Your MLA Citation Questions Answered



So, you're in school and your teacher tells you that all papers have to use MLA citation. Now what?

Do you know the differences between MLA and APA citations?

MLA stands for Modern Language Association. This format is most often used when writing about literature, though some schools and institutions prefer APA format.

Here are some common questions and their answers about MLA citation:

When citing a source in the text, what information do I give?

In most cases, you will provide only the author name and the page number, if applicable.

For example:

...the show ended. (Smith, 22-25).

If you have more than one author, list up to three.

Rural America did not have access to well produced plays until the middle of the 18th century. (Alexander, Fitch and Young, 89-96).

If there are four or more, use the first and follow it with et al.

Jacob West founded the Fictitious Acting Company to bring acting to rural areas. (Bieber, et al., 6).

Are there any exceptions to this?

The only exception to this in-text citation is if you use the author's name in the sentence. In that case, only provide the page number in parentheses at the end.

For example:

According to Jane Smith, Ph.D., the show was a great success, leading to a stable foundation for the acting company. (43).

What if I don't know the author's name?

Occasionally, you will come across a source that does not have an author's name provided. In that case, you would supply the title of the work and, if applicable, the page number.

For example:

The Fictitious Acting Company was the top ranked company in the nation for more than a decade. (Company, 6).

How do I cite something that does not have page numbers?

If you are citing an entire piece of work, such as a poem, or an online source, you do not need to reference the page number. Instead, give the author name or the title of the work.

For example:

Today, the Fictitious Acting Company is unknown to most, though some of its members are famous in Hollywood. (Oliver).

This covers the fundamental rules that guide MLA in-text citation. If you have additional questions, you can submit them in our Q&A forum.


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