MLA Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs

There are all kinds of relevant questions that are asked concerning MLA citation and formatting. More information can be found at the Purdue OWL’s MLA Style and Formatting resource.

I have to write a paper in MLA format. Where can I learn more about writing in MLA?

The Purdue OWL has over the years been offering extensive resource that deals with MLA style. One is advised to view the MLA Formatting and Style Guide. In addition, the MLA Style Center has proved to be an official resource that provides answers to frequently asked questions, it acts as a guide towards the formatting of research papers, documentation tips, and other assistance in writing paper in MLA format.

How do I use MLA citations and list of works cited in a PowerPoint presentation?

MLA citation is relevant in slide presentation where by the MLA guide suggests inclusion of brief citations on each slide that include material from your sources, they consist of quotations, summaries and paraphrases, images, or data.A work-cited list is also entered on the end slide of the presentation. MLA permits provision of the list of sources to the audience through a URL or printed copy that one hands out in your presentation. For more information one is advised to consult the MLA Handbook, 8th ed., pp.127-28.

How do I cite email?

When using an email as a source,one is required that the subject of the message be used as the title. Ensure that the title is capitalized and in quotation marks.

Flamini, Antonio. “Re: Order.” Received by Thomas Luke, 23 June 2003.

What is a container?

Contrary to earlier versions, the eighth edition handbook refers to containers, which are the larger wholes in which the source is located.  In a case whereby one is required to cite a poem that is listed in a collection of poems, then the individual poem acts as the source and the larger collection as the container. Make sure that the title of the container is italicized then followed by a comma, followed by the information about the container. Some of the containers that are common are television series that are made up of episodes, website that contain articles and posting, or many other sources within sources.

Kruger, Patricia. “Man Hunt. “The Future of the Book, edited by Natalie Smith, U of California P, 1998, pp. 120-25.

“Betrayal.”The Bold and the Beautiful created by Paulo Palumbo, performance by Rich Forest and Brook Logan, season 3, episode 12, Harper, 1994.

What is a DOI?

DOI stands for Digital object identifier, and can be described as a set of digits and letters that leads to an online location where a sources has been picked from. Articles that are found online are assigned with DOIs to make sure that they are able to be located when needed. It is advisable to use the DOI if you are provided with instead of a URL.

Ransom, John. “Globalization in the Face of a Modern Economic Output.”Postmodern Culture, vol.10, no. 3, May 2003.Profect Muse, doi:10.1356/pmc.2003.0021.

Do I need to include a URL when I document online sources in my list of work cited?

The MLA eighth edition handbook recommends the use of URLs when citing an online source. Reason being it provides explicit information about the source thus more reliable. When doing all this in your citation ensure that you follow the instruction given by an instructor and if it is recommended not use the URLs then avoid them.

White, Gary. “The other Side of the Cake.”The New York Times, 23 June 2015,

When the title of a newspaper begins with an article (the, a, an) do I need to include it when I list the title in my citation?

Yes it should be included. Note that this is one of the major changes that have been introduced by the eighth edition handbook. In earlier editions, MLA did not require the use of the article in the title of periodicals (newspaper, journal, magazine), but at the moment the new edition considers the article to be part of the article. Lastly remember that the article should be capitalized and italicized. Example: The New York times, but earlier could be New York Times.

How do I cite e-books or Kindle books?

One should note that an e-book is termed as a version and thus it is located after the title of the book, but before the publication information. A writer should be sure of the kind of e-book being usedand thus required to specify if it is either Kindle or Ebook library. A writer should not use device-specific numbering systems, because they will differ among a variety of devices. In case the book has chapters, sections, or other stable numbering systems then it is advisable to identify parts of the text in that manner.

Marti, Vick and Belinda Morgan, editors.New Formalism and literary Theory. Kindle ed., Palgrave Macmillan, 2014.

How do I cite a tweet?

The whole text of the tweet becomes the title and should be enclosed in quotation marks. Add the date, time, and URL in the citation

@jeff. “The Effects of Global Warming to Agriculture-#GreenHouses.” Twitter, 24 May 2007, 10:12 a.m.,

When one knows the real name of the author then it should be entered under a pseudonym, add it in parenthesis. This kind of information might not be required, but including them can be of help to readers.

@mdicky (Isaac Lambeck). “Top Lawyer #Deported to Dubai after Dubious confrontation with the US Government.” Twitter, 7 June 2014, 5:45 a.m.,

How do I cite a book that I accesses online?

The contents of a book are supposed to be cited the same way as those of print. The only thing that is added to the citation is the name of the database or website that was used to access the online found book. Ensure that a URL or any other means of location is entered at the end of the citation.

Hill, John. The Rules of Deception: Qualities of a Spy.Routledge, 2016, eBook Collection (EBSCOHOST),

How do I cite an unpublished manuscript/document?

Author.Title of Manuscript/Document.Date of composition (at least year), together with the name and location of library, research institution, or a personal collection hosting the material.”

Henry, Mark. Beyond the Hill.Collection of Kate Evans, Ne York.

How do I cite the US Constitution?

It critical to note that one is not required to italicize or enclose in quotation marks anything that is termed as title of laws, acts or similar documents in the main text or the list of work cited; this goes as per the Declaration of Independence, Constitution of the United States. Taft-Hartley Act) Understand that these titles are usually abbreviated and the works cited by sections and if relevant one can add the years.

The following example can be used since the instructions of citing are not that specific.

U.S. Constitution. Art./Amend. XII, sec. 3.

One is only required to provide the article number or the amendment number.

Complementary parenthetical citation follows the format US Const.amend. XII, sec. 3. One can go ahead and reference the U.S. constitution in the sentence itself and then provide the amendment and section number in the parentheses at the end of the sentence.

How do I cite a definition from an online dictionary, like

Usually any word that is defined by an online dictionary is within two containers; the original and the web sources. It is a requirement for one to ensure that both containers appear in italics and add the relevant URL. The date of access is optional but if it is best for the reader then one could include it in the citation.

“Pollution.”The presence in or introduction into the environment of a substance that has harmful or poisonous effects, Houghton Mifflin,, 14 Aug. 2011.

How do I cite a footnote?

Note that the eighth edition does not cover this part of citation, however we advise one to follow past MLA style guidelines. Although it is not covered while citing another author’s footnote in your own text some these factors should be considered in the parentheses: names of the author, page number, letter n (indicates note), and the note number. Ensure that no space is placed between the page number, letter n, and note number.

(Smith 215n6)

How do I cite genealogies and birth/death certificates?

This are generally very crucial documents and it is unfortunate that the MLA style citation has not resulted to offer guidelines on how to handle them. Nevertheless has been helpful a bit and has provided some information that can aid a person in handling them. goes ahead to offer a method of citing birth/death certificates. One is advised to follow the link and scroll down to “Official Records.”

To add on that, offers a leaflet by the title Citing Records in the National Archives of the United States.

How do I cite the information from nutrition labels?

Nutritional labels should be treated the way other sources are treated. Identify the key elements and put them in proper order. It is imperative to provide the reader with as much information as he or she requires in order to locate the source.

“Nutritional Label of meat burger and fries.”Kraftfoods, Pay Less Supermarket, 2016.

How do I cite an information plaque or an information card?

Information plaques/ cards are to be cited as any other source. Enter the core elements in the required order and ensure that sufficient information is provided for the readers to locate the source. Always use the title of the plaque as the title of your source. If you experience an object that can be identified by the card/plaque e.g. a museum, then name the place and the city it is located followed by the dates of exhibition.

“Francis McGregor’s Gothic.” Gothic to Goth: Better half,Wadsworth Athenaeum, Hartford, Connecticut, April 6-July 10, 2014.

When I am repeatedly quoting or paraphrasing the same source in my paper, do I have to keep citing that source at the end of each sentence?

One should understand that if you happen to be referencing the same source more than once in the same paragraph, and there is no other source that intervenes then it is recommended that you do the in-text citation only once at the end of the paragraph. However, if there is any chance of ambiguity being created in the reference it is then better for one to stick with citing the reference each time it is used.

For example:

In this generation, most people cannot be fully trusted. “Majority of the people have come up with various elements that can be used to divert attention from reality to what that person wants for himself.” It is a fact that many people have undergone some training to enable them become professional liars. “The CIA owns some personnel that are used as spies in different countries and through them they get state information of the country the agent is deployed” (Smith 145, 154).

In the above example, through the numbering done one can understand that the first quotation is found on the on the first page given in the parentheses, and the second quotation found in the second number.

Another way is by citing the author’s name and page number after the first quotation then just list the page numbers after second quotations.

In this generation, most people cannot be fully trusted. “Majority of the people have come up with various elements that can be used to divert attention from reality to what that person wants for himself” (Smith 145). It is a fact that many people have undergone some training to enable them become professional liars. “The CIA owns some personnel that are used as spies in different countries and through them they get state information of the country the agent is deployed” (154).

If I quote from two different sources in the same sentence, how do I cite both?

The MLA style of referencing does not limit a person to reference a sentence with more than references all it does is that it recommends that it is best if each sentence had its own reference. In this kind of arrangement, the work becomes organized and clearer to the readers and audience when following the points. If you find that there is a coincidence and the there is a temptation to cite two sources in one sentence then try to break them that they become two for clearance.

Globalization has been the center stage of the world’s economy and thus each country should be able to play a role in its growth (Winston 17). On the other hand, it has brought a lot of benefits to humanity in the sense that it cannot be avoided (Marcus 23).

If I “just know” a fact or idea (something I learned in high school, for example), do I have to cite my high school course or textbook?

Note that this fact can be classified under the issue of common knowledge. In this text common knowledge includes biographical information, dates of historical events, and other undisputed, widely available information. It is upon you to evaluate if the targeted reader or audience accepts the information to be a fact, and in that case then it is not necessary to cite it.