Published in April 2021, the ninth edition of the MLA Handbook works as both a textbook and a reference guide. The MLA like the other citation styles is undergoing changes in order to make provisions for the various emanating sources of information. For updates since the eighth edition, see MLA’s “What’s New in the Ninth Edition“.

The Modern Language Association (MLA) Style is often used in literature, Languages, as well as other Humanities fields. But for clarification, ask your supervisor which citation style they prefer when you’re unsure of which one to use.

New features of the 9th Edition MLA

  • Use in-text citations: For Example: (Mark 62)
  • Bibliography heading: Use “Works Cited” as page heading.
  • Basic elements: Rather than providing rigid formatting criteria for various source categories, the MLA Handbook identifies 9 “core elements” that are present in the majority of sources and offers supple instructions on how to cite them in your Works Cited list.

MLA In-text Citation

Brief parenthetical references to your sources called in-text citations direct viewers to your Works Cited page for the complete citation. The flow of your writing should be minimally disrupted by in-text citations.

The Basics

  • Include the author’s last name in parentheses immediately following the cited material.
  • Put page number (or line numbers, time stamps, etc.) if there is one, include it after the author’s last name.
  • The parenthesis should not contain commas.
  • Quotation marks come before the parentheses; sentence punctuation follows them.

Special Situations

Entire Works: If you are citing an entire work, you can omit page numbers.


Signal Phrases: You don’t need to include the author’s name in the parentheses when context clarifies whom you are citing (e.g., you have used the author’s name as part of your signal phrase, you have cited the same source immediately preceding the current citation.) If you are in doubt, include the author’s last name.

In On Writing Well, William Zinsser argues a strong conclusion should “take your readers slightly by surprise and yet seem exactly right” (64).

Multiple Works by Same Author: If your Works Cited list has more than one work by the same author, include the work title in the in-text citation, separated by a comma.

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(Zinsser, On Writing Well 64)

Multiple Authors with Same Last Name: If your Works Cited list has more than one author with the same last name, include the initial of the author’s first name in the in-text citation.

(W. Zinsser 64)

Multiple Authors of a Single Work: If three or fewer authors, include all in your in-text citation; if four or more, list the first author only followed by the abbrevation “et al.”

(Rodriguez, Jones, and Bartell 273)
(Rodriguez et al. 273)

Indirect or Quoted Material: Find the original source if possible. If not, use the abbreviation “qtd. in” for “quoted in”.

(qtd. in Liu 392)

Ebooks: If the ebook has stable page numbers (i.e., page numbers remain consistent regardless of device used or font size), use those as you would a print book. If the ebook has reflowable pages, do not use page numbers. Instead, cite the section or chapter if possible.

(Zinsser, ch. 9)

If the ebooks does not have stable page numbers, sections, or chapters, cite the work as a whole.


The Nine Core Components of the MLA “Works Cited” Page

The MLA specifies a set of 9 items for “Universal rules” that apply to all format types rather than having different citation groups for each type. Besides standardizing the elements required for a citation, the MLA 8th edition introduced the idea of “containers”, so that the basic elements of a citation in a works cited list are the same regardless of the type of resource cited.

MLA Print Book Examples

Format: Author’s last name/first name (and second author’s name if applicable). Title of Source. Publisher, Date of Publication.

Allen, James. As a Man Thinketh. TarcherParigee, 2006.

For further illustration

Sagan, Carl. Cosmos. Random House, 1980

Book with two authors: For instance

Verstynen, Timothy and Bradley Voytek. Do Zombies Dream of Undead Sheep? A Neuroscientific View of the Zombie Brain. Princeton, 2014.

Book with three or more authors: For instance

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Evans, Arthur B., et al.The Wesleyan Anthology of Science Fiction. Wesleyan University Press, 2010.

Book with translator or other contributor: For Example

Murakami, Ryu. From the Fatherland with Love. Translated by Ralph McCarthy, et al. Pushkin Press, 2013.

E-book Examples

Similar to print, except also add e-book source (where you got the e-book from the database, Hathi Trust, Amazon, etc), Location.

Format: Author’s last name. Title. Publisher, date of Publication. Ebook source, Location. For example

Zehr, E. Paul. Becoming Batman: the Possibility of a Superhero. Johns Hopkins Press, 2009. EBL,

Print Journal

Format: Author(s). “Title of Article.” Title of Periodical, Volume, Issue, Date, pages. For instance

Bagchi, Alaknanda. “Conflicting Nationalisms: The Voice of the Subaltern in Mahasweta Devi’s Bashai Tudu.” Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature, vol. 15, no. 1, 1996, pp. 41-50. .

Online Journal Article from a Database

Author’s name. “Title of the Article.” Journal Title, Volume, Issue, Date of publication): pages. Name of database or other relevant information. Access Provider, URL or DOI. For instance

Joye, Stijn and de Walle Van. “Batman Returns, Again and again: An Exploratory Inquiry Into the Recent ‘batman’ Film Franchise, Artistic Imitation and Fan Appreciation”. Catalan Journal of Communication & Cultural Studies 7, no. 1, 2015, pp. 37-50. MLA International Bibliography,

Online Magazine Example

Unlike the citation for the online journal, online magazine has its own format.

Format: Author’s name. “Title of Article.” Magazine Title, day month year: pages. URL or DOI. For example

Berlatsky, Noah.. “Bring back Doofus Batman: Attention, Ben Affleck: the Dark Knight Is Better when He’s an Idiot.” Atlantic, 26 Aug. 2013,

Online Newspaper Example

The citation style for an online newspaper, as well as an online magazine, are the same.

Format: It is cited the same way as a magazine. Additionally, see example below.

Muskus, Jeff. “A Sampler: A Batman Wrestling With Ghosts of the Past.”  New York Times Online, 29 July 2016,

Website Example

Format: Author’s name. “Title of Source.” Title of Web Site, Other contributors, Institution or organization associated with/producing the website, Date of posting/revision, URL. [Optional: Date Accessed]. For instance

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“Rover Report: Three Years on Mars!” NASA’s Journey to Mars: Videos, edited by Sarah Loff, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, 30 July 2015,

Book Review Example

Format: Author of Review. “Title of Review.” (if there is one) Rev. of Title of work reviewed, by Name of Author. Source Information. (follow format for print, online journal, etc. as given above). For instance

Grimes, William. “Beyond Mandalay, the Road to Isolation and Xenophobia.” Review of The River of Lost Footsteps: Histories of Burma, by Thant Myint-U. New York Times, 13 Dec. 2006, pp. E8+. ProQuest,

Optional Elements – MLA

As the heading implies, you might make your citation look unique. Additionally, you may include additional elements if they help distinguish your source. Optional elements may be placed near related core elements or at the end of the citation, the following elements listed below can be included.

  • Date of original publication
  • City of publication
  • Other facts about the source, for instance, total number of volumes, series name, unexpected type of work such as a transcript, information about prior publication, Congressional session
  • Date of access (for online sources – especially when no publication date is given or for sites where content is likely to change)

Automatic Citation Generators – MLA Compactible

Type in your information and have a citation compiled for you. Note that these are not foolproof systems so it is important that you verify that your citation is correct. However, they can be useful in creating basic types of citations, particularly for online sources.

The following online citation generators can be used, easybib, Docsites, and the likes. But these two are designed to meet the need of MLA. Additionally, you could use the MLA interactive template for more accuracy.

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