Free MLA referencing generator

Generate MLA reference for a Book

Use the author's surname followed by their full first name.

Plus a handy guide on how to do MLA style referencing…

Always remember to check your references and citations before submitting them with your work. Always get your tutor or a university staff member to check your references before you submit your work.

MLA Referencing Guide

When is MLA referencing used?

The Modern Languages Association of America (MLA) referencing style is used in English (alongside the Chicago referencing style) and in Philosophy (alongside the Harvard referencing style). MLA is used to acknowledge materials mainly in the humanities and related subjects. 

Like with most other referencing styles, you will need to reference the materials and resources you have used for your own writing in two places:

  1. The full details of those materials need to be noted at the end of your text in the Reference List, listed alphabetically by the author’s surname. You can include any additional reading you’ve done around the subject in a Bibliography (which comes just after your Reference List if needed).

  2. The author’s name and the relevant page number (or line number if you’re referencing poetry) are noted within the text whenever they are referred to (in-text citations).

Exactly what to include in each of these locations depends on the type of source the information comes from. Our referencing tool will ask you for what’s needed for each material type, but if you don’t have everything you need, this guide takes you through what you need to do. As well as this, we explain how in-text citations are formatted in the MLA referencing style.

What does an MLA reference looks like?

  1. Reference List example:

    Farthing, Stephen. ART The Whole Story. Thames & Hudson Ltd, 2010.

  2. In-text citation example:

    The Tabletop theory (Farthing 320-365) is challenged by the studio-based movement (Dadswell et al. 416). Farthing argues that “the movement was clearly drawing a line under…” (339).

There are a few things to explain here, which we detail in the
In-text citations | Your questions answered section later on.

How to use our free MLA referencing generator

Don’t forget that doing your referencing incorrectly could impact your marks. Always take some time before you submit your assignment to manually check your reference list once you’ve assembled it.

To use our free referencing tool, simply select which kind of resource you need to reference and fill in all the information that’s needed for that specific source material type. Then click ‘Generate reference’ and your MLA style reference will be ready for you to paste into your Reference List. It’s as easy as that. 

If you don’t have all the information you need, that’s when things get a little more complicated. See the next section if you’re missing some of the essential info.  

What to do if you don't have all the information

You don’t know the author’s name

If you’re looking at a source that doesn’t state who it’s been written by, you should firstly question its credibility. There may however be times it does need to be included, so if that’s the case, you’ll just need to make do with the information you can find. Use any listed contributors instead – if it’s an online resource, you should be able to find a name on the ‘About’ section of their website. 

For a printed resource, you could use the publication company as the author as the last resort. You’ll find this just inside the cover of the publication. Never use ‘Anonymous’ as the author – the publisher or an organisation is always better eg (National Museum of Transport 223).

You don’t know the publication date

Again, you should question a resource if it can’t be dated. Sometimes however, you will need to reference classical or historical references that won’t have a precise date. There may be occasions when a resource you’re looking at doesn’t have a date but you’ve happened to find reference to it elsewhere. If this is the case, you should put that date in brackets, adding a question mark to note that the date is uncertain – for example, [1952?]. If a date is approximate, you mark it with a ‘c.’ (for circa) – for example, [c.1921]. And, if there are simply no dates to be found, you can use (n.d.) which stands for ‘no date’. 

If it’s an online resource you’re using, you could use the date a page was last updated. 

You don’t know the page numbers

If you don’t have a page number, you should just include the name of the author or organisation, or you can choose to add ‘n.pag’ (no pagination) – for example, (Strong n.pag).

MLA in-text citations - Your questions answered

How should you format in-text citations?

Here’s an example of an in-text citation in the MLA style that we’ll use to explain a few things:

The Tabletop theory (Farthing 320-365) is challenged by the studio-based movement (Dadswell et al. 416). Farthing argues that “the movement was clearly drawing a line under…” (339).

  1. Firstly, when talking broadly about a theory, idea or text, you simply include the author and the page/s of a publication (or other) it can be read about in parentheses after mentioning it.

  2. When multiple authors or contributors are referenced, the first author is used and ‘et al.’ is noted before the page number/s. If it’s just two authors, you instead include both in the order they appear in the publication with an ‘and’ in between. For example, (Dadswell and Strong 402).

  3. If you’ve used an author’s surname already within a sentence, you don’t need to repeat it. You can just include the page number/s in the parenthesis.  

When should you use quotation marks and how should they appear?

If it’s useful to include word-for-word text from a source, make sure it sits between quotation marks “like these” to distinguish it from your own ideas. If your quote is three lines or less, you should integrate the quote within your text.
For example:

As Dadswell states, “the studio-based moment didn’t…” (137). 

But, if you are including a longer quote that is made up of 4 lines or more, you should drop the quotation marks and it should be separated out from the text a little. To do this, you simply move the quote to a new line and indent it.

For example, 

Farthing states that:

Pottery making has been an integral component of indigenous communities in the Southwest for thousands of years. Until the early 20th century, when tourist demand for pots outstripped supply, pottery making was the domain of Puebloan women. Like their ancestors, Pueblo women gathered clay from sacred places. (281)

When it comes to citing poetry within your essay, you should indent the entire poem or section of poem you are including and you should aim to keep the spacing as it appears in the original poem, as this can be integral to how the poem is read. Include the page or line numbers after the quoted poem as usual, and include the title of the poem in your Reference List. 

What if you need to reference more than one source by the same author?

When an author has multiple publications that you need to reference, you simply add a key word from the title of that publication to distinguish it from the other, followed by the usual page or line number. For example, (Farthing, Art 29) and (Farthing, Ceramics 443).

What if two or more authors have the same name?

If this is the case, you should include their initials as well as their surname. For example, (K. Strong 229 and M. Strong 240). If they happen to also share the same initial, then include their whole forename. For example, (Kevin Strong 229 and Katherine Strong 79).

Are in-text citations included in your word count?

Yes, they usually are. It might be worth checking with your university or college if you aren’t sure.