MLA Tricky Citations

Most sources you come across for will follow the basic structure for an MLA citation. Even sources you might think are unusual, like a pamphlet, a magazine advertisement, or a message posted to a discussion forum, all can be cited using the same format outlined in our resource on MLA citation basics. There are however, a few sources and situations that might require a slight change to the format. The following examples should help with some of the more common, but still tricky, citations you may be faced with.

Note: All MLA documents, Works Cited pages included, should be double-spaced. The following examples are single-spaced for the purposes of this resource only.

Group/corporate author

When a source has a group or corporation as an author, cite that group name the same as you would an individual author. For Works Cited entries, when the author and publisher are the same, skip the author, and list the title first. Then list the corporate author only as the publisher.


Food literacy can help mitigate childhood obesity because “being food literate empowers us to make informed choices” (Food Literacy Center).

Works cited:

“What is Food Literacy?” Food Literacy Center, 2015, Accessed 28 Nov. 2016.

Multiple sources by the same author

To distinguish a source from others by the same author, include a shortened title for the work you are quoting. In the Works Cited, only give the author’s name in the first entry. For all following entries, replace the author’s name with three hyphens. These entries should be alphabetized by title.


We will be better equipped to design valuable education plans at each level if we understand that becoming an effective writer is a long-term, multidimensional process of development (Bazerman, “Understanding”).

Works cited:

Bazerman, Charles. “Understanding the Lifelong Journey of Writing Development.” Infancia y Aprendizaje, vol. 36, no. 4, Nov. 2013, pp. 421-441.

---. “Writing with Concepts: Communal, Internalized, and Externalized.”  Mind, Culture, and Activity, vol. 19, no. 3, 2012, pp. 259-272,  ERIC, doi: 10.1080/10749039.2012.688231.

Speeches, lectures, or other oral presentations

To cite a speech, lecture, or other oral presentation, cite the speaker’s name and the title of the speech (if any) in quotation marks. Follow with the title of the particular conference or meeting, the name of the organization, and the venue and its city (if the name of the city is not listed in the venue’s name). Use the descriptor that appropriately expresses the type of presentation (e.g., Lecture, Reading, Conference Presentation, etc.).

Losh, Elizabeth. “Leave No Trace: Digital Erasure and the Composition Classroom.” Western States Rhetoric and Literacy Conference, 21 Oct. 2016, University of California, San Diego. Keynote Address.

Government document

Cite the author of the publication if the author is identified. Otherwise, start with the name of the national government, followed by the agency (including any subdivisions or agencies) that serves as the organizational author. For congressional documents, include the number of the Congress and the session when the hearing was held or resolution passed as well as the report number.

Works cited:

United States, Congress, Senate, Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. Hearing on the Geopolitics of Oil. Government Printing Office, 2007. 110th Congress, 1st session, Senate Report 111-8.


To cite an interview you conducted, list the person you interviewed (last name first), identify it as a “Personal Interview” (if conducted in-person), an “Email Interview,” or a “Telephone Interview,” and provide the date of the interview.

Works cited:

Sloane, Sarah. Personal Interview. 12 May 2015.

Dissertation or master's theses

To cite a published dissertation or master's thesis, cite the work as you would a book (with an italicized title), but include the designation Dissertation (or MA/MS thesis) followed by the degree-granting school and the year the degree was awarded. You may also include the University Microfilms International (UMI) order number.

Works cited:

Bishop, Karen Lynn. Documenting Institutional Identity: Strategic Writing in the IUPUI Comprehensive Campaign. Dissertation, Purdue University, 2002. UMI, 2004.

To cite an unpublished dissertation or master's thesis, put the title in quotation marks and end with the date the degree was awarded.

Works  cited:

Graban, Tarez Samra. "Towards a Feminine Ironic: Understanding Irony in the Oppositional Discourse of Women from the Early Modern and Modern Periods." Dissertation, Purdue University, 2006.

Work of art

To cite an original work of art (the primary source, not a reproduction in a book), provide the artist's name, the title of the artwork in italics, the date of composition, and the medium of the piece. Finally, name the institution that houses the artwork followed by the location of the institution (unless the location is included in the title of the institution, e.g., Los Angeles County Museum of Art).

Works cited:

Chagall, Marc.  Rain. 1911, oil and charcoal on canvas, Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice.

Indirect source

To cite a source quoted within another source, identify the original source in your sentence to introduce the quotation and use "qtd. in" to indicate the source you actually consulted. For the Works Cited page, cite the source you consulted not the original source (in this case, cite Koosed and Schumm).


According to Hardin and Hardin, “respect for authority, individualism, sacrifice 'for the team,' and hard work" are key values that come out of American sports and sports media (qtd. in Koosed and Schumm).

Multiple sources in one sentence

To cite multiple sources in the same in-text citation, separate the sources by a semi-colon.


Playing a “pro-social” video game can increase the perceptions of a player’s humanity and increase positive humanity traits (Greitmeyer; Happ, Melzer, and Steffgen).

Authors with the same last name

If two or more authors have the same last name, provide both authors' first initials (or their full names if different authors share initials) in your in-text citation. In the Works Cited page, alphabetize these sources by first name (e.g., Brown, Penelope would come before Brown, Thomas).


Mitigating devices can also show up as hedges (e.g.,  perhaps) or other means of impersonalizing (P. Brown).