There are many standard citation formats.  Use the form recommended by the instructor of each class.  However, humanities courses usually are asked to style according to MLA (Modern Language Association) guidelines. Students in science and research fields, meanwhile, are often encouraged to follow the APA (American Psychological Association) guidelines. In college, the primary reason for using a standardized reference format like the MLA or APA is so that professional peers, researchers, professors, and other academic readers can easily understand the syntax and easily check the citations.

General Rules of Citation

 Works Cited List (MLA) or References (APA)

  • This page should list all the works that have contributed ideas and information to your essay (through direct quotation, summary or paraphrase).
  • It must provide full publication information so that others will easily be able to locate the same sources.
  • List sources alphabetically, according to the surname of the author.
  • If a source has no author, alphabetize it by its title (not THE or A/AN).
  • With a source with multiple authors – the first name in the list is the only one with the last name first – all others are first name then last name.
  • Do not number entries.
  • Indent every line of a citation after line #1 in each reference (a hanging indent).
  • Double space all citations.

Note:  MLA Works Cited and Bibliography are not the same. In Works Cited you only list items you have actually cited. In a Bibliography you list all of the material you have consulted in preparing your essay whether or not you have actually cited, summarized, or paraphrased the work.

 MLA 8th Edition Online Workshop (In Text citation 2:00, Long Quotations 4:35, Works Cited 6:20)

Sample Citations:  MLA

Here is a list of sample citations for a few of the most commonly used resources.  To find specific citation rules for all other types of resources, go to

NOTE:  The examples here are single-spaced for efficiency.  They should be double-spaced.

A Book with author or corporate author

Author.  Title of book.  Publisher, Date.

Henley, Patricia. The Hummingbird House.  MacMurray, 1999.

*Begin the entry with the author’s last name, followed by a comma and the rest of the name, as presented in the work. End this element with a period.

*When a book has two authors, order the authors in the same way they are presented in the book. The first given name appears in last name, first name format; subsequent author names appear in normal order (first name last name format).

Gillespie, Paula, and Neal Lerner. The Allyn and Bacon Guide to Peer Tutoring. Allyn and Bacon, 2000.


*Periodicals include magazines, newspapers, and scholarly journals.

*Cite by listing the article's author (last name first), putting the title of the article in quotations marks, and italicizing the periodical title. Follow with the date of publication. Remember to abbreviate the month. The basic format is as follows:

Author(s). "Title of Article." Title of Periodical, Day Month Year, pages.

Buchman, Dana. "A Special Education." Good Housekeeping, Mar. 2006, pp. 143-48.

Short Works found in Longer Works:
poems, songs, t.v. shows

A song or piece of music on an album should be in quotation marks. The name of the album should then follow in italics.  Online version.

Beyoncé. “Pray You Catch Me.” Lemonade, Parkwood Entertainment, 2016,

If you want to cite a poem that is listed in a collection of poems, the individual poem is the source, while the larger collection is the container. The title of the container is usually italicized and followed by a comma, since the information that follows next describes the container. 

Kincaid, Jamaica. "Girl." The Vintage Book of Contemporary American Short Stories, edited by Tobias Wolff, Vintage, 1994, pp. 306-07.

Electronic Resources

The location of an online work should include a URL. Remove any "http://" or "https://" tag from the beginning of the URL.

When you cite an online source, the MLA Handbook recommends including a date of access on which you accessed the material, since an online work may change or move at any time.

An Entire Website

When citing an entire website, follow the format below.

Author, or compiler name (if available). Name of Site. Version number (if available), Name

of institution/organization affiliated with the site (sponsor or publisher), date of resource creation (if available), DOI (preferred), otherwise include a URL or permalink. Date of access (if applicable). 

The Purdue OWL Family of Sites. The Writing Lab and OWL at Purdue and Purdue U, 2008, Accessed 23 Apr. 2018.

A Single Webpage

An individual webpage should be in quotation marks. The name of the parent website, which MLA treats as a "container," should follow in italics: 

Lundman, Susan.  “How to Make Vegetarian Chili.” Accessed 19 Oct. 2019.

A Blog

Cite web postings as you would a standard web entry. Provide the author of the work, the title of the posting in quotation marks, the web site name in italics, the publisher, and the posting date. Follow with the date of access. Include screen names as author names when author name is not known. If both names are known, place the author’s name in brackets. 

Bernstein, Mark. “10 Tips on Writing the Living Web.” A List Apart:  For People Who Make Websites, 16 Aug. 2002,  Accessed 4 May 2009.

Online Images

*Provide the artist's name, the work of art italicized, the date of creation, the institution and city where the work is housed. Follow this initial entry with the name of the Website in italics, and the date of access.

* If the work cited is available on the web only, then provide the name of the artist, the title of the work, and then follow the citation format for a website. If the work is posted via a username, use that username for the author.

Goya, Francisco. The Family of Charles IV. 1800. Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid. Museo Nacional del Prado, Accessed 22 May 2006.

Klee, Paul. Twittering Machine. 1922. Museum of Modern Art, New York. The Accessed May 2016.

*If an infographic does not have an official title, provide a description of it. If you link directly to a PDF of the infographic, it is usually sufficient to cite the PDF as a standalone work and not one contained by the Web site hosting the link:

Infographic. Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future,

Last modified: Friday, 8 September 2023, 3:13 PM