Modern Language Association (MLA)

What is MLA?

The MLA system is the referencing style used at UWE Bristol for English, Film and Literature programmes. It is a referencing style published by the Modern Language Association (MLA).

Introduction to referencing

Discover the what, why, when, where and how of referencing at UWE Bristol. Includes common terms and what to include in your assignment word count.

UWE Bristol referencing guide

How it works

Core elements and punctuation

You are expected to acknowledge all the resources you have used when completing your assignments. This is done by inserting a brief reference, known as a citation, in the body of your assignment, and producing a corresponding list of full references, known as the ‘works cited’ list, at the end of your work.

  • The first element given in the works cited list, usually the author.
  • The location of the information you are citing, usually a page number.
Example type Example
Citation (Hawthorn 17)
Works cited entry Hawthorn, Jeremy. Studying The Novel. 7th ed., Bloomsbury, 2016.


Paraphrasing someone else’s ideas or words without acknowledgement is a form of plagiarism. When paraphrasing you must re-write the original language, change the sentence structure, and cite the source in your assignment and works cited list. If you retain a quotation or phrase, you must use quotation marks and cite the source.

Works cited list

This quick guide to MLA referencing will show you how to format references for most types of information.

The Works cited list should be alphabetical.

Core elements

MLA has a set of core elements which can be applied to any information source. The elements are:

  1. Author.
  2. Title of source,
  3. Title of container,
  4. Other contributors,
  5. Version,
  6. Number,
  7. Publisher,
  8. Publication date,
  9. Location.

Note the punctuation which follows each element. Simply apply each element, where applicable, to the resource you are referencing.

Core elements


Give the author's last name, followed by first name.

Brooker, Christopher. The Seven Basic Plots: Why We Tell Stories. Continuum, 2005.

Title of source.

The source should be given in italics (eg for books or web pages) or quotation marks (eg for stories, journal articles, or songs).

Example: Levy, Deborah. Hot Milk. Hamish Hamilton, 2016.

Title of container,

A container is the larger work in which the source is located, eg a poem (source) in an anthology (container) or television episode (source) in a series (container).

In the example below, "The Dead" (story) is the source, and Dubliners (book) is the container.

Joyce, James. "The Dead." 1914. Dubliners, Penguin, 1996, pp. 199-256.

In the example below, the episode “A Study in Pink” is the source, and Sherlock the series, is the container.

McGuigan, Paul. “A Study in Pink.” Sherlock, series one, episode one, BBC 1, 25 July 2010. Box of Broadcasts,

Other contributors,

Include other contributors, eg translators, illustrators.

Tolstoy, Leo. Anna Karenina. Translated by Aylmer and Louise Maude, Vintage, 2010.


Include edition or revision information.

Nowell-Smith, Geoffrey. Making Waves: New Cinema of the 1960s. Revised and expanded ed. Bloomsbury, 2013.


If a source is part of a numbered sequence, eg a journal article, or one in a series of books, include this information.

Raitt, George. “Lost in Austen: Screen Adaptation in a Post-Feminist World.” Literature/Film Quarterly, vol. 40, no. 2, 2012, pp. 127-141.


The publisher can usually be found on the title or copyright pages of books.

Filler, Nathan. The Shock of the Fall. Borough Press, 2014.

Publication date,

If a source has been published twice, eg as a reprint, you may wish to include both dates.

Eliot, George. The Mill on the Floss. 1880. Edited with an introduction by A. S. Byatt, Penguin, 2003.


You should give the specific location of the information you are citing.

For print materials, give the page, preceded by p. or pp. for a range of pages.

For web documents, give the DOI (digital object identifier) if provided, or the URL (web address), omitting http://

Additionally, give the date you found this information, using the format: Accessed DD Month Year.


Thomas, Dylan. “Fern Hill.” A Dylan Thomas Treasury: Poems, Stories and Broadcasts. Selected by Walford Davies, J. M. Dent, 1991, pp. 39-41.

Tempest, Kate. “Strange Light.” Kate Tempest. Accessed 15 August 2016.

Common examples of MLA references


Books by one author

Author's family name, Author’s first name. Title of Book. Publisher, Publication date.

Example: Krakauer, Jon. Into the Wild. Pan Books, 2007.

Books by two authors

Give the first author name in the order: family name, first name, then reverse this for the second author.

Example: Bennett, Andrew and Nicholas Royle. An Introduction to Literature, Criticism and Theory. 3rd ed. Longman, 2004.

Books by three or more authors

If there are three or more authors, name only the first and add 'et al.' ('and others').

Example: Montgomery, Martin, et al. Ways of Reading: Advanced Reading Skills for Students of English Literature. Routledge, 1999.

The entry in the works cited list should follow the same author format as given for the in-text citation.

Electronic books

Example: Childs, Peter, and Roger Fowler., editors. The Routledge Dictionary of Literary Terms. Routledge, 2005. Dawsonera.

Books, reprint editions

Author's family name, first name. Title. Year of original publication. Editor's name (and/or translator's name). Publisher, Date published.

Example: Lewis, Matthew. The Monk. 1796. Edited by Emma McEvoy. Oxford University Press, 2008.


Add the edition (version), after the title.

Example: Smith, Edward. Gothic Literature. 2nd ed., Edinburgh University Press, 2013.

An edited book

Example: Tew, Philip., editor. Reading Zadie Smith: The First Decade and Beyond. Bloomsbury, 2013.

Conference papers

Example: Mayer, Sophie. "Political Animals: The New Feminist Cinema." The BFI Media Conference. London, 30th June - 1st July 2016. Accessed 21 August 2016.

Critical essays in edited collections

Family name, first name. "Title of essay." Title of collection, edited by Editor's Name(s), Publisher, Year, Page(s).

Example: Mulvey, Laura. "Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema." Feminisms: An Anthology of Literary Theory and Criticism. Edited by Robyn R. Warhol and Diane Price Herndl. Rev ed., Macmillan, 1997, pp. 438-48.


List films by title:

Example: Trainspotting. Directed by Danny Boyle, Channel 4 Films, 1996.

If your assignment focuses on the work of a director, begin with their name:

Example: Tarantino, Quentin. The Hateful Eight. Double Feature Films, 2015.


Journal articles (print)

Author(s) name. "Title of article." Title of journal, Volume number, Issue number (if present), Date of publication, Inclusive page numbers.

Example: Armstrong, Tim. "The Electrification of the Body at the Turn of the Century." Textual Practice, vol. 5, 1991, pp. 303-25.

Journal articles (electronic)

If the article is stored on a database, include this information, along with the DOI (direct object identifier) or URL (web address) where provided, and date you accessed the article.

Example: Moody, Alys. "Eden of Exiles: The Ethnicities of Paul Auster's Aesthetics." American Literary History, vol. 28, no. 1, 2016, pp. 69-93. Project Muse, Accessed 6 August 2016.

For articles from the web, include the URL and access date:

Example: Saunders, Vivien Leanne. "We Sing Our Lives Through Empty Sounds: Hidden Voices in Gothic Music." The Luminary, Issue 4, Autumn 2014, pp. 55-64, Accessed 9 August 2016.


Include the location of the archive which holds the transcript, the name of the collection, and the number or code which the archive uses to identify the manuscript.

Example: (taken from The MLA Handbook, 50)

Chaucer, Geoffrey. The Canterbury Tales. Circa 1400-10. British Library, London, Harley MS 7334.

(Example taken from MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing.)

Newspaper articles

Author name(s). "Title of article." Name of newspaper, Date: Page Number(s). Medium of publication.

Example: Lowry, Elizabeth. "The Schooldays of Jesus by JM Coetzee Review - No Passion in an Ascetic Allegory." The Guardian, 18 August 2016. Accessed 19 August 2016.

Personal communications (email)

Author’s family name, author’s first name. “Subject.” Received by, Date.

Example: Smith, John, "Notes and queries". Received by David Wright. 27 July 2016.

Television or radio programme

Indicate the title of the episode, the director, season and disc (if applicable).

Example: "Old Cases". The Wire. Directed by Clement Virgo, Season 1, episode 4, Blown Deadline Productions, 2002, disc 2.

Web pages

Websites may not be titled or dated, and may be anonymous, but you should include this information where it is available.

Include a date of access.

Example: MLA. "Works Cited: A Quick Guide." The MLA Style Centre, Accessed 15 August 2016.

YouTube/internet clips

Example: UWE Bristol. "Introducing Arts and Cultural Industries at UWE Bristol." YouTube, uploaded by UWE Bristol, 13 January 2016. Accessed 21 August 2016.

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