Skip to Main Content Saint Mary's Libraries

Citing Your Sources

Why cite your sources?

  • To give credit to authors/researchers/writers and ideas that are not your own
  • Using high quality sources helps support your argument
  • To allow readers/researchers to locate the sources you used
  • To maintain academic integrity and avoid academic dishonesty and plagarism

When in doubt, cite!

  • If you read it and use the idea or a quote, cite it
  • If it is in a research paper, cite it
  • If it is in a reflection paper, cite it
  • If you are using past research, cite it

When in doubt, cite!

Citing properly requires:

1. An in-text citation

When you use the work of another person, you must make note of this in the text. Do this by including an in-text citation which gives a brief reference and helps the reader locate the full citation that you'll include as part of your References list.

2. A list of works referenced

The last page of your paper is typically a list of resources you used/utilized/consulted.

Citation MLA Style

MLA Style, as published in the MLA Handbook (print) and MLA Style Center (online), is developed and maintained by the Modern Language Association (MLA), the main professional organization in the United States for scholars of language and literature. MLA is most commonly used in the humanities, primarily language and literature studies, cultural studies, media studies, and related disciplines.

Librarians
Stop at the Reference Desk for help and to see the MLA style manual

MLA Style Center
Find a Quick Guide to creating a Works Cited List, highlights of the changes in the new edition of the MLA manual, and an Ask MLA section

Writing Center

Visit Saint Mary's Writing Center online or in person for more help

ZoteroBib
Get a formatted MLA citation for any resource (don't forget to proofread before using)

Citing Sources - In Text

In MLA Style, you put in-text citations in the body of your paper to briefly document the source of your information and point the reader to a more complete citation in your Works Cited list at the end of your paper.

For sources with one author or editor, list the author's last name followed by the page number.

Example: (Piketty 250)

For sources with two authors or editors, list both author's last names, separated by the word and, followed by the page number.

Example: (Marx and Engels 9)

For sources with three or more authors or editors, list the first author's last name followed by et al. and the page number.

Example: (Lewis et al. 27)

For sources with no known author, use the first one to three words from the title. Don't include articles (A, An, The, etc). Provide enough words to make it clear which work you're referring to from your works cited list. If the title is in italics in your Works Cited list, litalicize the words in the in-text citation. If the title is in quotation marks in the Works Cited list, put quotation marks around the words in the in-text citation.

Example: (Cell Biology 35)

Example: ("Nursing" 50)

For sources without page numbers, cite the author name only. If there is no author, use the first one to three words from the title.

Citing Sources - Works Cited

list of the core elements of a MLA citation. Author, Title of source, Title of container, Other contributors, Version, Number, Publisher, Publication Date, Location.Core Elements: According to MLA, "each entry in the list of works cited is composed of facts common to most works - the MLA core elements. They are assembled in a specific order."

Containers: "When the source being documented forms part of the larger whole, the larger whole can be thought of as a container that holds the source. For example, a short story may be contained in an anthology. The short story is the source, and the anthology is the container." A journal article published in a journal, the article is the source, and the journal is the container.

"Works Cited: A Quick Guide." The MLA Style Center, Modern Language Association of America, 2020, https://style.mla.org/works-cited-a-quick-guide/.

Need More Information?

See our Citation Styles guide to learn more about citing your sources.