MLA Bibliographic Citation Guide

When doing research, you must use a standard citation format to identify the information you have used and give credit to its creator. Consistency is crucial.

Each work is usually identified by three key elements: author's name - title or source - publication information. The title should be either underlined or italicized. A period and two spaces follow each element. Additional elements such as number of volumes or edition numbers might be required.

The first line of each citation starts at the left margin; the second and any succeeding lines are indented five spaces. Each source is listed
separately and is arranged alphabetically by the author's last name (use the title if there is no author).

Below you will find the correct citation form for a variety of materials:

Books | Reference sources | Periodical articles | Full-Text Articles from Electronic Databases | Pamphlets | Government publications | Audiovisual materials | World Wide Web Resources

NOTE: Refer to the latest edition of the MLA Handbook and/or the MLA Web Page for additional information and examples:

Gibaldi, Joseph. MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers. 5th ed.
    New York: Modern Language Association, 1999.

"Documenting Sources from the World Wide Web." MLA Style. 1998.
Modern Language Association. 30 Sep. 1999 <>.


By a single author:
Lemann, Nicholas. The Promised Land, the Great Black
    Migration and How It Changed America. New York: Knopf, 1991.

Two authors:
Gibaldi, Joseph, and Walter S. Achtert. MLA Handbook for
    Writers of Research Papers. 3rd ed. New York: Modern Language
    Association, 1988.

Three authors:
Venolia, Jean P., Georgio Cordini, and Joseph Hitchcock. What Makes
     a Literary Masterpiece. Chicago: Hudson, 1995.

More than three authors:
Bailyn, Bernard, et al. The Great Republic. Lexington, MA: D. C. Heath, 1977.

Unknown author:
The Bible, a New Translation. Trans. James Moffatt. New York:
    Harper and Row, 1954.

Multi-volume Work:
Dorival, Bernard. Twentieth Century Painters. 2 vols. New York:
     Universe Books, 1958.

Collection produced by an editor:
Guernsey, Otis L., Jr., and Jeffrey Sweet, eds. The Burns Mantle
    Theater Yearbook of 1989-90. New York: Applause, 1990.

One essay or an anthology or a collection:
Margulies, Donald. "The Loman Family Picnic, a Play in Two Acts."
    article from The Burns Mantle Theater Yearbook of 1989-90. New York: Applause,
    1990. 131-50.


A simplified citation is commonly used for general encyclopedias. Include publication information for subject encyclopedias. Include volume or page number(s) only if the articles are not in alphabetical order.

Article in a general encyclopedia:
Trainen, Martha. "New York State." Encyclopedia Americana. 1992.

Article in a subject encyclopedia:
Hammond, William H. "Media and the War."  Encyclopedia of the
    Vietnam War. New York: Macmillan Library Reference, 1996.

Article from a multi-volume work not in alphabetical order:
Tusse, Johannes. "Education in Ethiopia." Encyclopedia of East Africa.
    Vol. 2. Nairobi: Kenya Press,1992. 565-72. 3 vols.

An entire reference work:
Niiya, Brian, ed. Japanese American History: An A to Z Reference
    from 1868 to the Present. New York: Facts On File, 1993.


Each periodical entry must include authorÕs name (when shown), title of article, periodical name and page numbers. Journal citations should also include the volume and issue number, and the publication year. For magazine and newspaper citations, omit the volume and issue number and include the complete date. For articles from electronic sources, see Full-Text Articles below.

Journal articles:
Wernerfelt, Birgner. "Advertising Content When Brand Choice
     Is a Signal." Journal of Business 63.1 (1990): 91-98.

Articles in weekly publications:
Ryback, Timothy W. "Letter from Salzburg." New Yorker
    30 Dec. 1991: 62-75.

Articles in monthly publications:
Alford, Jeffrey. "Ap Nam? Kin Khao? Feeling at Home
    in Thai Kitchens." Eating Well Jan. - Feb. 1992: 44-55.

Newspaper Articles:
Miller, David. "Tightening the Belt." Seattle Times
     5 Jan. 1992: A1.

Anonymous Articles:
"Saddam's Republican Guards." Time 4 Feb. 1991: 24.

Schmemann, Serge. "The World According to Gorbachev Disappears."
    Editorial. New York Times 8 Dec. 1991: E3.


A citation for an article from a Full-text Periodical database starts off much like any periodical citation, except for some changes with the punctuation and underlining. Add the format of the database (i.e., CD-ROM) and the publisher and publication date of the database. For articles that do not have URLs, cite the main page for the database and include the library through which you gained access.

For other Full-text databases, include the author (if applicable), name of the piece, name of the database, format of the database, and the publisher
and publication date of the database.

Periodical Database accessed on the WWW:
Keegan, John, and Tom Wolfe. "Who Should be Person of
     the Century?" Time 30 August 1999: 15+ ProQuest Direct.
     Bell & Howell Learning and Information. Seattle Central Community
     College Lib. 25 Sep. 1999. <>.

Periodical Database accessed on the WWW:
Montana, Cate. "Media vs. Makah Forged Unity, Spiritual
     Awareness." Indian Country Today 1 Apr. 1999: D1. Ethnic
     NewsWatch. SoftLine Information, Inc. Seattle Central
    Community College Lib., 1 Oct. 1999.

Non-Periodical Database:
"Walker, Alice (Malsenior) 1944-." Contemporary Authors.
     Gale Research Inc. Seattle Central Community College Lib.
    1 Oct. 1999. <>.

CD-ROM Database:
Murakami, Kery. "Espresso Goes East." Seattle Times 11 July 1993: D1.
     Seattle Times on CD-ROM. CD-ROM. Newsbank, Inc. Dec. 1993.


Treat a pamphlet as you would a book:
Outsmarting Crime: A Guide to Safer Living. n.p.: Washington
    State Criminal Justice Training Commission, 1990.


If no individual author is shown, give the governmental body (e.g., Washington State, City of Seattle), followed by the agency name, and the
usual publication information (title, place, publisher and date). For most federal publications, the publisher will be the Government Printing Office, which can be abbreviated "GPO".

Issued by a state agency:
Washington State. Washington State University, Pullman
     Cooperative Extension. Raising Rabbits, Helpful Suggestions for
     Beginners. Extension Bulletin 0975. Pullman: WSU, 1991.

Federal Publication:
United States. Commerce Dept. An Act to Provide the Small
    Business Administration Continuing Authority to Administer a Program
    for Small Innovative Firms, and for Other Purposes. Washington:
    GPO, 1986.


In general, citations for AV materials must include author (if available), title, producing company and date. Other elements vary depending on the type of material, so refer to the MLA Handbook. For music, if you are using a format other than compact disc (CD), indicate as shown in the examples

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Dir. Denise Guyen. Videocassette.
SVE Inc., 1988.

Television or Radio Program:
"Cuba and Cocaine." Narr. Bill Moyers. Frontline. Documentary
Consortium. PBS. WTVS, Miami. 18 Jan. 1990.

Music Recordings (no composer shown):
Lewiston, David. Fiestas of Peru: Music of the High Andes.
     LP. Nonesuch Records, 1972.

Composer and performer different:
Guthrie, Woody. Pete Seeger Sings Woody Guthrie. Perf.
     Pete Seeger. Audiocassette. Folkways, 1968.


Citations for a World Wide Web site should include author (if known), title of the piece (if applicable), underlined title of the complete work, date of electronic publication or the latest update, organization sponsoring the site (if applicable), date you accessed the document, and the complete URL. See Full-Text Articles for citing articles from WWW Periodical Databases, such as ProQuest or SIRS.

World Wide Web Site:
Romance Languages and Literature. 1 Jan. 1997. Dept.
    of Romance Langs and Lits., U of Chicago. 30 June 1998

Online Posting to an email discussion list:
Straughn, Victoria. "Women's History in the High School."
     Online posting. 30 Sep. 1998. Forum on Women's History. 1 Oct. 1999.

Personal Web Page:
Tice-Deering, Beverly. English as a Second Language. 15 Sept.
     1999 <>.

Electronic Journals:
Flannagan, Roy. "Reflections on Milton and Ariosto." Early
     Modern Literary Studies 2.3 (1996): 16 pars. 22 Feb. 1997

Seattle Central Community College Library. © 1999

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Last modified: January 18, 2000