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Referencing: MLA Referencing

Tools and information to help you maintain academic honesty

Rules for full references

MLA8 does not spell out fixed rules for every possible source format, instead, it has guidelines that should be adaptable for any source. 

In General, you should aim to include as many of these elements as possible, in this order, with this punctuation:

  • Author.
  • Title of source.
  • Title of container,
  • Other contributors,
  • Version,
  • Number,
  • Publisher,
  • Publication date,
  • Location. 

See the tabbed boxes on this page, or the suggested resources, for specific advice on how to format each of the core elements, full references, and in-text citations for common source type. 

  1. Give the web page as the title, in double quote marks. 
  2. Then give the web site as the 'container'. 
  3. When referencing websites in-text, use para. 3 to indicate your quote came from paragraph 3. 
  4. Always remove the http:// from a URL
  5. If there is no date omit it all together, do not use n.d. 
  6. It is optional to include an accessed date. 
  7. For government websites where the 'publisher' is the same as the 'author' put only a publisher i.e. 

"You can apply for evidence of your Australian citizenship if you were...issued with an Australian citizenship certificate" (Evidence of Citizenship para. 1-2). 

"Evidence of Australian citizenship - eligibility." Australian Government: Department of Immigration and Border Protection, Accessed 18 August 2017. 

Trying to cite something weird? Use the general advice on core elements in this guide or see the Easy Bib guides on how to cite a...

Rules for in-text citations

As a general rule:

​In-text citations are, usually, the first element from your full reference, and then a location within your source

Locations are formatted differently depending on your source. See the relevant tab in this box for examples. 

Abbreviating titles:

If the first element in your full reference is a really long title it is permissible to abbreviate it, provided the abbreviation remains unique enough to help your teacher identify the correct entry in your reference list. 


You still need to include an in-text reference when you are paraphrasing or summarising somebody else's work. If you are paraphrasing the whole work do not include a location. If you are paraphrasing a paragraph, page or chapter within a work include a page, paragraph or time stamp range as your location. 

Normal books:

Include the page number or range without any punctuation or P's. For instance:

(Smith 35). 

(Jones 21-28).  

Classic books: 

It is useful to include a volume, section, chapter, or line reference as well as your page number/s to help reviewers locate the quote in any edition. The first element and first level of locations is separated from the secondary level of location details by a semi colon. For instance:

(Smith 433; vol. 1, ch. 2)

It is often not practical to include a location on a web page when they have a lot of paragraphs.

When it is possible, count the number of paragraphs from the top of the webpage to your quote. Include this number as your location with the inscription 'para.'

For instance:

(Smith para. 3)

Locations within DVDs, songs and other audio visual media are specified using a timestamp or timestamp range.  Put the hour, minute and seconds into the dvd you are quoting from or referencing, divided by colons. For instance:

(Jones 00:03:16-17)

("Buffy" 00:03:16-18) 

Rules for core elements

What counts as an author:


Single authors:


Two Authors:

  • The first authors name is written as surname, first name.
  • The second authors name is written first name surname.
  • i.e. Shaw, Kelly and Samantha Thompson

Three or more authors:


Corporate authors:


Government authors:


No author:


More than one reference by the same author or authors:


The general idea with 'source' and 'container' is that if something can be inside another resource, then the larger or encompassing resource is the 'container'.

If there is no encompassing container, i.e. you are referencing a whole book or a whole movie, then only include a single source title. 

Sometimes you have more than one container, i.e. a journal article inside a Journal which is inside a database.

Some examples:

Source Container
Web Page Web Site
Journal article Journal and Database
Chapter Book 
Song track Album
Episode DVD box set

Book source titles:

Web page source titles:

Journal article source titles: