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French 10: Citing Sources in MLA


What Is MLA Style?

MLA style is a system for documenting sources in scholarly writing. For over half a century, it has been widely adopted for classroom instruction and used worldwide by scholars, journal publishers, and academic and commercial presses.

Works today are published in a dizzying range of formats. On the Web, modes of publication are regularly invented, combined, and modified. MLA style was updated in 2016 to meet the challenges facing today’s researchers. It recommends one universal set of guidelines that writers can apply to any type of source. Entries in the list of works cited are composed of facts common to most works—the MLA core elements. Works are cited in the text with brief parenthetical citations keyed to the list of works cited.


Parenthetical documentation (or in-text citation) - a short note embedded in the text of your paper in which you acknowledge the source of quotations or paraphrases of someone else's words. Some common formats of MLA style parenthetical documentation are shown below:

  1. Usually the author's last name and a page reference are enough to identify the source and the specific location from which you have borrowed material:

"The stories in the Panchatantra originated in India, many going back to the second century B.C." (Chaitanya 361).

  1. When the author or work is mentioned in the text immediately prior to the quotation, a simple page reference is sufficient:

It may be true, as Robertson maintains, that "in the appreciation of medieval art the attitude of the observer is of primary importance . . ." (136).

  1. When you are using several works by the same author and have mentioned the author immediately prior to the quotation, indicate the short form of the source’s title and the page number:

According to Naomi Baron, reading is "just half of literacy. The other half is writing" ("Redefining" 194).

  1. When you are using several works by the same author, but have not mentioned the author in the text immediately prior to the quotation, indicate the author’s name, the short form of the source’s title, and the page number:

Reading is "just half of literacy. The other half is writing" (Baron, "Redefining" 194).

  1. If you use a quotation of more than four typed lines, set it off from the text by beginning a new line, indenting one inch or ten spaces from the left margin, and typing it double-spaced, without adding quotation marks:

At the conclusion of Lord of the Flies, Ralph and the other boys realize the horror of their actions:

The tears began to flow and sobs shook him. He gave himself up to them now for the first time on the island; great, shuddering spasms of grief that seemed to wrench his whole body. His voice rose under the black smoke before the burning wreckage of the island; and infected by that emotion, the other little boys began to shake and sob too. (186)

Core Elements of MLA: Author, Title of source, Title of container, Other contributors, Version, Publishers, Publication date, and Location.

MLA (Modern Language Association) style for documentation is widely used in the humanities, especially in writing on language and literature. MLA style features brief parenthetical citations in the text keyed to an alphabetical list of works cited that appears at the end of the work. 

Core Elements

Each entry in the list of works cited is composed of facts common to most works—the MLA core elements. They are assembled in a specific order.


The concept of containers is crucial to MLA style. When the source being documented forms part of a larger whole, the larger whole can be thought of as a container that holds the source. For example, a short story may be contained in an anthology. The short story is the source, and the anthology is the container.

(Source: Official MLA website)

MLA (Modern Language Association) Style 8th Edition - Citing Print Sources

(note: Work Cited should be double spaced)


Alexander, Michelle. The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness. New Press, 2010.


Barsh, Joanna, and Johanne Lavoie. Centered Leadership: A Leading with Purpose, Clarity, and Impact. Crown Business, 2014.


Beley, Ennis, et al. Picture LA: Landmarks of a New Generation. Edited by Jeffrey Levin, Getty Conservation Institute, 1994.


Daniels, Pamela, and Sara Ruddick, editors. Women Imagine Change: A Global Anthology of Women's Resistance from 600 B.C.E. to Present. Routledge, 1997.


Dworken, Harvey J. "Digestion and Digestive Systems: Organ Functions." The New Encyclopedia Britannica: Macropedia, 15th ed., vol. 17, Encyclopedia Britannica, 2005, pp. 286-93.


Foley, Barbara. "Reading Redness: Politics and Audience in Ralph Ellison's Early Short Fiction." Short Story Criticism, edited by Thomas J. Schoenberg and Lawrence J. Trudeau, vol. 79, Gale, 2005, pp. 43-52. Originally published in Journal of Narrative Theory, vol. 29, no. 3, Fall 1999, pp. 323-39.


King, Martin Luther, Jr. "Letter from Birmingham Jail." 1963. The Norton Anthology of African American Literature, edited by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and Nellie Y. McKay, Norton, 1997, pp.1854-66.


Lowrey, Annie. "Where Did the Government Jobs Go?" New York Times Magazine, 1 May 2016, pp. 64-67.


Quammen, David. "America's Wild Idea: Yellowstone." National Geographic, May 2016, pp. 30-53


Trometter, Alyssa L. "Malcolm X and the Aboriginal Black Power Movement in Australia, 1967-1972." Journal of African American History, vol. 100, no. 2, Spring 2015, pp. 226-49.


Zavis, Alexandra, and Nabih Bulos. "Syria Road Map May Go Nowhere." Los Angeles Times, 9 Sept. 2016, p. A4.


MLA (Modern Language Association) Style 8th Edition - Citing Online Sources

Elements (with examples):

(scroll down for full list)

1. Author's name (last name, first name)   Ford, Tanisha C.
2. Title of article (in quotation marks) "Finding Olive Morris in the Archive."
3. Name of periodical (italicized)  Black Scholar,

4. Volume. Issue       

Note: Journal citations include the volume and issue number while magazine/newspaper citations do not.

vol. 46, no. 2,
5. Date published Summer 2016,
6. Page number(s) pp. 5-18.
7. Database title (italicized)  Academic Search Complete.
8. DOI    doi:10.1080/00064246.2016.1147937.


Author(s). “Title of Article.” Name of Periodical, vol. ##, no. ##, date published, pp. ##-##. Database Name, DOI (or permalink if DOI not provided).

Examples for a Works Cited List:

Ford, Tanisha C. "Finding Olive Morris in the Archive." Black Scholar, vol. 46, no. 2, Summer 2016, pp. 5-18Academic Search Complete, doi:10.1080/00064246.2016.1147937.

Lazarus, David. "Our Irrational Custom of Tipping." Los Angeles Times, 20 May 2016, pp. C1+. ProQuest,

McGibney, Megan and Chris Perez Noonan. “Smuggle Bust at Jail.” The New York Post, 20 May 2016, p. 10. LexisNexis Academic,

Morcos, Nicholas, and Roy Morcos. "Personality Disorders: A Measured Response." Journal of Family Practice, vol. 65, no. 2, Feb. 2016, pp. 90-97. Health Source: Nursing/Academic Edition,

Spivack, Miranda S. "Women in Combat." CQ Researcher, 13 May 2016, pp. 433-56. CQ Press,

Twiss, Sumner B. “History, Human Rights, and Globalization.” Journal of Religious Ethics, vol. 32, no.1, Spring 2004, pp. 39-70. JSTOR, 

Online Books

If citing an online book that also appeared in print, begin the citation with the relevant facts about print publication (author, title, publisher, year published etc.), followed by the Name of the Database (italicized) and permalink or URL (omit http:// or https://).

Berk, Laura E. Awakening Children's Minds: How Parents and Teachers Can Make a Difference. Oxford UP, 2004. eBook Collection (EBSCOhost),

Kipling, Rudyard. The Jungle Book. Century, 1913. The Library of Congress: Classic Books,

Web Pages

A Web page is a single document on the Internet, a part of a Web site. It can be compared to an online version of an article or a section of a book.


Name of the author Aydin, Scott I. 
Title of the Web page or article (in quotation marks)             “Eisenmenger Syndrome.”
Title of the Web site or online periodical (italicized )

A.D.A.M. Medical Encyclopedia,

Name of the publisher or sponsoring institution

Note: The name of the publisher can be omitted if it is essentially the same as the title of Web site

Date of publication or latest update  15 Mar. 2016,
URL (omit http:// or https://)

Date of access (day month year) Accessed 29 Sept. 2016.


Author(s). “Title of the Page.” Title of the Web Site, Name of Sponsoring Institution, date of publication/last update, URL. Accessed day month year.

Examples for a Works Cited List (use a hanging indent)

Aydin, Scott I. “Eisenmenger Syndrome.” A.D.A.M. Medical Encyclopedia, MedlinePlus, 15 Mar. 2016, Accessed 29 Sept. 2016.

Lowe, Josh. “Netflix, Amazon Could Face EU Content Quotas.” Newsweek, 14 Sept. 2016, Accessed 14 Sept. 2016.

Van Helden, Albert, et al., editors. “Copernican System.” The Galileo Project, Rice U, 1995, Accessed 14 Sept. 2016.

Wattles, Jackie. “Clean Energy Gets Dirty: Turning Sewage into Heat.” CNNMoney, 24 June 2016,
html?sr=recirc052516eneregy0930story. Accessed 14 Sept. 2016.

Further reading: 

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