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Excelsior OWL

Based on the Purdue OWL, the Excelsior OWL is a great source for MLA style guidelines, Works Cited structure, and Citations. 

Find MLA video tutorials, sample citations and much more.

MLA books

Citation Guide (MLA and APA)

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


The MLA 9th edition expands and improves the explanation of how to use MLA Style. To create a citation for your source, use the order of elements and the correct punctuation that divides them, in the order 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. All lines after the initial entry are indented. In a Work Cited page, you should see all the first lines of the citations along the left margin so it is easy to read. All subsequent lines will be indented. (It's opposite of a paragraph structure!)

  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 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 below.

To see examples of citations for multiple source types, see below.

Paper format — the Basics

Papers constructed according to MLA guidelines should adhere to the following elements:

  • Double space all of the text of your paper (including entries on Works Cited).
  • Use a clear font between 11 and 13 points. One example is Times New Roman font.
  • Use one-inch margins on all sides and indent the first line of a paragraph one half-inch from the left margin.
  • Type a header in the upper right-hand corner with your last name, a space, and then a page number. Pages should be numbered consecutively with Arabic numerals (1, 2, 3, 4, etc.), one-half inch from the top and flush with the right margin.
  • List your name, your instructor’s name, the course, and the date double-spaced in the upper left-hand corner of the first page. This is your heading. There is no cover page.
  • Center the title on the next double spaced line after the heading.
  • Provide in-text citations for all quoted, paraphrased, and summarized information in your paper.
  • Include a Works Cited page at the end of your paper that gives full bibliographic information for each source cited in your paper.
  • If you use endnotes, include them on a separate page before the Works Cited page.

Example citation formats

Remember: all lines after the first line are indented. The line breaks are not formatted correctly in these examples due to changes in screen size.


One author and two authors

Kingsolver, Barbara. The Lacuna: a Novel. Faber, 2009.

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

3 or more authors or editors

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

Article in a reference book
Havrenek, Carrie. "Patti Smith." Women Icons of Popular Music: the Rebels, Rockers, and Renegades. Vol. 2, Greenwood Press, 2009, pp. 419-438.

MAGAZINE & JOURNAL ARTICLES (from databases or online sources)

Lastname, Firstname. "Article Title." Journal Title, volume, issue, year, pages (if known). Database Name (if relevant). Day month year accessed. 

Journal article from a library database
Franklin, Ruth M. and Sharon Dotger. "Sex Education Knowledge Differences between Freshmen and Senior College Undergraduates." College Student Journal, vol. 45, no. 1, 2011, pp. 199-213. Academic Search Premier. Accessed 9 Oct 2017.

Newspaper article from online source
Leonhardt, David, Ian Prasad Phillbrick, and Stuart A. Thompson. “Thoughts and Prayers and N.R.A. Funding.” New York Times. 4 October 2017. Accessed 9 Oct 2017.


Kean, Sam. "The End of Thirst." Atlantic, vol. 316, no. 5, 2015, pp. 22-24.


Include as much of the following information as possible: author or editor's name, title of page, title of website, sponsoring organization, last updated day month year, format, and day month year visited. Include the URL only if the page might be difficult to relocate.

“Dutch Fashion Designers.” Gemeente Museum, Den Haag, Netherlands. Accessed 10 Oct 2017.

Culligan, John, ed. "Biofuels and University Economics." School of Natural Sciences, U of Western Oregon, Oct. 2008. 25 Mar 2009. Web. Accessed 20 Aug 2015.


Movie/TV Series on Broadcast/Cable TV
Sherlock, created by Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat, Hartswood Film, BBC, and WGBH, 2010-2016.

TV Episode on Streaming Service
"" Mr. Robot, written by Sam Esmail, performance by Rami Malek, season 1, episode 1, Universal Cable and Anonymous Content, 2015. Netflix. Accessed 1 July 2016.

13th. Directed by Ava DuVernay, produced by Kandoo Films & Netflix, 2016.

Online Video, Video Podcast, and Web Television
Rhodes, Sonny. "The Ballad of Serenity." Vimeo, Jan. 2013. Accessed 4 May 2016.

"The Unfinished Battle in the Capital of the Confederacy." Codeswitch, 23 Aug 2017. Accessed 10 Oct 2017.


Image from a website
Hesse, Eva. Repetition Nineteen III, 1968, Museum of Modern Art. Accessed 17 Oct 2017.

Image from a book
Goya, Francisco. The Family of Charles IV. 1800, Museo del Prado, Madrid. Gardner's Art Through the Ages, 10th ed., by Richard G. Tansey and Fred S. Kleiner, Harcourt Brace, p. 939.


Music from an online source
Beyoncé. “Pray You Catch Me.” Lemonade, Parkwood Entertainment, 2016,

Music from a CD, LP or EP
Nirvana. "Smells Like Teen Spirit." Nevermind, Geffen, 1991.


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 3 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 and Proper Nouns (example: The Flowers of Europe)
  • Pronouns (example: Save Our Children)
  • Verbs (example: America Watches Television; What Is Literature?)
  • Adjectives (example: The Ugly Duckling)
  • Adverbs (example: Only Slightly Corrupt)
  • Subordinating conjunctions (such as the words after, although, as if, as soon as, because, before, if, that, unless, until, when, where, while, example: One If by LandAnywhere That Chance Leads)

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

  • Articles (a, an, the; example: Under the Bamboo Tree)
  • Prepositions (such as the words against, between, in, of, to; example: The Merchant of Venice)
  • Coordinating conjunctions (such as the words and, but, for, nor, or, so, yet; example: Romeo and Juliet)
  • The to in infinitives (example: How to Play Chess)