Skip to Main Content

Citation Basics Guide: MLA Citations

MLA Citations

Citing your Sources

You will most likely be using APA (American Psychological Association) Style. Use the examples below as a helpful guide.

How to cite an article from a library database (such as Academic Search Complete or Criminal Justice Abstracts)

 Here's how you can use the database generated citation:

Step 1: Once you've accessed the full article, click the circled icon. (It will say "Cite"). 






Step 2: A box will pop up that has an alphabetized list of all citation styles, complete with the full, ready-made citation; scroll down a bit and you'll see MLA. Feel free to copy and paste that into your source list. 


Step 3: Double check your citations to make sure they are correct and follow the current editions standard for APA



However, you may have used a database that does not have a citation generator tool. If this is the case, you can follow this example:


  • Journal Article: 


Author Last, First. "Title of article." Title of Publication, Vol.#, no. #, year, page-range (p.pp.), Database, permalink/doi. Accessed date. 



Dolby, Nadine. “Research in Youth Culture and Policy: Current Conditions and Future Directions.”

 Social Work and Society: The International Online-Only Journal, vol. 6, no. 2, 2008, Accessed 20 May 2009.


Some other common sources you may have to cite:


  • Web Page or Site


Author Last, First. Title of site. Publisher, Creation Date, Web address. Accessed Date.


Smith, John. The Purdue OWL Family of Sites. The Writing Lab and OWL at Purdue and Purdue U,

2008, Accessed 23 Apr. 2008.


  • Online Newspaper Article


Author Last, First M.. "Title of Article." Title of Newspaper, Date, page-range (if available), Database

(if applicable),


Brubaker, Bill K.. "New Health Center Targets County's Uninsured Patients." Washington Post, 24

May 2007, p. LZ01.   


  • Book


Author Last Name, First. Book Title. Publisher, Publication Date, Database (if applicable),

Permalink/DOI (if applicable)


Jones, William. Writing for the New Age. Big City Publishers, 2019, ProQuest,





General MLA rules to keep in mind


1. All of your sources should have a hanging indentation.


Author Last, First. "Some Long Article Name." Journal of Citations, vol. 1, no. 2, 

pp. 1-5.



2. The first authors' names should be inverted (i.e., last names should be provided first).

  • Author's middle name should be written as an initial.



3. Give the last and first name and middle initial for all authors of a particular unless there are 3 or more authors.

  • For two authors list the first author as Last Name and then the First, the second author is list First Name Last Name. 



Author Last, First, and Author First Last. Title. Publisher. Date.


Gillespie, Paula, and Neal Lerner. The Allyn and Bacon Guide to Peer Tutoring. Allyn and Bacon, 2000.



  • If there are 3 or more list only the first author followed by a comma and et al. 



Lorans, Katy et al. The New Place: Higher Ed Tutoring. Utah State UP, 2021.



4. Reference list entries should be alphabetized by the last name of the first author of each work.



5. For multiple articles by the same author, or authors listed in the same order, list the entries in chronological order, from earliest to most recent.

(From OWL Purdue)

1.    MLA follows the Author Last Name, Page formatting.


  • Poe demonstrates the character's madness through his repetition of "Knock, knocking at my door" (485).

  • Romantic poetry is characterized by the "spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings" (Wordsworth 263).


2.     When a source has no known author, use a shortened title of the work instead of an author name.


  • Place the title in quotation marks if it's a short work or italicize it if it's a longer work and provide a page number if it is available.
  • Titles longer than a standard noun phrase should be shortened into a noun phrase by excluding articles.

For example, To the Lighthouse would be shortened to Lighthouse.

  • If the title cannot be easily shortened into a noun phrase, the title should be cut after the first clause, phrase, or punctuation.


3. When you cite a work that appears inside a collection of works (anthology, encyclopedia, etc), cite the author of the original source.

  • For example, to cite Albert Einstein's article "A Brief Outline of the Theory of Relativity," 
  • Relativity's theoretical foundations can be traced to earlier work by Faraday and Maxwell (Einstein 782).


4. For a source with two authors, list the authors’ last names in the text or in the parenthetical citation:



  • Lynn and Williams argue that reading too far into things can cause unnecessary distress on a situation (15).
  • The authors claim by having a level headed approach to crisis allows the nervous system to "act according to fight or flight" adrenaline (Lynn and Williams 15).


5.     For a source with three or more authors, list only the first author’s last name, and replace the

        additional names with et al.



  • According to Franck et al., “Current agricultural policies in the U.S. are contributing to the poor health of Americans” (327).
  • The authors claim that one cause of obesity in the United States is government-funded farm subsidies (Franck et al. 327)


MLA Formatting Guide

  • Double-space the text of your paper and use a legible-accessible font (e.g. Times New Roman)


  • The font size should be 12 pt.


  • Leave only one space after periods or other punctuation marks (unless otherwise prompted by your instructor).


  • Set the margins of your document to 1 inch on all sides.


  • Indent the first line of each paragraph one half-inch from the left margin. MLA recommends that you use the “Tab” key as opposed to pushing the space bar five times.


  • Create a header that numbers all pages consecutively in the upper right-hand corner, one-half inch from the top and flush with the right margin. 


  • Use italics throughout your essay to indicate the titles of longer works and, only when absolutely necessary, provide emphasis.

More Resources

Purdue Online Writing Lab

They have simplified explanations and examples of the most commonly used source types for APA, MLA, Chicago, IEEE, AMA, and ASA citation styles. The information provided will be based on the most recent version of those style guides.



MLA Style Guide

Has the most recent MLA style guide, examples, and paper formats. This is subscribed to through the college, you have to be signed into your account in order to access the materials.




Tips for formatting your paper, and a citation generator**

**The citation generator can be helpful in getting started BUT should always be checked against an official citation style guide.


Profile Photo
Kala Dunn
Edens Library