MLA Documentation Style

What is MLA Style?

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Modern Language Association (MLA) style is one of several styles for academic citation. It is used in the humanities, especially English. The examples in this guide cover the more common sources only. For more detailed information, refer to the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers 7th ed. available in the Reference and the circulation collections at LB 2369.G53 2009.

The following pages explain how to acknowledge the sources you use when writing essays. There are two places in the essay where citations of sources are provided:
1. In the body of the essay, you acknowledge your source at the end of the sentence containing the quotation or reference to another author's works. We refer to these end-of-sentence citations below as "parenthetical references."  See below under the heading "Parenthetical References" for further details on how to compose and format these citations.  
2. At the end of the essay, after the last page, create a list of all of the sources mentioned in the essay. When using MLA Style, this list is entitled "Works Cited" but do not put quotation marks around it, and do not underline or italicize it.

General Rules

  • Double-space the entire list.
  • Use hanging indention format. Indent one-half inch from the left margin. In MS Word use Page Layout>Paragraph>Special> Hanging.
  • Alphabetize entries by the author's last name or, if there is no author, by title, ignoring initial articles such as A , An or The.
  • Reverse the author's name for alphabetizing, but otherwise give the author's name as it appears in the source.
  • If there are two or more entries by the same author(s), give the name(s) in the first entry, and then use three hyphens in place of the name(s) in the following entry or entries; alphabetize the entries by title.
  • Capitalize the first, the last and all significant words of a title and subtitle regardless of how they are capitalized in your source.
  • Omit initial articles for titles of journals, magazines and newspapers; also omit subtitles .
  • Italicize titles and subtitles for works published independently; use quotation marks for works published only as part of another work, e.g. essay in a book or article in a journal.
  • If more than one city is listed for a publisher, give only the first city as place of publication.
  • Shorten publisher's name. Use U for university and P for press (MLA Handbook 151).
  • If two or more publishers are listed, give them in the same order as on the title page.
  • Missing publication information that you provide is in square brackets to show it did not come from the source; otherwise use n.p. for no place of publication or no publisher given, and n.d. for no date of publication given (MLA Handbook 179).
  • To cite material from a database to which the library subscribes, such as JSTOR, add the word Web before the date of access.

“MLA style is flexible, and sometimes you must improvise to record features not anticipated by this handbook” (MLA Handbook 182).

Parenthetical References

1. Wherever you incorporate another's words, facts or ideas, insert a brief parenthetical acknowledgement. Give the author's last name and the page(s) of the source. If the author's name appears in the preceding sentence, you may omit it from the parenthetical citation.

  • Medieval Europe was a place of "raids, pillages, slavery, and extortion" (Townsend 10).
  • Townsend notes that medieval Europe was a place of "raids, pillages, slavery, and extortion" (10).

2. For web resources, unless the pages or paragraphs are numbered, use only the author's last name. If no author is indicated, use the first word of the title.

3. "If you borrow more than once from the same source within a single paragraph and no borrowing from another source intervenes, you may give a single parenthetical reference after the last borrowing" (MLA Handbook 218).

4. In citing classic verse, plays and poems, omit page numbers and cite by division (act, scene, canto, book, part) and line, with periods separating the various numbers. Titles of famous works are often abbreviated (Ham . 1.5.35-37).

The following sample bibliographical entries show you how each item should appear in the Works Cited list at the end of your essay.  After each sample bibliographical entry, there is a second example that shows how to format the parenthetical references.  These examples of parenthetical references show you how to cite books and other sources in the body of your essay by placing them inside round brackets at the end of the sentence containing the quotation or reference to another author's work.

Sample Formats:

Books | Journal Articles | Web Documents | Media


One Author
(p. 148 #5.5.2)

Belton, Robert J. Sights of Resistance: Approaches to Canadian Visual Culture. Calgary: U of Calgary P, 2001. Print.

Parenthetical reference: (Belton 32)

Two or More Authors
(p. 154 #5.5.4)

Chambers, Ruth and Jan Gattrell. Okanagan History Vignettes: Readings for Adult Literacy Students. Kelowna: Okanagan University College, 2001. Print.

Parenthetical reference: (Chambers and Gattrell 52-53)


More Than Three Authors
(p. 155 #5.5.4)

Gillis, Sander, et al. Grammar of the English Language. New York: Random, 1987. Print.

Parenthetical reference: (Gillis et al. 27)

Corporate Author
(p. 156 #5.5.5)

Okanagan Writers' League. A Few Loose Feathers: an Anthology. Penticton: Sabre, 1994. Print.

Parenthetical reference: (Okanagan Writers' League 65)

No Author
(p. 162 #5.5.9)

A Guide to Our Federal Lands. Washington: Natl. Geographic Soc., 1984. Print.

Parenthetical reference: (Guide 241-42)

(p. 152 #5.5.3)

Armstrong, Jeannette C. and Lalage Grauer, eds. Native Poetry in Canada : A Contemporary Anthology. Peterborough: Broadview, 2001. Print.

Parenthetical reference: (Armstrong and Grauer 142)

Poem in an Anthology
(p. 157 #5.5.6 & p. 95 #3.7.3)

Page, P. K. "Images of Angels." The Norton Anthology of Modern Poetry. 2nd ed. Ed. Richard Ellmann and Robert O'Clair. New York: Norton, 1988. 941-43. Print.

Parenthetical reference: When describing angels, Page says, "Perhaps only a dog could accept them wholly, / be happy to follow at their heels / and bark and romp with them in the green fields" (59-61).

Article in an Anthology
(p. 157 #5.5.6)

MacArthur, Janet. "Imaginary Homelands and Thoughts Abroad: Dennis Brutus' Hybrid Modernism." Critical Perspectives on Dennis Brutus. Ed. Craig W. McLuckie and Patrick J. Colbert. Colorado Springs: Three Continents, 1995. 70-85. Print.

Parenthetical reference: (MacArthur 70)

Article in a Reference Book
(p. 160 #5.5.7)

Holmes, Nancy . "Writing Programs in Canada ." Encyclopedia of Literature in Canada. Ed. William H. New. Toronto: U of Toronto P, 2002. Print.

Parenthetical reference: (Holmes 167)

Anonymous Entry in a Reference Book: Retrieved From Online Database
(p. 160 #5.5.7, p. 192 #5.6.4 & p. 223 #6.4.4)

"Passion." Def. n. 6a. The Oxford English Dictionary. 2007. OED Online. Web. 25 Jan. 2008.

Parenthetical reference: ("Passion," def. n. 6a") or
One of the meanings of "passion" according to the OED is "..." ("Passion" def. n. 6a).

Anonymous Entry in an Edited Reference Book: Retrieved From Online Database
(p. 160 #5.5.7 &
p. 192 #5.6.4)

"Keats, John." The Concise Oxford Companion to English Literature. Ed. Margaret Drabble and Jenny Stringer. 2003. Oxford Reference Online. Web. 9 Feb. 2007.

Parenthetical reference: ("Keats")

An Introduction, Preface, Forward, or Afterword
(p. 161 #5.5.8)

Glotfelty, Cheryll. "Literary Studies in an Age of Environmental Crisis." Introduction. The Ecocriticism Reader: Landmarks in Literary Ecology. Ed. Cheryll Glotfelty and Harold Fromm. Athens: U of Georgia P, 1996. xv-xxxvii. Print.

Parenthetical reference: (Glotfelty xvi)

A Scholarly Edition
(p. 163 #5.5.10)

Eliot, George. The Mill on the Floss . Ed. Oliver Lovesey. Peterborough: Broadview, 2001. Print.

Parenthetical reference: (Eliot 36)

Graphic Novel
(p. 167 #5.5.12)

Yoshida, Akimi, writer and artist. Banana Fish. Eng. adapt. by Matt Thorn and Carl Gustav Horn. Trans. Matt Thorn. San Francisco: Viz, 2004. Print.

Parenthetical reference: (Yoshida)

Book: 2nd or Subsequent Edition
(p. 166 #5.5.13)

Moss, John. A Reader's Guide to the Canadian Novel. 2nd ed. Toronto: McClelland, 1987. Print.

Parenthetical reference: (Moss 121)

Using One Volume of a Multivolume Work
(p. 169 #5.5.14 & p. 222 #6.4.3)

Yeats, W. B. The Collected Letters of W. B. Yeats. Ed. John Kelly and Eric Domville. Vol. 2. Oxford: Clarendon P; New York: Oxford U P, 1986. Print.

Parenthetical reference: (Yeats 48)

Citing Indirect Sources
(p. 226 #6.4.7) [Volume and Page Number of a Multivolume Work]

Boswell, James. The Life of Johnson . Ed. George Birkbeck Hill and L. F. Powell. 6 vols. Oxford: Clarendon, 1934-50. Print.

Parenthetical reference: Samuel Johnson admitted that Edmund Burke was an
"extraordinary man" (qtd. in Boswell 2: 450).

The Bible
(p. 163 #5.5.9 & p. 228 #6.4.8)

New International Version. Ed. John R. Kohlenberger. Nashville: Holman Bible, 1986. Print.

Parenthetical reference: (New International Version, Josh. 1.9)

Multiple Publishers
(p. 173 #5.5.18)

Loughlin, Marie H. Hymeneutics: Interpreting Virginity on the Early Modern Stage. Lewisburg: Bucknell UP; London: Associated UP, 1997. Print.

Parenthetical reference: (Loughlin 77)

Book in Language Other than English
(p. 178 #5.5.22)

Rivére, Edmond. Jean-Charles Pandosy: de Marseilles a l'Ouest Canadien: 1857-1891. Cholet: Editions Pays & Terroirs, 2002. Print.

Référence dans le texte: (Rivére 87)

Government Publication
(p. 174 #5.5.20)

Canada. Health Canada. Best Practices: Early Intervention, Outreach and Community Linkages for Women with Substance Use Problems. [Ottawa]: Health Canada, 2006. Print.

Parenthetical reference: (Canada. Health Canada 12)

Government Publication: Online
(p. 174 #5.5.20, p. 184 #5.6.2c & p. 224 #6.4.5)

Kelowna. Planning and Development Services Dept. Kelowna Population Statistics . City of Kelowna, n.d. Web. 16 July 2009.

Parenthetical reference: (Kelowna. Planning and Development Services Dept.)

Dissertation: Retrieved From an Online Database
(p. 180 #5.5.26 & p. 187 #5.6.2c & p. 192 #5.6.4)

Blum, Martin Albert. "Body Politics: Otherness and the Representation of Bodies in Late Medieval Writings." Diss. U of British Columbia , 1997. ProQuest Digital Dissertations Web. 22 Dec. 2006.

Parenthetical reference: (Blum 65)

Electronic Book
(p. 187 #5.6.2c)

Bradford, Richard. The Complete Critical Guide to John Milton. London: Routledge, 2001. MyiLibrary. Web. 29 July 2009.

Parenthetical reference: (Bradford 53)

Electronic Book Published Before 1900: Retrieved From Online Database
(p. 187 #5.6.2c & p. 178 #5.5.23)

Defoe, Daniel. Robinson Crusoe. London, 1719. Eighteenth-Century Fiction. Web. 22 Dec. 2006.

Parenthetical reference: (Defoe 28)


Include the issue number, whenever available, along with the volume number.

Print Journal Article
(p. 137 #5.4.2)

Keyes, Daniel. "The Imaginary Community of the Live Studio Audience of Television." Studies in Popular Culture 21.3 (1999): 65-78. Print.

Parenthetical reference: (Keyes 66)

Electronic Journal Article Retrieved From Online Database
(p. 192 #5.6.4)

Lawrence, Sean. "'Gods That We Adore': The Divine in King Lear." Renascence: Essays on Values in Literature 56.3 (2004): 143-59. Academic Search Complete. Web. 19 Dec. 2008.

Parenthetical reference: (Lawrence 144)

Electronic Form Only: No Pagination
(p. 190 #5.6.3)

Eggleston, Robert. "Emma, the Movies, and First-Year Literature Classes." Persuasions: The Jane Austen Journal On-Line 3 (1999): n. pag. Web. 11 June 2006.

Parenthetical reference: (Eggleston)

Article in a Magazine
(p. 142 #5.4.6)

Bemrose, John. "Art of the Ordinary: Carol Shields Turned the Mundane Details of Middle-Class Life Into the Stuff of Vision." Maclean's 28 July 2003: 46. Print.

Parenthetical reference: (Bemrose 46)

Newspaper Article
(p. 141 #5.4.5)

Squire, J. P. "Couplet Canned by Council." Daily Courier [Kelowna] 20 Jan. 2004: A1+. Print.

Parenthetical reference: (Squire A1)

Anonymous Newspaper Article: Retrieved From Online Database
(p. 145 #5.4.9 & p. 192 #5.6.4)

"Poet up for GG's Award." Kelowna Capital News. 18 Oct. 2006: A25. Canadian Newsstand. Web. 22 Dec. 2006.

Parenthetical reference: ("Poet" A25)

Book Review
(p. 144 #5.4.7)

Grekul, Lisa. Rev. of The Honourable Member for Vegreville: The Memoirs and Diary of Anthony Hlynka, MP, Ed. Oleh W. Gems and Denis Hlynka. Canadian Ethnic Studies 38.1 (2006): 182-83. Print.

Parenthetical reference: (Grekul 182)

Work Previously Published: Reprinted in Online Database
(p. 159 #5.5.6 &
p.192 #5.6.4)

Costello, Bonnie. "The Impersonal and the Interrogative in the Poetry of Elizabeth Bishop." Elizabeth Bishop and her Art. Ed. Lloyd Schwartz and Sybil P. Estess. N.p.: U of Michigan P, 1983. 109-32. Rpt. in Literature Criticism Online. Web. 14 Feb. 2008.

Parenthetical reference: (Costello 30)

Advertisement - Print
(p. 203 #5.7.10)

Telus. Advertisement. Maclean's 11 Dec. 2006: 27. Print.

Parenthetical reference: (Telus 27)

Advertisement - Internet Site
(p. 184 #5.6.2b)

Nike. Advertisement. "Don't Wait for Winter." 15 Sept. 2005. Web. 17 Oct. 2007.

Parenthetical reference: (Nike)

(p. 174 #5.5.19)

Faculty of Creative & Critical Studies. Critical Studies. Kelowna: U of British Columbia Okanagan, n.d. Print.

Parenthetical reference: (Faculty of Creative & Critical Studies)

Interview: Conducted by Researcher
(p. 203 #5.8.7)

Casticano, Jodey. Personal Interview. 15 Dec. 2006.

Parenthetical reference: (Casticano)

Class Notes
(p. 203 #5.7.11)

Senger, Lainie. "Historical Backgrounds to Beowulf ." Eng. 153. Readings in Narrative. U of British Columbia Okanagan. 27 May 2009. Class notes.

Parenthetical reference: (Senger)

Custom Course Materials: Reprinted from Another Source
(p. 159 #5.5.6)

Williams, William Carlos. "Raleigh was Right." The Collected Poems of William Carlos Williams. Vol 2. New York: New Directions, 1986. Rpt. in Custom Course Materials: ENGL 150. Ed. Sean Lawrence. Kelowna: U of British Columbia Okanagan, 2006. 68. Print.

Parenthetical reference: (Williams 68)


 Include URL when reader cannot locate source without it or when instructor requires it.
Internet Site: Single Author
(p. 184 #5.6.2b)

Hogan, Joseph. "The Urizen Books of William Blake." Voice of the Shuttle. Dept. of English. U of California, Santa Barbara, n.d. Web. 15 July 2009.

Parenthetical reference: (Hogan)

Internet Site: No Author: No Date: URL Required
(p. 182 #5.6.1)

The Intelligence of Dogs. n.d. Web. 17 Oct. 2006 <>.

Parenthetical reference: (Intelligence)


(p. 184 #5.6.2b)

Zach, Richard. "Teaching Logic from Historical Sources." LogBlog. N.p., 23 Nov. 2006. Web. 15 July 2009.

Parenthetical reference: (Zach)

PowerPoint Posted to Connect
(p. 210 #5.7.18)

Reeves, Margaret. Images and Context for Rachel Speght's Mouzell for Melastomus. Eng. 349A 001 Seventeenth Century Studies: Seventeenth-Century Women's Writing. Vista. U of British Columbia Okanagan. n.d. 22 Oct. 2012. PowerPoint file.

Parenthetical reference: (Reeves)

(p. 205 #5.7.13)

Lovesey, Oliver. "Assignment Guidelines." Message to the author. 22 Jan. 2007. E-mail.

Parenthetical reference: (Lovesey)


A Film: Feature
(p. 197 #5.7.3)

Hamlet . Dir. Franco Zeffirelli. Perf. Mel Gibson. Warner Bros., 1990. DVD.

Parenthetical reference: (Hamlet)

A Film: Documentary
(p. 197 #5.7.3)

The Tribal Mind . National Film Board of Canada, 1994. Videocassette.

Parenthetical reference: (Tribal)

Television Program
(p. 193 #5.7.1)

"Money, Truth and Spin." Narr. Linden MacIntyre. The Fifth Estate. CBC, Toronto. 8 Feb. 2006. Television.

Parenthetical reference: ("Money")

(p. 195 #5.7.2)

Letourneau, Denis, and Stu Goldberg. Reinventions. Dedication Records, 2006. CD.

Parenthetical reference: (Letourneau and Goldberg)

Video Clip Posted to an Internet Site
(p. 189 #5.6.2d)

"Margaret Atwood Lecture." 22 Dec. 2006. YouTube. Web. 22 Jan. 2007.

Parenthetical reference: ("Margaret")

Audio Clip: Podcast
(p. 189 #5.6.2d)

"New Eco Books: Feature Interviews with Margaret Atwood." 4 June 2010. Alternatives Environmental Ideas and Action. Web. 8 Aug. 2011.

Parenthetical reference: ("New")

Exhibit in a Gallery
(p. 200 #5.7.6)

Johnston, Byron, and Bryan Ryley. Here and There II. U of British Columbia Okanagan FINA Gallery, Kelowna.

Parenthetical reference: (Johnston and Ryley)

Painting: Retrieved From Online Database
(p. 200 #5.7.6 & p. 189 #5.6.2d)

Monet, Claude. Haystacks. 1890. Art Institute of Chicago. ARTstor. Web. 22 Dec. 2006.

Parenthetical reference: (Monet)

Image: Retrieved From Web
(p. 189 #5.6.2 & p. 200 #5.7.6)

Lee, John S. Y. Globe Theatre, London. 30 May 2009. Flickr. Yahoo! Web. 17 Aug. 2011.

Parenthetical reference: (Lee)

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