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How to cite in MLA


In MLA style, two citation types are needed to cite a source: the in-text citation, which shows the author names, and the workscited-list entrywhich gives complete information of a source. The works-cited-list entry appears at the end of the work.  

An in-text citation directs the reader to see the complete information available in the works-cited-list entry. Therefore, all entries in the works-cited list should be cited at least once in the text. The works-cited-list entry helps the reader locate the source of the work. 

In-text citations

To cite a source in the text in MLA style, the major component required for an in-text citation is the author’s name. Unlike other citation styles, the year is not essential in MLA style. When you want to quote the text used in a source, you must add the page number or line number of the quoted text in the original source. In-text citations, in turn, are represented in either of the following two ways:

Citations in prose

Parenthetical citations

Citations in prose

Citations in prose appear as a part of the sentence. In its first mention, the citation takes the full name of the author (i.e., first name and surname). In subsequent citations, give only the surname. Middle initial, if any, given in the works-cited-list entry should not be included for in-text citations. The first citation in prose looks as below:

Daniel Cooper explains the spiritual geography of the landscape.


You should include only the surname of the author in parenthetical citations. Parenthetical citations appear at the end of the sentence. A parenthetical citation looks like the one shown below:

The spiritual geography of the landscape is explained (Cooper).

Adding other components

Page numbers are included for in-text citations when a specific line is taken directly from the source. When you include the page number, do not use “p.” or “pp.” before the page number(s).

Gingrich-Philbrook says, “Reprogramming the stage is a heuristic for posthuman performance” (324).

The below examples show how a chapter, line, and scene are cited in both citation in prose and parenthetical citations:

In prose:

chapter 7

scene 3

line 44


(ch. 7)

(sc. 3)

(line 44)

Example in-text citations

The below examples show how in-text citations should be given for different numbers of authors:

One author

The first mention of the citation in prose takes the full name of the author. In subsequent occurrences, the surname alone can be used. However, parenthetical citations always use the surname of the author.

Citation in prose:

First mention: Sabrina Abrams asserts …. (7).

Subsequent occurrences: Abrams argues …. (7).


….(Abrams 7)

Two authors

The first mention of the citation in prose takes the full name of both the authors. In subsequent occurrences, only the surname of the authors should be used. However, parenthetical citations always use the surname of the authors. In parenthetical citations, the word “and” is used to separate the surnames.

Citation in prose:

First mention: Kristin Langellier and Claire Sullivan ….

Subsequent occurrences: Langellier and Sullivan ….


….(Langellier and Sullivan)

Three or more authors

Citations in prose mention the first author’s full name and the phrase “and colleagues” or “and others.”

Parenthetical citations mention only the first author’s full name followed by “et al.” in parentheses.

Citation in prose:

Lacy Lowrey and colleagues…. or Lacy Lowrey and others ….


….(Lowrey et al.)

Corporate author

The corporate author is treated the same way as the author names. Wherever possible, shorten the organization name.

Citation in prose:

The Literary Society of India….


….(Literary Society of India)

No author

For sources that do not have author names, use the title in in-text citations.

Italicize the title. If the title is long, you can use a short form of the title.

Citation in prose:

Animal Parade explains …. (160)


….(Animal 160)

Works-cited-list entries

Works-cited-list entries have four major units:

  1. Author
  2. Publication date
  3. Title(s)
  4. Source or location

Examples of works-cited-list entries

The examples of different types of works-cited list entries are listed below for a single author.


The title of the book is given italics formatting and added in title case.


Surname, First name. Middle name initial. Title of the Book. Publisher, Publication Date. Page range.


Chaudhuri, Una. The Stage Lives of Animals: Zooësis and Performance. Routledge, 2017.

Journal article

The article title is given in title case and inside the quotation marks. The journal title is italicized. Include the abbreviation “vol.” before the volume and “no.” before the issue. MLA style uses “pp.’’ before the page range.


Surname, First name. “Title of the Article.” Journal Title, Volume #, Issue, Publication Date, Page range.


Collins, Christopher C. “Animal Parade.” Text and Performance Quarterly, vol. 39, no. 2, 2019, pp. 160–72.

Webpage of a website

The name of the website is italicized, but the title of the webpage is given in plain format.


Author or Organization Name. “Title of the webpage.” Website Name. Publication Date, URL.


Warner, Shayna. “Interview: Filmmaker Jim Bernfield Follows Two Actors with Parkinson’s as they Perform Endgame.” Theater Mania. 24 Feb. 2021, www.theatermania.com/new-york-city-theater/news/interview-filmmaker-jim-bernfield-follows-two-acto_.

YouTube video

In YouTube citations, the video title is placed inside quotation marks and written in title case. The word “YouTube” follows the title. Give the uploader’s name as found on the YouTube site. Give the uploaded date after the uploader’s name. Finally, add the URL.


“Title of the Video.” YouTube, uploaded by Uploader’s Name, Day Month Year, URL.


“Heterophobia 2001.” YouTube, uploaded by Ragan Fox, 7 Jan. 2012, www.youtube.com/watch?v=f9ocWcSH1(0.

Works-cited-list entries for different numbers of authors

The following examples show how a source with different numbers of authors will be presented in the works-cited-list entry. The examples provided are journal works with one author, two authors, and more than two authors.

One author

Write the author name in surname-first name format.


Surname, First name. “Title of the Article.” Journal Title, Volume #, Issue, Publication Date, Page range.


Aragon, Claire. J. “Bently Spang: On the Future of Indigenous Performance Art.” Text and Performance Quarterly, vol. 35, no. 4, 2015, pp. 345–58.

Two authors

The first author’s name follows the usual format: Surname, First Name. After the first author’s name, add a comma, the word “and”, then the First name Surname of the second author.


Author Surname, First name. Middle name initial., and First name Surname. “Title of the Article.” Journal Title, Volume #, Issue, Publication Date, Page range.


Fienup-Riordan, Ann, and Melia Knecht. “Irr’inarqellriit /Amazing Things: Quinhagak Elders Reflect on Their Past.” Alaskan Journal of Anthropology, vol. 13, no. 2, 2015, pp. 37–71.

More than 2 authors

Only the first author’s name is listed then followed by a comma and “et al.”


Author Surname, First name, et al. “Title of the Article.” Journal Title, Volume #, Issue, Publication Date, Page range.


Masson-MacLean, Edouard, et al. “Pre-contact Adaptations to the Little Ice Age in Southwest Alaska: New Evidence from the Nunalleq Site.” JQI Quaternary International, vol. 549, 2020, pp. 130–41.

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