On this page, we break down each element and element groups to help you identify and correctly format each one used in the Works Cited citation.
|Last name, First name.|
The basic format for citing the author is:
The author is one of the most important parts of a citation. Why? In order to properly connect ideas, inventions, and works, there has to be someone to credit with creating it! It is also a great way to help you evaluate the source of information for context and bias. The author or creator can be an individual, a group of people, or an corporate institution. You may also find additional information with the author's name, like his or her education/credentials and professional affiliations.
Pay attention to the punctuation! Think of the author element as the first sentence of your source's citation.
Scroll through the subsequent tabs to find information about how to cite various kinds of authors.
For more details see pages 21-25 and 102-105 in the MLA Handbook.
When there are two authors your will include BOTH names.
|Last name, First name, and First name Last name.|
For more details see pages 21 and 114 in the MLA Handbook.
Three or more authors:
When there are three or more authors, things can get very confusing and your citation could become really long. To avoid confusion and unnecessary length, your author element will look similar to that with two authors.
|Last name, First name, et al.|
For more details see page 22 in the MLA Handbook.
There are three ways to cite a corporate publication:
This is where you need to think more critically about your source. How is this information distributed?
This will affect where to place this element. So, if a corporation is the
|Corporate Name. "Article Title." Web Site or Book Title. Publisher, date, location.|
|"Article Title." Container Title, publisher, date, location.|
If the agency is part of a larger organizational unit, include it between the government and the agency
|Government, Organization Unit, Agency. "Title." Publisher, date, location.|
For more details see pages 104-105 in the MLA Handbook.
After you have scoured your source and still can't find an author, what do you do?
Sometimes authors write under another name. Use the pen name like you would write a regular author's name.
|Last name, First name.|
There are many widely known authors who are only known under their pseudonym, for example:
Orwell, George. Nineteen Eighty-Four. Everyman's Library, 1992.
If the author is not well known or better known under a different name, and you do know both the pen name and the real name, list both. Include the author's real name in parentheses, using normal name format.
|Last name, First name (First name Last name).|
Bachman, Richard (Stephen King). Thinner. Signet, 2009.
A modern take on pseudonyms are online usernames. We use these to identify ourselves in various social media platforms. This can be a way to offer people anonymity or simply as a function of participating in this form of communication. Blog and Twitter accounts use such names frequently.
Recap: If Both Names are Available...
@gwenifill (Gwen Ifill). "The candidates said the day was too somber to talk politics. And then they did." @tamarakeithNPR & @amyewalter tackle tonight @NewsHour." Twitter, 13 June 2016, 2:37 p.m., twitter.com/gwenifill/status/742471058301816832.
@careersherpa. "43 Best Job Search Websites 2016 http://careersherpa.net/43-best-job-search-websites-2016/." Twitter, 19 Jan. 2016, 10:51 p.m., twitter.com/careersherpa/status/689520486322057216.
For more details see pages 24-25 and 102-103 in the MLA Handbook.
Film and TV
When using media works as a source, you have to consider your focus in using this work in order to name the contributor.
Include the person's name and a label of that person's role in the production.
|Last name, First name, editor.|
|Last name, First name, performer.|
|Last name, First name, creator.|
|Last name, First name, screenwriter.|
Here are some examples:
No specific focus? No worries! Begin the citation with the Title, include the names of the director and other participants in the other contributor element.
For more details see pages 24 and 40 in the MLA Handbook.
Dr. Seuss (Theodor Geisel). The Cat in the Hat. Random House, 1957.
The second most important element is the title of the source. Without a title it would be very hard, if not impossible, for someone to figure out what resource your are citing. Luckily, titles are usually easily found on the "authoritative location in the work" (MLA 67). Copy the full title and in exact same way it is written out on your source.
The basic format for citing the title are:
Title of Source.
Title of Source: Subtitle.
Lozano, Luis-Martín. Frida Kahlo. Bulfinch Press, 2000.
"Title of Source."
"Title of Source: Subtitle."
Pay attention to the punctuation! Think of the title element as the second sentence of your source's citation.
Scroll through the subsequent tabs to find information about how to properly format the title.
For more details see pages 25-29 and 67-75 in the MLA Handbook.
According to the MLA Handbook, it is expected that you "capitalize the first word, the last word, and all principal words" (67).
Do NOT capitalize the following words, unless it is the first word in the sentence:
67-68 in the MLA Handbook.
Use a colon and space to separate the title from the subtitle.
Title of Source: Subtitle.
"Title of Source: Subtitle."
Use the given punctuation where appropriate.
Krager, Derek A., et al. "Where Have All the Good Men Gone? Gendered Interactions in Online Dating." Journal of Marriage and Family, vol. 76, no. 2, Apr. 2014, pp. 387–410. Wiley Online Library, doi:10.1111/jomf.12072.
Warner, Joel. "Weed is Legal. Are We High?" Men's Health, vol. 29, no. 3, July-Aug. 2014, pp. 110-51. Academic Search Complete, lscsproxy.lonestar.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&AuthType=ip,cpid&custid=s1088435&db=a9h&AN=96420012&site=ehost-live.
68 in the MLA Handbook.
A poem often does not have a title. You may also want to cite untitled social media communication, like Twitter. In both cases, you will write out the first line, or the full tweet (it's only 140 characters after all!).
Be sure to format the title as follows.:
|"Make sure the first line used as a title is in quotation marks."|
For emails, use the subject line as the title. The container should name the email recipient.
29 in the MLA Handbook.
If the title of the work that you are citing includes the title of another original work, you're going to do some extra formatting around the original title. This will depend on the source:
Title of Source with an "Original Title."
|"Title of Source with an Original Title."|
|Title of work Title of Source|
71 in the MLA Handbook.
What is a container?
A container is the bigger entity that your piece of information is published or displayed within. It can be many things, like a book, a website, a journal or newspaper, a TV series, a music album, etc. You have to think critically about how the information that you are using is a piece of a puzzle.
What do I put in it?
The information we include in the container are standard pieces of information to guide anyone to the larger source. Think of all the pieces of information as blocks in a Lego house, they're all elements that create the container. It is the third and sometimes fourth sentence of your source's citation.This will include:
Evolution by Bradley Davis (2008) CC-BY-ND
Container Title other contributors version number publisher publication date location
Pay attention to the punctuation!
Scroll through the subsequent tabs to find information about all the various elements you might include in the container.
31-53 in the MLA Handbook.
The specific rules for the container's title are:
See the Title box (above) for general details about how to format your title.
Title of Source.
Title of Source: Subtitle.
Article published by a magazine or newspaper, and found in a library database.
Staff, Lonnie Shekhtman. "Tortoise Injured in a Forest Fire Gets a 3D-Printed Shell." Christian Science Monitor, 23 May 2016. Academic Search Complete, lscsproxy.lonestar.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&AuthType=ip,cpid&custid=s1088435&db=a9h&AN=115553480&site=ehost-live.
Sometimes, a source of information has other people contribute to the creation of the larger content. Include the people that are "important to your research" (MLA 37), followed by a descriptor of their role. These descriptors may include:
First name Last name, editor,
edited by First name Last name,
Rogan, Alcena Madeline Davis. "Utopian Studies." The Routledge Companion to Science Fiction, edited by Mark Bould, et al., Routledge, 2009, pp. 308-16.
Gates, Harry Louis, Jr., and Valerie Smith, editors. The Norton Anthology of African American Literature. 3rd ed., Norton, 2014.
in the MLA Handbook.
If there are multiple versions or editions where the information is published, you will want to indicate which edition you used. This is important because newer editions typically include updated information.
More often, you're going to encounter an edition of a book. Make sure to do the following
Versions may be called the following:
O'Toole, Peter. Lawrence of Arabia. Remastered by Robert A. Harris and Jim Painten, Columbia Pictures, collector's edition, 2008.
in the MLA Handbook.
Information may be packages within a container that is part of a series. This is important to list to make it easy for you and your reader to find that specific volume of a book, issue of a magazine, newspaper, or journal; or episode of a show. Possible numbers and the proper abbreviations are:
Sometimes you have to include a combination of numbers, like volume and issue for a magazine or journal article.
Post, Stephen, editor. "Informed Consent." Encyclopedia of Bioethics, 3rd ed., vol. 3, Thomson Gale, 1271-313.
Somerville, Kristine. "The Urban Canvas and Its Artists." The Missouri Review, vol. 34, no. 3, Fall 2011, pp. 97-108. Project MUSE, doi:10.1353/mis.2011.0069.
O'Malley, Bryan Lee. "Scott Pilgrim vs. the Universe." Scott Pilgrim, color ed., no. 5, Oni P., 2014.
Burns, Ken. "Our Language." Jazz, episode 3, PBS, 2000.
Michaels, Lorne. "Justin Timberlake." Saturday Night Live: The 2010s, season 38, episode 16, 2012. Netflix, www.netflix.com/search/SNL?jbv=70178612&jbp=0&jbr=0.
The organization responsible for distributing the information publicly is the publisher (MLA 40). Include the publisher information for books, TV, movies, and websites.
Academic presses can be abbreviated if it has the words University and/or Press. Replace with the abbreviations: U and P. Common business words can be omitted from the Publisher's name, like Company (Co.), Corporation (Corp.), Limited (Ltd.), and Incorporated (Inc.) (MLA 97).
Harold, Franklin M. In Search of Cell History: The Evolution of Life's Building Blocks. U of Chicago P, 2014.
Casablanca. Directed by Michael Curtiz, Warner Brothers, 1941.
97, 107-109 in the MLA Handbook.
The publication date is the date that this information was made available. This can be a little confusing depending on the amount of information available and/or how you are using the information. To keep it as simple as possible here are some points to think about:
Hartman, Gary. "The Roots Run Deep: An Overview of Texas Music History." The Roots of Texas Music, edited by Lawrence Clayton and Joe W. Specht, Texas A&M University Press, 2003.
Bechears, Laura. "Honorable Style in Dishonorable Times: American Gangsters of the 1920s and 1930s." The Journal of American Culture, vol. 33, no. 3, Sept. 2010, pp. 197-206. History Study Center, gateway.proquest.com/openurl?url_ver=Z39.88-2004&res_dat=xri:ho-us&rft_dat=xri:ho:sup_pq_ascii:2148723681:2148723681::TG:13281:13281.
Yu, Hongwei, et al. "Why College Students Cheat: A Conceptual Model of Five Factors." The Review of Higher Education, vol. 41, no. 4, Summer 2018. Project Muse, doi:10-1353/rhe.2018.0025.
Depending on the medium in which the information is created, location could mean:
Online Information (like articles and websites) follow this priority:
Kindsvatter, Aaron, and Anne Geroski. "The Impact of Early Life Stress on the Neurodevelopment of the Stress Response System." Journal of Counseling and Development, vol. 92, no. 4, Oct. 2014, pp. 472-80. Psychology and Behavioral Sciences Collection, doi:10.1002/j.1556-6676.2014.00173.x.
Davies, Alex. "Tesla's Autopilot has had its First Deadly Crash." Wired, 30 June 2016, 6:04 p.m., www.wired.com/2016/06/teslas-autopilot-first-deadly-crash/.
Picasso, Pablo. Woman in a Red Armchair. 1929, Menil Collection, Houston, Texas.
Picasso, Pablo. Woman in a Red Armchair. 1929, Menil Collection, www.menil.org/collection/objects/1884-woman-in-a-red-armchair-femme-au-fauteuil-rouge.
|Container Title other contributors version number publisher publication date location|
Think of a database like a big, virtual library. This is a larger container in which the information is housed and accessed. Typically, the elements to be listed in this type of container will include:
|Title of Container, location.|
Kristof, Nicholas. "Confronting Our Own Extremist." New York Times, 16 June 2016, A23. Opposing Viewpoints, link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/A455256695/OVIC?u=nhmccd_main&sid=OVIC&xid=69c01153.
Renteln, Alison Dundes. "A Psychohistorical Analusis of the Japanese American Internment." Human Rights Quarterly, vol. 17, no. 4, 1995, pp. 618-48. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/762484.
Davis, Emily and Sally Richardson. "How Peer Facilitation Can Help Nursing Students Develop Their Skills." British Journal of Nursing, , vol. 26, no. 21, 23 Nov. 2017. Academic Search Complete, doi:10.12968/bjon.2017.26.21.1187.
When a source has been reprinted or republished in other locations, you should include the provided information for the original publication. Place all the elements in the same order as the first container.
|Originally printed in Container Title, other contributors, version, number, publisher, publication date, location.|
Article reprinted in a book.
Shellis, R. Peter, et al. "Understanding the Chemistry of Dental Erosion." Monographs in Oral Science, vol. 5, 2014, DOI:10.1159/000359943. Originally published in Erosive Tooth Wear: From Diagnosis to Therapy, edited by Adrian Lussi and Carolina Ganss, 2nd ed., vol. 20, Karger, 2014, pp-163-79.