Citing in MLA

Citing in MLA - Academic Integrity

MLA, 8th edition, is a citation style published by the Modern Language Association. It is used at Tyndale almost exclusively in the discipline of English, though may be used as a substitute in other first-year undergraduate courses.

MLA Formatting

Title Page

Title pages are discouraged in MLA. Instead, include the following details at the top of the first page, left-aligned and double-spaced: your name, your professor’s name, the course name and code, and the due date. On the following line, list your title and subtitle, centred.

View a sample of how this information should be formatted on your first page.

If a professor requests a title page for an MLA paper, they should provide you with the formatting details they want.

Page Numbers

Include your last name and the page number in the top right corner of all pages.


MLA typically discourages the use of headings. One reason for this is that English courses (where MLA is primarily used) does not typically use headings, preferring instead that the body of your text naturally transition from paragraph to paragraph.

You may, however, use headings where appropriate in longer papers. There is no definitive structure to the format of these headings, other than that headings of the same level should have consistent formatting. 


An MLA paper should be written in 12 pt. font, Times New Roman, and double-spaced. Do NOT include extra spacing between paragraphs; instead, indent the first line of each paragraph by one half-inch.

Formatting In-Text Citations

Whenever you integrate sources into your paper, whether as a quotation or a paraphrase, you must give credit where credit is due. There are two ways to do this in MLA.

Parenthetical Citations are where you include the author’s last name and page number in brackets at the end of a sentence (Lastname 25):

  • Quotation: “[S]piritual mentoring does not belong only in the hands of the specialists … [S]piritual mentoring is the work of the community of faith just as friendship belongs to all people” (Anderson and Reese 56).
  • Paraphrase: In many ways, the Church has failed to understand the plight of Guatemala’s indigenous people (Menchu 234).

Narrative Citations are where you include the author’s name as part of your sentence. In that case, still include the page number in brackets at the end of the sentence.

  • Quotation: Anderson and Reese elaborate: “[S]piritual mentoring does not belong only in the hands of the specialists … [S]piritual mentoring is the work of the community of faith just as friendship belongs to all people” (56).
  • Paraphrase: Rigoberta Menchu charges the Church with failing to understand the plight of Guatemala’s indigenous people (234).

Note: Subsequent citations from the same author only require you to include the author’s last name in the first in-text citation of the chain. For example, use (Johnson 26) for the first in-text citation of the chain, but just (28) when the next in-text citation also refers to Johnson. However, once that chain is interrupted by a citation from another author, you must again include the first author’s last name in the in-text citation the next time you cite them to avoid attributing the quote/paraphrase to the wrong person.

Additionally, for the sake of clarity, you should always cite the author’s last name in your in-text citation if the source of that quote/paraphrase is ambiguous, even if it is part of a chain of repeated citations. An example of this is when the lead up to a quotation mentions another person’s name. Your reader might assume that the name referenced before the citation is the author of the quote, when in fact, they are not. By including the author’s name within the in-text citation, you clarify that the actual author of the quote is different than the person you mention before the quote.

Block Quotations

For a quotation of more than 4 lines of prose, more than 3 lines of poetry, more than 3 lines of dialogue by one character in a play, or lines of dialogue between multiple characters in a play, use block quotation formatting. Introduce the quotation with a signal phrase and a colon. Forgo quotation marks (except to note quotations within the quotation) and indent the quoted material 1 half-inch from the left margin. Keep the block quotation double spaced.

...(Let's pretend this block quotation comes in the middle of a paragraph. Before starting the quotation, provide a contextualizing sentence like the next one.) Later in the article, Turner and Pérez-Quiñones describe some of the pitfalls of electronic notetaking:

The results showing that most students in our survey do not modify their notes (or even review them) frequently imply that the benefit of easy modification, which comes with a digital medium, may not be that important. Similarly, since there was only a lukewarm response to the sharing of notes between students, that may also not be of much use. (266)

More study will need to be done to determine if these cons outweigh the pros of taking notes on a computer.... (And then you would keep going with more sentences that elaborate on your quotation and continue your paragraph. Note that you do not indent the beginning of this part because it is not a new paragraph.)

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Formatting Works Cited

In addition to in-text citations, MLA also requires a Works Cited. This is an alphabetized list of every source quoted and paraphrased in your paper.

Begin your Works Cited on a new page with the centred title “Works Cited.” Double-space the entire page, start entries at the left margin, and use a hanging indent of half an inch for entries that spill onto two or more lines.

When including titles in your Works Cited, use “Title-Style Capitalization.” This means that you should capitalize the first letter of all titles, the first letter of all subtitles, and any other major words in those titles (e.g., “Mission” and “Physical” but not “for” or “a”). Titles of shorter works (journal articles, chapters, etc.) should be in quotation marks. Titles of most other works (journals, databases, anthologies, etc.) should be in italics.

When citing online sources, provide a DOI number whenever possible. If there is no DOI number available, provide a Permalink or Stable URL.

Works Cited

Green, Beth. Redeeming the Buzzword: A Distintcly Christian Approach to "Innovation" in Education. Hamilton, ON: Cardus,

Constructing Works Cited Entries

Works Cited entries in MLA all follow the same basic format. Start with:

  • Author. (Lastname, Firstname)
  • Title of Source. – This is the title of the piece the author wrote. Examples include the title of a novel, a chapter in a collection of essays, or an article in a journal.

Then, provide any “container” information. A container is the larger document that your source is part of (if applicable). For example, the container of a journal article is the journal. The container of a chapter is the anthology it is in. The container of a commentary is the series the commentary is a part of. When a source has a container, cover the following:

  • Title of container,
  • Other contributors, (This is editors and/or translators)
  • Version, (This is edition numbers or names – e.g., 3rd ed., Rev. ed., etc.)
  • Number, (This is volume and/or issue numbers – e.g., vol. 2, no. 3)
  • Publishing Company,
  • Date of Publication, (in most cases, just the year)
  • Location, (This is things like the page range of a journal article, the URL of an online source, or the university where a lecture took place. This is NOT the publishing city.)
  • Access Date. (Only applicable to some online sources.)

NOTE: Some sources might have two containers – For example, when you cite a chapter (source) in volume 1 (container 1) of a three volume work (container 2). In this case, you need to provide information for both containers. However, when information is shared between container(s), you should place the shared information as late into the Works Cited entry as possible.

For example, all 3 volumes of the multi-volume work would share the same publishing company and date. Therefore, the publication information should be included after the title of the multi-volume work, NOT the title of the first volume.

Lastname, Firstname. “Title of the Chapter.” Title of the First Volume, vol. 1. Title of the Multi-Volume Work, Publishing Company, Year.

However, let’s say there was a translated essay in an anthology. In that case, the translator’s name has to go after the title of the essay, not the title of the anthology.

Lastname, Firstname. “Title of the Essay.” Translated by Translator’s Name. Title of the Anthology, Publishing Company, Year.

The following is a template for how to construct all Works Cited entries. Only include applicable pieces:

Lastname, Firstname. Title of Source. Title of Container, other contributors, version, number, Publishing Company, Year, location. Title of Second Container, other contributors, version, number, Publishing Company, Year, location. Access date.

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Citing Poetry and Drama

While there are virtually no changes to the Works Cited entries of poetry and drama sources, there are some unique rules for how to format quotations and in-text citations for poetry and drama.

For 2-3 lines of poetry, or 2-3 lines of dialogue by one character in a play, use a front slash (/) to identify line breaks (the end of a line). For 4 or more lines of poetry or lines of dialogue by one character in a play, format it according to block quotation style.

For in-text citations of poetry, you should use line numbers instead of page numbers. Similarly, for poetic plays (such as Shakespeare or ancient Greek plays), you should cite using act, scene, and line numbers, with periods in between, as applicable. NOTE: If a play does NOT use line numbers, use page numbers instead.

Citing Lines from a Poem

Tennyson employs the techniques of alliteration and onomatopoeia to produce a chilling effect in The Lady of Shalott: “Willows whiten, aspens quiver, / Little breezes dusk and shiver” (10-11).

Citing Lines from Poems with Multiple Books (e.g., The Iliad, Paradise Lost, etc.)

When a poem has multiple books as well as line numbers, identify the book number first, followed by a period, and then the line number(s).

Deceit is another vice hated by the Greeks: “For as I detest the doorways of Death, I detest that man, who / hides one thing in the depths of his heart, and speaks forth another.” (Homer 9.312-313).

Citing Dialogue for One Character in a Play with Line Numbers

Even Darius, in Aeschylus’s The Persians, recognizes that trying to hold back the strength of the gods is “but madness of the soul” (750).

Citing Dialogue for Multiple Characters in a Play

Cite this according to block quotation formatting, except indent subsequent lines of the same person talking an additional quarter of an inch. Include character names at the beginning of applicable lines, and format your quotation according to the same line divisions as the original source. 

Shakespeare’s protagonists express mutual contempt in a witty exchange:

BENEDICK. What, my dear Lady Disdain! are you yet living?

BEATRICE. Is it possible disdain should die while she hath

such meet food to feed it as Signior Benedick?

Courtesy itself must convert to disdain, if you come

in her presence. (Shakespeare 1.1.106-110)

Citing Dialogue for Plays without Line Numbers

Many plays do not use line numbers. When that happens, use page numbers in your in-text citation instead. For lines of dialogue by more than one character, use block quotation formatting (see previous example). For lines of dialogue by one character, quote it like you would a normal prose quotation:

Sometimes the best metaphors are unexpected ones, like in Death of a Salesman: “The world is an oyster, but you don’t crack it open on a mattress!” (Miller 41).

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Authors, Editors, and Translators

Two Authors

Include both authors’ names in the in-text citation and the Works Cited entry.

  • Narrative Citation: Hartley and Karinch argue, “…” (53).
  • Parenthetical Citation: "...end of quoation" (Hartley and Karinch 53)

Sample Works Cited: Lastname, Firstname and  Second Othername. Title of the Book. Publishing Company, Year.

Hartley, Gregory and Maryann Karinch. The Body Language Handbook: How to Read Everyone’s Hidden Thoughts and Intentions. Career Press, 2010.

Three or More Authors

For in-text citations and Works Cited entry, give the first author’s name followed by the acronym “et al.”

  • Narrative Citation:  Levin et al. argues, “…” (87)
  • Parenthetical Citation: ...end of paraphrase (Levin et al. 92)

Sample Works Cited: Lastname, Firstname et al. “Title of the Article.” Title of the Journal, vol. #, [issue] no. #, Year, pp. page range. Journal Database, DOI number/URL.

Levin, Tamar et al. “Behavioral Patterns of Students Under an Individualized Learning Strategy." Instructional Science, vol. 9, no. 1, pp. 85-100. JSTOR,


If you need to cite an editor instead of an author, add ", editor(s)” after their name(s) at the beginning of the Works Cited entry. Include their names in place of the author(s)'s names in your in-text citation. 

Sample Works Cited: Lastname, Firstname, editor. Title of the Book. Publishing Company, Year.

Christiansen, Helen and Sharon Ramadevi, editors. Reeducating the Educator: Global Perspectives on Community Building. University of New York Press, 2002.


If you need to cite a book where there is a translator, include in the Works Cited entry the phrase “Translated by” followed by the translator(s)’s names. Do NOT include the translator(s)’s name(s) in the in-text citation.

  • Narrative Citation: In his play, Aeschylus states, “…” (376).
  • Parenthetical Citation: "...end of quotation" (Aeschylus 392)

Sample Works Cited: Lastname, Firstname. Title of the Book. Translated by Translator name(s), Publishing Company, Year.

Aeschylus. Prometheus Bound. Translated by James Scully and C. J. Herington, Oxford UP, 1989.

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Books (eBooks, Chapters in a Collection)

Print Book

  • Narrative Citation: Bullock details “…” (86).
  • Parenthetical Citation: "...end of quotation" (Bullock 87).

Sample Works Cited: Lastname, Firstname. Title of the Book. Publishing Company, Year.

Bullock, Richard. The Norton Field Guide to Writing. Norton, 2006.


When an ebook has no page numbers/non-stable pagination, use the smallest identifiable locator instead (e.g., paragraph or chapter number, section name, etc.) in your in-text citations.

  • Narrative Citation: Meyers writes, “…” (18).
  • Parenthetical Citation: ...end of paraphrase (Meyers 27).

​Sample Works Cited: Lastname, Firstname. Title of the Book. Publishing Company, Year. DOI#/URL.

Meyers, Jeffrey. Orwell: Life and Art. University of Illinois Press, 2020.

Chapter/Essay in an Anthology

For in-text citations, only include the author’s name for the chapter/article/essay you are citing.

  • Narrative Citation: Weller states, “…” (32).
  • Parenthetical Citation: "...end of quotation" (Weller 32).

For the Works Cited entry, include the editor’s name(s) after the anthology title. Also include the page range of the chapter after the year of publication.

​Sample Works Cited: Lastname, Firstname. “Title of the Chapter/Essay.” Title of the Anthology the Chapter/Essay is in, edited by Editor’s Name(s), Publishing Company, Year, pp. page range.

Weller, Archie. “Going Home.” Australian Literature: An Anthology of Writing from the Land Down Under, edited by Phyllis Fahrie Edelson, Ballantine Books, 1993, pp. 68-82.

NOTE: If you reference two or more chapters/essays from the same collection, you must include a separate Works Cited entry for both chapters/essays.

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Class Materials (lectures, PowerPoints, etc.)

For in-text citations of lectures, you only need to provide the lecturer’s last name.

  • Narrative Citation: Masson described it as “....”
  • Parenthetical Citation: "...end of quotation" (Masson).

For Works Cited entries, include the lecture name in quotation mark, the name of any events or conferences the lecture was part of in regular font, the date of the lecture, the location and city of the lecture, and what kind of address it is.

Sample Works Cited: Lastname, Firstname. “Title of the Lecture.” Other Contextualizing Features if Applicable – e.g., Name of Conference, etc., Day Month Year, Location of Lecture, City. Type of Address.

Masson, Scott. “Paradise Lost on Venus.” 4 Feb. 2020, Tyndale University, Toronto. Lecture.

Lecture Notes or PowerPoints

MLA does have an official format for how to cite lectures notes or PowerPoints. As such, we recommend using the Works Cited template for lectures (above) but with “Lecture Notes” or “PowerPoint” as the “Type of Address.”

For in text citations, provide some sort of indicator (lecture note page number, slide number, etc.) to let your reader know where you got the information from.

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Periodicals (Peer-Reviewed Journals, Newspapers, etc.)

In MLA, periodicals – whether Peer-Reviewed Journals, Newspapers, or Magazines – are all cited the same way. The examples below assumes you are looking at an electronic journal article, as this is the most common type of academic periodical.

Whenever possible, include a DOI (digital object identifier) number in place of a Permalink or Stable URL. If you are looking a print version of a journal article, everything is the same except no DOI number or URL is included.

  • Narrative citation: As McVey argues, “…” (261).
  • Parenthetical citation: ...end of paraphrase (McVey 261).

Sample Works Cited: Lastname, Firstname. “Title of the Article.” Title of the Journal, vol. #, [issue] no. #, Year, pp. page range. Journal Database, DOI or URL if applicable.

McVey, Christopher. “Reclaiming the Past: Michael Ondaatje and the Body of History.” Journal of Modern Literature, vol. 37, no. 2, 2014, pp. 141-160. JSTOR,

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Reference Works (Dictionaries, Encyclopaedias, etc.)

For non-authored reference works, in lieu of an in-text citation, you should introduce the term being defined and the reference work it came from as part of your sentence.

  • The Oxford English Dictionary defines “jealousy” as “…”

Common Print Reference Works

In your Works Cited entry for print reference works, include the term you are looking up in quotation marks, the name of the reference work in italics, volume and edition numbers as applicable, and year of publication.

Sample Works Cited: “Term Being Defined.” Title of the Reference Work. #th ed. (if applicable), Year.

“Cold War” Encyclopaedia Brittannica. 14th ed., 1929.

Common Online Reference Works

In your Works Cited entry for online reference works, include the term you are looking up in quotation marks, the name of the reference work in italics, any edition and year of publication information if available, and the URL. If the dictionary does not have a year of publication (e.g., not an eBook but an online version of a dictionary), include an access date.

Sample Works Cited: “Term Being Defined.” Title of the Reference Work. #th ed. (if applicable), Year, URL. Accessed Day Month Year (if applicable).

“Jealousy.” Oxford English Dictionary Accessed 13 July 2022.

Authored Reference Works

For authored reference works, you can use more traditional in-text citations:

  • Narrative Citation: Klages defines “postcolonial” as “…”
  • Parenthetical Citation: "... end of quotation" (Klages, “postcolonial”).

The Works Cited entry will be similar to the non-authored examples above, only that the entry starts with the author’s name. Since reference works with authors are often not updated regularly and may be similar to an “anthology,” you may wish to include the publishing company as well.

Sample Works Cited: Lastname, Firstname. “Term Being Defined.” Title of the Reference Work, #th ed. (if applicable), Publishing Company, Year, URL if applicable.

Klages, Mary. “Postcolonial.” Key Terms in Literary Theory, London, 2012,,sso&db=n....

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Sacred Works (the Bible)

For in-text citations, indicate the book, chapter, and verse where you got your reference from. Use abbreviated book names (found on pp. 97-100 of the MLA Handbook) in parenthetical citations but the full name in narrative citations.

  • Narrative Citation: John writes in Revelation 12:21, “…”
  • Parenthetical Citation: ... end of paraphrase (Rev. 12:21).

NOTE: The first time you cite a translation, you must provide the full translation name in regular font as part of your citation. For example:

  • Narrative Citation: Paul says in Romans 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him” (New International Version).
  • Parenthetical Citation: God instructed Moses to “chisel out two stone tablets like the first ones” (New International Version, Exod. 34:1).

If you only use one translation in your assignment, subsequent entries do not need to refer to the translation again. However, if you use multiple translations, you must provide the full name the first time each translation is referenced and abbreviations (NIV) for subsequent references.

For your Works Cited, include all editions and/or translations of sacred works that you used.

Sample Works Cited: Title of the Sacred Work (Translation name if the Bible). Publishing Company, Year.

The Holy Bible: New International Version. Zondervan, 2011.

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Theses, Dissertations, and Monographs

Theses and dissertations are referenced similar to books, but without a publishing company. Instead, at the end of the Works Cited entry, add the university at which the project was completed and what type of document it is.

  • Narrative Citation: Noschka explains, “…” (112).
  • Parenthetical Citation: "... end of quotation" (Noschka 112).

Sample Works Cited: Lastname, Firstname. Title of the Thesis/Dissertation/Monograph. Year. University Name, Type of Document.

Noschka, Michael J. Biopolitics in the Age of Shakespeare. 2014. Arizona State University, Ph. D. dissertation.

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The following guide lists how to cite websites in MLA style. Please note, however, that websites are not considered scholarly sources. Therefore, they should only be used in particular contexts (e.g., referring to an author’s blog where they provide insight into why they wrote something a certain way) rather than as a foundational part of your research.

NOTE: A “webpage” is the specific page you got your information from (like a chapter in a book). A “website” is the larger domain where all the pages on that site are housed (like the book the chapter is in). Since there are no page numbers on websites, include the URL instead as part of your footnotes and Bibliography entries.  

Webpage with Author (e.g., blog post)

Sample Works Cited: Lastname, Firstname. “Title of the Webpage.” Title of the Website, Date of publication, URL. Accessed Day Month Year (if no date of publication).

Carr, A. (2016). “3 Revolutionary Women of Mathematics.” Scientific American, 24 Mar. 2016,

Webpage without Author

If you are citing a website where there is no author, simply drop the author from the Works Cited entry. Everything else is the same.

For in-text citations, you will want to refer to the page’s name or topic in some way in your Narrative citation and then the URL in brackets. For Parenthetical citations, use a shortened version of the page’s title and the URL.

Sample Works Cited: “Title of the Webpage.” Title of the Website, Date of publication, URL. Accessed Day Month Year (if no date of publication). 

"What Does the Bible Say about Women Pastors?” Got Questions, Accessed 12 Nov. 2019.

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Citing Something Someone Else Cited

Sometimes, you will find a quotation or a paraphrase in another text that perfectly fits what you want to say. Whenever possible, try to find the original source so that you can double check the accuracy and context of what the original author said. But when you can’t locate the original source, how do you cite their ideas properly?

In MLA, your indirect citations should be introduced using a signal phrase that references the original author. Then, in a parenthetical citation at the end of the sentence, include the phrase “qtd. in” followed by the citation information for the source you have.

  • According to Riley, “…” (qtd. in Johnson 86).

For your Works Cited entry, you do NOT need to include the original source. Only include the source you have in your Works Cited. So for the case above, you would only produce a Works Cited entry for the Johnson source.

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