Southeast Missouri State University

All examples are based on the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, 7th edition.

MLA Style Guidelines  

This section provides some general hints to using MLA citations and the basic format of some simple, commonly used materials such as a book, an article found through an online database like ProQuest or Academic Search Complete, and a general website.  For a more detailed reference guide, please see the other sections:

If you still have difficulty, you may come by the Writing Lab and talk to a tutor directly, email us through Ask a Question, or reference the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers available in Kent Library.

If you are having trouble with formatting your paper according to MLA guidelines, the Writing Lab has several tutorials you can use as a template:

Quick Guide to the Most Commonly Used References

Remember!
  • Medium refers to the type of publication it is.  Is it a Print material (journals and books), Web material, or another type of file (MP3 file, PDF file, Kindle ebook file)?
  • If a journal article is retrieved through interlibrary loan (in which another library finds the journal and sends a copy of it), then it is considered a “Print” material even if the copy was sent electronically.
  • Only the city name is needed.  Do not include state or country after it.
  • You may shorten the publisher name by removing any articles (a, an, the) and business abbreviations (Co., Corp., Inc., Ltd.).  University presses may also be shorted using the abbreviation U for university and P for Press (U of Chicago P, Southeast Missouri State UP).
  • Internal citations always go before the period ending the sentence.
  • Do not include the URL unless requested by the teacher.
Book
Reference Page:

Author Last, First. Title of Book. City: Publisher, Year. Medium.

Editor Last, First, ed. Title of Book. City: Publisher, Year. Medium.

Above is the most basic format for a book.  List the author’s name as written on the title page.  If multiple authors or editors are listed, separate with commas and place an “and” before the final author or editor (Last, First, and First Last).  Only the first name is reversed, the rest are written normally.  If you have both author and editor, such as in an anthology, see Books.

Lovecraft, H. P. Supernatural Horror in Literature. New York: Dover, 1973. Print

Internal Citations:

When citing in the text it would be (Last Name ##) — (Lovecraft 23)

An Article in an Online Database
Reference Page:

Articles in an online database are cited the same as print periodicals with the addition of the database it was found on and the date accessed.  Date accessed is always written in Day Month Year format.  For a more comprehensive list, see Periodicals.

Author Last, First. “Title of Article.” Title of Periodical xx.x (Year): pp–pp. Title of Database. Medium. Date Accessed.

Chase, Kenneth R. "Constructing Ethics through Rhetoric: Isocrates and Piety." Quartlerly Journal of Speech 95.3 (2009): 239-262. Academic Search Complete. Web. 4 April 2013.

Internal Citations:

When citing in the text it would be the same as with a book (Last Name ##) — (Chase 242)

A General Website

Websites are much trickier than the other sources listed.  When using a website, you must always judge the reliability of the source.  Is it by a respectable group or organization or is it owned by a random person?  Is the address one you can trust, like .edu or .gov, or an unknown free website like angelfire.com?  Scholarly research isn’t simply about finding some information from whatever websites out there, but finding reliable and verifiable information from trustworthy websites.  Some key things to look for when judging a website’s authority are

  1. does it have an author (or organization as author),
  2. how credible is the author,
  3. does it have a date of publication or update and is it recent,
  4. is the site sponsored by a legitimate organization or agency, and
  5. is the sponsor organization generally considered to have bias. 

Ultimately, use common sense and ask yourself, “Why should I trust this information?”

For a complete list of the different types of web-based sources, see Internet Sources.

Reference Page:

You want to try and find as much information as possible when using a page off a website. You want to try and get author, title of the page, title of website, group or organization sponsoring the website, and the date posted/updated.  An organization can be the author.  If you are missing the author, the title of the page will be the first thing listed.  If you do not have a date, put (n.d.).  If you have no sponsor put N.p.; the sponsor may be very similar to the website name, especially in online newspapers.

Not all websites will have all the desired information.  Find as much as possible, but you can only work with what is there.  If you are missing any information, move on to the next piece.

Author Last, First. “Title of the page.” Title of Website. Sponsor, Date posted/updated. Medium. Date accessed.

"Laws & Regulations." EPA.gov. Environmental Protection Agency, 3 May 2013. Web. 4 June 2013.

Internal Citations:

If a normal author is listed, the format follows the same as books or articles, minus the page number unless it appears on the website (Last Name).

If a title is in place of an author, a shortened version (one to three words) may be used, but make sure there is no confusion with another source. (“Laws”).

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