How to Cite in MLA Format Guide With Examples

Learning how to cite in MLA format as a college student is one of those skills that you cannot ignore because it’s exactly how you should submit an endless plethora of written assignments, case study writing, dissertations, argumentative essays, reflective journals, and even those multimedia presentations where you have to cite. Keeping all of these challenges in mind and wishing to save your precious time, our team of experts has collected all the major and important parts of MLA citing. 

What is MLA Style Format?

MLA stands for the writing style format that has been created by the Modern Language Association (hence the name!) for academic studies and scientific purposes. The organization publishes a special guide that mainly focuses on the rules that have to be followed when working with university assignments and literature studies. While it will always depend on what exactly you would like to study or research, you may be asked to submit a paper or a report in MLA. It means that you have to provide citations in a special way, create a page outline and follow all of the relevant rules that have been outlined in the MLA guidebook. As you might know, an average college professor may ask you to choose an APA, Harvard, or Chicago citation format, yet this time we shall focus on how to cite in MLA in text format alone.

MLA style format is often considered to be the most accessible citation style, which is partially true as most American university students get to know it as they are dealing with the Introduction to Studies or English class, which focuses on citation styles and correct writing. It makes it relatively easier for the students to understand how things work as they have a template and have to submit 1-2 page assignments. As you will learn in a bit, MLA citation papers always consist of the in-text citation parts in the body of your paper and a specific "Works Cited" list that you must provide at the end of your college paper. 

Defining the MLA Format Changes

Focusing on the recent MLA guidebook for the 9th edition, you might easily feel confused and lost as you look through the myriad of pages. Do not let it frighten you! As the educators behind the MLA have released their latest edition in April 2021, it mostly contained basic updates as the current rules introduced specific changes and peculiarities that were not available before. Since the previous MLA 8 edition dates back to 2016, you should check with your grading rubric and ask your college professor for clarification before you start.

If you have been using the 8th edition of the MLA format, you might remember that the major difference was related to the standards on how to cite mla format in essay that has been applied to most source types. It was necessary to locate the citation format for every type of source that one may locate. For example, students had to look for books and magazines, websites, and scientific magazines. Since the introduction of MLA 8, a concept of universal MLA citation has been introduced, and a lot of precious time has been saved as one did not have to locate specific formatting rules. The introduction of special "containers" has been an important change that has allowed students to show the presence of book chapters, albums with specific songs, and journal articles. Such an approach has made it possible to spend less time trying to fix citations or looking for mistakes. As you will learn from our guide, it has also made it easier to use the templates and proceed with the studies. 

What is MLA Citing?

Dealing with citations in MLA style format, you should turn to the latest 9th edition by exploring the standards that have been set and studying the changes that have taken place. If you are new to MLA citation, it will be necessary to take your time to understand why it's important to document the sources that have been used and format the paper's font and indents accordingly. The main purpose of MLA citation is to show that documents and references can be used in the same way, so students, educators, and researchers can recognize the same standards and see what kind of sources have been provided. When you compose a college paper and need to submit your work, you are not only listing your references to support your ideas but also providing people with a unique chance to check your sources and explore things further.

Correct ability to cite in MLA in an essay and referencing also help to avoid plagiarism as when you are using information from a specific source or placing a direct quote. It is essential to provide a correct credit to the original author by following the standards where you specify the author's name, the title of the book, the year of publishing, and all other relevant information that will help to locate the original source. It is exactly what a person achieves by using the MLA citation. It will also depend on what kind of citing you are using, yet for every source that you document, you have to provide an in-text citation and have a full reference to your source on the Works Cited page. We shall explore things in detail later on, including working with the MLA heading that should appear at the top of the first page and next to the page numbers, and finding an easier way to manage your citations. 

The Differences Between Bibliography and Works Cited

It is essential to understand the difference between those cases when you have to work with a Bibliography or must address your "Works Cited" page. These are often mixed up by college students, yet they stand for two completely different things. When you mention your bibliography, it represents the list of sources you may have consulted and the ones that are recommended for others to check as they browse through your research paper for a summary or some technical data. Now when you provide a Works Cited page, it means that you talk of those sources that have been included and directly cited in your assignment. It means that it should include only those books and web sources that have been mentioned and included in the list of in-text citations.

If you want to provide your readers with a list of recommended reading when you are providing the conclusion or the call-to-action part, you should create an MLA Bibliography by marking it as such in the top title of the page. Now, if you have used specific quotes and paraphrasing, you should use in-text citing after each part. It is exactly how you create the "Works Cited" section for your assignment. Speaking of formatting and the rules, both MLA Bibliography and your Works Cited page in MLA are done exactly the same way. 

How to Cite in MLA Correctly or Required Citation Components

When you want to cite a particular source, start with a careful study of the citation components. The most important aspect that you have to provide is the author's name or the list of names related to your source. For example:

- If your source has only one author, you must provide the last name first, then add a comma, followed by the first name of the person. As you cite MLA in essay, it is done this way: 

Last Name, First Name 

Jackson, Michael. 

Jones, L. Tom. 

- If you need to cite something that involved two authors (writers), they should be mentioned in the same order as the original source. The first author is placed in reverse with a comma and the addition of "and". The second author's name comes right after using the period. Here is how to cite in MLA example: 

Last Name, First Name, and First Name, Last Name. 

Mills, Andrew, and Neil Young. 

- Dealing with three or more authors, you should include only the first author's name. Just mention the first author's name in reverse with a comma and the addition of "et al." For example: 

Bronson, Kyle R., et al. 

Note: when you are dealing with social media posts, it's perfectly okay to use a screen name instead or the name of the YouTube user instead. It starts with the user's handle. 

@UserHandle. "Title." Twitter, Day Month. Year, 00:00 a.m., 

- If you have no information about the author, your citation must start with the title by skipping the author's name since it's not available. 

As usual, you have to provide information about the publishing date, title of your source, volume and issue number (for magazines), information about the publisher, and the URL (if available). 

Basic In-Text Citation Rules

The most common problem with college students is how to cite and what are the peculiarities of the in-text citation or parenthetical quotes system. For example, when you are dealing with a direct quote or want to paraphrase something, it's best to add a part of some information as the parenthetical citation () right where it fits. It is usually avoided at the end or the beginning of your paragraph as you have to introduce what you are citing. Direct quotes must be used when you have to provide a piece of exact information. Paraphrasing, on the other hand, must be used when you choose information and interpret it in your own words. Using either option will help you to make your essay or research authentic. In practice, learning how to cite in MLA format in an essay should look this way: 

"Your Quote" or paraphrasing (Author's Last Name Page Number) 

“The brain injury that has been documented lacks information regarding the effect of the cognitive functions” (Philips, 96). 

Alternatively, you can cite an essay in MLA format this way: 

The author's Last Name claims that "Your Quote" or paraphrasing (page number). 

Emery claims that “certain functions of the literary devices have been altered in the 18th century” (112). 

MLA In-Text Citing

Coming to practice, you should take in-text citations with great care because your referencing should be in place and explain why it is there or how it helps to achieve better clarity. If you are using the information mentioned in a book or something taken from a website, you must start with research and take the suitable portion for citation. Your primary objective is to provide an in-text citation that helps your reader to understand where the information can be obtained and add at least one sentence that explains why it has been used. You have two options: you may use a direct quote by stating something exactly as it appears or paraphrase an idea by mentioning the source where some idea has originated. The most important is to provide relevant information by including the author's name and the page number. If you cannot locate the page number, mention the paragraph or a section of the source where the phrase appears. Here is how to cite in MLA format in text: 

"Shakespeare always perceived the essence of life through the lens of time and death" (Marley 22). 

Sometimes you will encounter a situation when the source has been published by some organization. You should use the title instead or name the organization like NASA or UN. The most important is to remember that you should not alter any information if you claim it to be a direct quote. If you change something, it is already paraphrased. 

Works Cited Page in MLA Style

Coming down to your "Works Cited" page, you are dealing with the most important aspect of MLA style citing because this is where most learners feel confused and make the majority of their mistakes. Here is the checklist to consider as you learn how to cite an essay in MLA: 

  • The page represents a separate section of your essay or a research project by appearing at the very end of your writing. 
  • If you have only one citation for your work, it should be "Work Cited". When you have more than one reference, the title of the page becomes "Works Cited". 
  • The entire section should be double-spaced. 
  • Use the same Times New Roman or Arial, point 12. 
  • The sources must be placed according to the ABC. 
  • The writer’s last name must be included with the page number at the top right corner as a header. 
  • Remember that every in-text citation should have a corresponding reference in the final section by having a separate entry for the "Works Cited" page. 
  • All of your MLA references should have a hanging indent for every second line. It means that you should provide a half-inch indent. 
  • Each line is flushed to the left of the page. 
  • If you have more than one source by the same author, you must include the author's name in your first citation. Each citation that comes next should have three dashes and a period. Such citing is organized by the title. For example on how to cite an essay MLA for several authors: 

Jones, Kelly. Mary Queen Ship for Tourism in the UK. Penguin Books, 2016. 

---. KLM Aeronautics and Tourism Safety. Penguin Books, 2011. 

If your title starts with the number, place the title according to the first letter in a word and omit the number. 

1984: The Year When Blues Music Reached The Radio Waves. 

MLA Format and the Headers

The header is exactly what helps to set the MLA style apart from the other academic writing styles. It starts with the first page of the MLA format where you should include a header. There is also a possibility of the MLA cover page, yet it is rarely recommended or used as you already have the main header. You might have already seen the four top lines at the left that include the following: 

Your First Name, Last Name

Your College Professor's or Teacher's Name

The Class or Course Number

Date of Submission (it is usually shown in your grading rubric as the submission date) 

John Lennon

Professor Goldfried

English 90210

21 May 2022

Here are the basic rules that one must follow when working with a header and the rest of the paper that is written in the MLA style format textbook:

  • Your header should be double-spaced. 
  • In the top right corner of the page's header, you must include your last name with a page number. 
  • Your paper's title must be centered and placed in the middle. 
  • It is recommended to use Times New Roman or Arial, point 12 unless specified otherwise. 
  • All the page sides should have 1-inch indents. 

If you would like to obtain more information regarding how to work with an MLA header, you can approach trained experts and see various templates to determine whether your draft follows all the important rules. 

Why Use the MLA Citation Generator

If all of the aforementioned sounds like rocket science to you, you should consider taking an easy way out by exploring the benefits of our MLA 9th edition citation generator online. In practice, it means that you will be able to do things automatically with the rules, types of sources, and formatting. You will be able to save time and nerves as our tool can be accessed free of charge and used as often as you require to cite things. Here is what you must do:

  1. Obtain your source type. Our MLA citation generator supports up to 50 different source types. 
  2. You can either do things manually or choose automation. If you choose our automatic solution, you will create references based on what is already available online. You should type the title or the author's name, then click on the "Search" button. If you want to do things manually, you can fill out the form and complete your citation. 
  3. Simply follow the instructions as the citation is being generated by our intelligent tools. Add information if something is missing and you have it! 
  4. Now simply copy and paste the final citation reference or export it as a separate document. 

MLA Citation Examples

Let's start with several common examples by focusing on the books citing tutorial. In most cases, you should have the author's name, the title of the book, the publisher, and the year when the book has been published. Here is the structure format example: 

Author's Last Name, First Name. Title of the Book. Publisher, Year. 

Kane, Darren. Generation of Space Waves. Hallington Press, 1982. 

  • Here is what you must use for a journal (magazine) in MLA: 

Author's Last Name, First Name. "Title of Article: Subtitle." Title of Magazine, vol. Volume Number, no. Issue Number, Date of Publication, pp.

Stevens, Zachary. “Dealing With the Dogs and Children.” National Zoology Journal, vol. 3, no. 13, May 4, 2016, 178-182. 

  • A website citation example in MLA: 

Last Name, First Name. "Title of Page." Website Name, URL. Accessed Day Month Year.

Ackerfield, Jake. "Stranger Things." Netflix Library, Accessed 9 June 2012.

You may also take time to learn how to cite a lecture or turn to our MLA 9th style generator to understand how to create a perfect citation.

Hopefully, our guide will make the MLA format easier as you strive for academic success and get over the stress! 

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