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LTAM 100: The Politics and Memory of Latin American Literature

Citing Your Sources

The MLA style is the official style of literary scholars. You can find the handbook in the low shelf near the Research/IT desk in the library.

Citing your Sources in MLA Style

In-Text Citation & Works Cited

A complete MLA citation has two parts: a parenthetical citation in the text, and a Works Cited at the end of the text.

Sample In-Text Citation

Virginia Woolf’s storytelling is “centrally concerned with the inner life, and finding ways of re-creating that life in narrative” (Briggs 5). As Julia Briggs points out, Woolf “encourages her readers to extend their sympathies through the use of the imagination” (6).

Sample Works Cited

Briggs, Julia. Virginia Woolf: An Inner Life. Harcourt, 2005.

Each bibliographic entry in MLA style is designed on the same principles, with very little variation from publication type to publication type.

Each cited work has common elements listed in the following order with the punctuation listed on this chart. Works may be published as single units, but many are held in "Containers" (like an essay or poem in a book, or an episode of a TV show, or an article in a newspaper). If information about an element isn't available, skip the element and move to the next.

Using the Basic Elements

  1. Authors are understood very broadly. If you are concentrating on the work of a particular actor in a movie, that actor is the Author, and you add a descriptive label like so: Pitt, Brad, performer. If you have 3 or more authors, list the first author followed by "et al."
  2. Titles of sources are italicized if the source is a complete thing unto itself (a book, play, or movie). Titles are enclosed in quotation marks if the source is part of a larger published thing (a poem in a collection, an episode of a TV show, an article in a journal).
  3. For this reason, the title of a container is nearly always italicized. If there is no title, add a brief description of the work but do not use italics or quotation marks.
  4. Other Contributors can be noted if they are important to your work. Precede each name or group of names with a description such as "adapted by" or "edited by." If the person's role must be in noun form, do so followed by a comma as in "general editor, Edwin H. Cady." If the contributor was important to the source but not the container, put this contributor information between the Title of the Source and the Title of the Container.
  5. Versions are occasionally important, such as "8th ed" for that version of the MLA Handbook.
  6. Numbers refer to volume and issue numbers on books and periodicals. Use "vol." and "no." for "volume" and "number."
  7. Publisher refers to the organization that made the source/container available to the public. Place of publication is no longer listed as of the 8th edition, except in special circumstances (see page 51). Multiple publishers which are equally responsible are all listed, separated by a forward slash. "University Press" is abbreviated to "UP." Publishers are not listed for the following types of sources:
    • Periodicals (journals, magazines, newspapers)
    • Works published by their authors or editors
    • Web sites that have titles essentially the same as their publishers' names
    • Web sites not involved in producing the works it makes available (such as a service like, or an archive like JSTOR). If the contents of the site are organized into a unified whole (as with YouTube or JSTOR), the site is listed earlier as a Container title.
  8. Publication Dates are listed in the format "28 Dec. 2014, 10:34 AM." In general, use as much of the date as you can find. For example, for journals listing a month or season and year of an issue's publication, list both the month or season and the year (this is a change from the 7th edition).
  9. Locations may be page numbers (now listed with p. for single pages, pp. for page ranges), or DOIs, or URLs (though leave off the http:// part of the URL). When using URLs, look for "permalinks" or "stable URLs," especially in library databases. Often the URL in the browser will not work after you close your browser or for people other than yourself, but these stable URLs will work for other people. When given the choice between a DOI and a URL, choose the DOI (which will start with "doi:" and continue on like a URL). Locations are flexible and may refer to things like disc numbers in DVD sets, identifying numbers on manuscript collections, or (if you experience something in the real world like an art installation) a city name.

There are also optional elements and additional clarifications for special cases

Of special note are the times when listing a place of publication might be useful (page 51), and citing portions of Shakespeare, the Bible, or other classic works of literature.

Citing the Bible?

Use the title, followed by abbreviated book name, followed by chapter and verse separated by a period: (Bible, Ezek. 1.5-10).

Citing Shakespeare?

In Shakespeare, you'll cite the play as if it were a book (if it is published on its own) or as if it were a chapter in a book (if it's published as part of a collection of plays all in a single volume). But then in the text of your paper you'll cite act, scene, and line numbers rather than page numbers. The standard formula is (Name/Title Act.Scene.Line) where the "identifier" is likely only necessary sometimes. If it's clear from your paragraph that you're talking about a Shakespeare play, and if you're only citing one play in your paper, you won't need the Name/Title. If you're citing one play and it's not clear from your paragraph that you're citing Shakespeare, or of you're citing multiple Shakespeare plays in your paper, you should include a short version of the title of the play there.

Some professors prefer roman numerals and some prefer "regular" numbers. For example (Hamlet III.i.68) vs (Hamlet 3.1.68).

  • Example 1 (no play title needed) - Roman numeral version: Shakespeare's line "To sleep: perchance to dream" opens the possibility that death may not be pleasant (III.i.68).
  • Example 2 (play title needed) - Arabic numberal version:  Shakespeare's line "To sleep: perchance to dream" opens the possibility that death may not be pleasant (Hamlet 3.1.68).