MLA8 generally uses the (author, page) format for in-text citations; especially for books, magazines or PDFs with set page numbers. This means that you include the author’s surname followed by the page number in parentheses at the end of your quote, paraphrase or summary. For example, when citing books or pdfs which have set page numbers:

“Shakespeare could not have chosen a more propitious time to come of age.”(Bryson and Gosney, 101)

According to Bryson and Gosney, Shakespeare came into his strength at the best possible time. (101)

If you are citing digital resources such as a websites and eBooks which does not include a fixed layout or page numbers, you do not need to include any parentheses if you reference the first item that appears in the Reference List as part of your signal phrase. If you do not reference the first item as part of your signal phrase, you will then include that first item in parentheses at the end of your quote, paraphrase or summary. The first item could be the author, article title, website name or film name. No page numbers are needed. For example:

According to “William Shakespeare Biography”, “Shakespeare’s works include 38 plays, 2 narrative poems, 154 sonnets, and a variety of other poems.”

No original manuscripts of Shakespeare’s plays are known to exist today.” (“William Shakespeare Biography”)


MLA8 generally includes the following information for a physical book, article, story or poem:

  1. Author (Surname, First name)
    1. Include other contributers here in the same format, however if there are more than  2 authors, use
  2. “Title of source”
  3. Title of container – if part of a larger work, journal, magazine etc.
  4. Version – if reprinted
  5. Number – for journals and encyclopedias
  6. Publisher
  7. Publication Date
  8. Location – page numbers / range

For example:

Bryson, Bill, and Joy Gosney. Shakespeare : The Illustrated Edition. Hammersmith, London, Harper Press, 2012.

For digital resources, referencing is more difficult as there are so many variables. References for a basic website generally include:

  1. Author (Surname, Name) if  an author is listed
  2. “Title of the Article or page”
  3. Title of the website or container
  4. Number – for journals and encyclopedias
  5. Publiser
  6. Date of publication – or latest update
  7. URL
  8. Date accessed

This example has no author listed:

“William Shakespeare Biography.” Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, 2000, Accessed 21 Apr. 2021.

Citing images, tables, graphs etc. (just the basics to start)

When using pictures, graphs, tables etc to illustrate your argument, you still need to cite and reference each item. You need to use captions to cite each image that you include and refer to in your work, and then include a full reference in your Works Cited list. If you are the creator or author of the item, you do not need to include your name – it is assumed that you created the item unless otherwise indicated. You captions begin with the Figure Number, then provide enough detail to refer th reader to a Works Cited list entry (e.g. the title or description). Your in-text citation would then include; (Author’s Surname, Figure number).

If you do not directly refer to the item, you need to include the full bibliographic reference in the caption. You then do not include the reference in the Work’s Cited list.

MLA8 citations and reference for images, graphs, tables etc. generally include:

  1. The creator of the image (Surname, First name)
  2. “The title of the image, or a brief discription if there is no title”
  3. The location of the image
    1. The physical location of the image if you viewed it in person, or took the photo
    2. The name of the Website and the URL if you found the image online
    3. The publication information for print works such as books or magazines, including the page number
  4. The date of creation


When referred to in your work:

Fig. 1. “Asian Dragon”

In-text citation:

This year, Chinese New Year coincided with Dragon Appreciation Day, making the decorations around Bangkok even more meaningful (“Asian Dragon”, Fig. 1).

Works Cited List entry:

“Asian Dragon.” Emquartier Mall, Bangkok, 16 Jan. 2021.

When not referred to in your work:

Fig 2. Eng, M. “Dragon Asia,” Pixabay, 8 Dec. 2015, Accessed 22 Apr. 2021.

For more in depth information about MLA8 citations and references, check out these resources:

Purdue Owl - Writing Lab

MLA Style Center