Little Lies and Nine Perfect Strangers...." Facebook, 1 Sep. 2021, https://www.facebook.com/penguinbooks/videos/4330050020444564/.


Tweet

William Shakespeare [@Shakespeare]. "Thou really canst not complain about being 'too nice a guy' if a woman has faked her own death to avoid thee. #ShakespearesHoliday." Twitter, 29 July 2021,  https://twitter.com/Shakespeare/status/1420791229630009351.


Email or Text Message

Rocca, Marissa. Email to the author. 2 Sep. 2021.


See Appendix 2, page 324 in the MLA Handbook Ninth Edition for more website citation examples, page 326 for social media examples, page 337 for email examples, and Chapter 5, "The List of Works Cited" (starting on page 105) for more details/explanations.
Reference Work Template: "Entry Title or Term." Reference Work Name, Publisher, Year. Link or page range (if applicable).

 

Online Dictionary Entry

"Muskeg, N." Oxford English Dictionary, Oxford UP 2021, https://www.oed.com/view/Entry/124156?redirectedFrom=muskeg#eid. 


Digital Encyclopedia Entry (no author)

"Rocky Mountains." Britannica Concise Encyclopedia, Encyclopaedia Britannica, Britannica Digital Learning, 2017. Credo Reference, https://ezproxy.agpc.talonline.ca/login?url=https://search.credoreference.com/content/entry/ebconcise/rocky_mountains/0?institutionId=2631.


Print Encyclopedia Entry (with author)

Rosbottom, Ronald C. "1761, February: The Novel and Gender Difference." A New History of French Literature, edited by Denis Hollier, Harvard UP, 1989, pp. 481-87.


See Appendix 2, pages 327-328 in the MLA Handbook Ninth Edition for more reference work citation examples, and Chapter 5, "The List of Works Cited" (starting on page 105) for more details/explanations.
Course Materials Template: Title of material. Course name, taught by Instructor Name. Course Website, Institution Name, Date, Link or Location.

 

PPT Slides/MyClass materials

"Health Promotion PowerPoint." Foundations for Success in Nursing, taught by Teresa Evans. MyClass, Northwestern Polytechnic, 1 Aug. 2020, https://myclass.nwpolytech.ca/d2l/le/content/8103/viewContent/54979/View.


Course Syllabus

Syllabus for English 111: Language, Literature, and Culture. Taught by Robert Brazeau, fall 2008, U of Alberta, Edmonton.


Lecture/Presentation

Bailey, Kieren. Lecture. Introduction to the Learning Commons for TA1367, 3 Sep. 2021, Northwestern Polytechnic.


See Appendix 2, page 335 in the MLA Handbook Ninth Edition for more lecture citation examples, page 341 for classroom material examples, and Chapter 5, "The List of Works Cited" (starting on page 105) for more details/explanations.
Grande Prairie Campus
10726 - 106 Avenue
Grande Prairie, AB T8V 4C4
Phone: 1-780-539-2939
Email: library@nwpolytech.ca
Fairview Campus
11235-98 Avenue
Fairview,AB T0H 1L0
Phone: 1-780-835-6750
Email: fvlibrary@nwpolytech.ca