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MLA (Modern Language Association) style is most commonly used to cite sources for scholars writing about English Literature. This guide serves as a quick reference as to how to use the MLA style. Generally speaking, the MLA style requires two components, namely (1) in-text citation and (2) works cited list. The information in this document is taken from the MLA Handbook (8th ed.), 2016.

If you have taken data or ideas from an article or book, you must write a citation for that book or article. This is true even if you have rephrased the idea or concept in your own words. Proper referencing includes:

  1. An in-text citation (example: surname of the author and year of publication)
  2. An entry of the citation in the works cited section with complete details

Different disciplines use different citation styles. Do always check with your faculty in charge on the required citation style to follow for your assignments including powerpoint presentations, projects, research reports, thesis and dissertations. This guide is about the MLA style.

Words in red are for illustrative purposes only. Please note that the font size and text colour of all in-text citations should be the same as your main text.

Part I. In-Text Citation

Guidelines Examples
If the author’s name is in the essay sentence, include only the page number of the text/idea you have used.

According to Mankiw, the rate of unemployment … constant. (88)

** Mankiw is the last name.

If the author’s name is not mentioned in the essay sentence, include the author’s last name in the citation, without a comma before the page number. … using manifest indicators (Mankiw 88).
For a source with two authors, list the authors’ last names in the text or in the parenthetical citation with “and”: The advantages of Web-based survey…(Connaway and Powell 132).
For a source with three or more authors, only include the last name of the first author and use “et al.” for the rest.

…  is derived from… (Vulkan et al. 34).

** “et al.” means “and others”

If you use two or more sources in a sentence, list all sources in alphabetical order, and separate them with a semi-colon. … to make inferences about the population as a whole (Connaway and Powell 32; Neuman 23).
If you use two or more sources from authors with the same last name, provide both authors’ first initials (or even the authors’ full name if different authors share initials) in your citation. Although some medical ethicists claim that cloning will lead to designer children (R. Miller 12), others note that the advantages for medical research outweigh this consideration (A. Miller 46).
For information where there is no known author (including government or organisational sources), use a shortened title of the work instead of an author name. Place the title in quotation marks if it’s a short work (such as an article) or italicize it if it’s a longer work (e.g. plays, books, television shows, entire Web sites) and provide a page number if it is available. As at end of June 2012, Singapore’s population stood at 5.31 million (Singapore Department of Statistics).
If the work you’re quoting has a “run-time”, like a video or a song, include the range of time (in hours:minutes:seconds) which you are referencing instead of page numbers. In the first chorus that he sings, he uses the now-famous lines… (Astley 00:01:03-00:01:18).
If the work you’re referencing is a well-known or classic work with multiple editions or versions, include additional information about where (chapter/part/section) the reference can be found after the page number. Separate with a semi-colon. Marx and Engels described human history as marked by class struggles (79; ch. 1).


Quotation Formatting Tips

When using words directly from the text for whatever reason (to emphasize or to do close reading), you have to indicate in some way that these are not your words. In MLA, you do so via the below rules:

Short Quotes – use double quotation marks with the page number in brackets. According to Vatikiotis, Daim was a British-trained lawyer (182).
Long Quotes (more than four lines of prose, or three lines of verse) – don’t use quotation marks, and quote as an indented block of text, half-inch from the left margin. Note that your citation must come after the closing punctuation.

Nelly Dean treats Heathcliff poorly and dehumanizes him throughout her narration:

They entirely refused to have it in bed with them, or even in their room, and I had no more sense, so, I put it on the landing of the stairs, hoping it would be gone on the morrow. By chance, or else attracted by hearing his voice, it crept to Mr. Earnshaw’s door, and there he found it on quitting his chamber. Inquiries were made as to how it got there; I was obliged to confess, and in recompense for my cowardice and inhumanity was sent out of the house. (Bronte 78)

Omitting words in quotes – If you abbreviate a quoted sentence by omitting some parts of it, indicate your omission with ellipsis (…)

The reason for the rapid growth during that period was traced to the spending behavior of the newly affluent investors:

The 1990s saw the triumph of Southeast Asian overseas Chinese conglomerates they borrowed and spent profligately drawing investment bankers and stockbrokers to the region in droves. (Vatikiotis 135)

Part II. Works Cited List

Guidelines Examples
Single author
Mankiw, N. Gregory. Principles of Microeconomics. Thomson Nelson, 2008.
Two authors
James, Edward and Farah Mendlesohn. The Cambridge Companion to Fantasy Literature. Cambridge University Press, 2012.


** First author = last name, first name. Second author = first name last name.

Three or more authors

(Use et al. after first author)

Besanko, David, et al. Microeconomics. John Wiley, 2011
Chapter in Book – similar to journal article (see below), and includes the title of the book itself, as well as page numbers.
Teaster, Pamela B., John T. White, Sujee Kim. “Sexual Minority Status and Aging.” Handbook of LGBT Elders, edited by Debra A. Harley and Pamela B. Teaster, Springer, 2016, pp. 27-42.


** Editor names are first name, last name.

Translation (when you want to emphasize the original work, put the translator information after the book title)
Foucault, Michel. Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison. Translated by Alan Sheridan. Vintage Books, 1995.
Translation (when you want to emphasize one specific translation, put the author information after the book title)
Sheridan, Alan, translator. Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison. By Michel Foucault. Vintage Books, 1995.
Journal Articles
Similar to chapters (see above), but include volume, issue and year.
Koehler, Karin. “Immaterial Correspondence: Letters, Bodies and Desire in Charlotte Brontë’s Villette.” Brontë Studies: The Journal of the Brontë Society, vol. 43, no. 2, Apr. 2018, pp. 136-146. Taylor and Francis Online,
** Also include the database you accessed it from (italics), if it is an e-journal article, and add the URL (without http://) after.
Electronic Sources
Websites or Webpages

For entire websites, the format is similar to citing a book (put in the “editor/author” of the site if it is known, otherwise, start with the name of the website):

NTU Libraries Website. Office of Information, Knowledge and Library Services and Nanyang Technological University, 2018, Accessed 23 Apr. 2018.

For individual webpages in a website, the format is similar to citing a book chapter:

“New Title Recommendation.” NTU Libraries Website, Office of Information, Knowledge and Library Services and Nanyang Technological University, 2018, Accessed 23 Apr. 2018.

Images Hermann. “Pile of Five Books.” Pixabay, 2014, Accessed 23 Apr. 2018.
Videos “The Republic by Plato (Audiobook)” Youtube, uploaded by WatchTheJRE, 23 Apr. 2013, Accessed 23 Apr. 2018.

More Tips

  1. Date of access is optional, but highly recommended for all electronic sources where possible or applicable.
  2. Use DOI or permalinks instead of URLs where possible.
  3. The works cited list includes all sources which you have referenced or quoted in your essay. All in-text citations must have a corresponding entry in the list.
  4. List the sources in alphabetical order, according to the last name/surname of the first author of each source.
  5. If there are two or more authors that contributed to the source, only list the first author’s name in inverted order.
  6. If there is no author for a source, arrange that source according to the first significant word in the title (“The Abbey” will come before “A Zoo” in the listing).
  7. If you cite more than one source from the same author, arrange these sources from the same author alphabetically according to the first significant word in the title.
    • For the second and onwards of these sources, use three hyphens and a full stop (—.) to replace the author name of the subsequent entries.
  8. Use hanging indentation for the works cited list. (Indent 3 spaces from second line onwards)
  9. Book titles or journal titles are italicised. Use double quotations for chapter or article titles.
  10. When citing a source with DOI, you may use either a notation format (doi:10.1016/j.surg.2015.04.011) or a link format (

Useful Resources

  1. MLA Handbook. 2016. 8th edition.
    Call No. LB2369.M685 | Humanities & Social Sciences Library
  2. Purdue Online Writing Lab
  3. The MLA Style Center

Useful Tools

The Library provides EndNote software which you can use to help create citations and reference lists. There are also free tools available online including:

  1. BibMe
  2. EasyBib
  3. Citation Machine
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