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MLA Quick Reference

How to Cite

For prose, writers need to find the author and page number of a work (Smith 76), but for poetry, writers need the author and the line numbers (Poe 15-17). When working with dramas, writers need to introduce the author in the text before a quotation and need to provide the play title and line numbers in the parenthetical citation (Hamlet 15-17). Writers must also consider if they have a short or long (block) quote.


Short Quotations (4 typed lines or less): Place the quote within the text of the paper. Introduce the quote with a comma, and place the period after the parenthetical citation.  Use quotation marks to show all borrowed material. Include author and page number.

Block Quotations (More than 4 typed lines): Place the quote one inch from the left margin, and omit quotation marks.  Introduce the quote with a colon, and place the period before the parenthetical citation.

External Citation Template


MLA’s 8th Edition uses the same citation style for all types of sources, universally. Much of this relies on the idea of “containers,” which might refer to a book, academic journal, collection, archive, database, CD, or any number of different types of sources.

Because the template is meant to be used for all types of sources, use your discretion when determining what pieces of information to place emphasis on. For example, you might list the author of a film as the director if you mean to emphasize how the film was made, but you might list the author as the lead actor if you mean to emphasize a specific performance.

For every external citation, only include the information that you have regarding the source. If there isn’t a secondary container (such as an archive, database, or collection where you found the source), then you wouldn’t include any information regarding Container 2.

For more information visit:


Template                                                                 Example

Only fill in the elements that are available.

Last Name, First Name. “Title of Source.” Title of Container 1, Other Contributors, Version, Number, Publisher, Publication date, Location. Title of Container 2, Other Contributors for Container 2, Version for Container 2, Number of Container 2, Publisher for Container 2, Publication date of Container 2, Location of Container 2.

For a practice template to help you fill in this information, visit:

Lorensen, Jutta. “Between Image and Word, Color, and Time: Jacob Lawrence’s The Migration Series.” African American Review, vol. 40, no. 3, 2006, pp. 571-86. EBSCOHost,



Formatting and Organizing the Works Cited

Alphabetize works cited lists and bibliographies by author’s last name and/or first key word of the title. Indent the second and subsequent lines of entries half an inch from the left margin.

Text Box: 											Smith 12
Works Cited
Dyson, Michael Eric. Holler if You Hear Me: Searching for Tupac Shakur.  Basic Civitas, 2001.
Wenger, Etienne. Communities of Practice: Learning, Meaning, and Identity. Cambridge UP, 1998.













MLA Resources

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Bedford St. Martin’s-MLA:



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