How to Cite Online Sources in MLA

MLA online citation sources are any electronic publications such as website, online articles, emails, and images. Usually, your citation should include URL (without https://) or DOI and date of access. In this case, highlighting the date when the information was accessed may be important as websites and publications are updated regularly.

In general, the citation will look like this:

Author. Title. Title of Container. Publisher. Date. Location (DOI, URL, pages, or paragraphs). Date Accessed (when necessary).


In our citation examples we use the following color coding:

  • Red – Author
  • Blue – Title of book/article/charter/webpage
  • Pink – Date
  • Orange – Website/Publisher
  • Turquoise – Place of publication
  • Green – Title of journal
  • Violet – Editor/Translator
  • Black – Volume/Issue
  • Sienna – Pages
  • Gray – URL/database/website where the source is retrieved
  • Gold – Book, a part/chapter of which is being cited
Entire website Page from website Image from website Online book Portion of an online book Article in an online journal (journal article from database) Article in an online magazine/newspaper Entire blog Comment or response on a blog post Email Video or film Podcast/ YouTube Lecture/ Public address Government publication Dissertation Page from website with unknown author Single blog entry

Entire website

When citing the entire website, it is necessary to provide full URL (without https://) and the date, when the source was accessed.

Starbucks: Coffee and Espresso. Starbucks Coffee Company, 2016, www.starbucks.com/. Accessed 24 Jan. 2016.

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Page from website

Pereira, Rachel. "How to Make an Interesting Art Piece Using Tree Branches." eHow, www.ehow.com/how_2227693_art-piece-using-tree-branches.html. Accessed 24 Jan. 2017.

In this case, if the exact author is unknown, one should skip this part and start with the title of the page (see Page from Website with Unknown Author for an example).

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Image from website

This format can be actively used when citing famous paintings, sculptures, and artworks that are available online.

Gogh, Vincent. Starry Night. 1889. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. MoMA Learning, www.moma.org/learn/moma_learning/vincent-van-gogh-the-starry-night-1889. Accessed 24 Jan. 2017.

Be sure to use this format for images from the Internet too. The common problem is that there’s no author mentioned. That’s not the problem. Just skip it and cite everything in a usual way.

Burtinsky, Edward. “Silver Lake Operations #16. Lake Lefroy, Western Australia.” Picture Stories, National Geographic, 11 Jan. 2017, www.nationalgeographic.com/photography/proof/2017/01/edward-burtynsky-earth-human-landscapes/. Accessed 24 Jan. 2017.

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Online book

The basic book format is used here followed by the name of the electronic library (italicized) and the URL.

Gikandi, Simon. Ngugi wa Thiong’o. Cambridge University Press, 2000. ACLS Humanities E-book, hdl.handle.net/2027/heb.07588.0001.001.

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Portion of an online book

A chapter or a book that is a part of a larger work is taken in parenthesis. The name of an electronic library (italicized) followed by an URL ends the line.

Poe, Edgar Allan. “The Masque of the Red Death.” The Complete Works of Edgar Allan Poe, edited by James A. Harrison, vol. 4, Thomas Y. Crowell, 1902, pp. 250-58. HathiTrust Digital Library, babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=coo.31924079574368;view=1up;seq=266.

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Article in an online journal (journal article from database)

Dufresnes, Christopher, et al. “Broad-Scale Genetic Diversity of Cannabis forForensic Applications.” PLoS ONE, vol. 12, no. 1, 2017, www.libguides.columbiansouthern.edu/ehost...789/. Accessed 20 Jan. 2017.

If the article can also be found in print, it is necessary to mention the page numbers.

Dufresnes, Christopher, et al. “Broad-Scale Genetic Diversity of Cannabis forForensic Applications.” PLoS ONE, vol. 12, no. 1, 2017, pp.458-471, www.libguides.columbiansouthern.edu/ehost...789/. Accessed 20 Jan. 2017.

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Article in an online magazine/newspaper

Kwakkel, Erik. “The Beauty of the Injured Book.” Medieval Fragments, 02 May 2014, medievalfragments.com/2014/05/02/the-beauty-of-the-injured-book. Accessed 20 Jan. 2017.

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Entire blog

The date can be usually found at the bottom of the web page along with the copyright information.

Daniels, Clair. Easy Recipes. 2016, www.easyrecipes.com. Accessed 24 Jan. 2017.

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Comment or response on a blog post

James. Comment on “Ten Best Destinations in Germany.” Contemporary Travel Blog, 24 Jun. 2015, 11:34 p.m., www.contemporary-travel.com/2015/24/06/10-best-destinations-in-germany/.

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Email

When citing an e-mail, the subject line is used as the title. It should be put in quotation marks and supported by the standard capitalization. No italics are required.

Gilbert, John. “Documents for Print.” Received by Louis J. Hansen, 18 August 2016.

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Video or film

If there is a general discussion of a film, a title of it should be followed by the names of creators and performers. A name of the distributor is also required.

Die Hard. Directed by John McTiernan, performance by Bruce Willis, Twentieth Century Fox, 1988.

If a there is a need to focus on a specific participant, start the line with his or her name.

McTiernan, John, director. Die Hard. Twentieth Century Fox, 1988.

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Podcast/ YouTube

The name of the video is followed by the name of a hosting website (italicized). A name or a username of an uploader should be mentioned with the download date.

“Planet Earth II Continues: Official Trailer.” YouTube, uploaded by BBC Earth, 25 Nov. 2016, www.youtube.com/watch?v=h8yo_Sp-rGY.

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Lecture/ Public address

If the lecture or other live performance is cited, the city must be mentioned. However, it should be left out if it is already in the name of the event. The name of an organization should follow the name of the meeting. The speech title is taken into quotation marks.

Garcia, Anna. “Water Pollution in Arctic Region.” The Green Forum, WWF Conference, 25 Mar. 2015, Royal York Hotel, Toronto. Address.

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Government publication

If the author is unknown, mention the government and the department. The name of the publishing office must follow the title of the document.

Great Britain, Ministry of Transport. Increasing Security in London Airports: Strategies for Future. Her Majesty’s Stationery Office, 2003.

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Dissertation

Citing a dissertation is common to a book, but it has to include the “dissertation” word along with the name of the institution issuing a degree and a year it was awarded.

Willis, Julie. Defining the Best Programming Languages for Teaching in High Schools. Dissertation, University of Iowa, 2013. UOI, 2015.

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Page from website with unknown author

"Antibiotic Resistant STDs: FAQs." WebMD, 12 Jan. 2017, www.webmd.com/sexual-conditions/antibiotic-resistant-std-faq. Accessed 24 Jan. 2017.

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Single blog entry

Daniels, Clair. “Pumpkin Pie.” Easy Recipes, 25 Apr. 2016, www.easyrecipes.com/04/25/2016/pumpkin-pie. Accessed 24 Jan. 2017.

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