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MLA Style: Basics

This guide is intended to help you cite sources in MLA style, avoid plagiarism, learn what MLA style is and includes, find examples of MLA style, lead you to campus resources that can help you cite sources in MLA, and more.

Formatting Author Names

When a work has an author, your citation should begin with their name or names. In MLA, people's names are written first name followed by last name with one, very big exception. The first author's name is inverted so that citations can be easily alphabetized by author's last name. Additional authors' or contributors' names are not inverted. Generally, your citation will begin with the work's author and this core element is followed by a period.

One Author

Include the last/surname followed by a comma, and the first name and middle initial. If there is no middle initial, exclude it.

General Format

Last, First Initial. 

For Example

Timmins, Ashley R. 

Haddadian-Moghaddam, Esmaeil.

Two Authors

Include the authors in the order in which they appear in the work. The first author will be formatted like in "One Author". Include a comma after the first author's name and the word and, followed by the second author's name in the normal order.

General Format

Last, First Initial., and First Initial Last.

Last, First, and First Last.

For Example

Ramugondo, Elelwani, and Lean'tin L. Bracks.

Leon, Javier F., and Ronald Andrews.

Three or More Authors

Format the first author's name as if it was the only author. Follow it by a comma, and the abbreviation et al.

General Format

Last, First Initial., et al.

Last, First, et al.

For Example

Zhang, Tingting, et al.

Loaiza, Iván, et al.


Add a comma after the name and add the label. You can also apply the label translator, when appropriate.

General Format

Last, First Initial, editor.

Last, First, and First Last, editors.

For Example

Hensley, Merinda K., and Stephanie Davis-Kahl, editors.

Surname First

There are cultures that place the surname (last/family name) before the given/first name. For authors who follow this format do not reverse the name or add a comma.

General Format

Last First.

For Example

Lee Ming.

No Surname or Corporate Authors

Do not reverse the name of a royal or noble name, a stage name, a pseudonym that does not take the form of a traditional name, or the name of a company, group or government department.

For Example

Lady Gaga.

Elizabeth II.

The Weeknd.

No Authors

When there is no author for a work, begin your citation with the title instead.