MLA style is the main citation style for literature papers. MLA comprises two basic elements: an In-text Citation and a corresponding entry in a Works Cited page.
The in-text citation gives the name and page number of the source; if more than one source by a single author is used, a short form of the title (with the appropriate formatting) is also included to avoid ambiguity: (Burke, Language 3).
If the author's name (or the title of the work) is included in your sentence, you can avoid repetition and simply use the page number in parentheses:
Kenneth Burke states that this particular aspect is crucial (Language 3).
In Language and Symbolic Action, Kenneth Burke states that this particular aspect is crucial (3).
If you are drawing many references from one source, you can indicate a short form of the source or simply use the page numbers, and include a footnote to that effect. For example, Heart of Darkness could become HD (HD 65) or simply a page number (65).
The Works Cited page gives the full reference information for the source, and unambiguously identifies all sources cited in your research:
Burke, Kenneth. Language as Symbolic Action: Essays on Life, Literature, and Method. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1966.
Burke, Kenneth. "Semantic and Poetic Meaning." The Southern Review 4 (1938): 501-523.
Note that items in the Works Cited list are formatted with a hanging indent/hängender Einzug.
Citing sources using MLA style:
For specific rules about citing different kinds of publications, as well as examples, see the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers or the Purdue OWL (https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/)
Instead of repeating the basics here, this section focuses on citation questions with relatively obscure answers.
Please also note the following AS conventions that are actually exceptions to the MLA rules:
Exception 1: The MLA Handbook requires that the medium be indicated after every item in the works cited list—so technically, the word “Print” should appear at the end of every book citation and the word “Web” should appear before the date accessed in the citation of every internet source—but this is not the norm in the Anglistisches Seminar. It is only necessary if the medium in question is neither a print version (including an electronic form of a print version, such as a PDF version of a printed article) nor a website. See Citing ‘Problematic’ Sources, below.
Exception 2: The MLA Handbook states that web addresses should not appear in the Works Cited list— but this is not the norm in the Anglistisches Seminar. Unless your instructor says otherwise, include the URL and the date you accessed the website in your citation.
Frequently Asked Questions: MLA In-text Citation
Multiple pages are separated by commas; page ranges are indicated with a hyphen; and multiple citations are separated by a semi-colon: (Burke 3, 6-12; Dewey 21).
If you are citing a quotation from another publication, first give the primary source and then the secondary source, separated by qtd. (for quoted): (Burke 3; qtd. in Dewey 21).
Always give page numbers unless one of the following is true:
1. Your source has no page numbers. This is often the case with electronic sources; see “Citing problematic sources” below
2. You are citing the work of a particular scholar in general: Jones accepts the idea of a paradigm shift (Kuhn) but proposes a different model of scientific revolutions (25-31).
In block quotations, the in-text citation comes after the end of the quotation:
And so the tale of confessions and executions went on, until there was a pile of corpses lying before Napoleon’s feet and the air was heavy with the smell of blood, which had been unknown there since the expulsion of Jones. (Orwell 57)
In MLA style, footnotes and endnotes are used only for explanation, not for citation. Add a footnote to explain abbreviations or conventions:
1 Hereafter, SS refers to Austen, Sense and Sensibility.
2 In this paper, the terms ‘text-type’ and ‘genre’ are used interchangeably, as the distinction between them is not relevant for this study.
or to suggest further reading:
3 For a concise overview of politeness theories, see Shahrokhi and Bidabadi, 17-27.
If you wish to cite the introduction (or foreword, preface or afterword) to an edition of a primary source listed in your works cited list, simply indicate the page number: (Shelley xvi).
If the primary source is not included in your works cited list, cite the author of the introduction and the page number and include the introduction in your works cited list:
Rieger, James. "Introduction." Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus. By Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1982. v-xxvi.
To cite the Bible, simply refer to the book, chapter, and line numbers in-text, using standard abbreviations (e.g., Heb. 13:8; 1 Thess. 4:11; Ruth 3:1-18; 2 Kings 11:12, etc.) and then indicate the particular edition you are using in the Works Cited section:
The Holy Bible: New International Version. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1984.
Frequently Asked Questions: MLA Works cited list
If your source has more than one author, the name of the first author is given last name first followed by a comma, while the name of the second author is given first name first:
Grey, Maria G., and Emily Schrieff. Thoughts on Self Culture Addressed to Women. Boston, MA: Crosby & Nichols, 1851.
If you are citing an edited volume of primary works, the entry is alphabetized according to the primary source author’s last name, not the name of the editor(s):
James, William. Writings, 1902-1910. Ed. Bruce Kuklick. New York: Library of America, 1987.
You may abbreviate state and country names (Cambridge, MA; Manchester UK); you may also abbreviate the names of publishing houses (Cambridge UP or U of Chicago P) for brevity.
The title of a dissertation is neither italicized nor put in quotation marks.
Citing ‘Problematic’ Sources
Please note that the following tips, though largely based on MLA style, reflect the individual conventions of the Anglistisches Seminar.
Citing e-books is similar to citing printed books. The only difference is that the medium of publication must be indicated: Kindle file, Nook file, EPUB file, etc. is added at the end of the cited entry. If you cannot identify the file type, use ‘Digital file’. For example:
Maeterlinck, Maurice. The Wrack of the Storm. New York: Dodd, Mead and Co., 1916. Kindle file.
In in-text citations, use chapter numbers instead of page numbers because chapter numbers are generally consistent in electronic books:
According to Maeterlinck, Belgium’s only hope lay in “the immediate and imperious intervention of the neutral powers.” (ch. IV, sec.2).
As early as 1916, contemporaries believed Belgium could only be saved if neutral countries could be convinced to fight on its behalf (Maeterlinck ch. IV, sec.2).
If the work lacks any kind of stable section numbering, the work has to be cited as a whole.
If the work is a PDF file with numbered pages, cite the page numbers and do not indicate the medium.
If the work in question names no author – not even a corporate author like the Internal Revenue Service – use only the title in the in-text citation. This may be abbreviated (include a note after the first reference to explain the abbreviation).
On the Works Cited page, start the entry with the title and alphabetize it according to the first important word of the title.
Quotation within a quotation
If you quote a quotation from another source and your in-text citation contains “qtd. in”, include only the work you actually looked at in your works cited list.
Citing two or more works by the same author
If you cite more than one work by the same author, add a short version of the title of the work you are citing:
Throughout the trilogy, Haymitch defines the rebellion. When Peeta and Katniss hold hands during the opening ceremony of their first Hunger Games, Haymitch terms it “the perfect touch of rebellion” (Collins, Games 96). Later he describes Katniss’s call to arms as “how a revolution dies” (Collins, Mockingjay 85).
If you interviewed someone personally, give the name of the person you interviewed, indicate that it was a personal interview and include the date:
Doe, Jane. Personal interview. 19 May 2014.
To cite an interview that was published or broadcast, cite the work as usual:
Hemingway, Ernest. “The Art of Fiction No. 21.” By George Plimpton. Paris Review 18, Spring 1958.
If the interview has no title and it is unclear from the citation that you are citing an interview, label it:
Gaitskill, Mary. Interview with Charles Bock. Mississippi Review 27.3 (1999): 129-50.
If presentations are published in a book of proceedings, cite the presentation as you would cite a chapter in a book. If the presentation is not published, you should provide the presenter’s name, the title of the speech in quotation marks, the name of the organization that hosted the event, the location and the date:
Kövecses, Zoltán. "Where metaphors come from.” University of Heidelberg, Anglistisches Seminar, Heidelberg, Germany. 6 May 2015. Keynote Address.
Start with the artist’s name, add the name of the artwork in italics and the date of composition if it is known (if not, write n.d.). Then, indicate the medium of the piece and provide the name of the institution that holds the piece and the location of the institution:
Goya, Francisco. The Family of Charles IV. 1800. Oil on canvas. Museo del Prado, Madrid.
Photographic reproductions of artworks should be cited just like printed materials.
Movie, Television and Radio
If movies are published in the form of DVDs or other portable disk formats, provide the title of the movie in italics, the director’s name after “Dir.”, list performers’ names after “Perf.”, and include the distributor and the release year. End the citation with the medium of publication (CD, DVD, etc.):
Ed Wood. Dir. Tim Burton. Perf. Johnny Depp, Martin Landau, Sarah Jessica Parker, Patricia Arquette. Touchstone, 1994. DVD.
For TV or Radio Programs, write the title of the episode in quotation marks, add the series title in italics, and include the network name, call letters of the station, the city and the date of broadcast. End with the publication medium (television or radio):
"The Blessing Way." The X-Files. Fox. WXIA, Atlanta. 19 Jul. 1998. Television.
Recorded TV episodes are cited like movies:
"The One Where Chandler Can't Cry." Friends: The Complete Sixth Season. Writ. Andrew Reich and Ted Cohen. Dir. Kevin Bright. Warner Brothers, 2004. DVD.
You may choose to include information about directors, writers, performers, producers between the title and the distributor name. Use appropriate abbreviations for these contributors (e.g. dir., writ., perf., prod.).
Include the name of the author/performer, the name of the work, the publisher (if you know it), the date of creation and the medium of publication. Use Digital file when the medium cannot be determined.
Lynyrd Skynyrd. Sweet Home Alabama (Album Version). Universal Music, 2008. MP3.
Johnston, Ian. “Lecture on Milton’s Paradise Lost.” Malaspina University College, 1998. Microsoft Word file.
List the name of the author (if known), the podcast title (in quotation marks) and the program title (in italics) followed by the publisher, date and title of the website, and the URL.
"The Search for Tiny Libraries in New Zealand." The Documentary. BBC World Service. 7 August 2015. iPlayer Radio. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p02y5yzs
Begin with the author’s name (if known) followed by the username in parentheses. Then provide the entire text of the tweet, verbatim, in quotation marks. Do not correct spelling or punctuation. Conclude the citation with date and time (with a comma between them). Write ‘Tweet’ as the medium of publication:
Sammy Samsam, “It’s my conclusion that men don’t mind vocal fry, as it makes women sound student and therefore less threatening” 30 July 2015, 1:51 p.m. Tweet.
Letzte Änderung: Föhr am 11.August 2015
Verantwortlich: Lusin, Föhr