Skip to Main Content

MLA Citation Style Guide: Citing Articles

This guide contains examples of common citation formats in MLA (Modern Language Association) Style

Citing Articles (p.137-140)

Basic Journal Article - General Format 

  Note: For multiple authors follow the author format shown for books.
      Parenthetical Citation: 
      (Author Surname page number)
      Works Cited:
Author Surname, First Name. “Article Title: Subtitle.” Journal Title volume.issue (Year): page range. Medium.
      Parenthetical Citation:
      (Rubin 260)
      Works Cited:
Rubin, Lawrence C. “Psychotropia: Medicine, Media, and the Virtual Asylum.” Journal  of Popular Culture 39.2 (2006): 260-72.  Print.


Click below for specific instructions for each format:

Scholarly Journal or Magazine? How to Tell the Difference

Scholarly journals are also called academic, peer-reviewed, or refereed journals. Strictly speaking, peer-reviewed (also called refereed) journals refer only to those scholarly journals that submit articles to several other scholars, experts, or academics (peers) in the field for review and comment. These reviewers must agree that the article represents properly conducted original research or writing before it can be published.

What to look for in a scholarly journal:

  • Scholarly journal articles often have an abstract, a descriptive summary of the article contents, before the main text of the article.
  • Scholarly journals generally have a sober, serious look. They often contain many graphs and charts but few glossy pages or exciting pictures.
  • Scholarly journals always cite their sources in the form of footnotes or bibliographies. These bibliographies are generally lengthy and cite other scholarly writings.
  • Articles are written by a scholar in the field or by someone who has done research in the field. The affiliations of the authors are listed, usually at the bottom of the first page or at the end of the article--universities, research institutions, think tanks, and the like.
  • The language of scholarly journals is that of the discipline covered. It assumes some technical background on the part of the reader.
  • The main purpose of a scholarly journal is to report on original research or experimentation in order to make such information available to the rest of the scholarly world.
  • Many scholarly journals, though by no means all, are published by a specific professional organization

Popular or Trade Magazines:

  • Popular periodicals come in many formats, although often slick and attractive in appearance with lots of color graphics (photographs, drawings, etc.).
  • These publications do not cite sources in a bibliography. Information published in popular periodicals is often second or third hand and the original source is rarely mentioned.
  • Articles are usually very short and written in simple language.
  • The main purpose of popular periodicals is to entertain the reader, to sell products (their own or their advertisers), or to promote a viewpoint.
  • Trade magazines or journals have an intended audience of professionals working within the field covered by the publication. 
  • Although trade magazines frequently offer relevant information and ideas, the articles are less scholarly than a peer-reviewed journal.
  • Trade magazines tend to be written more like popular periodicals but with a specific subject.