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Writing & Citation Guide

This LibGuide connects you with resources to assist with citing your sources using MLA, APA, Chicago/Turabian Style citation .

MLA Style is a set of citation and formatting rules developed by the Modern Language Association. MLA is most often used in the Humanities, especially languages and literature, when documenting sources in research papers and projects. Information presented in this guide is based on the MLA Handbook, 8th edition, 2016.

MLA Style includes rules for:

  • the format & page layout of your paper
  • formatting abbreviations, footnotes, quotations, etc.
  • citing authors within the body of a paper (in-text citations)
  • creating a works cited page at the end of your paper

The purpose of citation is to:

  • Identify (cite) other people’s ideas and information used within your essay or term paper.
  • Indicate the authors or sources of these in a Works Cited (MLA) list at the end of your paper.

Important Tips: 

  • Any source information that you provide in an in-text citation must correspond to a source in your Works Cited page.
  • Always refer back to your assignment. Your professor might have listed restrictions on resources and citations and it is important that you stay within the perimeters of your assignment!
  • RBC has the MLA Handbook, 8th edition on 4-hour reserve in the Library.

The core elements of any entry, regardless of the medium, in the works-cited list are given below in the order in which they should appear. Each element is followed by the punctuation mark shown unless it is the final element, which should end with a period.

1. Author. Personal author(s), editor (s), corporate author, director
2. Title of Source. Book title, article title, chapter title, title of TV episode, film title
3. Title of Container, Book title, journal title, title of TV series.
4. Other contributors, Translators, performers
5. Version, Edition, abridged/unabridged, director's cut
6. Number, Volume and issue numbers, season and episode numbers
7. Publisher, Publishers, university presses, organizations, governments, production companies
8. Publication date, Use the date most pertinent to you, full dates given in this format: 24 Aug. 2016
9. Location. Page number(s), web address, DOI, stable URL, time on a recording, DVD disc number

Major changes to MLA 8th edition:

  • If a core element does not exist or cannot be found, simply omit the element from the Works Cited entry. Placeholders including "n.d." for "no date" and "n.p." for "no publisher" are no longer used.
  • Include a DOI (digital object identifier) when available using the format doi:###########. A DOI remains attached to a source even if the URL changes. When possible, citing a DOI is preferable to citing a URL.
  • The URL, without http:// or https://, should be included for Web sources. Angle brackets are no longer used.
  • The source's medium (Print. Web., etc.) is no longer included.
  • Some sources are whole and some are part of one or two containers and require the repetition of some core elements for each container. Add the elements to your reference entry from Author through to Location, then add any second elements in that same order. For example, journal articles from databases have two containers: the first is the journal in which the article is contained and the second is the database which contains the journal.
  • In the Works Cited entry, "p." is used before citing a page number and "pp." is used before citing a page range.

The list of works cited appears at the end of a research paper and includes full bibliographic entries for sources referred to within the paper. The works cited list should appear in alphabetical order and be double-spaced with the heading Works Cited centered at the top of the page. Indent the second and subsequent lines of references by 0.5 inches to create a hanging indent.

Selected Examples:

Book, Single Author
Garcia Marquez, Gabriel. Love in the Time of Cholera. Vintage, 1988.

Book, 2 Authors
Casell, Kay Ann and Uma Hiremath. Reference and Information Services in the 21st Century: An Introduction. Neal-Schuman, 2004.

Book, 3+ Authors
Robbins, Chandler S., et al. Birds of North America: A guide to Field Identification. Golden, 1966.

Atkins, Peter. Animal Cities: Beastly Urban Histories. Routledge, 2016. ebrary,

Article in an Online Database
Hannah, Daniel K. "The Private Life, the Public Stage: Henry James in Recent Fiction." Journal of Modern Literature, vol. 30, no. 3, 2007 pp. 70-94. JSTOR,

Article in Print Journal
Hannah, Daniel K. "The Private Life, the Public Stage: Henry James in Recent Fiction." Journal of Modern Literature, vol. 30, no. 3, 2007, pp. 70-94.

Article in an electronic journal
Chan, Evans. "Postmodernism and Hong Kong Cinema." Postmodern Culture, vol. 10, no. 3, May 2000. Project Muse, doi: 10.1353/pmc.2000.0021.

Article on a Website
Farkas, Meredith. "Tips for Being a Great Blogger (and a Good Person)." Information Wants to Be Free.19 July 2011,

Website (Whole site)
Felluga, Dino. Guide to Literary and Critical Theory. Purdue U, 28 Nov. 2003,

Website with no author
"What's New in the Eighth Edition." The MLA Style Center. 2016,

Website with author
Pinsker, Joe. "Why So Many Smart People Aren't Happy." The Atlantic. 26 Apr. 2016, 



Examples from:
Russell, Tony, et al. "MLA Formatting and Style Guide." The Purdue OWL. Purdue U Writing Lab, 2 Aug. 2016.


In-text citations provide a means for you to give credit when using others' words, facts, or ideas. MLA style uses parenthetical notations to identify the source (author's surname) and the specific location (page number) from which you borrowed material.

Place the parenthetical reference where a natural pause would occur, as near as possible to the material documented. In-text citations are typically placed at the end of a quote, sentence, or paragraph.


Material Type In-Text Citation
Author's name in text                                                               According to Naomi Baron, reading is "just half of literacy. The other half is writing" (194). One might suggest that reading is never complete without writing.
Author's name in reference                   Reading is "just half of literacy. The other half is writing" (Baron 194).
Two authors' names in reference The dataset includes information on the entire population of children who have dropped out of North Carolina's public schools (Sterns and Glennie 37).
Quotation found in indirect or "secondhand" source                                                                                                                                                                  Samuel Johnson admitted that Edmund Burke was an "extraordinary man" (qtd. in Boswell 2: 450).                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

*Citation examples from Duquesne University (2016)


 Sample research paper.


2022 MLA Student Essay Contest



More details can be found at the link listed below.

*Examples from MLS Style Center (2016)

Ask your friendly RBC Librarians! Assistance is available in person, by phone or email.   (804) 862-6226    

Check out the MLA Style CenterYou can view sample papers, download practice templates and keep up to date with MLA changes.

The OWL (Purdue Online Writing Lab) is another great source for writing and citation help.