MLA Style: Basic Rules

Framework

Core Elements
Containers

Each Entry in the list of works cited is composed of facts common to most works - the MLA core elements.

They are assembled in a specific order:

The concept of containers is crucial to MLA style.

When the source being documented forms part of a larger whole, the larger whole can be thought of as a container that holds the source.

For example, a short story may be contained in an anthology. The short story is the source, and the anthology is the container.

1
Author.
 
2
Title of source.
3
Title of container,
4
Other contributors,
5
Version,
6
Number,
7
Publisher,
8
Publication date,
9
Location.
 

Authors

One Author

Core Elements:

Last name, then comma, and then first name.

Example:

Ocean, Frank

Two Authors

Core Elements:

Last name, then comma, and then first name (for leading author), and first name then last name (for co-author).

Example:

Molina, Juana, and Stephen Wilkinson

Three or More Authors

Core Elements:

Only list the leading author's name followed by a comma and et al.

Example:

Gibbons, Beth, et al.

Organization as Author

Core Elements:

For a corporation, institution, or any organization that takes authorship responsibility, list their name in full (minus any "the" at the beginning).

Examples:

World Wide Fund for Nature
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

No Author

Core Elements:

Begin the citation with the title of the resource.

Example:

"Adele Left Devastated by Pizza Ban." World Entertainment News Network, 12 Aug. 2016. Hospitality, Tourism and Leisure, libproxy.howardcc.edu/login?url=https://go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?p=PPTH&sw=w&u=colu91149&v=2.1&it=r&id=GALE%7CA460503421&asid=3e652e44cab8904e8f7b0fc0006d6e2f.

Authors for Television and Movies

Core Elements:

Authors for television and movies have their name followed by their role. The focus of your discussion decides whom is the author for your citation (e.g., whether you are primarily discussing a specific actor's performance, or the editing of a film, or the overall directorial vision, etc.).

Examples:

Ali, Mahershala, actor.
Sixel, Margaret, editor.
Suzuki, Seijun, director.

Titles

Titles for Smaller Works

Core Elements:

Put quotation marks around, and type smaller works (e.g., articles, chapters, television episodes, songs, poems, etc.) in title case (the first letter of each word is capitalized--except for conjunctions, articles, and prepositions that are not the first words in either the title and/or subtitle).

Examples:

"Cognition and the Assessment of Interaction Episodes in Jazz Improvisation."
"Building Steam with a Grain of Salt."

Titles for Larger Works

Core Elements:

Italicize and type larger works (e.g., academic journals, magazines, newspapers, books, television shows, etc.) in title case (the first letter of each word is capitalized--except for conjunctions, articles, and prepositions that are not the first words in either the title and/or subtitle). Follow the original capitalization of organizations with their names (e.g., WebMD).

Examples:

Mo' Meta Blues: The World According to Questlove
Last Night the Moon Came Dropping Its Clothes in the Street

Other Contributors

Core Elements:

If the participation of other individuals, besides the author(s), played a relevant part in the creation of the resource you are discussing: They can be listed under other contributors, preceded by a description of their role.

Examples:

adapted by Noah Hawley
edited by Toni Morrison
translated by Gregory Rabassa
illustrated by Virgil Finlay
performance by Aubrey Plaza
cinematography by Shigeyoshi Mine

Multiple Publishers or Elements

Core Elements:

Forward slashes should go in-between multiple pieces of information where a comma would cause confusion (i.e., an overabundance of core elements).

Examples:

Morgan Creek Productions / Telefilm Canada / Mantle Clinic II
watercolor / pen and ink

Publication Dates

Date Is Available

Core Elements:

Day Month Year
Journals and books, include year only.

Examples:

29 Nov. 2016
2017

No Date

Core Elements:

Day Month Year
Websites with no publication date, use either an update or copyright date.
Ancient texts with no publication date (e.g., works from Homer or Plato), use the translation date.
If an approximate date or date range can be inferred, use square brackets with either circa preceding the date or a question mark after the date.
If there really is no perceivable date, do not include any date information whatsoever--not even an abbreviation designating that there is no date.

Examples:

24 Mar. 2017
[circa 1930]
[1849?]

The History Teaching Institute. "Loyalists and Loyalism in the American Revolution." The History Teaching Institute @ The Ohio State University, hti.osu.edu/history-lesson-plans/united-states-history/loyalists.

Page Numbers

Core Elements:

Unlike in-text and parenthetical citations, preface page numbers with a p. for a single page and pp. for multiple pages.

Examples:

p. 101
pp. 78-83

Web Addresses (URLs) and Digital Object Identifiers (DOIs)

URLs for Database Resources

Core Elements:

Provide a direct link to the resource complete with the library portal preceding it (i.e., libproxy.howardcc.edu/login?url=).

Examples:

libproxy.howardcc.edu/login?url=https://go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?p=PPGB&sw=w&u=colu91149&v=2.1&it=r&id=GALE%7CA361713542&asid=66c8c5c108faef76c946daa80d08d0a4

URLs for Websites

Core Elements:

Provide a direct link to the resource when obtained from a website, and subtract the "https://" or "https://" before the URL.

Example:

pitchfork.com/features/article/10018-does-college-radio-even-matter-anymore/

DOIs

Core Elements:

DOIs (when available) are preferred to URLs. Put "doi:" before a DOI with no space in-between them.

Example:

doi:10.2307/823452