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MLA. Help with citing and referencing in MLA: Doing it manually

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.

Making a bibliography manually

Whilst many people use a citation generator to help compile a bibliography, some people prefer to do it manually - or use the reference making function in Word (under the Document Elements tab). 

It is easy to do, providing you take note of the general order that MLA style requires:

Author. Title of source. Title of container, Other contributors, Version, Number, Publisher, Publication date, Location. 

For example: 

Kesey, Ken. One flew over the cuckoo's nest. Penguin Books, 1962, New York.

Please note that the title of the publication is given in italic print. 

As with any style or system, where will be exceptions or occasions when you have to do things a little differently. Here are some typical examples. 

Exceptions and additions

Sometimes you use a source by an author, which is published as part of a bigger publication. 

Chapter by an author in a book

This happens where there are collections of papers or essays by different authors in a compilation or volume, which may be under the overall editorial control of a third person (or author). When this happens, this is the order you compile your reference:

  • Author of chapter
  • Title of chapter [in double quotation marks, i.e. "]
  • Title of book [in italic script]
  • Editors. [Use the abbreviation Ed. followed by the name or names of the editors]
  • Version
  • Number
  • Publisher
  • Publication date
  • Location


Gossett, Philip. "Compositional methods." The Cambridge Companion to Rossini, Ed. Emanuele Senici. Cambridge University Press, 2004, Cambridge

Exceptions and additions

Another exception is an unpublished thesis or dissertation. They may be available online, perhaps through the university where an author is a student or professor, through a pdf. format.

Unpublished dissertation or thesis

If you use such a source, follow this order:

  • Author.
  • Title of work in double quotation marks.
  • Use the abbreviation Diss. (for dissertation) or for a thesis, use Thesis, 
  • Name of university,
  • Date of the work,
  • Location. 


Trent, Alan. "Economic factors of robotic manufacturing in special economic development areas, 1986-1999." Diss. University of Utrecht, 2009, Netherlands.

N.B. If the thesis or dissertation has been formally published, compile the reference as you would for a regular book. 

Exceptions and additions

If you carry out an interview for your Extended Essay, or get information by email from someone, you need to reference such sources.


This is the order of the reference: name of person interviewed. The words "Personal interview", followed by the date. An example is:

Schmidt, Jan. Personal interview. 14 June 2014.


You need to provide the name of the email writer, the title (which you can get from the subject box) of the message, the words 'Message to the author' (i.e. you), and the medium of the source. An example is:

Kawasaki, Masaaki. "Re: Japanese music traditions." Received by Your Name, 31 Jul. 2014.