A complete guide to MLA style

MLA style citations are commonly used by students and academics in the humanities. This guide follows the 9th edition (the most recent) of the MLA Handbook, published by the Modern Language Association in 2021.

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MLA in-text citations

Multiple authors

For a source with two authors, include the last names of both authors. If a source has three or more authors, only include the last name of the first author, followed by “et al.” if in parentheses or “and colleagues” if in the text.

No author

If a source does not state a specific author, the in-text citation should match the first word(s) of the Works Cited entry, whether that’s an organization name or the source title.

Format titles the same as they appear in the Works Cited, with italics or quotation marks. Use the full title if mentioned in the text itself, but an abbreviated title if included in parentheses.

No page number

If a source has no page numbers, but is divided into numbered sections (e.g. chapters or numbered paragraphs), use these instead:

Morrison has shown that there is a great need for . . . (par. 38).
Reynolds devotes a chapter to the rise of poverty in some states in the US (ch. 6).

For audiovisual sources (such as YouTube videos), use a timestamp:

In his recent video, Smith argues that climate change should be the main political priority of all governments today (03:15–05:21).

If there is no numbering system in the original source, include only the author’s name in your citation.

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MLA format for academic papers and essays

Apply MLA format to your title page, header, and Works Cited page in minutes with our 3-minute video, template, and examples.

Block quoting in MLA style

MLA block quotes are indented 0.5 inches and double spaced, with no quotation marks. Cite the author and page in parentheses after the period.

Citation styles guide

The most common citation styles are MLA, APA, and Chicago, but there are many others. Follow our examples to cite correctly in every style.

Formatting the APA reference page

The basics

On the reference page, you list all the sources that you’ve cited throughout your paper. Place the page right after the main body and before any appendices.

On the first line of the page, write the section label “References” (in bold and centered). On the second line, start listing your references in alphabetical order.

Apply these formatting guidelines to the APA reference page:

Double spacing (within and between references)
Hanging indent of ½ inch
Legible font (e.g. Times New Roman 12 or Arial 11)
Page number in the top right header

Which sources to include

On the reference page, you only include sources that you have cited in the text (with an in-text citation). You should not include references to personal communications that your reader can’t access (e.g. emails, phone conversations or private online material).

The nine core elements of MLA citations


Begin each source entry with the name of the author(s) or creator(s). The name of the first author is always inverted (Last name, First name)....


Always include the full title of the source, including subtitles (separated by a colon and space). Use title case—capitalize all words apart ...


When there is more than one version of a source, you should include the version you used. For example, a second-edition book, an expanded version of a collection ...


Book and movie citations always include the publisher element. The publisher is the company responsible for producing and distributing the source—usually a book ...

Publication date

When available, always include the publication year. If you also know the month, day, or even time of publication, you can include this if it helps ...


A container is the larger work that the source you’re citing appears in. For example, a chapter is part of a book, a page is part of a website, and an article is part of a journal....

Other contributors

Contributors are added right after the container title and always end with a comma. Use a description like “translated by,” “directed by,” or “illustrated by” to indicate...


Sources such as journal articles (“vol. 18”), magazines (“no. 25”) and TV shows (“season 3, episode 5”) are often numbered. If your source has numbered...


What you include in the location element depends on the type of source you are citing:...

Frequently asked questions

Who uses MLA style?

MLA Style is the second most used citation style (after APA). It is mainly used by students and researchers in humanities fields such as literature, languages, and philosophy.

What is the most recent edition of the MLA Handbook?

The MLA Handbook is currently in its 9th edition, published in 2021.

This quick guide to MLA style explains the latest guidelines for citing sources and formatting papers according to MLA.

What is the basic structure of an MLA citation?

A standard MLA Works Cited entry is structured as follows:

Author. “Title of the Source.” Title of the Container, Other contributors, Version, Number, Publisher, Publication date, Location.

Only relevant information is included in the reference.

What is the easiest way to create MLA citations?

The fastest and most accurate way to create MLA citations is by using Seekrot’s MLA Citation Generator.

Search by book title, page URL or journal DOI to automatically generate flawless citations, or cite manually using the simple citation forms.

How do cite a source with no author, title, or date in MLA?

If information about your source is not available, you can either leave it out of the MLA citation or replace it with something else, depending on the type of information.

No author: Start with the source title.

No title: Provide a description of the source.

No date: Provide an access date for online sources; omit for other sources.

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