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Documenting Sources from the World Wide Web


These guidelines on MLA documentation style are the only ones available on the Internet that are authorized by the Modern Language Association of America.

The recommendations in the fourth edition of the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers on documenting online databases (sec. 4.9) have been revised to reflect evolving computer technology. The new recommendations on online sources are explained in detail in the second edition of the MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing (1998). The fifth edition of the MLA Handbook, scheduled for publication in spring 1999, will incorporate these revisions. The new guidelines that cover the World Wide Web are summarized below.

Sources on the World Wide Web that students and scholars use in their research include scholarly projects, reference databases, the texts of books, articles in periodicals, and professional and personal sites. Entries in a works-cited list for such sources contain as many items from the list below as are relevant and available. Following this list are sample entries for some common kinds of Web sources.

1.      Name of the author, editor, compiler, or translator of the source (if available and relevant), reversed for alphabetizing and followed by an abbreviation, such as ed., if appropriate

2.      Title of a poem, short story, article, or similar short work within a scholarly project, database, or periodical (in quotation marks); or title of a posting to a discussion list or forum (taken from the subject line and put in quotation marks), followed by the description Online posting

3.      Title of a book (underlined)

4.      Name of the editor, compiler, or translator of the text (if relevant and if not cited earlier), preceded by the appropriate abbreviation, such as Ed.

5.      Publication information for any print version of the source

6.      Title of the scholarly project, database, periodical, or professional or personal site (underlined); or, for a professional or personal site with no title, a description such as Home page

7.      Name of the editor of the scholarly project or database (if available)

8.      Version number of the source (if not part of the title) or, for a journal, the volume number, issue number, or other identifying number

9.      Date of electronic publication, of the latest update, or of posting

10.  For a work from a subscription service, the name of the service and--if a library is the subscriber--the name and city (and state abbreviation, if necessary) of the library

11.  For a posting to a discussion list or forum, the name of the list or forum

12.  The number range or total number of pages, paragraphs, or other sections, if they are numbered

13.  Name of any institution or organization sponsoring or associated with the Web site

14.  Date when the researcher accessed the source

15.  Electronic address, or URL, of the source (in angle brackets); or, for a subscription service, the URL of the service's main page (if known) or the keyword assigned by the service





Scholarly Project

Victorian Women Writers Project. Ed. Perry Willett.  Apr. 1997. Indiana U. 26 Apr. 1997


Professional Site

Portuguese Language Page. U of Chicago. 1 May 1997


Personal Site

Lancashire, Ian. Home page. 1 May 1997 <>.


Nesbit, E[dith]. Ballads and Lyrics of Socialism. London, 1908. Victorian Women Writers

                Project. Ed. Perry Willett. Apr. 1997. Indiana U. 26 Apr. 1997



Nesbit, E[dith]. "Marching Song." Ballads and Lyrics of Socialism. London, 1908. Victorian

                Women Writers Project. Ed. Perry Willett. Apr. 1997. Indiana U. 26 Apr. 1997


Article in a Reference Database

"Fresco." Britannica Online. Vers. 97.1.1. Mar. 1997.  Encyclopaedia Britannica. 29 Mar. 1997


Article in a Journal

Flannagan, Roy. "Reflections on Milton and Ariosto."  Early Modern Literary Studies 2.3

                (1996): 16 pars. 22 Feb. 1997 <


Article in a Magazine

Landsburg, Steven E. "Who Shall Inherit the Earth?" Slate 1 May 1997. 2 May 1997


Work from a Subscription Service

Koretz, Gene. "Economic Trends: Uh-Oh, Warm Water."  Business Week 21 July 1997: 22.

                Electric Lib. Sam Barlow High School Lib., Gresham, OR. 17 Oct. 1997


"Table Tennis." Compton's Encyclopedia Online. Vers. 2.0. 1997. America Online. 4 July 1998.

                Keyword: Compton's.

Posting to a Discussion List

Merrian, Joanne. "Spinoff: Monsterpiece Theatre." Online posting. 30 Apr. 1994. Shaksper: The

                Global Electronic Shakespeare Conference. 27 Aug. 1997  



In parenthetical references in the text, works on the World Wide Web are cited just like printed works. For any type of source, you must include information in your text that directs readers to the correct entry in the works-cited list (see the MLA Handbook, sec. 5.2). Web documents generally do not have fixed page numbers or any kind of section numbering. If your source lacks numbering, you have to omit numbers from your parenthetical references. If your source includes fixed page numbers or section numbering (such as numbering of paragraphs), cite the relevant numbers. Give the appropriate abbreviation before the numbers: "(Moulthrop, pars. 19-20)." (Pars. is the abbreviation for paragraphs. Common abbreviations are listed in the MLA Handbook, sec. 6.4.) For a document on the Web, the page numbers of a printout should normally not be cited, because the pagination may vary in different printouts.