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English: Citation Help

Primary, Secondary, Tertiary (Reference) Sources for English and American Literature

Citations in English

The two most common citation styles used in the English department are Modern Language Association (MLA) and Chicago Style. Always check with your instructor or syllabus to determine which is preferred for your course.

Citations are important because they:

  • Demonstrate to your reader that you've done research on your topic
  • Show respect for the words and ideas of other authors by avoiding plagiarism and crediting those authors
  • Allow your reader to find the sources that you used because they are documented in your work

Although MLA and Chicago Style are different styles that follow different rules, both will require brief in-text citations as well as a page (or pages) at the end of your paper that give more detail on your sources. Knowing how to write according to your instructor's preferred style will influence your grade as well as your credibility as a scholar!

What about citation generators?

Citation generators can provide a useful start to citations, but they do not always produce accurate citations.

If you use a citation generator, even if it is from a database, it may not be correct. It's your responsibility to double-check the accuracy of the generated citation!

MLA Style

The newest MLA Handbook (8th edition) provides a universal guideline for citing sources that allows for more flexibility. Earlier editions had guidelines based on source type, but since new types of sources are created quickly, this new guideline allows citations to adapt more easily.

The general order and format of the citation follows this guideline:

MLA citation chart

Here's a sample Works Cited entry for an article found online:


Goldman, Anne. "Questions of Transport: Reading Primo Levi Reading Dante." The

Georgia Review, vol.64, no. 1, 2010, pp.69-88. JSTOR,


Further information (and more examples) can be found


Chicago Style

The most recent Chicago Manual of Style (17th edition) includes updated information for technological and social changes. The Manual can be found online or in print. The Chicago style follows either a "notes and bibliography" model or an "author-date" model. Chicago style's notes and bibliography model is generally used by scholars in literature, history, and the arts.

The general order and format of the citation of an article follows this guideline:

  • Author
  • Title of article
  • Title of publication in italics (i.e. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, New York Times)
  • Volume number and issue number, if given
  • Data of publication of article in parentheses 
  • Page numbers of article
  • For articles retrieved online, include URL or DOI if available OR 
  • For articles from a database, include database name

Here's a sample Bibliography entry for an article found online:


Goldman, Anne. "Questions of Transport: Reading Primo Levi Reading Dante." The

Georgia Review 64, no. 1 (Spring 2010): 69-88.


Further information (and more examples) can be found