MLA Referencing: Basic Facts

13 Oct 2020By Mtemi

MLA referencing is a citation method that was developed by the Modern Language Association (MLA). Since MLA is an association for language scholars, the referencing method is commonly used in the humanities and liberal arts.

Citing a Source in MLA
In MLA, a source is cited when:

1. Directly quoting the text from a source

2. Using data from a source

3. Writing an author’s ideas in your own words

However, it is unnecessary to provide a source when writing something that is generally a well-known fact.

In-text Citation

Generally, the citation format in MLA requires inserting the author’s surname and page number in brackets after the relevant text. In case the source does not have an author, the title is used instead.

Passages are cited as follows:

·        Wordsworth stated that Romantic poetry was marked by a "spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings" (263).

·        Romantic poetry is characterized by the "spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings" (Wordsworth 263).

·        Wordsworth extensively explored the role of emotion in the creative process (263).

The Works Cited Page

All cited sourced should be listed in alphabetical order (by author surname) on a ‘Works Cited’ page. The works cited page should begin on a new page.

On the works cited page, different types of sources are cited as follows


Lastname, Firstname. Title of Book. Publisher, Publication Date.

Henley, Patricia. The Hummingbird House. MacMurray, 1999. 

An Article in a Scholarly Journal

Author(s). "Title of Article." Title of Journal, Volume, Issue, Year, pages.

Bagchi, Alaknanda. "Conflicting Nationalisms: The Voice of the Subaltern in Mahasweta

Devi's Bashai Tudu." Tulsa Studies in Women's Literature, vol. 15, no. 1, 1996, pp. 41-


Article in a Newspaper

Author(s). "Title of Article." Title of Periodical, Day Month Year, pages.

Brubaker, Bill. "New Health Center Targets County's Uninsured Patients." Washington Post,

24 May, 2007, p. LZ01.

Online sources

Wheelis, Mark. "Investigating Disease Outbreaks Under a Protocol to the Biological and Toxin

Weapons Convention." Emerging Infectious Diseases, vol. 6, no. 6, 2000, pp. 595-600, Accessed 8 Feb. 2009.

Already have an account ? Sign in