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Uni Essen Mla Style Essay

MLA is a citation style from the Modern Language Association and is commonly used in the humanities. When using MLA, you will cite sources both within the text (in-text citations) and at the end of the document (Works Cited page).

In-Text Citations

MLA requires citing with the author’s last name. In-text citations can appear within the sentence or at the end of the sentence.

In Williams and Jones, the data shows that citations are important.

The data shows that citations are important (Williams and Jones).

For in-text citations in specific contexts, see our headings below:

Page numbers are required for direct quotations from sources that have numbered pages, such as books or journals. This number appears in parentheses at the end of the sentence.

According to Smith, “It is better to overcite than undercite” (2).

Research requires the frequent use of citations: “It is better to overcite than undercite” (Smith 2).

When a source has two to three authors, write out all of the authors' names and combine them with "and."

William, Jones, and Smith find that citations are important.

The data shows that citations are important (Williams, Jones, and Smith).

When a source has four or more authors, you can either write out all of the authors' names or use only the first author's name and “et al.” (meaning "and everyone else"). Write "et al." in lowercase, place a period after "al." and do not place a comma between the author's name and "et al."

Saal et al. argues that historic homes should be preserved.

Historic homes should be preserved (Saal et al.).

When no author is listed, you have two options:

1. Use the publisher name. When citing a webpage, the publisher will appear at the bottom of the website next to the copyright date.

The data shows that citations are important (Organization for Research).

2. Use the shortened title of the source. Note: a source without a named author or publisher might not be reliable.

The data shows that citations are important (“Using Sources”).

When citing multiple different sources in the same citation, list them in alphabetical order (like on your Works Cited page) and separate them with semicolons.

The data shows that citations are important (Aeron; Coldwater et al.; Williams and Jones).

When you have two or more authors with the same last name, include their first initial in your citations to differentiate the sources.

The data shows that citations are important (R. Aeron; A. Aeron).

When you have two or more sources with the same author(s), include the shortened title of the source to differentiate them. This title will appear in parentheses at the end of the sentence. Italicize book titles and use quotation marks for article titles.

Aeron argues that citations are important ("Research").

The data shows that citations are important (Aeron, "Research").

Works Cited Page

The Works Cited page lists the full citation of each source used in your paper. Follow these general notes on MLA format:

  • Start your Works Cited on a new page.
  • Write "Works Cited" at the top of the page and center it, with no bold or italics.
  • Create a hanging indent for all citations, so every line after the first will be indented half an inch. Follow these steps in Microsoft Word:
    1. Highlight all of the citations on your Bibliography.
    2. Right-click and select “Paragraph.”
    3. Under “Indentation,” go to “Special” and select “Hanging” from the drop-down menu.
  • Alphabetize sources by the author's last name. If there is no author, alphabetize by the first major word in the title.
  • Begin the citation with the author(s). Write the first author's name in inverted order (LastName, FirstName), but write every following author's name in normal order (FirstName LastName).
  • Italicize books and journals, and place quotation marks around article and webpage titles. Fully capitalize all titles (except for articles and prepositions).
    • "An Article Title Will Look Like This."
    • A Book Title Will Look Like This.
  • When asked to provide a month of publication, abbreviate the month according to the following standards:
    • Jan., Feb., Mar., Apr., May, Jun., Jul., Aug., Sept., Oct., Nov., Dec.

The information provided in each of your Works Cited citations will be different for each type of source. You can check this format at the Purdue OWL. Here are some examples of Works Cited citations for common types of sources:

Because all of the content in a book is written by the same author(s), you can cite the entire book on your Works Cited, even if you only used information from one chapter or a few pages. If a book has multiple copyright dates, use the most recent.

General Format

AuthorLastName, FirstName. Book Title in Caps and Italics: Subtitle. edition, if applicable, Publisher,

year of publication.

Example, with No Edition

Lord, Walter. The Night Lives On: The Untold Stories and Secrets Behind the Sinking of the" Unsinkable" Ship—Titanic.

Open Road Media, 2012.

Example, with Edition

Butler, Daniel Allen. "Unsinkable": The Full Story of the RMS Titanic. 2nd ed., Da Capo Press, 2012.

Edited books contain articles or chapters written by different authors. Thus, your Works Cited must list each individual article or chapter that you used in your research.

General Format

AuthorLastName, FirstName. "Title of Article/Chapter in Quotation Marks." Book Title in Caps and Italics: Subtitle,

edited by EditorFirstName LastName, Publisher, year of publication, pp. page range of article/chapter.

Example, with One Book Editor

Beesley, Lawrence. "The Loss of the S. S. Titanic, Its Story, and Its Lessons." The Story of the Titanic: As Told

by Its Survivors, edited by Jack Winocour, Dover Publications, 1960, pp. 1-110.

Example, with Two Book Editors

Middleton, Peter, and Tim Woods. "Textual Memory: The Making of the Titanic's Archive." The Titanic in Myth

and Memory: Representations in Visual and Literary Culture, edited by Tim Bergfelder and Sarah Street,

Palgrave Macmillan, 2004, pp. 63-72.

Provide the day, month, and year that the newspaper article was published. Abbreviate the month according to the following standards:

  • Jan., Feb., Mar., Apr., May, Jun., Jul., Aug., Sept., Oct., Nov., Dec.

General Format

AuthorLastName, FirstName. "Title of Article in Quotation Marks." Newspaper Title in Caps and Italics,

Day Month Year of Publication.


Broad, William J. "A New Look at Nature's Role in the Titanic's Sinking: The Iceberg Was Only Part of It."

The New York Times, 9 Apr. 2012.

Provide the day, month, and year that the webpage was published and that you last visited the webpage. Abbreviate the month according to the following standards:

  • Jan., Feb., Mar., Apr., May, Jun., Jul., Aug., Sept., Oct., Nov., Dec.

If the webpage has no date of publication, provide the date that you accessed the site at the end of the citation.

The title of the website is usually located in the top left corner of every page. The website publisher will be located at the bottom of the page, next to the copyright date.

General Format

AuthorLastName, FirstName. "Title of Webpage in Quotation Marks." Website Title in Italics, Publisher of Website

if different from website title, Day Month Year of Publication, full URL without the “https://”. Accessed Day Month Year

(if no publication information).

Example, with Publication Date and No Author

“Titanic Facts: Some Fast Facts About Her Builders, Her Victims, and Her Survivors.” National Geographic,

12 Dec. 2012,


Style and Format

In MLA, quotations that extend more than 4 lines should be formatted as block quotations. This means the quotation will have no quotation marks and be completely indented half an inch from the rest of the paragraph. For example:

Many scholars continue to prefer humans over computers:

The human brain, with its flexibility and capacity to imagine, is still superior in many ways to the electronic model. The computer is never tired or preoccupied or careless, so it is wonderful at remembering and observing rules. But it doesn’t have the imagination of even a very young human brain—which not only can forget the rules, but can find in them loopholes and options. Electronic intelligence can process information like a house afire, but it still can’t think. (LaRocque 52)

MLA also had standards for formatting your paper. The first page should include your name, your professor's name, your course number, and your due date in the upper left corner. The due date will be written in inverted order, with the day coming before the month. An example can be seen at Purdue OWL.

Julie Smith
Dr. Sally Harris
ENG 111
7 November 2013

All of the headers in your paper should have your last name and page number in the upper right corner.

Smith 1

Additional Resources

General Format

AuthorLastName, FirstName. "Title of Article in Quotation Marks." Journal Title in Caps and Italics, vol. #, no. #,

year of publication, pp. page range of article.


Frey, Bruno S., David A. Savage, and Benno Torgler. "Interaction of Natural Survival Instincts and Internalized Social

Norms Exploring the Titanic and Lusitania Disasters." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, vol. 107,

no. 11, 2010, pp. 4862-4865.

MLA Works Cited Page: Books


MLA (Modern Language Association) style is most commonly used to write papers and cite sources within the liberal arts and humanities. This resource, updated to reflect the MLA Handbook (8th ed.), offers examples for the general format of MLA research papers, in-text citations, endnotes/footnotes, and the Works Cited page.

Contributors: Tony Russell, Allen Brizee, Elizabeth Angeli, Russell Keck, Joshua M. Paiz, Michelle Campbell, Rodrigo RodrĂ­guez-Fuentes, Daniel P. Kenzie, Susan Wegener, Maryam Ghafoor, Purdue OWL Staff
Last Edited: 2018-01-09 11:20:41

When you are gathering book sources, be sure to make note of the following bibliographic items: the author name(s), other contributors such as translators or editors, the book’s title, editions of the book, the publication date, the publisher, and the pagination.

The 8th edition of the MLA handbook highlights principles over prescriptive practices. Essentially, a writer will need to take note of primary elements in every source, such as author, title, etc. and then assort them in a general format. Thus, in using this methodology, a writer will be able to source a specific item that may not be included in this list.

Remember these changes from previous editions:

  • Commas are used instead of periods between Publisher, Publication Date, and Pagination.
  • Medium is no longer necessary.
  • Containers are now a part of the MLA process, in light of technology. Periods should be used between Containers.
  • DOIs should be used instead of URLS when available.
  • Use the phrase, “Accessed” instead of listing the date or the abbreviation, “n.d.”

Below is the general format for any citation:

Author. Title. Title of container (self contained if book), Other contributors (translators or editors), Version (edition), Number (vol. and/or no.), Publisher, Publication Date, Location (pages, paragraphs URL or DOI). 2nd container’s title, Other contributors, Version, Number, Publisher, Publication date, Location, Date of Access (if applicable).

Basic Book Format

The author’s name or a book with a single author's name appears in last name, first name format. The basic form for a book citation is:

Last Name, First Name. Title of Book. Publisher, Publication Date.

Book with One Author

Gleick, James. Chaos: Making a New Science. Penguin, 1987.

Henley, Patricia. The Hummingbird House. MacMurray, 1999.

Book with More Than One Author

When a book has multiple authors, order the authors in the same way they are presented in the book. The first given name appears in last name, first name format; subsequent author names appear in first name last name format.

Gillespie, Paula, and Neal Lerner. The Allyn and Bacon Guide to Peer Tutoring. Allyn and Bacon, 2000.

If there are three or more authors, list only the first author followed by the phrase et al. (Latin for "and others") in place of the subsequent authors' names. (Note that there is a period after “al” in “et al.” Also note that there is never a period after the “et” in “et al.”).

Wysocki, Anne Frances, et al. Writing New Media: Theory and Applications for Expanding the Teaching of Composition. Utah State UP, 2004. 

Two or More Books by the Same Author

List works alphabetically by title. (Remember to ignore articles like A, An, and The.) Provide the author’s name in last name, first name format for the first entry only. For each subsequent entry by the same author, use three hyphens and a period.

Palmer, William J. Dickens and New Historicism. St. Martin's, 1997.

---. The Films of the Eighties: A Social History. Southern Illinois UP, 1993.

Book by a Corporate Author or Organization

A corporate author may include a commission, a committee, a government agency, or a group that does not identify individual members on the title page.

List the names of corporate authors in the place where an author’s name typically appears at the beginning of the entry.

American Allergy Association. Allergies in Children. Random House, 1998.

When the author and publisher are the same, skip the author, and list the title first. Then, list the corporate author only as the publisher.

Fair Housing—Fair Lending. Aspen Law & Business, 1985.

Book with No Author

List by title of the book. Incorporate these entries alphabetically just as you would with works that include an author name. For example, the following entry might appear between entries of works written by Dean, Shaun and Forsythe, Jonathan.

Encyclopedia of Indiana. Somerset, 1993.

Remember that for an in-text (parenthetical) citation of a book with no author, provide the name of the work in the signal phrase and the page number in parentheses. You may also use a shortened version of the title of the book accompanied by the page number. For more information see the In-text Citations for Print Sources with No Known Author section of In-text Citations: The Basics.

A Translated Book

If you want to emphasize the work rather than the translator, cite as you would any other book. Add “translated by” and follow with the name(s) of the translator(s).

Foucault, Michel. Madness and Civilization: A History of Insanity in the Age of Reason. Translated by Richard Howard, Vintage-Random House, 1988.

If you want to focus on the translation, list the translator as the author. In place of the author’s name, the translator’s name appears. His or her name is followed by the label, “translator.” If the author of the book does not appear in the title of the book, include the name, with a “By” after the title of the book and before the publisher. Note that this type of citation is less common and should only be used for papers or writing in which translation plays a central role.

Howard, Richard, translator. Madness and Civilization: A History of Insanity in the Age of Reason. By Michel Foucault, Vintage-Random House, 1988.

Republished Book

Books may be republished due to popularity without becoming a new edition. New editions are typically revisions of the original work. For books that originally appeared at an earlier date and that have been republished at a later one, insert the original publication date before the publication information.

For books that are new editions (i.e. different from the first or other editions of the book), see An Edition of a Book below.

Butler, Judith. Gender Trouble. 1990. Routledge, 1999.

Erdrich, Louise. Love Medicine. 1984. Perennial-Harper, 1993.

An Edition of a Book

There are two types of editions in book publishing: a book that has been published more than once in different editions and a book that is prepared by someone other than the author (typically an editor).

A Subsequent Edition

Cite the book as you normally would, but add the number of the edition after the title.

Crowley, Sharon, and Debra Hawhee. Ancient Rhetorics for Contemporary Students. 3rd ed., Pearson, 2004.

A Work Prepared by an Editor

Cite the book as you normally would, but add the editor after the title with the label, "Edited by"

Bronte, Charlotte. Jane Eyre. Edited by Margaret Smith, Oxford UP, 1998.

Anthology or Collection (e.g. Collection of Essays)

To cite the entire anthology or collection, list by editor(s) followed by a comma and "editor" or, for multiple editors, "editors." This sort of entry is somewhat rare. If you are citing a particular piece within an anthology or collection (more common), see A Work in an Anthology, Reference, or Collection below.

Hill, Charles A., and Marguerite Helmers, editors. Defining Visual Rhetorics. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2004.

Peterson, Nancy J., editor. Toni Morrison: Critical and Theoretical Approaches. Johns Hopkins UP, 1997.

A Work in an Anthology, Reference, or Collection

Works may include an essay in an edited collection or anthology, or a chapter of a book. The basic form is for this sort of citation is as follows:

Last name, First name. "Title of Essay." Title of Collection, edited by Editor's Name(s), Publisher, Year, Page range of entry.

Some examples:

Harris, Muriel. "Talk to Me: Engaging Reluctant Writers." A Tutor's Guide: Helping Writers One to One, edited by Ben Rafoth, Heinemann, 2000, pp. 24-34.

Swanson, Gunnar. "Graphic Design Education as a Liberal Art: Design and Knowledge in the University and The 'Real World.'" The Education of a Graphic Designer, edited by Steven Heller, Allworth Press, 1998, pp. 13-24.

Note on Cross-referencing Several Items from One Anthology: If you cite more than one essay from the same edited collection, MLA indicates you may cross-reference within your works cited list in order to avoid writing out the publishing information for each separate essay. You should consider this option if you have several references from a single text. To do so, include a separate entry for the entire collection listed by the editor's name as below:

Rose, Shirley K., and Irwin Weiser, editors. The Writing Program Administrator as Researcher. Heinemann, 1999.

Then, for each individual essay from the collection, list the author's name in last name, first name format, the title of the essay, the editor's last name, and the page range:

L'Eplattenier, Barbara. "Finding Ourselves in the Past: An Argument for Historical Work on WPAs." Rose and Weiser, pp. 131-40.

Peeples, Tim. "'Seeing' the WPA With/Through Postmodern Mapping." Rose and Weiser, pp. 153-67.

Please note: When cross-referencing items in the works cited list, alphabetical order should be maintained for the entire list. 

Poem or Short Story Examples:

Burns, Robert. "Red, Red Rose." 100 Best-Loved Poems, edited by Philip Smith, Dover, 1995, p. 26.

Kincaid, Jamaica. "Girl." The Vintage Book of Contemporary American Short Stories, edited by Tobias Wolff, Vintage, 1994, pp. 306-07.

If the specific literary work is part of the author's own collection (all of the works have the same author), then there will be no editor to reference:

Whitman, Walt. "I Sing the Body Electric." Selected Poems. Dover, 1991, pp. 12-19. 

Carter, Angela. "The Tiger's Bride." Burning Your Boats: The Collected Stories. Penguin, 1995, pp. 154-69.

Article in a Reference Book (e.g. Encyclopedias, Dictionaries)

For entries in encyclopedias, dictionaries, and other reference works, cite the piece as you would any other work in a collection but do not include the publisher information. Also, if the reference book is organized alphabetically, as most are, do not list the volume or the page number of the article or item.

"Ideology." The American Heritage Dictionary. 3rd ed., 1997.

A Multivolume Work

When citing only one volume of a multivolume work, include the volume number after the work's title, or after the work's editor or translator.

Quintilian. Institutio Oratoria. Translated by H. E. Butler, vol. 2, Loeb-Harvard UP, 1980. 

When citing more than one volume of a multivolume work, cite the total number of volumes in the work. Also, be sure in your in-text citation to provide both the volume number and page number(s). (See Citing Multivolume Works on the In-Text Citations – The Basics page, which you can access by following the appropriate link at the bottom of this page.)

Quintilian. Institutio Oratoria. Translated by H. E. Butler, Loeb-Harvard UP, 1980. 4 vols. 

If the volume you are using has its own title, cite the book without referring to the other volumes as if it were an independent publication.

Churchill, Winston S. The Age of Revolution. Dodd, 1957.

An Introduction, Preface, Foreword, or Afterword

When citing an introduction, a preface, a foreword, or an afterword, write the name of the author(s) of the piece you are citing. Then give the name of the part being cited, which should not be italicized or enclosed in quotation marks; in italics, provide the name of the work and the name of the author of the introduction/preface/foreword/afterword. Finish the citation with the details of publication and page range.

Farrell, Thomas B. Introduction. Norms of Rhetorical Culture, by Farrell, Yale UP, 1993, pp. 1-13.

If the writer of the piece is different from the author of the complete work, then write the full name of the principal work's author after the word "By." For example, if you were to cite Hugh Dalziel Duncan’s introduction of Kenneth Burke’s book Permanence and Change, you would write the entry as follows:

Duncan, Hugh Dalziel. Introduction. Permanence and Change: An Anatomy of Purpose, by Kenneth Burke, 1935, 3rd ed., U of California P, 1984, pp. xiii-xliv.

Other Print/Book Sources

Certain book sources are handled in a special way by MLA style.

Book Published Before 1900

Original copies of books published before 1900 are usually defined by their place of publication rather than the publisher. Unless you are using a newer edition, cite the city of publication where you would normally cite the publisher. 

Thoreau, Henry David. Excursions. Boston, 1863.

The Bible

Italicize “The Bible” and follow it with the version you are using. Remember that your in-text (parenthetical citation) should include the name of the specific edition of the Bible, followed by an abbreviation of the book, the chapter and verse(s). (See Citing the Bible at In-Text Citations: The Basics.)

The Bible. Authorized King James Version, Oxford UP, 1998.


The Bible. The New Oxford Annotated Version, 3rd ed., Oxford UP, 2001.


The New Jerusalem Bible. Edited by Susan Jones, Doubleday, 1985. 

A Government Publication

Cite the author of the publication if the author is identified. Otherwise, start with the name of the national government, followed by the agency (including any subdivisions or agencies) that serves as the organizational author. For congressional documents, be sure to include the number of the Congress and the session when the hearing was held or resolution passed as well as the report number. US government documents are typically published by the Government Printing Office.

United States, Congress, Senate, Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. Hearing on the Geopolitics of Oil. Government Printing Office, 2007. 110th Congress, 1st session, Senate Report 111-8.


United States, Government Accountability Office. Climate Change: EPA and DOE Should Do More to Encourage Progress Under Two Voluntary Programs. Government Printing Office, 2006.

A Pamphlet

Cite the title and publication information for the pamphlet just as you would a book without an author. Pamphlets and promotional materials commonly feature corporate authors (commissions, committees, or other groups that does not provide individual group member names). If the pamphlet you are citing has no author, cite as directed below. If your pamphlet has an author or a corporate author, put the name of the author (last name, first name format) or corporate author in the place where the author name typically appears at the beginning of the entry. (See also Books by a Corporate Author or Organization above.)

Women's Health: Problems of the Digestive System. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, 2006.

Your Rights Under California Welfare Programs. California Department of Social Services, 2007.

Dissertations and Master's Theses

Dissertations and master's theses may be used as sources whether published or not. Cite the work as you would a book, but include the designation Dissertation (or MA/MS thesis) followed by the degree-granting school and the year the degree was awarded.

If the dissertation is published, italicize the title and include the publication date. You may also include the University Microfilms International (UMI) order number if you choose:

Bishop, Karen Lynn. Documenting Institutional Identity: Strategic Writing in the IUPUI Comprehensive Campaign. Dissertation, Purdue University, 2002. UMI, 2004.

Bile, Jeffrey. Ecology, Feminism, and a Revised Critical Rhetoric: Toward a Dialectical Partnership. Dissertation, Ohio University, 2005. UMI, 2006. AAT 3191701.

If the work is not published, put the title in quotation marks and end with the date the degree was awarded:

Graban, Tarez Samra. "Towards a Feminine Ironic: Understanding Irony in the Oppositional Discourse of Women from the Early Modern and Modern Periods." Dissertation, Purdue University, 2006.

Stolley, Karl. "Toward a Conception of Religion as a Discursive Formation: Implications for Postmodern Composition Theory." MA thesis, Purdue University, 2002.

List the names of corporate authors in the place where an author’s name typically appears at the beginning of the entry if the author and publisher are not the same.

    American Allergy Association. Allergies in Children. Random House, 1998.

When the author and publisher are the same, skip the author, and list the title first. Then, list the corporate author only as the publisher.

Fair Housing—Fair Lending. Aspen Law & Business, 1985.