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Citation Guide (MLA and APA)

This guide will help you create citations in MLA or APA format. Use the navigation menu to learn more.


The MLA 8th edition simplifies the rules and order of core elements needed to create bibliographic citations. The basic order of the elements and the correct punctuation that divides them is listed below. In most cases you will not use all these elements in a citation, only what is important or relevant to your source.

Please note that MLA citations are doubled spaced.

  1. Author Last name, First name.
  2. Title of source. [Titles of books in italics. "Titles of articles in quotations."]
  3. Title of container, (example:  journal title, newspaper, platform, etc.) [Titles of containers in italics.]
  4. Other contributors, (example:  illustrator, book editor, etc.)
  5. Version, (example:  volume, edition, revision, etc.)
  6. Number,
  7. Publisher,
  8. Publication date,
  9. Location. (example: database name, DOI, URL, etc.)
  10. If the source is found online, add Accessed date in day month year format. (example: Accessed 11 November 2018).

To see examples of in-text citations in MLA format, see the handout MLA Style - the Basics.

To see examples of citations for multiple source types, see the handout MLA Style - Complete.

In-text citations

Direct Quotes

A direct quote is a word for word copy of text. The quote is enclosed in quotation marks. Include the author's last name, date of publication, and page numbers if available.

Joseph Conrad writes of the company manager in Heart of Darkness, "He was obeyed, yet he inspired neither love nor fear, nor even respect" (87).

"The red tree vole is a crucial part of the spotted owl's diet" (Moone 15).

Block Quotes

The block quote is used for direct quotations that are longer than 4 lines. Indent the entire quote 1 inch or 12-16 spaces.

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

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)


A paraphrase is a quotation rewritten in your own words. A summary is a condensed version of a longer passage. Both require citations. Include the author's name and the page number.

Oregon salmon populations have dramatically declined in the past decade (Lenz 27).

Kafka describes the insecurities of his youth and his rocky relationship with his father (44-46).

Indirect Quote

When possible, cite information directly. If you must cite a source that was cited in another source, name the original source in your signal phrase. Include the secondary source in parentheses with the abbreviation "qtd. in" (quoted in). Include the indirect source in your works cited list.

Jackson stated that... (qtd. in Johns 14).

In this example, Johns should appear in your works cited list.

Multiple Authors

1-2 Authors

Studies have shown that more teachers are changing careers. (Posamentier and Jaye 55).

3+ Authors

Stutts el al. argue for the impact of language development on the brain (339).

Capitalization in MLA Citations

Which words to capitalize in an MLA? The basic rule of thumb, according the Purdue OWL, is to "capitalize each word in the titles of articles, books, etc., but do not capitalize articles (the, an), prepositions, or conjunctions unless one is the first word of the title or subtitle: Gone with the Wind, The Art of War, There Is Nothing Left to Lose."

According to the  MLA Handbook, (8 ed.) (67):

The rules for capitalizing titles are strict. In a title or a subtitle, capitalize the first word, the last word, and all principal words, including those that follow hyphens in compound terms.

Therefore, capitalize the following parts of speech:

  • Nouns (e.g., flowers and Europe, as in The Flowers of Europe)
  • Pronouns (e.g., our, as in Save Our Children; that, as in The Mouse That Roared)
  • Verbs (e.g., watches, as in America Watches Television: is, as in What Is Literature?)
  • Adjectives (e.g., ugly, as in The Ugly Duckling: that, as in Who Said That Phrase?)
  • Adverbs (e.g., slightly, as in Only Slightly Corrupt: down, as in Go Down, Moses)
  • Subordinating conjunctions (e.g., after, although, as if, as soon as, because, before, if, that, unless, until, when, where, while, as in One If by Land and Anywhere That Chance Leads)

Do not capitalize the following parts of speech when they fall in the middle of a title:

  • Articles (a, an, the, as in Under the Bamboo Tree)
  • Prepositions (e.g., against, between, in, of, to, as in The Merchant of Venice and A Dialogue between the Soul and Body)
  • Coordinating conjunctions (and, but, for, nor, or, so, yet, as in Romeo and Juliet)
  • The to in infinitives (as in How to Play Chess)
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