VirtualSalt

Citing Web Sources MLA Style

Robert Harris
Version Date: December 20, 2013

This article describes 2009 MLA Web citation style (MLA Handbook, 7th ed.). The new seventh edition, released in March 2009 has instituted several significant changes over previous editions. Among the changes are these:


Instant Help: If you arrived at this page from the "How to cite this page" link at the bottom of one of the VirtualSalt articles, follow this model for citing:

Harris, Robert. "Evaluating Internet Research Sources."
 
     VirtualSalt. 22 November 2010.  Web. 20 Apr. 2011.

In the example above, the first date is the date of the page itself, while the second date is the date you accessed (read or printed) the page.


Optional, with URL (Uniform Resource Locator = the Web address) if required for the assignment:

Harris, Robert. "Evaluating Internet Research Sources." VirtualSalt. 15 June 2008.  Web. 

20 Apr. 2009. <http://www.virtualsalt.com/evalu8it.htm>.



Bonus Help for APA Style Users

To cite a page from my Web site using APA style, follow this model:

Harris, R. (2010, November 22). Evaluating Internet research sources. Retrieved

from http://www.virtualsalt.com/evalu8it.htm

More information on
APA citation here. Note that Amazon.com has lots of Books about MLA Style. For further MLA details, read on. 

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In-text Citation

For its citation style, the Modern Language Association uses an in-text reference which directs the reader to a list of Works Cited at the end of the paper. For printed works, the in-text reference includes the author's last name or a short title (if there is no author listed) and page number. For Web citations, where few Web documents have page numbers, you can give either a section or paragraph number (if those exist in the document) or simply the author's last name or short title. Here are examples:

A spa chemistry expert recommends adding spa shock after using the spa "in order to help assure a sanitizer level in the water" (Schuster).


Note: If there are no page numbers, as is usual with Web documents, do not make up a page number or use the number one (as in "Jones 1") to cover the whole document. Use a number only when there is a number present in the document.

If you mention the author in your introduction, you do not need the parenthetical name, but such a practice is not recommended because it may make the quotation at first appear to have no citation:

Alan Schuster recommends adding spa shock "in order to help assure a sanitizer level" in your spa.

If there is no author named, use a short title from the article in the parenthetical reference and optionally refer to the organization in the text:

The Gerber Baby Food company notes that for the first three to five days of breast feeding, a woman's body "will produce a substance called colostrum. This thick, yellowy substance is a milk rich in antibodies . . ." ("Newborn Feeding").
 

For a more in-depth look at in-text citation, see MLA In-Text Citation Style.

Works Cited

Use, in this order, as many of these items as are relevant and useful for clearly identifying the source document. The list is long not so that you will include all of it in every reference, but because Web page content and format vary so widely.

1. Author or editor's last name, then first name.
2. Title of the article in quotation marks.
3. Web site name, italicized. (Underlining is no longer used.)
4. Edition or version number.
5. Web site owner or sponsor if available.
6. Date of publication (DD MM YYYY as in 15 June 2009). If a publication date is not available, use n.d. for "no date."
7. The word Web and a period to indicate the publication medium.
8. The date you accessed the site and a period.
9. [If required by your instructor or if it's necessary to find the article, include the URL (uniform resource locator--that is, Web address) of the document <in angle brackets> followed by a period.]

Note that often you will not have all of these items. The site name will be available, but the Web site owner or sponsor will be the same or not known. Similarly, there may not be a version or edition number. 

Note also that the two frustrations of Web article dating are (1) articles or pages with no dates at all and (2) autodating pages that automatically display today's date regardless of when the article was actually written. In the first instance, where no date is visible, be careful with the information because you don't really know when it was created. Cite it as shown below, using n.d. and the date of access. In the second case, where the page is autodated, be equally careful because you also don't know when the information was created. (To check for autodating, come back to the page the next day or so and see if the current date shows up again.) The MLA does not give specific instructions for autodated pages. However, Section 5.5.24 of the Handbook says to add a bracketed question mark if you are uncertain about the accuracy of supplied information such as a date of publication. The same rule should apply to autodates. See the last "Article with autodate" example below.

Examples of Typical Web Sites

General:
Lastname, Firstname. "Article Title." Site Name. Organization Name. Article date. Web.

     Date of access.

With author:
Schuster, Alan. "Spa and Hot Tub Chemical Questions." Ask Alan. Aqua-Clear Industries. 

18 Aug. 2008. Web. 10 Oct. 2008.

With no author and no date:
"Newborn Feeding." Welcome to Gerber. Gerber Corporation. n.d. Web. 18 Oct. 2008.

With the Web site name the same as that of the organization (no organization name is specified):
Harris, Robert. "Evaluating Internet Research Sources." VirtualSalt. 

    
15 June 2007. Web. 17 Oct. 2008.

Article from daughter site of parent site:

The Art of America Project. John Smith English 104 Class. Dec. 2012. Kenwood 

High School. 25 Apr. 2013 <http://www.kenwoodhigh.k12.us/ArtAmerica.html>.



Article with no title:

Doax, Joseph. Online Posting. The Rock Hunter. 22 Feb. 2009. Web. 12 April 2009.

Article with autodate [unofficial MLA style]:

Doe, John. "On the Contents of Ping Pong Balls." The Airful Truth. [15

Dec. 2009?]. Web. 15 Dec. 2009.

Citing from Web Site Databases

When the article comes from an online database such as SIRS Researcher or InfoTrac, the publication information of the print article is also included.

Note:  If the database service has several sub-databases, list the exact database as well as the service (For example, EBSCO Host MasterFILE Premier, EBSCO Host Academic Search Elite, EBSCO Host Busines Source Premier.) The database name is italicized. 


General:
Lastname, Firstname. "Article Title." Periodical Name 

     Periodical Date: Page numbers. Database Name. Web. Date of access.

Database with author:
Rossman, Parker. "The Theology of Imagination: Science, Science 

     Fiction, and Religion." Witness Oct. 1989: 12+. SIRS 

     Researcher. Web. 9 Nov. 2008.

Database with no author:
"Monkeying with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome." Science News 14 

     Sept. 1996: 170. InfoTrac Expanded Academic ASAP. Web. 4 Nov. 2008.

MLA Style for Printed Sources

Book:
Lastname, Firstname. Title. City: Publisher, Date. Print.


Williams, Samantha. Making Better Decisions. New York: Think Tool Publishing, 2013. Print.


Periodical:

Lastname, Firstname. "Title." Periodical day month year: pages. Print.


Fredericks, James. "The Benefits of Perseverance." Problem Solving Weekly 14 February 2013:

     46-57. Print.


Journal:

Lastname, Firstname. "Title." Journal volume (year): pages. Print.


Abercrombie, Susan. "Quantum Entanglement and the Speed of Light." Journal of Advanced

Theoretical Physics 73 (2010): 457-583. Print.


For further information about MLA style for Works Cited entries, see MLA Works Cited Style.

Go here for APA References page style. Or to Amazon.com for APA citation and reference style books.


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About the author:
Robert Harris is a writer and educator with more than 25 years of teaching experience at the college and university level. RHarris at virtualsalt.com