MODELS FOR CITATION AND DOCUMENTATION (according to MLA Fall 2009 guidelines)
Listed here are citation formats for sources commonly used in literature and the humanities. The complete MLA guidelines are available at
The items below are numbered, but please remember that your “Works Cited” list should not be numbered. New to the MLA format is the notation “print” for sources that you accessed in hard copy.
If you have other questions, ask your instructor or any English faculty member.
1. CITING SHORT PASSAGES OF POETRY (3 lines or fewer)
When you cite short passages of poetry in the text of your essay, use the slash between quoted lines. If there is any punctuation between the lines, include that too before the slash. Do not include “p” or “page” or “l” or “line” in the citation.
In A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Theseus says, “Now fair Hippolyta, our nuptial hour / Draws on apace” (1.1.1-2).
In “The Tables Turned,” the speaker urges a change in attitude: “Up!
up! . . . and quit your books; / Or surely you’ll grow double” (1-2).
2. CITING INDENTED POETRY (4 or more lines)
Emily Dickinson concludes “I’m Nobody! Who Are You?” with a characteristically bittersweet stanza:
How dreary to be somebody!
How public, like a frog
To tell your name the livelong June
To an admiring bog! (5-8)
NOTE: The preceding passage is double spaced, there are no quotation marks around it, and the final punctuation comes after the passage--not after the line numbers. There is no period after the line numbers since the passage ends in an exclamation mark. Prose quotations of more than four lines should also be indented.
3. CITING A PLAY If the play is in verse, follow item 1 or 2 above, depending on the length of the passage. If the play is in prose, do not use slashes. Do not include the words “Act” or “Scene” in parentheses.
In his famous advice to the players, Hamlet defines the purpose of theater, “whose end, both at the first and now, was and is to hold, as ‘twere, the mirror up to nature” (3.2.21-3).
4. CITING A LONG POEM (such as Paradise Lost or The Odyssey) Indicate book or section and line:
When Satan first sees Adam and Eve in their bliss, he cries, “O hell! what do mine eyes with grief behold!” (4.353).
When Homer’s Odysseus comes to the hall of Circe, he finds his men
“mild / in her soft spell, fed on her drug of evil” (10.231-32).
5. CITING THE BIBLE
Abbreviate books of the Bible. Do not underline or italicize them or place them in quotation marks.
St. Paul reminds us that “now abideth faith, hope, charity . . . but the greatest of these is charity” (I Cor. 13.13).
6. CITING A WORK FROM AN ANTHOLOGY
John Updike’s “A & P” is a story about a young grocery clerk named Sammy who feels trapped by the artificial values of his small town. Sammy sees the store itself as evidence of this artificiality. The store sells “records at discount of the Caribbean Six . . . and plastic toys . . . that fall apart when a kid looks at them ” (1088).
NOTE: If you are quoting from more than one story in your anthology, cite the author’s name in parentheses with each reference to his/her work unless you have given it in the text of your essay.
7. DOCUMENTING A STORY FROM A 1-VOLUME ANTHOLOGY
Updike, John. “A & P.” Pigeon Feathers and Other Stories. New York: Knopf, 1962. Rpt. in Fiction 100. Ed. James H. Pickering. 4th ed. New York: Macmillan, 1982. 1086-9. Print.
8. DOCUMENTING A LITERARY WORK FROM A MULTI-VOLUME ANTHOLOGY
Clemens, Samuel. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. The Norton Anthology of American Literature. Ed. Nina Baym et al. 6th ed. Vol. C. New York: Norton, 2003. 219-407. 5 vols. Print.
9. CITING AN EDITOR’S COMMENTS IN AN ANTHOLOGY
In their remarks about Stephen Crane’s naturalistic perspective, the editors note that Crane’s world is “a broken world— a world more random than scientifically predictable” (Gottesman 6).
10. DOCUMENTING AN ESSAY (OR INTRODUCTION OR FOOTNOTE) FROM A ONE-VOLUME ANTHOLOGY
Soloman, Barbara. Introduction. Other Voices, Other Vistas. New York: Signet, 1992. 11-24. Print.
11. DOCUMENTING A REVIEW REPRINTED IN AN ONLINE REFERENCE WORK
Edwards, Jacqueline. “Ethan Frome.” Atlantic Monthly September 1911: 46. Book Review Index Plus. Web. 15 Oct. 2009.
12. DOCUMENTING A TRANSLATION
Mishima, Yukio. After the Banquet. Trans. Donald Keene. New York: Knopf, 1963. Print.
13. DOCUMENTING A PRINT ARTICLE
Scherr, Arthur. “Meursault’s Dinner with Raymond: A Christian Theme in
Albert Camus’s L’Étranger.” Christianity and Literature 58.2
(2009): 187-210. Print.
14. DOCUMENTING AN ARTICLE THAT WAS PREVIOUSLY PUBLISHED IN PRINT BUT THAT YOU ACCESSED THROUGH AN ONLINE DATABASE
Auden, W.H. “The Hero Is a Hobbit.” New York Times 31 Oct. 1954:
BR37. New York Times Historical Archive. Web. 10 Oct. 2009.
Tolson, Nancy. “Making Books Available: The Role of Early Libraries.”
African American Review 32.1 (1998): 9-16. JSTOR. Web.
5 June 2008.
NOTE: You should include in the citation the name of the database that gave you access to the full text of the article.
15. DOCUMENTING A NONPERIODICAL PUBLICATION ON THE WEB
“Elizabethan England.” Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Encyclopedia
Britannica, 2008. Web. 15 May 2008.
Eagleson, Robert. “Short Definition of Plain Language.”
PlainLanguage.gov. Web. 15 Oct. 2009.
NOTE: Earlier editions of MLA required the URL; now you should include the URL only when the reader cannot locate the source without it.