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MLA Style Referencing: A simple guide.

What is the MLA Style


The MLA style (Modern Language Association) is a standard format used in academic papers, essays and dissertations. The MLA format is one of the most popular and easy to understand formatting styles, however it is very different to Harvard or APA’s style. So pay close attention if you haven’t used MLA before!


In text

In the MLA style, the in-text citation typically features the authors surname and the page number.

Example: Edson states “…” (209) or (Edson 209)

For up to three authors, all can be listed in the citation (Johnson, Thompson, and Jackson 209). If the number of authors exceeds three, then et al* can be used after in place of the additional authors (Edson et al. 209).

 **Et al simply means ‘and others’


In Text – Authors with multiple cited sources

Include the source title within the citation, if necessary shorten it (Maloney, The Simple Citation Guide 365).


Reference list / Works Cited List

In the MLA format, the ‘reference list’ is generally called the ‘Works-Cited List’. Below you will find some examples of how to reference different source types for your reference list or works cited list.

Note: In the works cited list, all authors must be named! You can not use ‘et al’.


Books & Journal Articles

Example: X, Malolm, and Alex Haley. “The Autobiography of Malcolm X”. 1st Ballantine Books hardcover ed, Ballantine Books, 1992, United States.

Template: Author name(s). “Title of the source”. Title of container*, other contributors, version, numbers/volumes, publisher, publication date, location.

**The title of container is where the work is ‘housed’. If for example you are referencing a journal article, the title of the source would be the article, while the title of container would be the title of the journal itself.



Web based E-book template: Author’s last name, First name. “Title of the chapter or section.” Title of the e-book, translated by or edited by First name Last name, vol. number, Publisher, Year of publication, page number(s). Title of the web site or database, URL.

 E-Reader E-Book: Author surname, First name. “Title of the chapter or section.” Title of the e-book, translated by or edited by First name Last name, Name of e-reader device, vol. number, Publisher, Year of publication, page number(s).


Film or Documentary

Example: Scorsese, Martin, director. “Silence”. Performances by Andrew Garfield, Adam Driver and Liam Neeson, Paramount Pictures, 2016. Amazon Prime stream.

Template: Director name, director. “Title of film”.  Contributors, Distributor, year of release. Medium*

**In the instance that the film was streamed, the medium can be replaced with a url or the platform I.E. Netflix or Amazon Prime.


TV Series

Example: “Murder on the Planet Express”. Futurama, written by Matt Groening, directed by Frank Marino, Season 7, Episode 24, FOX, 2013.

Template: “Episode Title”. Program Title, created by Creator Name, contributors, season #, episode #. Network, Year of Publication.



Example: Astley, Rick. “Never Gonna Give You Up”. Whenever You Need Somebody, RCA, 1987.

 Template: Author name(s). “Title of the Track”. Title of the Album, other contributers, version, Record Label, Year of Publication

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