How to Cite in MLA Format - The Complete Guide to MLA 8 & Citations

How to Cite in MLA Format  - The Complete Guide to MLA 8 & Citations
Table of Contents
  1. How to Cite in MLA Format - The Complete Guide to MLA 8 & Citations
  2. I. How to Format MLA In-Text Citations
  3. Standard MLA Formatting of the In-Text Citation
  4. II. How to Format the MLA Works Cited List
  5. 1. Author, editors and/or translators
  6. 2. Title (of a source)
  7. 3. Title of container
  8. 4. Contributors
  9. 5. Version
  10. 6. Number
  11. 7. Publisher
  12. 8. Year/date of publication.
  13. To Sum It Up
  14. MLA 8th Edition Sample Paper

Citing in MLA is obligatory if you want to submit the original academic paper. People, who tend to know how to cite MLA, may find it useful to check the meaning of MLA. This is a special formatting and quoting style. Various modern writers, college students and famous experts who perform writing papers (for example on the topic reasons why homework is bad) and organize mentioned sources use it. It concerns mostly works in humanitarian and liberal arts fields.

MLA 8 (Modern Language Association, 8th edition) allows writing down every source of information with details, including correct title of published materials, date and year of print edition’s publishing, the name of the author, website address if dealing with online sources. Web publications contain a lot of important information. Citing online materials does not include page specification, it has strict guidelines & standards ordinarily printed editions have. Citing MLA requires attention and time.

Developed by the Modern Language Association, this style is most widely used for research papers in the humanities. MLA guidelines to cite articles were changing a lot during past decades. Students use the up-to-day - the eighth (8th) edition. This new improved version allows organizing various sorts of materials (records, facts, figures, data) into a single approved citation structure.

Citing sources in this style consists of two parts:

  1. In-text citations
  2. A works-cited list

I. How to Format MLA In-Text Citations

An in-text citation provides your reader with two pieces of information:

  1. The first element from the corresponding works-cited list entry, usually the author's last name;
  2. The location of the cited information in the work, usually a page number.

Standard MLA Formatting of the In-Text Citation



1. Put the number of the page in parentheses ONLY.


2. Include the author's name in the sentence or in the parentheses before the page number, but the page number(s) should always appear in the parentheses, not in the text of your sentence.

  • Wordsworth stated that Romantic poetry was marked by a "spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings" (263). - Romantic poetry is characterized by the "spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings" (Wordsworth 263)

3. Only the page number is used - if it is clear from the context which work you are citing, use.

  • Dr. Mortimer looked strangely at Holmes and Watson an instant, and his voice sank almost to a whisper as he answered: "Mr Holmes, they were the footprints of a gigantic hound!” (56).

4. Multiple authors - 2-3 authors use the last names of each. For more than 3 authors, use the first author's last name and “et al”.

  • Mitchell, Thomson, and Smith 189)
  • (Brian et al. 161)

5. Authors with the same last name - include their first initial.

  • (J. Mitchell 23)
  • (K. Mitchell 88-101)

6. Multiple cited works by the same author, include a shortened version of the title within the citation.

  • Visual studies, because it is such a new discipline, may be "too easy" (Elkins, "Visual Studies" 63).

7. Works with no page numbers - use explicitly numbered parts of the work (paragraphs, sections, chapters). Use author (or title) alone if there are no numbered parts.

  • (Hemsworth, ch. 4)
  • According to the Human Rights Campaign's map of state laws and policies ....

8. Time-based works - use a time stamp in the form of hh:mm:ss.

  • ("The Devil You Know " 00:17:25-00:19:42)

II. How to Format the MLA Works Cited List

The "Works Cited" list provides details on all sources you used in your paper. According to MLA style, you must have a Works Cited page at the end of your research paper. All entries in the Works Cited page must correspond to the works cited in your main text. Begin your Works Cited page on a separate page at the end of your research paper. It should have the same one-inch margins and last name, page number header as the rest of your paper.

Label the page Works Cited (do not italicize the words Works Cited or put them in quotation marks) and center the words Works Cited at the top of the page. If you include other sources consulted during your research, title the page "Works Consulted."

The core elements of a format:

  1. Author (last name, first name) editors and/or translators,
  2. Title (of a source),
  3. Title of container,
  4. Contributors (any Other),
  5. Version,
  6. Number,
  7. Publisher,
  8. Year/date of publication.

Core Elements - the tables below list the already listed above core elements in a works-cited entry with its associated punctuation mark. Use information found in the source itself; do not use information about the source found on websites or in library catalogs. If an element does not exist for the source you are citing, skip it. So, let’s get acquainted with the cited categories with examples one by one.

1. Author, editors and/or translators

The author is the person or group responsible for creating or producing the work.



1. Begin the entry with the author's last name, followed by a comma and the rest of the name as listed in the work.

  • Blige, James.

2. No author - skip element and begin with title, but also see below for corporate author.


3. Corporate author - If you don't find a personal author, determine whether it was created by an organization, institution, government agency.

  • If published by the organization: skip the author element and put the organization's name in Publisher.
  • If published by a different publisher: enter the organization's name as the author.

4. Two authors - list them in the order they appear. Invert the first author's name, followed by a comma and word "and" and the second author's name in normal order.

  • Deborah, Muriel, and Lee Endrich.

5. Three or more authors - invert the first author's name, follow it with a comma, and “et al”.

  • Troy, Ben N., et al.

6. Editors and translators - follow their names with their role. Use the editor as the author if your focus is on the entire work and translator as author if your focus is on the translation.

  • Troy, Ben N., editor.
  • Mitchell, James A. translator.

7. Performers, directors, conductors, etc. - if you are focusing on the contributions of a specific individual, begin your entry with that person's name with a descriptive label.


8. Pseudonyms, online usernames - enter like regular author names. If the name takes the form of a traditional first name and last name, start the entry with the last name.



2. Title (of a source)

The title of the source is often located near the author's name and prominently displayed.



1. Enter the title exactly as it appears in the source, except for standardizing capitalization and punctuation.


2. Place the title in quotation marks if the source is a part of a larger work.

  • article
  • essay, poem, short story
  • TV episode
  • blog posting

3. Italicize the title if the work is self-contained and independent, such as books and films.


4. Untitled works - give a generic description in place of the title. Do not use italics or quotation marks.



3. Title of container

A container is the larger work in which the source appears. Examples of containers include:

  • journals, magazines, newspapers
  • books containing collections of essays, poems, or short stories
  • television show
  • blogs



1. Italicize the title and follow it with a comma.


2. A source can have more than one container.

  • an article from a journal available through a library database - the first container is the journal and the second is the database.
  • a television episode you watched online - the first container is the television show and the second is the online provider (Hulu, Netflix, etc.).

3. In order to have a complete citation, you should add the core elements from "Title of Container" to "Location" to the end of the entry for each container.


4. If No larger container - skip this element.



4. Contributors

Other contributors are other people credited for the work. If a person other than the author is important to what you are researching or for identifying the work, include their name in this element.


EXAMPLE (some common are)

  • Precede the name with a description of their role.
  • Edited by
  • Translated by
  • Introduction by
  • Directed by
  • Performance by
  • Adapted by
  • Illustrated by
  • For works with many contributors, such as film and television, include only those people most relevant to your research.

5. Version

Indicates that there is more than one form of the work.



1. For books there may be numbered editions or revised editions.

  • 1st ed., 2nd ed., etc.
  • rev. ed., updated ed., etc.

2. Other possible versions include:

  • unabridged version
  • director's cut
  • software versions

3. The version information is written in lowercase, unless the previous element ended in a period, in which case the initial word is capitalized.



6. Number

Number refers to works appearing in a numbered sequence.

ELEMENT (where used) + DETAILS


1. Using one volume of a multi-volume set - indicate which volume you used with abbreviation “vol.” and the number.


2. Journal volumes and issues - indicate volume with abbreviation vol. and the number, followed by a comma, and issue number with the abbreviation no. and the number.

  • vol. 11 no. 2

3. Television series and episodes - record the season number and the episode number

  • season 3, episode 14

7. Publisher

Publisher is the organization responsible for making the content publicly available.



1. If two or more organizations are equally responsible for the work, separate their names with a forward slash (/) with spaces before and after the slash.

Publisher is not included in the following instances:

  • Journals, magazines, newspapers
  • Works published by its author or editor
  • Web sites whose title is essentially the same as the name of its publisher
  • Web services not involved in producing the works it makes available. For example, YouTube, JSTOR, ProQuest. These services are containers.

2. Books - look for the publisher on the title page or copyright page.

3. Film and Television - cite the company that had the primary responsibility for the work.

4. Web sites - look for a copyright notice in the footer or an About Us page.

5. Abbreviate University (U) and Press (P) in the names of academic publishers.

6. Omit business words such as Co., Corp., Inc., and Ltd. from the publisher's name.


8. Year/date of publication.

This element documents the date of the work you used.

ELEMENT (where used) + DETAILS


1. Multiple publication dates - for some sources there may be a print publication date and an online date. Cite the date for the format you used only.


2. Works developed over time - cite the range of dates.


3. Issues of a journal, magazines, newspapers - indicate: year / month and year / season and year / full date - as indicated on the work.

  • 2019
  • Aug. 2019
  • Summer 2019
  • 09 August 2019

4. Online comment - record time stamp using 12-hour clock format

  • 09 August 2019, 9:33 a.m.

To Sum It Up

With the 8th edition of the MLA Handbook, the approach to citing sources shifts from creating entries based on the type of source cited (books, articles, etc.) to recording common features of the work. While this approach is more flexible for new media, it may be challenging for you to know which core elements are relevant to the source you are citing. So, as soon as you start feeling self-doubt - delegete all your work and doubts to CollegeHomeworkHelp experts and enjoy your time! 


MLA 8th Edition Sample Paper


Murdock 1

Martin J. Murdock

Professor Patricia Sullivan

English 624

12 February 2018

Toward a Recovery of Nineteenth Century Farming Handbooks

     While researching texts written about nineteenth century farming, I found a few authors who published books about the literature of nineteenth century farming, particularly agricultural journals, newspapers, pamphlets, and brochures. These authors often placed the farming literature they were studying into an historical context by discussing the important events in agriculture of the year in which the literature was published (see Demaree, for example). However, while these authors discuss journals, newspapers, pamphlets, and brochures, I could not find much discussion about another important source of farming knowledge: farming handbooks. My goal in this paper is to bring this source into the agricultural literature discussion by connecting three agricultural handbooks from the nineteenth century with nineteenth century agricultural history.
     To achieve this goal, I have organized my paper into four main sections, two of which have sub-sections. In the first section, I provide an account of three important events in nineteenth century agricultural history: population and technological changes, the distribution of scientific new knowledge, and farming’s influence on education. In the second section, I discuss three nineteenth century farming handbooks in connection with the important events described in the first section. I end my paper with a third section that offers research questions that could be answered in future versions of this paper and conclude with a fourth section that discusses the importance of expanding this particular project. I also include an appendix after the Works Cited that contains images of the three handbooks I examined. Before I can begin the examination of the three handbooks, however, I need to provide an historical context in which the books were written, and it is to this that I now turn.

The nineteenth century saw many changes to daily American life with an increase in population, improved methods of transportation, developments in technology, and the rise in the importance of science. These events impacted all aspects of nineteenth century American life (most significantly, those involved in slavery and the Civil War). However, one part of American life was affected that is quite often taken for granted: the life of the American farmer.

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Murdock 2

     Population and Technological Changes. One of the biggest changes, as seen in nineteenth century America’s census reports, is the dramatic increase in population. The 1820 census reported that over 10 million people were living in America; of those 10 million, over 2 million were engaged in agriculture. Ten years prior to that, the 1810 census reported over 7 million people were living in the states; there was no category for people engaged in agriculture. In this ten-year time span, then, agriculture experienced significant improvements and changes that enhanced its importance in American life.
     One of these improvements was the developments of canals and steamboats, which allowed farmers to “sell what has previously been unsalable [sic]” and resulted in a “substantial increase in [a farmer’s] ability to earn income” (Danhof 5). This improvement allowed the relations between the rural and urban populations to strengthen, resulting in an increase in trade. The urban population (defined as having over 2,500 inhabitants) in the northern states increased rapidly after 1820.1 This increase accompanied the decrease in rural populations, as farmers who “preferred trade, transportation, or ‘tinkering’” to the tasks of tending to crops and animals found great opportunities in the city (Danhof 7). Trade and transportation thus began to influence farming life significantly. Before 1820, the rural community accounted for eighty percent of consumption of farmers’ goods (Hurt 127). With the improvements in transportation, twenty-five percent of farmers’ products were sold for commercial gain, and by 1825, farming “became a business rather than a way of life” (128). This business required farmers to specialize their production and caused most farmers to give “less attention to the production of surplus commodities like wheat, tobacco, pork, or beef” (128). The increase in specialization encouraged some farmers to turn to technology to increase their production and capitalize on commercial markets (172).
     The technology farmers used around 1820 was developed from three main sources: Europe, coastal Native American tribes in America, and domestic modifications made from the first two sources’ technologies. Through time, technology improved, and while some farmers clung to their time-tested technologies, others were eager to find alternatives to these technologies. These farmers often turned to current developments in Great Britain and received word of their technological improvements through firsthand knowledge by talking with immigrants and travelers. Farmers also began planning and conducting experiments, and although they lacked a truly scientific approach, these farmers engaged in experiments to obtain results and learn from the results.2 Agricultural organizations were then formed to “encourage . . . experimentation, hear reports, observe results, and exchange critical comments” (Danhof 53). Thus, new knowledge was transmitted orally from farmer to farmer, immigrant to farmer, and traveler to farmer, which could result in the miscommunication of this new scientific knowledge. Therefore, developments were made for knowledge to be transmitted and recorded in a more permanent, credible way: by print.

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Murdock 3

     The Distribution of New Knowledge. Before 1820 and prior to the new knowledge farmers were creating, farmers who wanted print information about agriculture had their choice of agricultural almanacs and even local newspapers to receive information (Danhof 54). After 1820, however, agricultural writing took more forms than almanacs and newspapers. From 1820 to 1870, agricultural periodicals were responsible for spreading new knowledge among farmers. In his published dissertation The American Agricultural Press 1819-1860, Albert Lowther Demaree presents a “description of the general content of [agricultural journals]” (xi). These journals began in 1819 and were written for farmers, with topics devoted to “farming, stock raising, [and] horticulture” (12). The suggested “birthdate” of American agricultural journalism is April 2, 1819 when John S. Skinner published his periodical American Farmer in Baltimore. Demaree writes that Skinner’s periodical was the “first continuous, successful agricultural periodical in the United States” and “served as a model for hundreds of journals that succeeded it” (19). In the midst of the development of the journal, farmers began writing handbooks. Not much has been written on the handbooks’ history, aside from the fact that C.M. Saxton & Co. in New York was the major handbook publisher. Despite the lack of information about handbooks, and as can be seen in my discussion below, these handbooks played a significant role in distributing knowledge among farmers and in educating young farmers, as I now discuss.
     Farming’s Influence on Education. One result of the newly circulating print information was the “need for acquiring scientific information upon which could be based a rational technology” that could “be substituted for the current diverse, empirical practices” (Danhof 69). In his 1825 book Nature and Reason Harmonized in the Practice of Husbandry, John Lorain begins his first chapter by stating that “[v]ery erroneous theories have been propagated” resulting in faulty farming methods (1). His words here create a framework for the rest of his book, as he offers his readers narratives of his own trials and errors and even dismisses foreign, time-tested techniques farmers had held on to: “The knowledge we have of that very ancient and numerous nation the Chinese, as well as the very located habits and costumes of this very singular people, is in itself insufficient to teach us . . .” (75). His book captures the call and need for scientific experiments to develop new knowledge meant to be used in/on/with American soil, which reflects some farmers’ thinking of the day.
     By the 1860s, the need for this knowledge was strong enough to affect education. John Nicholson anticipated this effect in 1820 in the “Experiments” section of his book The Farmer’s Assistant; Being a Digest of All That Relates to Agriculture and the Conducting of Rural Affairs; Alphabetically Arranged and Adapted for the United States:

Perhaps it would be well, if some institution were devised, and supported at the expense of the State, which would be so organized as would tend most effectually to produce a due degree of emulation among Farmers, by rewards and honorary distinctions conferred by those who, by their successful experimental efforts and improvements, should render themselves duly entitled to them.3 (92)

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Murdock 4

Part of Nicholson’s hope was realized in 1837 when Michigan established their state university, specifying that “agriculture was to be an integral part of the curriculum” (Danhof 71). Not much was accomplished, however, much to the dissatisfaction of farmers, and in 1855, the state authorized a new college to be “devoted to agriculture and to be independent of the university” (Danhof 71). The government became more involved in the creation of agricultural universities in 1862 when President Lincoln passed the Morrill Land Grant College Act, which begins with this phrase: “AN ACT Donating Public Lands to the several States and Territories which may provide Colleges for the Benefit of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts [sic].” The first agricultural colleges formed under the act suffered from a lack of trained teachers and “an insufficient base of knowledge,” and critics claimed that the new colleges did not meet the needs of farmers (Hurt 193).
     Congress addressed these problems with the then newly formed United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). The USDA and Morrill Act worked together to form “. . . State experiment stations and extension services . . . [that] added [to] . . . localized research and education . . .” (Baker et al. 415). The USDA added to the scientific and educational areas of the agricultural field in other ways by including research as one of the organization’s “foundation stone” (367) and by including these seven objectives:

(1) [C]ollecting, arranging, and publishing statistical and other useful agricultural information; (2) introducing valuable plants and animals; (3) answering inquiries of farmers regarding agriculture; (4) testing agricultural implements; (5) conducting chemical analyses of soils, grains, fruits, plants, vegetables, and manures; (6) establishing a professorship of botany and entomology; and (7) establishing an agricultural library and museum. (Baker et al. 14)

These objectives were a response to farmers’ needs at the time, mainly to the need for experiments, printed distribution of new farming knowledge, and education. Isaac Newton, the first Commissioner of Agriculture, ensured these objectives would be realized by stressing research and education with the ultimate goal of helping farmers improve their operations (Hurt 190).
     Before the USDA assisted in the circulation of knowledge, however, farmers wrote about their own farming methods. This brings me to my next section in which I examine three handbooks written by farmers and connect my observations of the texts with the discussion of agricultural history I have presented above...

Note: Sections of this paper have been omitted to shorten the length of the paper

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Murdock 5


From examining Drown’s, Allen’s, and Crozier and Henderson’s handbooks in light of nineteenth century agricultural history, I can say that science and education seem to have had a strong influence on how and why these handbooks were written. The authors’ ethos is created by how they align themselves as farmers with science and education either by supporting or by criticizing them. Regardless of their stance, the authors needed to create an ethos to gain an audience, and they did this by including tables of information, illustrations of animals and buildings, reasons for educational reform, and pieces of advice to young farmers in their texts. It would be interesting to see if other farming handbooks of the same century also convey a similar ethos concerning science and education in agriculture. Recovering more handbooks in this way could lead to a better, more complete understanding of farming education, science’s role in farming and education, and perhaps even an understanding of the rhetoric of farming handbooks in the nineteenth century.  


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Murdock 6


     1. Danhof includes “Delaware, Maryland, all states north of the Potomac and Ohio rivers, Missouri, and states to its north” when referring to the northern states(11).

     2. For the purposes of this paper, “science” is defined as it was in nineteenth century agriculture: conducting experiments and engaging in research.

     3. Please note that any direct quotes from the nineteenth century texts are written in their original form, which may contain grammar mistakes according to twenty-first century grammar rules.


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Murdock 7

Works Cited

Allen, R.L. The American Farm Book; or Compend of American Agriculture;
     Being a Practical Treatise on Soils, Manures, Draining, Irrigation,
     Grasses, Grain, Roots, Fruits, Cotton, Tobacco, Sugar Cane, Rice, and
     Every Staple Product of the United States with the Best Methods of
     Planting, Cultivating, and Preparation for Market
. Saxton, 1849.

Baker, Gladys L., et al. Century of Service: The First 100 Years of the
     United States Department of Agriculture
. [Federal Government], 1996.

Danhof, Clarence H. Change in Agriculture: The Northern United States, 1820-
. Harvard UP, 1969.

Demaree, Albert Lowther. The American Agricultural Press 1819-1860. Columbia
     UP, 1941.

Drown, William, and Solomon Drown. Compendium of Agriculture or the Farmer’s
     Guide, in the Most Essential Parts of Husbandry and Gardening; Compiled
     from the Best American and European Publications, and the Unwritten
     Opinions of Experienced Cultivators
. Field, 1824.

“Historical Census Browser.” University of Virginia Library, 2007, Accessed 6 Dec. 2008.

Hurt, R. Douglas. American Agriculture: A Brief History. Iowa State UP,

Lorain, John. Nature and Reason Harmonized in the Practice of Husbandry.

“Morrill Land Grant Act of 1862.” Prairie View A&M, 2003.
     1890-land-grant-history/. Accessed 6 Dec. 2008.

Nicholson, John. The Farmer’s Assistant; Being a Digest of All That Relates
     to Agriculture and the Conducting of Rural Affairs; Alphabetically
     Arranged and Adapted for the United States
. Warner, 1820.