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MLA. Help with citing and referencing in MLA: FAQ

Information and strategies to help you reference effectively using MLA 8 (8th edition of the Modern Language Association referencing style) and comply with IB Academic Honesty requirements.



MLA style is the referencing style developed by the Modern Language Association (MLA) in the USA. It is a major style of referencing. This libguide provides information to help you cite and reference in MLA correctly. 

Common problems students experience

What students find new or difficult about referencing and citation in MLA style

These are some common questions that students ask about using MLA 8th (latest) edition:

Where do I put the URL in an MLA format entry?

It goes at the end of each entry on the the Works Cited (or bibliography) entry. IB rules (EE guide, Academic Honesty document) require that a student provide a URL, together with the date when s/he viewed the webpage.

Is a URL sufficient citation information?

No. A good website will have at least a title and usually an author. You also need to add the date you consulted the website.

Who and what is an author?

An author can be an individual, several people and/or an organization (a company, NGO, government department, etc.).

Is footnoting/endnoting acceptable in MLA style?

No. Footnoting/endnoting is part of the Chicago style, which is generally used in the history discipline. MLA requires in-text citation.

What does in-text citation do?

In makes a link between the words quoted, paraphrased or idea referred to in the text of the student’s work and the Works Cited section, which comes at the end of the piece of work.

Students don’t always realize that the name they use in the in-text citation must match the first name/word they use for their Works Cited entry.

What does in-text citation look like in MLA 8?

Surname of author page number within parenthesis, e.g. (Thomas 77).

The in-text citation is always in parenthesis, and just includes the surname or family name of the author or authors and a page number; no need for any punctuation marks. MLA is minimalist! (A date of publication is not used in MLA for in-text citation purposes.)

Where do I put the in-text citation?

Place the citation at the end of the sentence in which the quote/paraphrase is used. If you’re explaining someone’s idea, you’re probably doing that in a paragraph, so put the citation mark at the end of the paragraph. When you check your text, ask yourself: is it clear to a reader/examiner that x quote/paraphrase is from x source?

What if I use the quote/idea several times in the essay?

Just use the in-text citation each time you refer to the quote/idea. You can use it as many times as necessary. In the Works Cited section, you only provide one entry with the full publication/source details.

How do I do an in-text citation for an interview I carried out?

Put the name of the person you interviewed in parenthesis following a quote, paraphrase or reference to the person’s opinions/answers to your questions.

Are the words in an in-text citation included in the word count?

Any words or numbers in in-text citation are not included in the word count for the essay.

Do I separate websites from books, magazines, etc., in the Works Cited section?

No, it is all one alphabetical list ordered by author’s surname or family name, e.g. Jones, Simon not Simon Jones.

What does an entry in the Works Cited section look like?

The basic order in MLA is as follows:

Last or surname, First name. Title. City of publication: Publisher, year of publication.

      Medium of publication.

This is an example:

Frank, Adam. About time. London: Oneworld Publications, 2011. Print.

If you use an online citation generator, you need to check that all the entries are correct, so it is useful to know the basic order.

What is the format for the entry in the Works Cited section?

Order and layout are as in the example above. Note that the title is in italic font. Use the punctuation as shown in the example.

If the entry goes over one line of print, you use a hanging-style format, e.g.

Ahamed, Liaquat. Lords of finance: the bankers who broke the world. New York:

       Penguin, 2009. Print.

What if there is more than one author? Do I list them all?

Generally, yes. For works with more than one author, see this page:

What does the entry for a website on the Works Cited page look like?

Follow the basic format (i.e. author, title, place of publication, publisher, date, medium) as much as possible. An example is -

"Visual Impairment and Blindness." WHO. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 Oct. 2013.  

The title of the page is included in quotation marks. The website is written in italic font. N.p stands for no publisher given, n.d. stands for no date given. All these details can come from an online citation generator, and you just need to add the URL. N.B. Each citation generator tends to gather different information, so you do need to check the accuracy of the item.

What does an entry for an interview I carried out look like in the Works Cited page?

The order is as follows: Surname or family name of the person interviewed. The words personal interview. Date of interview, e.g.

Wang, Cynthia. Personal interview. 14 August 2013.

Punctuation is as given in the example, above.



Further information about MLA style


This guide was created and maintained by Dr. Anthony Tilke, 2013-2015. It was last updated by Kurt Wittig June 12, 2017.