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How to Get Your MLA Citation Format Right?

| August 12, 2017

How to get your MLA citation format right?  Well, the help is right here.  When you are asked to write an essay or report in an MLA format, you might be confused how to reference your sources to avoid plagiarism. The MLA citation format is designed by the Modern Language Association,  and the latest, 8th edition gives you simple guidelines to follow when providing direct quotes or referring to works you used to write your essay.

It is mostly used for liberal arts, literature, and humanities course works. The requirements for in-text citation and reference list have been updated, due to the different types of electronic sources used by students.

Find out below how to create a Works Cited page in MLA and avoid plagiarism.MLA Citation

How to Format Your MLA Citation: General Guidelines

Before you create your Works Cited page in MLA, you need to make sure that you get the order right. The following information is needed on the page in the following order:

  1. Author’s name
  2. Title of source (book or article
  3. Title of journal or collection
  4. Other contributors or editors
  5. Version number or “updated” information
  6. Number of the publication
  7. Publisher’s name
  8. Publication date
  9. Location of the publication

Unlike in other academic formats, such as Chicago and Harvard Manual of Style , the date of the publication is in the very end of the citation. The updated 8th edition MLA style guide has simplified some of the references, so you can easily quote websites and online sources, too.

Author’s Information

The name of the author should be in a surname-first name order. If there is only one author, you need to write their full name, not only the initials, followed by a full stop. If there are two authors, connect their names with an “and”. If there

Title Page

The titles of books should be written in Italics, but if you are using a website, the site’s title needs to be in quotes. When citing a journal article in an MLA format, you need to put the article’s title in quotes and the journal’s name (container) in italics. Music track titles should also be cited in italics.

Container (collection or journal)

As a general rule the container always has to be in Italics and title case. This includes the website where you found an article used as a source for your essay.

Translation and Commentary

You need to add this information after the basic (title and container) information, such as: “Translated by” or “Explanatory notes written by” followed by the name.

Publisher and Publication Date

If you know the version of the source, you add this, followed by the publisher’s name and the date of the publication.

Sample MLA Citation:

Your MLA references should look like this:

Contributors’ names. “Title of Resource.” Journal Name, Last edited date.

WritePass - MLA citation


In-text MLA Citations

You can use direct or paraphrased quotations in MLA format. Unlike in APA and Harvard, you will not need to use the date when citing the source, only the name of the author, and the page number if you have taken an idea directly from a source, even if you paraphrased it.

As a general rule, if you refer to the author in the same sentence, you will not need to add their name in the MLA format citation again, only the page number. For example, you can write the following sentence:

“Greene claims that “urban neighbourhoods are declining” (226). You still have to note the page number for direct quotations, without the letter “p” or a full stop after the page number.

If your MLA sources have more than one authors with the same surname, it is recommended that you use their first initial to identify them clearly in in-text citations. If there are two authors, write both of their surnames, and if there are three or more, only write the first author’s surname followed by “et al.”.

When you quote indirect sources, you will need to add “” and  “name of the author” to your MLA citation.

What are Parenthetical Citations?

Any idea that you take directly from a source is a parenthetical citation, even if you do not quote it word-for-word. You always have to identify the source by page number to avoid plagiarism.

What is the Main Change in the 8th Edition MLA Citation Guide?

  • In previous versions, you were required to write web sources in a format that starts with http: or www. In the new version, you do not need to add either, simply start with the web address without the “www”.

How to Format Your MLA Citation Page?

  • You need to write “Works Cited” centred on the top of the MLA citation page. This is followed by tge alphabetical list of your sources used to write your essay. Order your sources based on authors’ surname.
  • Do not start your source indented, but every second and following line of the same source needs to be indented half an inch.
  • Do not put extra paragraph space between sources.
  • If your Works Cited page is longer than one page, you do not have to use “Works Cited” on the next pages as a title.

How to Check your MLA Referencing is Correct?

There are several ways you can make sure that you have your MLA sources listed correctly. You might want to use the simple solution and use Google Scholar for referencing, however, it is not a hundred percent reliable. There are also tools you can use to create your MLA citations, such as citation machine. When you use the tool, you need to make sure that you select MLA 8th edition, as the references are created in 7th edition format as standard. Simply choose the type of source, and add your title and author, so you get your MLA references formatted for you.

If you are not sure whether or not you have created the right format of citation or want to make sure you are not accused of plagiarism, and included all your sources, you can get in touch with our experienced academic editors at WritePass  to help you out.

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How to Get Your MLA Citation Format Right?
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How to Get Your MLA Citation Format Right?
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