MLA 8 Citation Guide

This is a complete guide to MLA 8 (Modern Language Association, 8th edition) in-text and reference list citations. This easy-to-use, comprehensive guide makes citing any source easy. Check out our other citation guides on APA and Harvard referencing.

1. Core Components


  • If adding something that isn’t in the original source, add it within square brackets
  • If the date is approximate, add ‘circa.’ before it
  • If you are unsure about the components in the source, follow it with a ‘?’

2. MLA Referencing Basics: Works-Cited List

In MLA8 format, the reference list is usually titled the ‘Works-Cited List’. This is a list of all the sources referenced within the document and contains the author's name, source title, date of publication and more information which varies depending on the source type. A MLA Works-Cited List must:

  • Begin in a new page at the end of the document

  • Be ordered alphabetically by name of first author (or title if the author is unknown, in terms of alphabetising this ‘a’, ‘an’ and ‘the’ should be ignored)

    • If there are multiple works by the same author these are ordered by date, if the works are in the same year they are ordered alphabetically by the title

  • Entries must be double spaced

  • Second and subsequent lines of a source must be indented 0.5inches from the margin

  • If multiple works by the same author are listed, the first reference must contain the full name but subsequent references should have author name replaced with ‘- - -’

  • Contain full references for all in-text references used

3. MLA Referencing Basics: In-Text Citation

In-text references must be included following the use of a quote or paraphrase taken from another piece of work.

In-text citations are citations within the main body of the text and refer to a direct quote or paraphrase. In-text citations:

  • Correspond to a reference in the main reference list.

  • They contain the first word of the reference, which is usually the author’s surname, and the page, or page-range in which the reference is found.

  • They come directly after the quote or parenthetical or in a natural pause.

Using the example author James A. Mitchell they take the form:

Mitchell states “...” (189) Or (Mitchell 189)


More than One Author:


For 2-3 authors, all the names can be listed along with the page number in the following format:

(Mitchell, Thomson, and Smith 189)

For 3+ authors, only the surname of the first author should be listed followed by ‘et al’:

(Mitchell et al. 189)

No Authors:

In this case, the whole title italicised, a shortened title within quotation marks or an article or webpage in quotation marks should be used in place of the author. Using the example of a book ‘A guide to citation’ and an article ‘APA Citation guide’, this takes the form:

Book Title: A Guide to Citation states “..” (189) Or (A Guide to Citation 189)

Article Title: “APA Citation Guide” states “...” (189) Or (“APA Citation Guide” 189)

Authors With Multiple Cited Works:

Include a shortened version of the title within the citation: (Mitchell, A Guide to Citation 189)

Authors With the Same Surname:

In this case, include an initial: (J. Mitchell 76) and (M. Mitchell 100-120)

No Page Number

If the source includes another numbered pattern (eg chapters, paragraphs) then these numbers can be used instead: (Mitchell, ch. 7) ch referring to chapter.

If there are no numbered sections then the name is quoted alone.

Citing a Quote or Parenthetical:

In these cases, use ‘qtd.’ before the name: (qtd. In Mitchell 189)

Citing Audio-Visual Sources:

In these cases a time stamp must be used in place of the page number in the form hh:mm:ss: (Mitchell 00:18:23)

4. How to Cite Different Source Types

  • In-text citation only varies with the source type if the author is unknown or if the source is audiovisual (detailed above)

  • Reference list citations are highly variable depending on the source.

How to Cite Books in MLA Format

Book referencing is the most basic type of reference. The basic format is as follows:

Book Referencing Example:

Mitchell, James A.  A Guide to Citation. 2nd ed, My London Publisher, 2017.

Note: Author name. Title. Version, Publisher, Year of Publication.


How to Cite Edited and Translated Books  in MLA Format

The format of these is the same as a book reference except that the editor or translator must be specified. This is done in one of two ways:

  1. Editor or translator is added after the names in the author list. This is done if the editing or translation is the focus of you work. Eg Mendeley, James, editor.

  2. The names are added to the contributors list preceded by ‘translated by’ or ‘edited by’. This is done if the author or work itself is the focus of your work, no the editing or translation. Eg Edited by James Mendeley,

The two possible formats are as followed:

Last name, first name, editor. Title. Title of container, Contributors, Version, Number, Publisher, Year of publication. Or

Last name, first name. Title. Title of container, edited by Contributors, Version, Number, Publisher, Year of publication.

Edited and Translated Book Examples:

Troy, Ben N., editor, and Mary Smith. A Guide to Citation Rules. Oxford Publishers, 2015.

Coyne, Kate and Nick A. Smith. MLA Citation Rules. Translated by Chris Andrews, New York Publishings, 2004.

How to Cite E-Books in MLA Format

An e-book is considered to be a different version of a book, so the e-book identity is entered into the version section of the regular book reference template. Specific providers of e-book can be referenced for instance kindle which is referenced as ‘kindle ed.’.

The basic format of an e-book citation is:

Last name, first name. Title. Title of container, Contributors, edition, e-book, Number, Publisher, Year of publication.

E-Book Example:

Troy, Ben N., et al. A Guide to Citation. 2nd ed, e-book, New York Publishers, 2010.

How to Cite a Chapter (or Essay) in a Book in MLA Format

This reference takes a slightly different form to the book reference

Chapter Example:

Mitchell, James A. “MLA Citation”. A Guide to Citation, My London Publisher, 2017, pp. 107-134

How to Cite Articles in MLA Format

The basic format for citing journal, newspaper and magazine articles is the same:

There are variations between journal, magazine and newspaper article references within the date and title of container sections.

Journal Example:

Mitchell, James A. “Citation: Why is it Important”. Mendeley Journal, vol. 4, no. 6, Summer

1999, pp .607-674.

Newspaper/Magazine Example:

Mitchell, James A. “How Citation Changed the Research World”. The Mendeley, weekend edition, vol. 62, no. 9, 6 September 2017, pp. 70-81.

Online Example:

The only change when referencing an online article is the addition of the database title and a URL or DOI corresponding to the article.

Mitchell, James A. “Citation: Why is it Important”. Mendeley Journal, vol. 4, no. 6, Summer

1999, pp .607-674. Journal Database,

5. How to Cite Non Print Material

Image in MLA Format

The basic format to cite an image is as follows:

Creator’s surname, other names. “Title of Image”. Website Title, contributors, reproduction, number, date, URL.

Image Example:

Millais, Sir John Everett. “Ophelia.” Tate, N01506, 1851-2,

Film in MLA Format

The basic structure of a film reference is:

Director name, director. “Title of film”.  Contributors, Distributor, year of release. Medium

However, the title and director name can be swapped if the focus of your work is not on the director:

“Title of film”.Directed by director name, contributors,  Distributor, year of release. Medium

The medium is not needed for MLA8 citation but it is useful for the reader. If the film is from online, the medium should be swapped for a URL.

Film Example:

Hitchcock, Alfred, director. “Rear Window”. Performances by Grace Kelly and James Stewart, Paramount Pictures, 1954. DVD



TV Series in MLA Format


The format is similar to that of a movie reference but includes the episode and season number:

“Episode Title”. Program Title, created by Creator Name, contributors, season #, episode #. Network, Year of Publication.

TV Series Example

“Fly.” Breaking Bad, written by Sam Catlin and Moira Walley-Beckett, directed by Rian Johnson, season 3, episode 10, AMC, 2010.


Music in MLA Format


The basic structure for referencing music is:

Author name(s). “Title of the Track”. Title of the Album, other contributers, version, Record Label, Year of Publication

Music Example:

Beyonce. “Hold Up”. Lemonade, Parkwood Entertainment, 2016.


How to Cite a Webpage in MLA Format


The basic format for this is:

Last name of author, first name. “Title of page/document”. Title of overall webpage, date, URL.

Website Example:

Mitchell, James A., and Martha Thomson. How and When to Reference. 25 Jan. 2017:

To learn more about citing a webpage and entire websites in MLA, APA or Harvard check out How to Cite a Website post.

For a summary of all the references for each source type along with examples take a look at our Ultimate Citation Cheat Sheet. It also contains examples for APA and Harvard formats.