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MLA Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

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The following FAQs address issues in MLA citation and/or formatting. Further information on MLA style and citation can be found at the Purdue OWL’S MLA Formatting and Style Guide page.

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

The Purdue OWL maintains an extensive resource that deals with MLA style. See our MLA Formatting and Style Guide. Additionally, the MLA Style Center is an official resource that provides answers to frequently asked questions, guidance on formatting 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?

To cite sources in a slide presentation, MLA suggests including brief citations on each slide that includes material from your sources, including quotations, summaries and paraphrases, images, or data. Include a works-cited list on a slide at the end of your presentation. MLA also suggests providing your list of sources to your audience, either through a URL or printed copy that you hand out in your presentation. For more details, see the MLA Handbook, 8th ed., pp. 127-28.

How do I cite email?

When you document an email in your list of works cited, make sure to include a reference to yourself, either by name or as author, as the Title of Source element.

Leon, Patrick. E-mail to the author. 15 February 2023.

Leon, Patrick. E-mail to Aimee Alicia. 15 February 2023.

What is a container?

Containers were first mentioned in the 8th edition of the MLA Handbook. Containers are the larger wholes in which the source is located. For example, if you want to cite a work (e.g. essay, short story, poem) from an anthology, the individual work is the source, while the anthology is the container. The title of the container is usually italicized and followed by a comma, since the information that follows next provides more information about the container. A container could also be a television series, which is made up of episodes, or a website, which contains articles and postings.

Gregerson, Linda. “The Sower against Gardens.” On Louise Glück: Change What You See, edited by Joanne Feit Diehl, University of Michigan Press, 2005, pp. 28-47.

“The Pontiac Bandit.” Brooklyn Nine-Nine, created by Dan Goor and Michael Schur, performance by Andy Samberg, season 1, episode 12, Fremulon, 2014.

What is a DOI?

A DOI, or digital object identifier, is a series of digits and letters that permanently leads to the location of an online source. Articles in journals are often assigned DOIs by the publisher to ensure that the source is locatable, even if the URL changes.Typically, the DOI is considered better than the URL. However, there are advantages and disadvantages to using URLs and DOIs, so the preference of you instructor, institution, or publisher is most important.

Imada, Adria L. “Transnational Hula as Colonial Culture.” The Journal of Pacific History, vol. 46, no. 2, Sept. 2011, pp. 150-176. EBSCO, doi: 10.1080/00223344.2011.607260.

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

The MLA Handbook (9thedition) prefers the DOI to the URL. However, it also recognizes that the URL can provide information of where the work was found and link your audience to your sources in digital works. If you’re unsure about whether to include the URL, double check with your instructor. Different instructors may have different preferences.

Gay, Roxane. “Who Gets to be Angry?” The New York Times, 10 June 2016,

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?

This change was first introduced in the eighth edition handbook. Previously, MLA did not require the article in the title of a periodical (newspaper, journal, magazine), but the updated handbook states that the article should now be considered part of the title. The article should be capitalized and italicized. For example, refer to The New York Times, (rather than New York Times), when citing it in your text or works-cited list.

For more information on this, check out the MLA Style Center’s page on What’s New in the Eighth Edition.

How do I cite e-books or Kindle books?

An e-book is considered a version, so it should be listed after the title of the book, before the publication information. If you know the type of e-book you used (such as Kindle or Ebook library), be sure to specify that. Avoid using device-specific numbering systems, since they will vary among different devices. If the book has chapters, sections, or other stable numbering systems, it is permissible to identify parts of the text that way.

Theile, Verena and Linda Tredennick, editors. New Formalism and Literary Theory. Kindle ed., Palgrave Macmillan, 2013.

How do I cite a tweet?

The full text of the tweet should be your title. Enclose the text in quotation marks, and include the date, time, and URL.

@loudpositivity. “Accept no one’s definition of your life; define yourself.” Twitter, 27 May 2019, 12:17 p.m.,

If the author’s online handle is different from the account name, provide the handle in square bracket after the name.

Kass, Leon [@pianoman726] “Many (many) more professional photos to come. But this is one of the very few photos I took myself and I mean!” Twitter, 3 Srptember 2017, 3:03 p.m., 752985641261162496.

How do I cite a book that I accessed online?

Cite the book just like you would if it were in print. Then add the name of the database or website you used to access the online book, and add a URL or other location indicator at the end of the citation.

Carroll, Lewis. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Macmillan, 1865. eBook edition (Project Gutenberg).

How do I cite an unpublished manuscript/document?

Author. “Title of Manuscript/Document.”. date of composition (at least year), along with "the name and location of the library, research institution, or personal collection housing the material."

Henderson, George Wylie. Baby Lou and the Angel Bud. 22 July 1991. Collection of Roslyn Kirkland Allen, New York.

How do I cite the US Constitution?

References to the US consitution in the body of your text should be written as “the Constitution.” If you are only discussing it based on general knowledge, you do not need to cite it. However, if you are using a named edition, you should treat it like the title of the book:

The Constitution of the United States, with Case Summaries. Edited by Edward Conrad Smith, 9th ed., Barnes and Noble Books, 1972. 

If you use a named edition, your in-text citations should help your readers locate the exact entry in the Works Cited:

(Constitution of the United States, with Case Summaries)

Keep in mind for citations of any constitution, including the US, the country of origin should be specified if the title does not indicate what country the constitution belongs to:

France. Le constitution. 4 October 1958. Legifrance,

For more information on citing legal documents, refer to the MLA Style Center’s page on Documenting Legal Works in MLA Style.

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

In most cases, a word entry in an online dictionary includes a part of speech and numbered definitions, which should be included in the title. The original source is the container. To indicate the definition came from the web source by including the URL. The access date is optional, but include it if it will best help your readers locate the source.

“Moist, Adj. (1)” Merrian-Webster, 2023. Accessed 15 July 2022.

How do I cite a footnote?

The ninth edition MLA handbook does not address this question, but one entry in the online MLA Style Center does provide a set of directions for this task. This page states that a citation for another author’s footnote in your own text should include the following, in parentheses: author’s name, the page number, the letter n (to indicate note), and the note number.

There are no spaces between the page number, the letter n, and the note number.

(Smith 123n6)

If you refer to multiple notes, use nn and separate the note numbers from the page number by using brackets.

(Smith 82 [nn 2, 3, 6])

How do I cite genealogies and birth/death certificates?

Although MLA does not offer any guidelines on how to handle genealogies and birth certificates, a few websites offer their own resources and citation methods to follow: offers a method of citing birth/death certificates. Follow the link and scroll down to “Official Records.”

In addition, offers a leaflet called Citing Records in the National Archives of the United States.

How do I cite the information from food nutrition labels?

The MLA does not generally require you to create works-cited-list entries for nutrition labels. You can instead provide a simple description of the product in the sentence or in a note.

Example (in a sentence):

According to a 2019 package of Quaker Steel Cut Oats—a product by the Quaker Oats Company, “3 grams of soluble fiber from oatmeal daily in a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease.

Example (in a note):

 As noted on a package of Quaker Steel Cut Oats: “3 grams of soluble fiber from oatmeal daily in a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease.”1

1. Quaker Steel Cut Oats are sold by the Quaker Oats Company. This package was produced in 2019.

In the event that your writing deals extensively with nutrition (such that nutrition labels serve as important sources of evidence), you may optionally create works-cited and treat them as you would any other source. Make sure to include the core elements, in the proper order, and provide as much information as your readers will need to locate the source.

“Nutrition Label of Quaker Steel Cut Oats.” Quaker Oats Company, Chicago, IL, 2019.

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

Treat informational plaques/cards as you would any other source. Make sure to include the core elements, in the proper order, and provide as much information as your readers will need to locate the source. Use the title of the plaque as the title of your source. If you have experienced an object firsthand, such as in a museum, give the name of the place, the city in which it is located, and the dates of the exhibition.

“Alexander McQueen’s Gothic.” Gothic to Goth: Romantic Era Fashion and its Legacy, Wadsworth Athenaeum, Hartford, Connecticut, March 5-July 10, 2016.

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?

When you reference the same source more than once in the same paragraph, and no other source intervenes, you may give the in-text citation just once at the end of the paragraph. If, however, this technique creates any ambiguity about your reference, it is better to cite the source every time you reference it.

For example:

Romeo and Juliet presents an opposition between two worlds: “the world of the everyday,” associated with the adults in the play, and “the world of romance,” associated with the two lovers. Romeo and Juliet’s language of love nevertheless becomes “fully responsive to the tang of actuality” (Zender 138, 141).

This makes clear that the first quotation is from the first page number in the parentheses, and the second quotation is from the second number.

There are other ways to do this as well. You may cite the author’s name with the page number after the first direct quotation, and just list the page number after the second quotation.

Romeo and Juliet presents an opposition between two worlds: “the world of the everyday,” associated with the adults in the play, and “the world of romance,” associated with the two lovers (Zender 138). Romeo and Juliet’s language of love nevertheless becomes “fully responsive to the tang of actuality” (141).

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

While the MLA does not prohibit references to more than one source in the same sentence, it is generally best to begin a new sentence when referring to a new source. Your goal is to present your information as clearly as possible so that your readers can best follow your points. With that in mind, if you find yourself attempting to cite two sources in the same sentence, chances are, your ideas will be clearer if you break them into two sentences.

For example:

There is no official consensus on how to define the new formalism. Some scholars assert that the method is difficult to pin down (Wolfson 9). On the other hand, some say that a neoformalist approach may be used to examine a text’s transhistorical effect (Marcovits 591).

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?

This question falls under the issue of common knowledge. Common knowledge generally includes biographical information, dates of historical events, and other undisputed, widely available information. If you think that your average, reasonable reader already accepts this information as fact, it is not necessary to document it.