How to Cite in MLA (8th edition): Everything a Student Should Know about the Most Popular Essay Format

How to Cite in MLA (8th edition): Everything a Student Should Know about the Most Popular Essay Format

The primary question which comes to mind of a highs school students who face the need to include the words of other authors in their essay is how to cite in MLA. Without this knowledge, you risk failing the assignment. This helpful  article from professional writers explains how to proprly cite and format references in MLA format providing the examples of different types of sources and the latest guide’s edition.

MLA one of the most common formatting styles. It is the easiest one but may be tricky. Students should not waste their time on studying multiple guides any longer – come to the professional online writing services to get immediate help with your homework!

What is MLA Format?

What is MLA format? It is a great way to start our discussion: it is the most popular type of academic writing format established by The Modern Language Association to provide English-speaking students with the proper guidelines to quote the essays for the following classes:

  • English Composition 101
  • Literature
  • History & Anthropology
  • Religious Studies
  • Arts
  • Humanities

It is critical to check the updates of the association not to miss a thing. Writing styles help to structure essays.

How to Cite in MLA (8th edition) Format: General Guidelines

The next thing to discuss is how to cite in MLA format. Students need some good work cited examples to master the topic. A writer should quote various types of sources in different ways. It makes any writing format complicated, no matter whether a student deals with APA, Harvard, Turabian, or other formatting styles. Check the general MLA guidelines:

  • A student should use an 8.5 x 11-inch paper;
  • Double-space the entire content;
  • Apply a legible font (Times New Roman, Arial, or Calibri);
  • There should be a single space after the periods and the rest of the punctuations marks;
  • The margins must be a single inch on all sides;
  • It is important to indent the opening line of each paragraph 1/2-inch from the left margin;
  • Develop a header with the numbers of pages in the upper right-hand corner;
  • Apply italics while writing a paper when the titles pop up (based on the emphasis);
  • The endnotes should go to the separate piece of paper prior to the Works Cited section. The name of this part is Notes (centered & unformatted).

When deadling with MLA formatting style citing, you should consider the two key terms: in-text citations and works cited.
In-text citations. When you refer to someone else's work in your paper, you should cite it, otherwise, it would be considered plagiarism. In general, all the sources you cire in your paper are in-text citations. Unlike APA, which requires author-year in-text citations,MLA formatting presupposes author-page number style of in-text citations, i.e. (Author's Surname page number). For example, (Janson 182).

Works Cited page. The list of all the sources you used in paper is called Works Cited in MLA. It is placed in the end of the paper and with sources listed in an alphabetic order.

Both in-text citations and works cited have specific rules for different types of sources. We will explain them below and provide you with examples for better understanding.

How to Cite in MLA(8th edition). Rules and Exmaples

Below, writers can find out the ways to cite various sources types. We have added examples to each section.

How to Cite a Printed Book

Books are some of the sources that are used when writing papers. So how to cite printed books in MLA?
  • In- text citation. Just mention the surname of the author and page number without any punctuation marks between them. Note, even if you paraphrase the information from the source using your own words, you should add an in-text citation to avoid plagiarism.
Example: Racial segregation pitied the poor against the rich, the worker against the employer, and the poorly dressed against the well-dressed (Angelou 12).
-  If the book has two authors, mention them both and add a page number. (Angelou and Jensen 76)
- For a source with three or more authors, mention the first author, add et al. and a page number. Eg (Angelou et al. 25).
  • Works Cited.  When citing a printed book, mention Author's Last Name, First Name, Title of the book (italicized). Publisher. Publication date.

Example: Angelou, Maya. I know why the caged bird sings. Bantam, 1997.

- For the book with two authors, mention both authors. First author's Last Name, First Name and second author's First Name, Last Name. Title of the book (italicized). Publisher. Publication date.

Example: Angelou, Maya and Kate, Jensen. I know why the caged bird sings. Bantam, 1997.

- For the book with three or more authors, mention the first author's surname followed by et al. Author's Last Name, First Name, et al.Title of the book (italicized). Publisher. Publication date.

Example: Angelou, Maya., et al. I know why the caged bird sings. Bantam, 1997.

How to Cite an Article from a Journal, Magazine, or Newspaper

Articles from periodicals such as journals, magazines, or newspapers are frequently cited by students in theot works. So how to cite them correctly.
  • In-text citations.  The format of in-text MLA citations remains the same, (Author page number)

Example. Jacobs notes that Maya’s experience growing up was a survival struggle colored by disillusion, despair, loneliness, self-doubt, and diminished sense of self (553).

  • Works Cited page.
Magazine. Author (s). "Title of the Article." Title of the Magazine (italicized, with all the notional words capitalized), day month year, pages (pp.).
Newapaper. Author (s). "Title of the Article." Title of the Newapaper (italicized, with all the notional words capitalized), date of publication, pages (pp.).
Journal article. Author (s). "Title of the Article." Title of the Journal (italicized, with all the notional words capitalized), volume, issue, pages (pp.).

Example: Jacobs, N. "Death, disillusionment and despair in Maya Angelou’s in I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings." Language in India, vol. 13, no.3, 2013, pp. 553-560.

How to Cite an Electronic Source

Follow the most recent, 8th edition’s instructions to quote a website. The edition introduced many changes to this type of source:

  1. Exclude the medium of publication (web/print);
  2. Do not add the city to the book quotes;
  3. Avoid adding URLs of web publications in the Works Cited entries;
  4. If a source has a URL along with the digital object identifier, use DOI;
  5. Do not forget to include the volume and issue numbers of the journals.
Below you will find some rules of formatting different types of electronic sources.
  • A page on a website.  For this type of source, mention Author. If there is no, mention the "Article in Quotation Marks". Website. Link. Date of acsess.

Example:  Decker, Fred . " 10 Brilliant Camping Food Snacks." eHow. Accessed 28 August 2020.

"6 At-home Fitness Fixes." WebMD, 31 Mar. 2020.

  • Article in an online scholarly journal.  For such articles, mention Author, "Title of the Article." Name of the Journal, volume, issue, date of publication, link, and dat eof access.

Example: Hans-Uve, Otto."Renegotiating Social Citizenship- Democracy in Welfare Service States." Social Work and Society, vol. 18, no.1, 2020, Accessed 28 August 2020.


How to Cite a Thesis MLA?

A thesis is an important document submitted at the university level to earn Masters or Ph.D. degree in the particular field.

If a student needs to learn how to cite a thesis written by someone else, look at the example:

Walsh, Theodore. Practical Advice from the Registered Nurses and Certified Psychologists for the Young Stay-at-Home Moms. University of Maryland, 2011. 4 Apr. 2011.

How to cite a report in MLA

A report is an official document with the results shared by the individual or team, and it usually consists of the technical part, publication, problem background, or a working paper. In school, teachers may assign a book report homework. A student should know how to cite in MLA to be ready to face a challenge.

Start with a title page, which is not a common element of this style, that contains three basic components:

Report’s Title. Publisher. Year (in the order of appearance)

Note that Writer and City details are from the Acknowledgements. It is a separate part at the end of the paper. A student does not need to include issue, edition, volume or other tiny details while writing a report of any type.


Nickson, Gerald, Freeman, Austin. The Impact of Stressful Situations and Conflicts with Family Members on the Mental Health of the US High School Students. New York: Human Rights Watch. Print.

How to cite a textbook in MLA format

In this situation, a student has to memorize several simple rules. A couple of primary parts constitute a citation of a textbook: a Work Cited page (in other formats, it is called References page or Bibliography) and a direct/indirect in-text quotation. Experts recommend coming up with a quotation before developing a reference. It is important to keep in mind the works cited format to understand the way people can find the sources based on the in-text quotes, which are an abbreviated version of the references. In the Works Cited, a writer should identify the used sources in alphabetical order. Look at the front cover of the chosen book. A writer must include several elements to acknowledge the work of another author:

  • Writers' names. Editor. Title of the Book. Edition. Publisher. Date of release

A student should explore the small stamp with a circle around it. It is a copyright page containing everything you need.


Acker, Mary. Several Magic Tips to Help Students & Young Writers to Overcome Writer’s Block and Other Delicate Situations. St. Martin's, 2015.

Direct Quotes and Poems in MLA

A parenthetical citation is one of the most popular types of in-text quotes. Students, writers, and researchers locate short parenthetical descriptions to let the readers know the sections of their works retrieved from certain sources. A writer should mention the author’s surname and the quoted pages (you may exclude the details if they appear in the text’s body).

  • In-text citation. Quotes are formatted in different ways, based on their length.

Short quote. If it is a short quote or phrase (a sentence or couple), just add quotation marks, and mention the author and specific page of the original source it is taken from in parentheses.

Long quote. If the quote is longer than 4 lines or it is a whole poem, it requires specific formatting. The quotations should start from the new line, indented, with 1/2 inches margin from the left, no quotation marks are needed, add the author and page number in the end as for the common in-text citation in MLA.

Example. Emotions are different, but rage is considered the most difficult to escape: 

One of the most difficult emotions to escape is rage, partly because anger is energizing, even exhilarating. It can last for hours and create a hair-trigger state,

making people much more easily provoked. When the body is already in an edgy state and something triggers another emotional surge, the ensuing emotion is

specially intense. One way to cool off from anger is to seek distractions. Going off alone helps, as does active exercise. Sadness and bereavement are often

the emotions that alleviate rage, but fullblown depression is a danger. To break a depression cycle, challenge the thoughts feeding the depression and schedule

pleasant distractions.(Goleman 3)

When citing a poem, do not change the formatting. Keep is as close to original as possible.

Example. In his works, the poet uses numerous comparisons and allusions:

Bright star! would I were steadfast as thou art—

   Not in lone splendour hung aloft the night,

And watching, with eternal lids apart,

   Like Nature's patient sleepless Eremite,

The moving waters at their priestlike task

   Of pure ablution round earth's human shores,

Or gazing on the new soft fallen mask

   Of snow upon the mountains and the moors—

No—yet still steadfast, still unchangeable,

   Pillow'd upon my fair love's ripening breast,

To feel for ever its soft fall and swell,

   Awake for ever in a sweet unrest,

Still, still to hear her tender-taken breath,

And so live ever—or else swoon to death. (Keats 37)

  • Works Cited list. Cite the source you have taken a quote from according to the rules of formatting this type of source.

How to cite a film in MLA

Nowadays, it is trendy to use different documentaries & motion pictures as the primary sources. Movies have turned into a powerful medium used to interpret events, commentary/feedback, expression, study, art, and more in a creative manner. In addition to the official distributors and service providers like Netflix or Fox, each person can become a movie director & producer in one face by posting self-made videos online (YouTube, Vine, etc.)

What about quoting films? No matter which type of video a writer wants to cite (websites, database, online), it is important to include these elements:

  • Movie’s director/idea’s author
  • The title of the piece
  • The name of the online source of the film
  • List of contributors (like a cast)
  • The version (optional)
  • Numbers related to the movie
  • The publisher
  • Date of release
  • Title of the database (optional)
  • Retrieved from… [full URL address]


“Another Breakfast at Tiffany’s: Opening Guru’s Eyes on the World of Luxury European Cookery and the Best Restaurants in the World.” New York College Library, 13 August 1016, [full URL address without http://].

How to Cite a Picture in MLA

An image is an important addition to the academic paper. Visualization helps to understand and perceive the discussed topic better, and inserting an image in the essay has its rules. Digital photos have their addresses and descriptions like online videos. A writer may pick images electronically using any digital device. Those could be:

  • Photos
  • Illustrations
  • Graphics
  • Tables

A student should include the same elements as in case of video quotation. The image obtained from Google Images should not have Google in a publisher field. Click on the image to discover the detailed info from the hosting website.

Omit http:// - cut down the full website’s address to www. Each time a writer opens a citation on a digital device of any type, it is useful to make it clickable – let the target audience access the original web page without obstacles.


Cranberry, Donald J. Photograph of the Winning Skating Couple on the Winter Sports Games in Canada with Their Coach George Smith. NBC Olympics, USA Today, 12 Nov. 2015, [website’s address].

How to Cite an Interview in MLA

There are two ways to add interviews in the academic paper. A more frequent one refers to using the quotes from the interviews taken by the professionals and published in the primary sources. A student may take interview independently.

If a student decides to quote the interview published in one of the primary sources (newspaper, magazine), he/she should stick to our sample.


Wright, Matthew. “Anthony Giles Has a Conversation with the President of the United States Last Saturday.” Interview by Anthony Giles. The Oprah Magazine, June 2015: 104-111. 

How to Cite an Article or Entry in a Dictionary in MLA

How to properly cite in MLA when it comes to using dictionaries? It is the final thing to discuss. A dictionary is a printed book or online open source (website/database), which contains detailed interpretations of words and phrases in particular language.


“Anorexia Nervosa.” Def.2. Oxford Dictionaries, Aug. 2013. 24 Sept. 2011.

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