Any student who has ever had to write a research paper or a simple college essay knows that most scientific reports, statistical information, newspaper articles, or reviews are in PDF (Portable Document Format) files. The same relates to various books, scanned research notes, or data from relevant national archives. It makes citing a PDF in MLA an important skill that must be mastered and referenced properly following the Modern Language Association standards. Since we are dealing with the referencing of documents that are stored in a digital medium, the trick is to understand what kind of a source is stored in a document itself. Once you know this information, things become much easier!
What Must be Included in PDF Citation MLA
In most cases, MLA PDF citation must be referenced the same way as it would be done with print articles and books. In practice, it means that since a PDF file itself is not a source per se, it represents a medium of telling us what kind of a source has been used. Once we understand what kind of a document is stored in a container, we can follow the basic MLA rules.
For example, if we must deal with a magazine article in PDF, the rule is to follow the magazine citing standard. Next, it is recommended to add a short mention next to the citation that helps to identify that the source in question was discovered and cited in a certain format. Here is how it would be done in MLA style:
Bentley, Ann. “The South African Mining Methods.” 2009. PDF file.
If we would have to use APA citation as an example, the citation rule would be the same as the webpage citing with an inclusion of a relevant PDF link and the URL. However, if the link is available, it must be included as well, yet MLA Handbook 9th edition notes that it is also enough to specify that our source has been taken from the PDF file.
As a rule, you must include as much information as it is available, yet in the best scenario it should be:
Author’s Last Name.
Title in Italics.
The year it was published.
DOI reference or URL.
How to Cite a PDF in MLA 9th Edition
Let us start with the actual example of a PDF file coming from ResearchGate database:
Lemaitre, Guillaume et al. Acoustics And Psychoacoustics Of Sound Scenes And Events. Springer International Publishing, 2018, pp. 41-67,
(Lemaitre et al.)
As we can see, the source has more than two authors, hence it has an addition of “et al.” part, which is also reflected in the in-text quote. It brings us the template that looks
Author’s Last Name(s), Title of Publication in italics, Publisher, Year, page(s), URL.
(Author’s Last Name, pp.)
Still, even when you know how to cite your documents correctly, having dozens of them can easily become time-consuming and stressful. Thankfully, we provide a free MLA PDF citation generator that does it all for you. All it takes is entering the relevant information in each field and letting our system generate the MLA format citation for you. It requires no registration and is a great time-saver!
The Types of PDF Citations in MLA 9
PDF files in MLA are treated in the same way as any digital media like a Microsoft Word Document, audio recording, or even a picture file. Therefore, the first and most important step is identification of MLA PDF citation formatting.
If the paper does not follow any classic parameters for the MLA citation style, it is recommended to provide the author’s name (if present), title, creation date, and location (if available).
Author(S), Title, Organization or Publisher, Source, Year, URL.
The only aspect that should be noted is how to cite discovered sources with a single author, multiple authors, or how to treat some documents that do not have an author per se.
With Multiple Authors
When you cite PDF MLA style with more than two authors, it follows this template:
First Author’s Last Name, First Name followed by the Latin et al., then followed by the title in italics, publisher or a source, year, pages used, URL.
See the practical example:
Lucena, Filipa et al. Imaging In Neurological And Vascular Brain Diseases (SPECT And SPECT/CT). University Of Leipzig, 2015, pp. 54-71,
In-text goes as follows:
(Lucena et al.)
Sometimes we do not have any authorship info for our published document, which starts with a general title:
Title, Organization/Institution in italics, Source, Year, URL.
Rules and Regulations of The Boy Scouts of America. National Scouting Association.
Scouting.org, 2018. https://filestore.scouting.org/filestore/membership/pdf/Rules_and_Regulations
MLA citation for PDF entry in-text entry with no author goes this way:
(“Rules and Regulations of The Boy Scouts of America”)
Author’s Last Name, First Name, Title in italics, Publisher, Year, Pages, URL.
van der Duim, René. The Margins Of Texel. Wageningen University & Research, 2004.
(van der Duim)
However, in this case, we also know that the source relates to a particular magazine article, which is why it can also be cited in a classic MLA way by specifying the DOI number instead IF the source and pages used are identical:
van der Duim, René. “The Margins Of Texel”. Journal Of Sustainable Tourism, vol 12,
no. 5, 2004, pp. 367-387. Informa UK Limited, DOI:10.1080/09669580408667245
For our in-text reference, we use:
(van der Duim)
Is your PDF citation generator MLA free?
Yes! It is completely safe to use as much as necessary and does not have any limitations or a need to register. Use it to your heart’s content and save some precious time.
If I know the book source used in my PDF file, can I cite it instead?
You only have to specify the URL to your reference file or mention that you work with a particular medium source before placing the link.
Is it necessary to include the Accessed Date part in MLA 9 style?
It is only necessary if the file has no clear date or the file has been through revision. Other than that, URL or DOI would be enough if you have the publishing year or if the PDF itself has it.