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MLA Citation Guide

Guide to using the Modern Language Association citation format.

Getting Started


The Modern Language Association (MLA) 9th Edition citation format is primarily used in disciplines within the language arts, cultural studies, philosophy, and other humanities. Rather than rules, it is based on guiding principles, offering more flexibility in the face of digitalisation.

It specifies guidelines for formatting manuscripts and citing research in writing by referencing sources through parenthetical in-text citation and a Works Cited list.

Works Cited

For each source entry in the Works Cited list, MLA suggests that the core elements be listed in the following order and corresponding punctuation mark:

  • Author.
  • Title of Source.
  • Title of Container,
  • Contributor,
  • Version,
  • Number,
  • Publisher,
  • Publication Date,
  • Location.


Author refers to the person or group primarily responsible for producing the source. It begins with the author’s last name, then first name, and ends with a period. In nonprint sources, this could be the director, narrator, artist…etc.

Multiple Authors

When citing multiple authors, they should be listed in order of appearance in the source and not alphabetical order. Two authors are cited with the “and” conjunction. Three or more authors are cited with the first author’s name followed by a comma and “et al.”

Corporate Author

Some organisations create sources with no individual author credited. In these cases, cite the name of the organisation instead. Do omit articles - the/a/an - at the start of the organisation names.

No Author

If the source does not specify an author, begin with the source title instead.  

Citing Contributors Other Than Authors

Contributors such as editors, translators, performers…etc. may fill the author core element if the discussion of the source focuses on the contribution of someone other than the author. In these cases, a label specifying their role should be included.


Kwan, Daniel, and Scheinert, Daniel, directors. Everything Everywhere All at Once. A24, 2022.

The title of the source should have capitalised principal words. If the source is self-contained and independent, it should be italicised. If the source is part of a larger work, it should be listed within quotation marks.


Chapman, Amy L. Social Media for Civic Education. Springer Nature, 2023,

Pophal, Linda. “ChatGPT: Opportunities and Risks Related to AI-Generated Content.” Information Today, vol. 40, no. 2, Mar. 2023, pp. 36–38. EBSCOhost,

Indirect Source

If you used a source that was cited in another source, list only the source you consulted directly (the secondary source) in the Works Cited list. Name the original source in the text of your paper and cite the secondary source in parentheses.

Container refers to the larger whole in which the source is part of.  For example, an online article is a source, and the website, its container. On occasion, a container might be within a larger container. The title of the container is usually italicized, followed by a comma, with information that describes the container after.  


Chia, Steven, host. Budget 2023: A Further Rebalancing of Singapore Society.” Heart of the Matter, season 3, episode 27, Channel News Asia, 17 Feb. 2023,

In addition to the author, key contributors such as editors, illustrators, translators, directors…etc. that are relevant to the research should be credited.


Nietzsche, Friedrich Wilhelm. Beyond Good and Evil: Prelude to a Philosophy of the Future. Translated by R. J. Hollingdale, Penguin Classics, 2014.

The Version element is used to state which form or type of source is used. It could be listed in ordinal numerals or text form to denote director’s cuts, extended, revised, international, or unabridged versions. 


Bordwell, David, and Thompson, Kristin. Film Art: An Introduction. 10th ed, McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.

Stevenson, Robert Louis. Treasure Island. Unabridged version, Benediction Classics, 2020.

The Number element is used to state the position of the source in sequence. It could be denoted by volume, issue, season or episode. If the source uses roman numerals or spells out the number, it should be changed to standard numeric format.


Chow, Jason C., et al. “Language Skills and Friendships in Kindergarten Classrooms: A Social Network Analysis.” School Psychology, vol. 37, no. 6, Nov. 2022, pp. 488–500. EBSCOhost,

Publisher refers to the organisation producing or distributing the source. It could be denoted by book publishers, blog networks, production studios, distributors, institutions or government agencies.

Multiple Publishers

When citing multiple publishers, either cite the organisation primarily responsible for the work or cite all and separate the organisation names with a forward slash.


Pugh, Florence, performer. Midsommar. Directed by Ari Aster, A24 / Square Peg, 2019.

The Publication Date element should be cited as “DAY MONTH. YEAR” where possible.


If the source contains more than one date, cite the date that is most relevant to the research.
If the date is approximated, use “circa YEAR”.
If the date is uncertain, use a question mark “YEAR?”.
If the date is a range, use a dash “YEAR - YEAR”.
If the source is ongoing, use an en dash “2021–“.

Depending on the format of the source, the location could be a URL or DOI for online resources, a page number (p.) or a range of pages (pp.).


Lee, Nala H., et al. “The Network Nature of Language Endangerment Hotspots.” Scientific Reports, vol. 12, no. 1, June 2022, pp. 1–10. EBSCOhost,


If the source is an audiovisual material, the location may be a disc number.
If the source is a physical object or event, the location may be the place held.

Some elements may be added at the researcher’s discretion if they deem it relevant to the identification of the source. Some examples include the date or original publication, date of access, city of publication…etc. For more information, refer to the MLA Handbook, Ninth Edition.




Works Cited Examples


Editor, screen name, author. “Posting Title.” Website, Affiliated organisation (if applicable), URL. Date of access.


Twitter handle. "Text of the entire tweet including hashtags." Twitter, date, time, URL.


Sender's last name, first name. "Email Subject." Received by name of receiver, Date of email.


Title of broadcast/recording. Hosted by Host name, Studio/Organisation name, date. Transcript.

Artificial Intelligence Programme

Author of the AI programme. “Chatbot name.” AI Platform, location.

*List is not exhaustive; for more formats, refer to the MLA Style Center or visit Purdue’s guide.

In-text Citations

MLA uses author-page parenthetical or narrative citations to refer to sources whereupon quotations, or paraphrasing are found in the researcher’s text.


Parenthetical In-text Citation

Racial identity is not indicative of low-income groups’ “sensibilities, habits and decisions” (Teo 417). 

Narrative In-text Citation

Teo asserts that racial identity is “not a strong predictor of sensibilities, habits, and decisions among people who are low-income” (417).

2 Authors

(Lee and Tan 23)

3 or more Authors

(Lee et al. 23)

Corporate Author

(Ministry of Health 23)

No Author

Use a shortened title* and page number if applicable. If the source is a short work, place the title between quotation marks. If the source is a longer work, italicise the title.

*Shorten titles by excluding articles at the beginning of a title or the first clause, phrase or punctuation. 

In-text Citation Example

("Impact of Global Warming")

Works Cited Example

"The Impact of Global Warming in North America." Global Warming: Early Signs. 1999. Accessed 23 Mar. 2009.

Authors with the same last name

Avoid ambiguity by including the author’s first initial. If the initial is the same as well, list the full first name.


(K. Lee 23)

Multiple works by the same author

Avoid ambiguity by including the shortened title.

(Christie, Murder in Mesopotamia 52)

(Christie, Cards on the Table 12)

No Page Number

Omit and only provide the author.


Multiple Pages

(Harrison 15 – 17)

Indirect Source

Use "qtd. in" to list the source consulted directly (the secondary source).  

Segal discusses how Jane Austen introduces many of her characters in terms of their financial situation. For instance, in the beginning of Sense and Sensibility, Austen introduces us to the Dashwoods by saying, “The family of Dashwood had long been settled in Sussex. Their estate was large…” (qtd. in Segal  252).


Enclose the quotation within double quotation marks and include either the parenthetical or narrative in-text citation

For sources that use line numbers, the line number may be cited instead of the page number.

Donne begins Satire 1 pleading, “Away thou changling motley humorist” (line 1). By the middle of the poem, however, he calls his companion “a contrite penitent / Charitably warn’d of thy sins” (49 - 50).

Use a forward slash to indicate a line break and a double forward slash to mark a stanza break.

He says, "This pure fyue / Were harder happed on that hathel then on any other" (645-55).

If the quotation has more than four lines of prose or three lines of verse, use a block quote and omit quotation marks. The quotation should start on a new line with a hanging indent and the parenthetical in-text citation will come after. 

Cao’s analysis of the ecological discourse in The Little Prince expresses that the “worldview and ideology conveyed are consistent with the eco-philosophy of the analyst” yet there are also inconsistencies or conflicts reflected in the first chapter:

The grown-ups’ response, this time, was to advise me to lay aside my drawings of boa constrictors…devote myself instead to geography, history, arithmetic and grammar. That is why, at the age of six, I gave up what might have been a magnificent career as a painter. I had been disheartened by the failure of my Drawing Number One and my Drawing Number Two. Grown-ups never understanding anything by themselves, and it is tiresome for children to be always and forever explaining things to them. (Saint-Exupéry 1 - 2)

To aid comprehension, words can be added in a quotation with brackets or words can also be omitted from a quotation by replacing deleted words with ellipses.

Transcripts, Screenplays…etc.

List the author and title of the source in a signal phrase then quote the excerpt.

For lines of dialogue, it should begin indented, followed by the speaker’s name written in all capitals then a period and finally the dialogue. The dialogue should also be indented.

Dick Lee’s psychedelic, hedonistic Beauty World musical achieved results unprecedented in Singapore’s theatre history with its catchy lyrics about a “young and guileless small-town girl from Batu Pahat who enters the seedy cabaret world in search of her long-lost father” (Loh 27).

GIRLS. Beauty World Cha Cha Cha!

GUYS. The finest!

GIRLS. We provide the company / and the opportunity / to turn into people who / rule the world!

Audiovisual materials

Where relevant, use the range of hours, minutes and seconds for reference.



Works Cited

Works Cited should be on a new page at the end of the research paper. The title - Works Cited, should be centered and the list should be double-spaced. Each source entry should have a hanging indent.  Source entries are arranged in alphabetical order by the first term in each entry.

Annotated Bibliography

Annotated bibliography is similar to the Works Cited list, but each source cited is accompanied by a brief descriptive or evaluative annotation. The annotation should be brief and no longer than a paragraph. It should also have a hanging indent from source citation.

Research Paper

Refer to MLA’s style guidelines to format headings, subheadings, positions, spacings…etc. There are also sample papers available.