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Citation Guides

Scholars use style guidelines to properly credit sources used in their writings and to build credibility. Proper use of style formats can also protect students from accusations of plagiarism or unintended copyright infringement.

Purdue OWL: MLA Formatting and Style Guide

The Purdue OWL (Online Writing Lab) provides a useful guide to proper MLA formatting. You can jump to a specific area using the links below from the Purdue OWL. 

See the citation format for:

MLA Style Tutorials from YouTube

These tutorials are provided to familiarize you with the basic elements of setting up papers using MLA 8th edition format.

Common Questions

What is a parenthetical citation?

MLA uses 'in-text' citations called parenthetical citations to credit sources that are quoted or paraphrased within a document. Parenthetical citations should always be used to document referenced work unless it is considered general knowledge. The citation will then direct the reader to a full bibliographic citation on the Works Cited page at the end of the document. 

Use of author names:

Always use an author's last name--either in the parenthetical citation or in the text itself.  If the author's name is mentioned, only insert the page number in parentheses. 

Generally, the the in-text citation will be enclosed within parentheses and include the author's last name and the specific page number of the information being cited (Day 24). The sentence-ending punctuation will follow the closing parentheses. NOTE: There is NO comma between the author's name and the page number!

If the author's name is mentioned in the text preceding the citation, only the page number is required.

     Day noted that her cat Willie had never missed a class in the library science program (7).

When a direct quotation is included the quotation marks should be placed before the parentheses marking the in-text citation:

     In her biography, Day noted that "Willie never missed a class once he started the LIS program" (7).  As a result he became a successful library cat.

When there is more than one author:

When a book has two authors, order the authors in the same way they are presented in the book. Start by listing the first name that appears on the book in last name, first name format; subsequent author names appear in normal order (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.”).

     Studies have indicated that eating a full meal every morning may help you lose weight (Jones et al. 47).