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MLA Citation Style

This research guide will help students format their research papers using MLA citation style.

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What is that last page for?

TrustThe Works Cited page (aka. bibliography) is the page at the end of your paper or project listing every source you quoted or paraphrased. Every time you use someone else's ideas within your own work, you must acknowledge them in the format your instructor prescribes (in this case, MLA citation style).

These are not words/ideas you simply throw into your paper. The purpose of including sources in your paper is to infuse your own thoughts and ideas with theirs, and to participate in the scholarly conversation around the topic of your paper/project. The References page is the acknowledgement of that infusion and conversation.

(image by flickr user @rondmac)

Click on the link for examples of citations of various types of sources: CCC Library MLA Style Cheat Sheet.

Contra Costa College Library: MLA Format for Works Cited (MLA Handbook, 8th ed. 2016)

Useful Formatting Directions

Works Cited Page

  • ARRANGE entries in alphabetical order by author’s Last Name (If no author or editor given, alphabetize by Title).
    • MULTIPLE AUTHORS: 2 Authors: Author #1 Last Name, First Name, and Author #2 First Name Last Name. Ex: Mayr, Gerald and Helena Klomp; 3+ Authors, give the first author’s name, a comma, and the abbreviation et al. Ex: Johnson, Susan B., et al.
  • PARAGRAPH STYLE: Use a hanging indentation format for each entry (first line at margin, rest are indented).
  • SPACING: Double-space the Works Cited list.

Individual Citations

  • PAGE NUMBERS: For a single page article give the number of the page preceded by a p. Ex. p. 54. For a multi-page article, give the range of pages preceded by a pp. Ex: pp. 10-21. If an article skips pages, only give the 1st page number with a plus sign. Ex: pp. 12+. Leave blank when no page numbers are given.
  • PUBLISHERS: Abbreviate publisher names by omitting business abbreviations such as Corp. or Inc., and descriptive words such as Books, House, Press (except if a university press, use the abbreviation UP). Ex. Random House, Inc = Random House; Oxford University Press = Oxford UP; St. Martin’s Press = St. Martin’s
  • URLs & DOIs:  For electronic sources (web and database items), you need to give the source’s DOI or URL in the citation. DOIs are preferred over URLs, but not every source has a DOI. If using a database URL, use the permalink or “share” link provided by the database. In your citation, omit http:// from the URL. Note: your teacher may not require you to use URLs/DOIs.

In-Text Citations: When quoting a text, give the author’s last name and the page number for the quote in parenthesis after the quote. Ex. Romantic poetry is characterized by the "spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings" (Wordsworth 263). Use only the page number in parenthesis if the author’s name is included in a signal phrase. Ex. Wordsworth stated that Romantic poetry was marked by a “spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings” (263). When paraphrasing, in-text citations must also be used.