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MLA Citation Guide (8th Edition): Encyclopedias & Dictionaries

This guide shows you how to cite using MLA 8th edition

Abbreviating Months

In your works cited list, abbreviate months as follows: 

January = Jan.
February = Feb.
March = Mar.
April = Apr.
May = May
June = June
July = July
August = Aug.
September = Sept.
October = Oct.
November = Nov.
December = Dec.

Spell out months fully in the body of your paper. 

Tips

Author

It can sometimes be difficult to find out who the author of a website is. Remember that an author can be a corporation or group, not only a specific person. Author information can sometimes be found under an "About" section on a website.

If there is no known author, start the citation with the title of the website instead.

Publisher

The publisher or sponsoring organization can often be found in a copyright notice at the bottom of the home page or on a page that gives information about the site. When the page is authored and published by the same corporation/group/organization, begin your citation with the section title (MLA Handbook,‚Äč p. 25). 

According to p. 42 of the MLA Handbook, publisher information may be omitted for:

  • periodicals (journals, magazines, newspapers)
  • works published by an author or editor
  • web sites whose title is the same as the name of the publisher
  • a web site not involved in producing the work it makes (e.g. user-generated content sites like YouTube)

Date

The best date to use for a website is the date that the content was last updated. Otherwise look for a copyright or original publication date. Unfortunately this information may not be provided or may be hard to find. Often date information is put on the bottom of the pages of a website.

If you do not know the complete date, put as much information as you can find. For example you may have a year but no month or day.

Access Date

Date of access is now optional in MLA 8th edition. If no publication date is included, we recommend including the date you last accessed the site.

Formatting

Note: For your Works Cited list, all citations should be double spaced and have a hanging indent.

A "hanging indent" means that each subsequent line after the first line of your citation should be indented by 0.5 inches.

Encyclopedia or Dictionary From Library Database - Known Author

Author's Last Name, First Name. "Title of Entry." Title of Encyclopedia or Dictionary, edited by Editor's First Name Last Name, Edition if given and not first edition, vol. Volume Number, Publisher Name, Date of Publication, pp. First Page-Last Page. Name of Database. 

Works Cited Example

Lander, Jesse M. "Shakespeare, William." World Book Student, 2016. World Book.

In-Text Citation Example

(Author's Last Name)

Example: (Lander)

 Note: Because the specific page number can't be determined, the page number is left out of the in-text citation. Include a page number after the author's last name if one is given.

Encyclopedia or Dictionary From Library Database - Unknown Author

 "Title of Entry." Title of Encyclopedia or Dictionary, edited by Editor's First Name Last Name, Edition if given and not first edition, vol. Volume Number, Publisher Name, Date of Publication, pp. First Page-Last Page. Name of Database. 

Works Cited List Example

"Racism." Britannica Academic, 2013. Encyclopædia Britannica. 

  Note:This example had no editor's name, edition, volume or page numbers, so these elements were left out of the citation.

In-Text Citation Example

("Shortened Title of Entry")

Example: ("Racism")

 Note: This entry has no page numbers, so this information is left out of the citation. 

 Note: If a dictionary or encyclopedia entry has no author, the in-text citation should include the first one, two or three words from title of the entry. The words from the title of the entry should be in quotation marks, with each word starting with a capital letter.

 Note: While MLA 8th edition recommends including URLs, we recommend that URLs be left out when citing a work found in a library database. Because library databases require a login most URLs will stop working after the session ends.

If you do not have information such as an editor's name, a volume or page numbers leave those sections out of your citation.

Encyclopedia or Dictionary From a Website - Known Author

Author's Last Name, First Name. "Title of Entry." Title of Encyclopedia or Dictionary, Publication or Update Date, URL. Accessed Day Month Year site was visited. 

Works Cited List Example

McLean, Steve. "The Tragically Hip." The Canadian Encyclopedia, 26 Mar. 2015,  www.thecanadianencyclopedia.com/en/article/the-tragically-hip-emc. Accessed 27 Jun. 2016.

 Note: In this example the date of last edit is listed as publication or update date. List the full date if given in Day, Month, Year format, abbreviating the month. Date of access is the day you visited the website.

In-Text Citation Example

(Author's Last Name)

Example: (McLean)

 Note: This entry has no page numbers so that detail is left out of the citation.

Encyclopedia or Dictionary From a Website - Unknown Author

"Title of Entry." Title of Encyclopedia or Dictionary, Publisher if known, Copyright Date or Date Updated, URL. Accessed Day Month Year site was visited. 

Works Cited List Example

"Filibuster." Oxford English Dictionary, Oxford University Press, 2019, oed.com/view/Entry/70179?redirectedFrom=fillibuster#eid. Accessed 27 July 2019.

In-Text Citation Example

("Shortened Title of Entry")

Example: ("Filibuster")

 Note: This entry has no page numbers so this is left out of the citation.

 Note: If a dictionary or encyclopedia entry has no author, the in-text citation should include the first one, two or three words from title of the entry. The title of the entry should be in quotation marks, with each word starting with a capital letter.

Wikipedia

"Title of Entry." Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia, Wikimedia Foundation, Day Month Year entry was last modified, Time entry was last modified, URL of entry. Accessed Day Month Year Wikipedia entry was last viewed.

 Note: The date and time the article was last modified appears at the bottom of each Wikipedia article.

Keep in mind that Wikipedia may not be considered an acceptable source for a college or university assignment. Be sure to evaluate the content carefully and check with your instructor if you can use it as a source in your assignment.

Works Cited List Example

"Body Image." Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 16 June 2016, 7:41 pm, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Body_image. Accessed 28 June 2016.

Citation Example

("Title of Entry")

("Body Image")

Encyclopedia or Dictionary Entry In Print - Known Author

Author's Last Name, First Name. "Title of Entry." Title of Encyclopedia or Dictionary, edited by Editor's First Name Last Name, Edition if given and not first edition, vol. Volume Number, Publisher Name, Year of Publication, pp. First Page-Last Page.

Works Cited List Example

Barber, Russell J. "Anthropological Ethics." Ethics, edited by John K. Roth, Rev. ed., vol. 1, Salem Press, 2005, pp. 67-69. 

In-Text Citation Example

(Last Name Page Number)

Example: (Barber 67)

Encyclopedia or Dictionary In Print - Unknown Author

 "Title of Entry." Title of Encyclopedia or Dictionary, edited by Editor's First Name Last Name, Edition if given and not first edition, vol. Volume Number, Publisher Name, Year of Publication, pp. First Page-Last Page.

Works Cited List Example

"Guyana." Oxford Encyclopedia of World History, compiled by Market House Books, Oxford UP, 1998, p. 283.

 Note: This encyclopedia has a compiler listed instead of an editor, and the compiler is a company instead of a individual (UP is an abbreviation for University Press). As no edition or volume were available, this information was omitted. If there is only one page use p. instead of pp. before the page number.

In-Text Citation Example

("Shortened Title of Entry" Page Number)

Example: ("Guyana" 283)

 Note: If a dictionary or encyclopedia entry has no author, the in-text citation should include the first one, two or three words of the title of the entry. The title of the entry should be in quotation marks, with each word starting with a capital letter.

 

Citing Two Authors

If there are two authors, cite the the authors as follows (list authors in the order they are given on the page, not alphabetically):

Last Name, First Name of First Author, and First Name Last Name of Second Author.

Example: Smith, James, and Sarah Johnston.

Citing Three or More Authors

If there are three or more authors, cite only the name of the first author listed with their Last Name, First Name followed by a comma et al.

Example: Smith, James, et al.