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MLA Format

Formatting Tips

  • When should I italicize a title, and when should I use quotation marks?

    The titles of the following types of material should be italicized in the text of your paper or in your bibliography:






    CDs, tapes, or record albums
    long poems published as books
    operas or other long musical compositions
    paintings and sculptures
    ships, aircrafts, and spacecraft
    radio & television programs

    The titles of the following types of material should be given quotation marks:


    essays within a larger collection
    songs and similar short musical compositions

    short stories

    chapters of books
    individual TV episodes & radio programs
    short poems included in a larger collection

    unpublished lectures
    unpublished conference presentations

    unpublished manuscripts

    unpublished dissertations

Citation Tips

  • What is the difference between citing an article in PDF and an article in HTML?

    Keep in mind that when you are citing a PDF version of an article, you must include page numbers—these page numbers correspond to the page numbers in the printed version of your article.
    If, however, you are using an HTML version of an article, you may find that there are no page numbers. If this is the case, use the abbreviation N. pag. to indicate that page numbers are not available.

  • Should I include the entire URL for an electronic source?

    The latest MLA guidelines recommend URLs in your list of works cited—even though they can change, and obviously can't be clicked on in print formats, they can still be helpful for your reader. If your source offers a stable URL (also known as a permalink) or a DOI, or digital object identifier, do include these in your reference. One good reason NOT to include a URL is if your instructor tells you that he or she would prefer that you leave them out—always follow your instructor's guidelines first!

  • How do I cite an indirect (a.k.a. Secondary) Source?

    You should avoid quoting sources indirectly—if you come across material that is quoted in one of your sources, you should try to track down the original source if possible.

    If tracking down the original is not an option, you should document the source used, even if it is an indirect source. You will then use the abbreviation qtd. in ("quoted in") before citing your actual, indirect source in the parenthetical reference.

    In the example below, there is a quote about the poet John Keats from Ian Jack's book English Literature, 1815-1832. The quote is not from Jack's book, but from a review article by Harold Bloom. Since Jack's book was not quoted directly, his book does not appear in the list of works cited and the parenthetical reference points to Bloom's article, which is the indirect source used.

    Ian Jack argues that Keat's odes "are the sort of poetry Hamlet might have written" (qtd. in Bloom 484).

    Works Cited

    Bloom, Harold. "Keats And Romanticism." Modern Language Quarterly vol. 25, no. 4, 1964, pp. 479-485, Academic Search Premier,

    Note: If necessary, more information about Jack's book—the title, publication year, or any other relevant details—could be included in the text of the paper, or in a footnote.