This guide is based on the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, 7th ed. and provides only selected citation examples for common types of sources. For more detailed information please consult the print version of the handbook. Graduate students and professional writers might also need to consult the MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing, 3rd ed. PN 147 G444 2008.
- Copies are available at SFU library, call number: LB 2369 G53 2009
- You might want to buy your own copy at the SFU bookstore with which you can get online access by setting up a personal account.
- For the best printing results, use the printer-friendly PDF format of this guide.
Keep track of your document references/citations and format your reference lists easily with citation management software. If you use bibliographic citation software (e.g., RefWorks or EndNote), you must ensure that information is entered accurately in order for the software to output results properly.
For a quick overview and introduction to MLA formatting, see the Checklist for formatting MLA style papers: Writing and formatting.
How to cite:
Books | Online books | Chapters & Anthologies | Encyclopedias & Dictionaries
Print journal articles | Electronic journal articles | Magazine articles | Newspaper articles
Films & DVDs | Films online | Websites | Tweets
Indirect sources | Conference proceedings
Lectures | Custom Courseware
Figures & Tables
Canadian Government documents
General Notes on MLA Style
- The MLA citation style is generally used in the humanities (English, Philosophy, Music etc.).
- MLA requires that the entire paper be double-spaced, including all the lines in the list of works cited (4.2, 5.3.2).
- All pages of the paper, including the list of works cited, need to be numbered consecutively and must appear in the top right-hand corner of the page after your last name (4.4, 5.3.2).
- You need to cite and document any sources that you have consulted, even if you presented the ideas from these sources in your own words (5.1). You need to cite:
- to identify other people's ideas and information used within your essay
- to inform the reader of your paper where they should look if they want to find the same sources
- A citation must appear in two places in your paper:
- in the body of your paper ("in-text citations")
- in the list of works cited (at the end of your paper)
- To introduce other people's ideas in your paper, use the following examples:
- Richardson argues, refers to, explains, hypothesizes, compares, concludes
- As Littlewood and Sherwin demonstrated, proved, ... etc.
- The electoral system that was adopted in Germany after the Second World War combined majority decision rule and proportional representation (Wattenberg and Shugart 280).
- Spelling. Use a standard English language dictionary, such as Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary or Canadian Oxford Dictionary.
- If you directly quote from, summarize or use the ideas or arguments from a book or article, then list the author's last name, followed by a space and the page number without any other punctuation (i.e., no commas) (6.1).
- If you incorporate the author's name in the text of your paper, only provide the page number in parentheses (6.3).
Forer states that "corporal punishment was employed as a legally imposed penalty in Colonial America" (142).
- If a quotation is more than four lines when typed into your paper, begin the quotation double-spaced on a new line that is indented by 2.5cm (1 inch). The quotation should be double-spaced. Do not use quotation marks. Also note that the period is placed before the parenthetical citation (3.7.2). For example:
At the conclusion of My Side of the Mountain, Sam realized how much he had missed his family:
Then I jumped in the air and laughed for joy. I recognized my four year-old brother's pleasure song. The family! Dad had brought the family! Every one of them. I ran, twisting, and turning through the trees like a Cooper's hawk, and occasionally riding a free fifty feet downhill on an aspen sapling. Dad gave me a resounding slap, and Mother hugged me until she cried. I led them proudly up the mountain. (George 175)
- Many electronic sources do not provide page numbers. Sometimes the source will have paragraph numbers that you can use for your parenthetical citation. Use the abbreviation "par." for a single paragraph or "pars." for multiple paragraphs. Don't count paragraphs yourself if they are not indicated on the document (6.4.2).
Women talked of their aspirations relating to their clothes and of attempts to create images, which were perceived as successful. (Martin par. 20)
If there are no page or paragraph numbers, the MLA guide recommends that you incorporate the name of the author in the text of your paper. (e.g., Mitchell argues that there is a link between soda consumption and obesity). You may indicate in your paper an approximate location of the cited passage (e.g., In the final third of his article, Mitchell argues there is a link between soda consumption and obesity) (6.4.1-2).
- If you cite multiple works by the same author, place a comma after the author's last name in the parenthetical (in-text) citation and add the title (in full or a shortened version if it is long) and the relevant page reference, e.g., (Foucault, History of Madness 125) (6.4.6).
- At the end of your paper, you will list all your sources on a separate page entitled Works Cited (5.3.2).
- The works cited list is arranged alphabetically by the author's last name. If there is no author, use the title of the source (5.3.3).
- The works cited list is double-spaced throughout, both between and within entries. If a citation is more than one line, the second line is indented by 1.25 cm (0.5 inches) (5.3.2).
- Use the format of the author's name as it appears on the title page of a work (e.g. "Mooney, Jayne," or "Danto, Arthur C.," or "Gibaldi, M. C.") (5.5.2).
- The publisher's name can be shortened (e.g. "Allen," instead of "Allen & Unwin") (5.5.2, 7.5).
- If more than one city of publication is listed in the book you are citing, use the first one listed (5.5.2).
- If you do not know the date of publication, use the abbreviation "n.d." (5.5.24).
- If you do not know the place of publication or the publisher use the abbreviation "n.p." (5.5.24).
- Each entry of the works cited list contains the medium of publication consulted. This could be print (for print articles, books, and similar materials), web (for online content, including websites and information from databases such as Academic Search Premier and CBCA Complete), film, DVD, CD-ROM, MP3 file or other descriptive type. For information on the naming a medium of publication, consult the MLA Handbook, chapter 5 in the section that discusses your publication type.
How to cite...
|Book - Single Author (5.5.2)|
Caughie examines the confusion surrounding definitions of modernism in the humanities and social sciences (1).
|Article - In an Internet-Only Journal (5.6.3)|
(Brewin, Paul, and Monita 19)
(10th International Workshop)
|MLA Web Resources|
Several of these online guides, though helpful, nevertheless vary in terms of how they cite sources. Please keep this in mind while consulting these other online guides.