First, be sure that you are using the most current MLA style guide—MLA Handbook (8th ed.).which was released in 2016.
Note: MLA Handbook (9th ed.) is expected to be published in 2021.
Your best online source is the Purdue OWL MLA Guide which is regularly updated.
MLA uses the author-page method of in-text citation. This means that the last name of the author(s) and the page number where you found the quote/information are listed in parenthesis following the quote/paraphrase. MLA does not use a comma to separate the author and page number or a "p." to indicate page.
Like this: Romantic poetry is characterized by the "spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings" (Wordsworth 263).
If you are citing multiple sources in one sentence, list all of the author-page citations together, at the end of the sentence. Put semicolons between each citation: (Lambert 202; Smith 5; Zello 82)
In-text Citations with Multiple Authors:
If a work has two authors, list both in the order they are listed on the source. Use the word "and" between authors:(Higgledy and Biggledy 42)
If a work has three or more authors, list the first author's name and then "et al": (Primo et al. 127)
The Purdue OWL MLA Guide provides detailed instructions, by source type, for formatting your citations. Be sure to consult either this online guide or a copy of the MLA Handbook to ensure you are using the correct format for your specific source type
MLA using the "container" method and applies the same basic rules to all source types. A container is the "thing" in which the source is published - a book, a magazine, a journal. In some cases, you might have more than one container. For example, if you find a journal article on a database, the 1st container is the journal itself and the 2nd container is the database. Once you are able to identify the major elements of a container (author, title, publisher, page, etc.) you can apply the rules to any type of source you find.
Even after you learn these rules, it is still recommended that you double-check the Purdue OWL MLA Guide for your specific source to make sure you have the details correct.
Basic "Container" format: Author. Title. Title of 1st Container, Other contributors (translators or editors), Version (edition), Number (vol. and/or no.), Publisher, Publication Date, Location (pages, paragraphs, URL or DOI) Title of 2nd Container’s, Other contributors, Version, Number, Publisher, Publication date, Location, Date of Access (if applicable).
The basic formats include:
Book: Last Name, First Name. Title of Book. City of Publication, Publisher, Publication Date.
Print Article: Last Name, First Name. "Title of Article." Title of Periodical, Day Month Year, pages.
Electronic Article: Last Name, First Name. "Title of Article." Title of Periodical, Day Month Year, pages. Database Title, DOI. Access date
Webpage: Last Name, First Name."Title of page." Site name, URL. Access date.