Learn and Generate Bibliographies, Citations, and Works Cited

MLA Citation Guide for Essays and Papers


Creating citations in MLA format is meant to be easy and flexible. When studying the humanities, you’ll rely heavily on sources from art, historical records, film and video. As you can find these sources on different platforms, the container system was developed to accommodate flexible MLA 8 citation formats.

Citation generator

MLA In-Text Citation Format 

Use in-text or parenthetical citations when you paraphrase, quote or summarize another person’s work in your paper. The in-text citation should lead the reader easily to the full source citation in the works cited list.

Include the first element (usually author’s last name) and page number for MLA in-text citations.


According to Tim Eichler, reading history books “helps students form their own opinions about current events” (216).

If reading history books helps students form their own opinions (Eichler 216), then how does this relate to….

If there are two authors, use “and” to separate the names:

(Eichler and Vigil 224)

Although block quotations are formatted differently within the text, you’ll still need to include the citation.

In-text or parenthetical citations are the first part of a citation. In MLA style, you’ll need to match each in-text citation with a full source citation in your works cited page.

Works Cited Source Citation

Students discussing MLA citations for bibliography

In order to accommodate the flexibility created in MLA style, the container system was developed.

Each source citation should have nine elements. These elements point the reader to the exact source you used to write your paper. This flexibility is important in writing for the humanities as you may find the source in different formats or platforms. For example, an interview may be published on YouTube, then edited and published in a blog or news article. If you use the edited article for your source, it may be different from the original video.

Despite its flexibility, MLA citation format still follows a basic form that includes the author, title, location and publisher.


Denneir, William. “The Death of Manners.” Journal of Speaking Freely, Jan.-Feb. 2012, pp. 92-97.

Werner, Marta L. “Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan: Writing Otherwise.” Textual Cultures, vol. 5, no. 1, Spring 2010, pp. 1-45.

Note: Include the URL or DOI in your entry, if required by instructor.


Remember to include all the elements and details that will lead your reader to the exact source you used in your paper.

Organizing Works Cited

Once you’ve completed your paper, you’ll need to organize and finalize your works cited page. If you created a preliminary bibliography, go back and eliminate the sources you did not use in your paper.

Then, follow these steps:

  1. Place your source entries in alphabetical order.
  2. Check your source entries against your parenthetical citations.
  3. Check your spelling, dates, and other source data.

After that, organize your works cited page using MLA-approved abbreviations and acronyms.

Follow Teacher Guidelines

As a final step, check your MLA school paper against your assignment rubric to make sure you’ve followed all of your teacher’s guidelines. In some cases, your teacher’s instructions may differ from standard MLA guidelines. Even so, you should always follow your teacher’s rules.

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