Chapter 13: Works Cited

MLA Citation Style

The Modern Language Association style is used primarily in the humanities, including literature, visual arts, music and philosophy.

MLA reference style is based on the following principles:

  • Always include these essential bits of information with specific punctuation and in this order


        Title of source.

        Title of container,

        Other contributors,




        Publication date,


  • Chapters and journal articles are pieces of information contained within larger containers. The larger container holds the smaller sections. For example, a short story may be contained in an anthology. The short story is the source, and the anthology is the container.  Information about both the specific chapter/article and the container are formatted in a specific way in MLA citations.
  • Capitalize each word in the titles of journal articles, books, etc. Do not capitalize initial articles (the, an), prepositions, or conjunctions unless one is the first word of the title or subtitle.
  • Italicize titles of containers and use quotation marks around titles of shorter works within them.
  • The eighth edition recommends including URLs when you cite online sources. Always check with your instructor to confirm that you should include DOIs or URLs in your bibliography.

Detailed instructions about each element can be found on the OWL Purdue MLA site.



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Write Here, Right Now: An Interactive Introduction to Academic Writing and Research Copyright © 2018 by Ryerson University is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.