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Philosophy: MLA citations

MLA Description

MLA Style is published by the Modern Language Association (MLA)

"The eighth edition of the MLA Handbook, published in 2016, rethinks documentation for an era of digital publication. The MLA now recommends a universal set of guidelines that writers can apply to any source and gives writers in all fields—from the sciences to the humanities—the tools to intuitively document sources" (Modern Language Association, "What's New in the Eighth Edition").

MLA In-text Citation Basics

In-text citations are citations that appear in the text of your essay and refer to a specific page, quote, or idea. MLA style uses parenthetical citations -- this means the in-text citations put the relevant citation information in parentheses at the end of the sentence but before the period (i.e. like this).

In general, MLA in-text citations will include the author's last name and the page number of the relevant quote or information.

  • Example: In-text citations are important because they show the credibility of the author and their intentions (Gibbon 188).

If there is no known author, include the title of the article or book in place of the author's name.

  • Example: In-text citations point readers directly to a source ("Rules of Writing" 25).

Some scholarly resources can also be found on the Internet and may not have page numbers -- if this is the case, include the author's name and the second piece of information from the corresponding bibliographic citation (such as the article title, website name, or film name).

  • Example: It is important to be critical of Internet resources and determine whether they are credible before including them in research essays (McDonald, Internet Literacy).

Further MLA Resources

You can find more information about the MLA format and citation style at the links below.

MLA Bibliography Citation Basics

Bibliographic citations appear at the end of an essay -- MLA style called this the Works Cited page. Bibliography entries should all contain these basic elements:

  • Author name
  • Title of work
  • Publisher
  • Location of work (page numbers for physical items, DOI or URL for electronic items).

Works Cited pages should also follow a specific format -- bibliographic citations should be double spaced, use the hanging indent (the first line is not indented but the following lines are), and authors' names should be inverted (last name, first name). Here are examples of citations for a book and an electronic article:

Jankowski, Theodora A. Pure Resistance : Queer Virginity in Early Modern

English Drama. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2000.

Flannery, Mary. “The Concept of Shame in Late‐Medieval English Literature.”

Literature Compass, vol. 9, no. 2, Blackwell Publishing Ltd, Feb. 2012, pp. 166–82,


MLA Citation Books