Published Apr 17, 2024 ⦁ 14 min read
How to Cite Essay in MLA Correctly

How to Cite Essay in MLA Correctly

Understanding proper citation can be challenging for student writers.

This guide will walk through the key steps for citing an essay in MLA format, ensuring you master this critical skill for scholarly writing while upholding academic integrity.

We'll explore essentials like in-text citations, works cited pages, and leveraging handy citation generators, equipping you with the knowledge to accurately reference any source in your essays.

Introduction to MLA Citation for Essays

Proper citation is crucial for maintaining academic integrity and avoiding plagiarism in scholarly writing. The Modern Language Association (MLA) citation style is commonly used in the humanities and liberal arts. This article will provide step-by-step guidance on citing sources in MLA format specifically for essays.

Understanding MLA Format for Essays

The MLA format provides a uniform framework for citing sources within essays and papers. Key components include in-text citations and a Works Cited page listing full details of all referenced sources.

In-text citations point readers to the corresponding entry in the Works Cited page. They include the author's last name and the page number in parentheses, like this: (Smith 25).

The Works Cited page goes at the end of the paper and provides the full publication details for every source cited. Entries are organized alphabetically by the author's last name.

Following proper MLA format ensures readers can easily locate the original sources if needed, upholding principles of academic transparency and integrity.

The Importance of Academic Integrity in Citation

Correct citation demonstrates respect for other scholars by properly crediting their ideas and work. Failing to cite sources constitutes plagiarism, which carries serious consequences in academic settings.

Proper referencing upholds ethical standards in research and writing. It also enables readers to further analyze the source content in its original form should they wish to do so. Accurately citing sources is therefore vital for maintaining credibility as a writer.

By taking care to correctly reference using the MLA format, writers promote academic integrity through their scholarly essays and papers. This crucial practice enables knowledge development to ethically build upon existing work within any field or discipline.

How do you quote in an essay MLA format?

When quoting directly from a source in an MLA-formatted essay, you should:

  1. Enclose the quoted text in double quotation marks: "Here is a direct quote from the source."

  2. Add an in-text citation at the end of the quote containing the author's last name and the page number where you found the quote, like this:

    "Here is a direct quote from the source." (Smith 8)

  3. If there is no author, use the title of the work in quotation marks instead of the author's last name:

    "Here is a direct quote from the source." ("Title of Work" 22)

  4. Introduce or explain all direct quotes to avoid dropping them abruptly into your essay.

  5. Use block quotes for quotes longer than 4 typed lines by indenting them 1 inch from the left margin. Don't use quotation marks for block quotes.

Properly formatting direct quotes and adding in-text citations ensures you maintain academic integrity by crediting source material and avoiding plagiarism in your essay. Following MLA guidelines for quoting sources clearly shows readers where specific ideas, facts, and opinions originated.

How do you cite in an essay example?

Properly citing sources in an essay ensures academic integrity and gives credit to authors for their ideas. According to the MLA Handbook (9th edition), in-text citations should appear in parentheses and include the author's last name and page number if available.

Here is an example MLA in-text citation for an essay:

"Plagiarism, from the Latin word plagiarius meaning "kidnapper", is defined as the "use or close imitation of the language and thoughts of another author and the representation of them as one's own original work" (Gibaldi 151).

The in-text citation includes the author's last name "Gibaldi" and page number "151" where the quote was taken from, enclosed in parentheses.

The corresponding entry in the Works Cited page (reference list) would be:

Gibaldi, Joseph. MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers. 7th ed., Modern Language Association of America, 2009.

This provides the full reference so readers can locate the source. The Works Cited entry includes the author's name, book title in italics, publisher, and publication year.

Proper MLA citing lends credibility and demonstrates the research process behind the essay. By crediting source material, writers uphold academic honesty, enable reader access to references, and elevate the quality of their work. Consistent in-text citations paired with Works Cited entries are crucial for formal essays and research papers.

What is MLA citation example?

MLA (Modern Language Association) style is a citation format commonly used in the humanities and liberal arts. Proper MLA citation provides readers with the information needed to locate the external sources used in a paper or essay.

Here is an example of a full reference citation for a book in MLA format:

Baron, Dennis. What's Your Pronoun? Beyond He & She. Liveright, 2020.

And here is how you would cite this source in the body of your essay using MLA in-text citations:

Baron states that pronouns carry cultural assumptions related to gender (82).


(Baron 82)

The basic components of MLA book citation are:

  • Author's Last name, First name
  • Title of book italicized
  • Publisher
  • Year published

For in-text citations, use the author's last name and the page number in parentheses, either within the sentence or at the end.

Using proper MLA citations ensures you are giving credit to authors when you reference or quote their work. It also enables readers to easily locate those original sources. Maintaining academic integrity through referencing is a key part of scholarly writing.

How do you in-text cite someone in MLA?

In-text citations in MLA provide a way to attribute a quote, idea, or other content to its original source within the body of your paper. Here is the basic format:

(Author Last Name Page Number)

So if you were citing a quote from page 15 of a book by John Smith, your in-text citation would look like:

(Smith 15)

Here are some key things to know about MLA in-text citations:

  • Include the author's last name and the page number the cited content is found on in parentheses.
  • Place the in-text citation after the quote or paraphrased content, before the period.
  • You only need to include the author's name in the first citation. Subsequent citations of the same work can just include the page number.
  • If there are multiple authors, include up to three names in the first in-text citation. Use "et al." for any additional authors.
  • For personal communications like interviews, emails, and private messages, use this format:

(First name Last name, personal communication, Date)


(John Smith, personal communication, January 1, 2023)

So in summary, MLA in-text citations are a simple way to attribute quotes, ideas, and content to their original source right within your paper text. Just include the author name, page number, and optionally the date for personal communications.


Basics of MLA In-Text Citation

MLA in-text citation refers to how you cite sources within the main text of your essay. This is an important component of academic writing to avoid plagiarism and give credit to other authors and researchers you reference.

MLA In-Text Citation: A Step-by-Step Guide

Here is how to create MLA in-text citations:

  1. Introduce the source in your text. Mention the author's name in a signal phrase or in parentheses along with the year of publication.

Example: According to research by Smith (2019)...

  1. Add the page number for direct quotes. If you use a direct quote, include the page number in parentheses after the year.

Example: Smith states that "direct quote goes here" (2019, p. 35).

  1. Use author-page format for no author. If there is no author, use the first word of the title in quotation marks or italics followed by the page number.

Example: The study found that "students struggled with citations" (35).

  1. Handle multiple authors. For a source with two authors, include both last names. For a source with 3 or more authors, use the first author's last name followed by "et al."

How to Cite a Book MLA In-Text

Citing a book in MLA is similar to citing an article. Simply mention the author name(s) in a signal phrase or parentheses along with the page number for direct quotes:

Example: According to research by Johnson (2019, p. 54)...

Incorporating MLA In-Text Citation for Websites

Since websites do not have page numbers, simply include the author name and year of publication (if available) in parentheses:

Example: The guidelines recommend students ask for help when needed ("MLA Formatting", 2019).

Using proper MLA in-text citations ensures you give credit to sources while maintaining flow and readability. Following these examples and guidelines will help you master this key piece of scholarly writing.

Crafting the Works Cited Page in MLA

Properly formatting your Works Cited page is a critical component of academic writing and maintaining integrity in research. The Works Cited page contains full bibliographic information for all source material used in the preparation and writing of the essay or paper. Following Modern Language Association (MLA) guidelines provides structure and ensures readers can easily locate referenced sources.

MLA Citation for Essays: Works Cited Essentials

The Works Cited page should:

  • Be included on a separate page at the end of the essay/paper
  • Use the title "Works Cited" centered at the top of the page
  • Contain a list of all sources cited within the content, arranged alphabetically by the first word of each entry (typically the author's last name)
  • Use a hanging indent for each individual entry
  • Follow the exact punctuation and formatting specifications outlined in the MLA Handbook

Core elements of each Works Cited entry include:

  • Author name(s)
  • Title and container details (journal name, website name, etc.)
  • Publisher information
  • Publication date
  • Page numbers or URL/DOI

How to Cite an Academic Journal Article from a Database

Citing a scholarly journal article accessed through an academic database follows this format:

Author(s) Last Name, First Name. "Title of Article." Title of Journal Volume.Issue (Year Published): Page Numbers. Database Name, URL or DOI.

For example:

Chan, Evans. "Multimodal Rhetoric and Composition." Journal of College Literacy and Learning 41.1 (2015): 10-20. ProQuest,

Citing Digital Sources: Websites and Webpages

Citing websites and specific webpages requires slightly different information than print sources. Key elements include:

  • Author name(s) (if available)
  • Title of webpage/article
  • Title of website
  • Publisher or site sponsor
  • Publication date (if available)
  • URL

For example:

Doe, Jane. "How to Cite In MLA." MLA Citation Guide, EasyBib, 2022,

Leveraging MLA Citation Generators

Introducing citation generators can greatly assist writers in streamlining the process of correctly formatting citations and references for their essays and papers. These tools automate much of the tedious work involved with adhering to strict academic citation guidelines like those of MLA style.

Choosing the Right MLA Citation Generator

When selecting an MLA citation generator, consider the following criteria:

  • Accuracy - Does it properly format citations in the latest MLA style (9th edition)? Are the generated citations complete and error-free?

  • Comprehensiveness - Can it create citations for diverse source types like books, academic journals, websites, YouTube videos, etc.?

  • Ease of use - Is the interface intuitive and the citation process straightforward?

  • Available integrations - Does it integrate with word processors like Microsoft Word or Google Docs for seamless in-text citations?

  • Additional features - Does it provide other useful functionality like bibliographies, grammar checkers, plagiarism checkers, etc.?

Opting for an MLA citation generator that meets these criteria can ensure efficiency and academic integrity when citing sources.

How to Use an MLA Citation Generator

Using an MLA citation generator involves a simple, straightforward process:

  1. Select the type of source you need to cite (book, journal, website, etc.)

  2. Enter the details about the source such as author, article title, website URL, etc.

  3. Generate the citation in MLA format.

  4. Copy the formatted citation into your essay, paper or bibliography.

  5. Check that the citation is fully accurate.

Most good citation generators require only basic source input like title, author names, date, etc. to output correctly formatted MLA citations. Some also let you store citation libraries for simplified reuse.

Leveraging these generators simplifies citing sources so you can focus on the quality and originality of the essay content itself. They increase accuracy while saving time and effort.

Diverse MLA Citation Examples

MLA (Modern Language Association) style is commonly used for citing sources within essays in the humanities and liberal arts. Properly formatting citations in MLA can seem complex, but with some key examples for common source types, you'll be citing like an expert in no time.

How to Cite a YouTube Video in MLA

Here is an example of how to cite a YouTube video in MLA format:

CreatorLastName, CreatorFirstName. "Title of Video." YouTube, uploaded by Uploader, Day Month Year, URL.

For example:

Smith, John. "How to Write an Essay." YouTube, uploaded by EssayPro, 15 Jan. 2021,

How to Cite a Movie in MLA

To cite a movie in MLA style, structure it this way:

Title. Directed by DirectorFirstName DirectorLastName, Performance by PerformerFirstName PerformerLastName, Studio/Distributor, Year.

For instance:

The Matrix. Directed by Lana Wachowski and Lilly Wachowski, performance by Keanu Reeves, Warner Bros., 1999.

Citing Books: Single and Multiple Authors

Citing a book with a single author:

LastName, FirstName. Title. Publisher, Year.


Rowling, J.K. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. Scholastic, 1997.

For a book with multiple authors, list them in the order they appear on the title page:

LastName, FirstName, and FirstName LastName. Title. Publisher, Year.

So for two authors, it would be:

Smith, John, and Jane Doe. Writing Guide. Penguin, 2022.

I hope these diverse examples for citing videos, films, and books in MLA format give you confidence in applying proper citations within your essays! Let me know if you need any clarification or have additional questions.

Conclusion: Mastering MLA Citation

Recap of MLA Citation Guidelines

Properly citing sources in MLA format is crucial for maintaining academic integrity and respecting intellectual property. Here is a quick recap of the key guidelines covered:

  • In-text citations should include the author's last name and page number in parentheses, like (Smith 23).
  • The Works Cited page at the end should have a full reference list in alphabetical order by authors' last names.
  • Book citations include author, title, publisher, year published.
  • Website citations include author, article title, website title, URL, and date accessed.
  • Always cite direct quotes. Cite paraphrases if you incorporate ideas from sources.
  • Use citation generators to easily create citations. But always double check formatting.

Following these rules carefully shows you value ethical scholarship.

Final Thoughts on Academic Integrity and Proper Referencing

As we have seen, citations serve the vital ethical purpose of giving credit where it is due. By properly attributing words and ideas to their original authors, scholars uphold principles of honesty and fairness. Failing to cite sources, whether intentionally or accidentally, violates these moral standards that are essential to academic culture.

That is why mastering citation guidelines like MLA is so important for students and researchers. It enables producing work of integrity that contributes value to the broader knowledge base. Through accurate citations, writers demonstrate accountability, transparency, and respect that allow constructive academic discourse to thrive.

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