MLA referencing is common in the humanities. And if you are studying on a literature or language-based course, you may need to use MLA citations in your written work. To help you get this right, then, we have prepared a guide to using MLA citations in an essay. This will cover basic citations, citing multiple authors, and other tricky situations.\n\n1. Basic MLA Citations\nBasic MLA citations use an author surname and a page number in brackets. Typically, you would give this before end punctuation:\nBad news travels fast (Hawkins 201).\nHere, for example, the citation points to page 201 of a source by Hawkins. You would then give the full source details in the Works Cited list. The main variation on this format occurs when you name an author in the text:\nHawkins claims that bad news \u201ctravels fast\u201d (201).\nAs shown here, when the author\u2019s name appears in the text, there is no need to repeat it in the citation. Instead, just give the page number after the quote.\n\n2. Citing Sources with Multiple Authors\nWhen a source has two authors, name both in the in-text citation, using \u201cand\u201d as a connector (not the ampersand symbol):\nThe exact speed of bad news is a mystery (Ptaszynski and Schreiber 14).\nHere, for example, we\u2019re citing page 14 of a text by Ptaszynski and Schreiber.\nHowever, for sources with three or more authors, you should use the first name plus \u201cet al.\u201d in citations:\nHarkin et al. argue that good news is equally fast (101).\n\u201cEt al.\u201d here means \u201cand others,\u201d showing the reader you have left some names out. The same rule applies if a source has three or more editors or translators in the Works Cited list.\n\n3. Citing More than One Author with the Same Surname\nTo cite more than one author with the same surname, you will need to adapt your citations. In MLA referencing, this means giving a first initial:\nNews moves slower in water (A. Smith 32) than in air, but it moves much faster in a vacuum (Z. Smith 412-414).\nIn the Works Cited list, however, you should give the authors\u2019 full first names and surnames as usual.\n\n4. Citing Multiple Works by the Same Author\nRather than using a year of publication to distinguish between citations of sources by the same author, MLA referencing uses the source title in place of the author\u2019s name.\nFor example, imagine that an author called Hawkins had written both a book called A History of Bad News and an article called \u201cThe Pace of News: A Comparative Study of Communicative Speed.\u201d To cite both in the same document, we would need to include their titles in the citations:\nBad news travels fast (Hawkins, A History of Bad News 201). Its speed seems to be increasing, too (Hawkins, \u201cThe Pace of News\u201d 1136).\nWe can learn two things about using titles in MLA citations from the examples above. In particular, you should always:\n\n\n \tFormat titles according to the source type (e.g., italics for books and quote marks for shorter pieces such as articles).\n \tShorten long titles (e.g., changing \u201cThe Pace of News: A Comparative Study of Communicative Speed\u201d to just \u201cThe Pace of News\u201d).\n\nIn the Works Cited list, meanwhile, you should organize sources by the same author alphabetically by title. In addition, use three hyphens in place of the author\u2019s name for each entry after the first:\nHawkins, Justin. A History of Bad News. London, PME Publications, 2007.\n- - - . \u201cThe Pace of News: A Comparative Study of Communicative Speed.\u201d The Journal of Alternative Telecommunications, vol. 9, no. 3, 2015, pp. 1124\u20131139.\n\n5. Citing More than One Source at Once\nFinally, to cite more than one source in the same place, separate each citation with a semicolon. For example:\nBad news moves faster than light (Hawkins 198; Smith 22).\nHere, we\u2019re citing both Hawkins and Smith to support one same point. This can be useful for showing that many people share an idea or theory.