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MLA Referencing

It is a set of rules that are followed to acknowledge the source of studies in a research paper. MLA stands for “Modern Language Association”. There are two parts of the MLA citation format, according to the 9th edition of the MLA Handbook. It will be published by the Modern Language Association in the year 2021. 

  1. In-text citation: The last name of the Author, and a page number are added.
  2. List of works: Full details are mentioned at the end of the paper. 

Your paper should follow the MLA format: double line space, 1-page margin, title case should be capitalized, and Times New Roman font of size 12.  

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MLA in-text citations

This is an in-between citation; a short reference is added to denote the source. This addition of reference will lead the readers to the works cited list. One must add in-text citations, after quoting a piece of information. 

The standard format of the in-text citation is adding the author’s last name and a page number between two parentheses: a pair of round brackets () whereas the page number is to reach the exact location of the borrowed information.

The nation considers it as their pride (Adam 20).

If you have used the author’s name previously, then just add the page number in brackets. 

According to Adam, the nation considers it as their pride (20)

Multiple authors

If the source includes two authors, then add the last name of both authors. If the number of authors increased by three, then only add the last name of the first author and add “et al.” or else you would like to write in text form it will include “and colleagues”

Adam and Smith stated that “The nation considers it as their pride” (20).

According to Damon and colleagues, motivation has an impact on performance. (21-22)

No author 

In-text citation, if the author’s name is not mentioned in the source of borrowed information. You can use the source title name in your paper. No matter whether it is the organizational name or source title.

You must format the titles as mentioned in the list of works cited. It should be in italics or in inverted commas.

The article “Modern warfare and Humanity” claims that . . . (5).

No page numbers 

if the source contains sections, paragraphs, or chapters instead of the page number then the citation will be: 

Carlo has explained the salient features of the American revolution.  (par.25)

Mary wrote about the glimpse of a nightmare in his book (ch.9)

Suppose there is no section, paragraph, or chapter number then you can just write the name of the author in the citation. 

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MLA Works Cited list

In other formats of citation works cited list is called a “reference list or bibliography”. All the sources that are used in the research paper with complete details are mentioned in the works cited list. 

There are nine components of MLA works cited in the entry. 


The first thing that is included in the citation is the name of the author. In any format of a citation, the author or the creator’s name is mandatory to mention as a source.  

As discussed previously in-text citation, the same rules are applicable here. 

1 author Johnson, David.
2 authors Johnson, David, and Valerie Smith
3+ authors Johnson, David, et al.

Furthermore, an author could be the organization and if the organization itself is the publisher, then you can add the title of the source.


The title of the source in the MLA works cited list has some set of rules.

  • You must mention the complete title along with subtitles.
  • The capital case for each first letter of the title excluding conjunctions, prepositions, and articles. 
  • If your source does not have a title, write a short description by yourself. 

The style of the title:

  • Italics: If the source is a book, movie, or website. 
  • Quotation marks: A chapter from a book or part of information from a whole set.
  • No styling: when there is no title, your self-description.   

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A container is described as a sample from a population. For instance, a page from a website or an article from a journal. If the source itself is a whole then do not mention just leave it. The style of the container title is italicized in the works cited list.  

Containers in MLA

Source type Source title Container title
Journal article “An Applied Service Marketing Theory.” European Journal of Marketing
Short story “The Clean Slate.” The Penguin Book of the Contemporary British Short Story
TV episode “Crawl Space.” Breaking Bad
Online article “Evolutionary History of Life.” Wikipedia

Other contributors 

In the MLA works cited list some contributors are included. You must add them after the container title and put a comma to separate the contributor.  The normal description used in contributor is like “translated by”, “directed by” or “illustrated by”


Latour, Bruno. Politics of Nature: How to Bring the Sciences into Democracy. Translated by Catherine Porter, Harvard UP, 2004.


Most of the studies do have different versions. You must include the version of your information like the 3rd edition of the book. 

Porter, Michael E. Competitive Strategy: Techniques for Analyzing Industries and Competitors. 2nd ed., Simon and Schuster, 1998.


If your source possesses a number-based part, like a journal article’s volume number (vol.12).  You must add this information to the work cited list. In some cases, the source contains all the information such as edition, volume, version, and number. And it is obligatory to mention all the details in the citation. 

Wieseke, Jan, et al. “Willing to Pay More, Eager to Pay Less: The Role of Customer Loyalty in Price Negotiations.” Journal of Marketing, vol. 68, no. 6, 2014, pp. 17–37.


One who produces and distributes the books are the publishers. The information must be complete so you have to also include the publisher’s details. For instance, Penguin Random House, an American publisher. 

If the publisher is mentioned in your other component such as title, container, or somewhere else. Do not repeat it, just omit it. 

Following are some sources where you can omit the publisher. 

  • Websites 
  • Journals 
  • Newspapers and magazines 
  • Platforms like YouTube, Netflix, or JSTOR

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Publication date

You can include the publication date if you know it. This will benefit the reader when complete information is available from each source. Following is the example to mention a date.

  • 2003 (if only the year is available)
  • 25 Jan. 2019 (date month and year
  • 14 Aug. 2017, 4:45 p.m. (time is also available)
  • Jan. 2017–Apr. 2018 (interval-based information from one year to the next)


Location merely relies on what source type is taken:

  • Book chapter: Page range of the chapter (e.g. pp. 164–180.)
  • Web page: URL, without “https://” (e.g. www.scribbr.com/mla-style/quick-guide/.)
  • Journal article: DOI, with “https://”—or stable URL, without: (e.g. https://doi.org/10.1080/02626667.2018.1560449. or www.jstor.org/stable/43832354.)
  • Physical object or live event: Name of the location and city (e.g. Moscone Center, San Francisco. or The Museum of Modern Art, New York.)

In MLA referencing, proper citation, style or format, and set of rules must be focused on. These things bring a weightage to your research work. The objective of citation or referencing is to facilitate the reader. If the reader is quoting the same thing, can defend and provide the source information as well.  

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