Skip to Main Content

“The mission of Ranger College is to transform lives and give students the skills to be a positive influence in their communities.”



The Modern Language Association (MLA) style is most commonly used for in the humanities, such as English language studies, writing, and literature.


MLA does not use footnotes.  They use inline citations.  At the end of each sentence with a citable fact put the author name and page number the information is on (Adams, 42).  Notice the punctuation is on the outside of the citation.  This is true even when there are "quotation marks" (Jones, 7). 

There must be a bibliographic notation to correspond to the in-text citation.  The page number is critically important to the citation.  One of the key reasons for using a citation is to demonstrate the validity of your work.  If the reader cannot follow it back, you lose credibility.  Many resources are thousands of pages long.  Your reader needs to be able to quickly go to the most specific place you can describe.

Works Cited

MLA uses a Works Cited format.  That means only works that are actually cited in the text are listed at the end.  Other styles use a Bibliography format, which means even items consulted but not actually cited are included at the end.  The difference is that with a bibliography, readers can trace your basic assumptions instead of only specific facts.

The organization of an MLA works cited entry is broken down into nine core elements, simply called the MLA core elements. Taking the time to clearly write out these nine elements takes away any guesswork when formatting an entry.  As with most things, form a checklist and follow it.

After the author and title, the other seven elements are called CONTAINERS.  Each contains a specific piece of information, as you can see in this example.

There are a few specific things to notice here.  There is a big difference between Title of Source and Title of Container.  Most often, in academic work, you will be citing a journal article.  The Title of Source is the name of the journal article, while Title of Container is the journal name.  “The Spanish Civil War and the Coming of the Second World War” compared to The International History Review.  In the example provided on the infographic, one is a website, with the site name given as the Title of Container and the article name given as the Title of the Source.  The other example contains the title of a chapter as the Source and the book title itself as the Container.

When using a website, give the full name of the website, with no abbreviations.  Do not use the .com name.  As an example, to cite information from you would use National Weather Service as the Title of the Container, not  The Title of the Source would be “Contribute Your Time and Talents to Building a Weather-Ready Nation.”  Citizen Scientist is a segment in the WRN periodical published by the National Weather Service.  Either/both could be included as part of the Container title, but you want the article title specifically as your title.  Remember the point is so that your reader can find the information.

Another thing to pay attention to is the punctuation.  Elements one and two end with periods, while three through eight end with commas.  Finally, nine, at the end of the citation, ends with a period. 

The citation itself needs some formatting that is not mentioned on the infographic.  The items should be double spaced.  There is not an extra space between items.  They are formatted in the paragraph style called hanging.  You can see a short tutorial on how to do this here.

Green, Katherine Sobba. The Courtship Novel 1740-1820: A Feminized Genre. UP of Kentucky, 1991.

Hinnant, Charles H. “Jane Austen’s ‘Wild Imagination’: Romance and the Courtship Plot in the Six Canonical Novels.” Narrative, vol. 14, no. 3, 2006, pp. 294-310. JSTOR,

Bibliographic Note

MLA also has an option called the Bibliographic Note.  This is information included as a footnote that supplements the text.  It is formatted like a footnote, including using the superscript numeral.  It is only to be used when commenting directly on sources, not for other information contained in the text.  If you need to supplement the information, find a place in your work.

  1. For strong points of view on different aspects of the issue, see Public Agenda Foundation 1-10 and Sakala 151-88.
  2. For a sampling of materials that reflect the range of experiences related to recent technological changes, see Taylor A1; Moulthrop, pars. 39-53; Armstrong et al. 80-82; Craner 308-11; and Fukuyama 42.

Be sure every source you mention in the footnote is included in your works cited.

Please contact us at 254-647-1414 or