The basic format for citing articles is as follows:

Article Overview Purple-01

Notice that the periodical title is italicized. Be careful also to follow the rules for punctuation (commas and periods).


Scholarly article

Our example in the introduction is of a scholarly article, so there’s not much new here:

Chuckle, Hillary. “Ventriloquizing the Belly Laugh: An Ethnographic Perspective.” ROFL, vol. 5, no. 1, Dec. 2005, pp. 1-14.

Notice though that you can add the month and/or date of publication if you know it.

Scholarly article from a Database

If you accessed the article through a database, you can provide some extra information. Where possible, add the DOI number and the Database title.

Zinzendorf, Obadiah. “George Herbert’s Visual Poetry: Hidden Easter Eggs in ‘The Easter Bunny.’” The Shapely Poem, vol. 88, no. 5, 2000, pp. 90-105. Journal Pod, doi:10.1234/tsp.2000.4321.

A DOI is a digital object identifier, a code that identifies the article even if the URL changes.

If there is no DOI, try to provide a URL that will remain stable over time. Databases typically provide a persistent URL in the citation information that accompanies the article.

For instance, in EBSCOHost you can click on Permalink and in JSTOR you can press “Cite this item.”

Here is an example with a URL:

Sanchez, Alfie. “A Freudian Analysis of Don Quixote’s Tilting at Windmills.” Journal of Windmill Architecture, vol. 33, no. 1, 1973, pp. 1-18. Journal Pod,

If you cannot find a persistent URL, just copy the link from your browser. You may omit the http:// or https://.  Remember too that that you can add a line break after a slash (/) in the URL.

Finally, some instructors find all this extra information for databases redundant, so don’t be surprised if you are asked to leave out the database title or the URL and DOI.

Special issue

Occasionally an article appears in a special issue of a periodical. The current MLA guidelines would treat this as optional information. Here is just one way to cite a special issue:

Rudimentri, Dimitri. “Eastern Europeans and The Fear of Washing the Baby Away With the Bath Water.” Fear and Courage, special issue of Studies in the History of Emotions, vol. 9, no. 3, 1988, pp. 55-69.

You can also cite the special issue as a whole:

McCormack, Shirley, guest editor. Fear and Courage. Special issue of Studies in the History of Emotions, vol. 9, no. 3, 1988, pp. 1-179.

This is especially useful if you’re citing multiple articles from the same issue.

Article in a Book

Cite the article first and add the book title as the container:

Noseworthy, Edward. “Indie Music and American Identity.” Contemporary Indie Music, edited by Alex Sharp, McCord Press, 2017, pp. 87-103.

Magazine article

Cite just like a regular article, but pay attention to the date. Provide the day, month, and year where possible:

Maestro, Julia. “Beyond Beyonce’s Booty-full Body: How I Got My Teenager Listening to Classical Music.” Sharp and Natural, Dec. 2014, pp. 1-3.

Newspaper article

If the newspaper is not well known, add the city in square brackets:

Dougherty, Jack. “Heffalumps Win State Championship.” Chuggington Post [Feuilleton, CA], 9 Apr. 2016, F1.

Notice that the page numbers are often numbered differently.


A review can of course appear in a periodical, magazine, or newspaper, so be sure to cite accordingly:

Moss, Stephanie. “Papa Still Has a Life.” Review of The Brotherhood of the Stay-at-Home Dads, by Harold Humber. Filch’s Review of Books, 8 Aug. 2017,

Oglethorpe, Arnold. Review of The Merchant of Mars, directed by Honoria Glossop. Contemporary Shakespeares, vol. 1, no. 2, 2014, pp. 9-10.

Here’s what to watch out for:

  • Always start with the author of the review.
  • If the review has a title you don’t have to include the phrase “Review of [the title],” though we would recommend you still do.
  • Use italics for titles of longer works (films, plays, books), and quotation marks for shorter works (poems, articles).
  • Note that the creator of the item under review doesn’t have to be an author, but may be an editor, translator, director, and so forth. Just add the relevant phrase after the title (e.g., edited by).

Editorial or Letter to the Editor

The MLA Handbook suggests that if a work lacks a title, you may insert a short descriptive phrase. This certainly applies to editorials and letters to the editor, which may occasionally be missing a title:

Johnson, Breanna. Letter. Chuggington Post [Feuilleton, CA], 11 Apr. 2017, E9.

Gimmick, Flip. Editorial. Chuggington Post [Feuilleton, CA], 11 Apr. 2017, E9.

On the other hand, if the letter or editorial has a title, use that instead:

Johnson, Breanna. “No More Dog Poop on My Lawn!” Chuggington Post [Feuilleton, CA], 11 Apr. 2017, E9.

Finally, for unusual sources you’re allowed to add a descriptive phrase at the end of your citation:

Gimmick, Flip. “The Current Housing Crisis.” Chuggington Post [Feuilleton, CA], 11 Apr. 2017, E9. Editorial.

This is of course not necessary if you’ve already replaced the title with such a description.

Note on Page Numbers

If the article continues elsewhere in a periodical then you only have to cite the page it starts on and add a plus sign (+):

Lovejoy, Percy. “Save the Planet or Have Another Child? The Ethics of Procreation.” The Avuncular Philosopher, vol. 99, no. 4, 2016, pp. 9+.

Also, try to cite the page range as concisely as possible. For example, you can change 44-48 to 44-8.