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Citing Sources: Reference Sources- MLA

This guide indicates the appropriate form for layout, in-text citations, and bibliography for MLA, APA, and Chicago formatted papers.

Overview - Why use encyclopedias?

Encyclopedias and general/background sources are excellent for gathering information at the beginning of the research cycle. Background sources are any sources that provide a broad overview of a topic including but not limited to encyclopedias, dictionaries, and atlases. They can provide important dates and names. They can also provide alternate terms and related issues to help a researcher better understand the scope of a topic. Background sources can help a researcher develop a set of keywords and phrases and key ideas which will help with further searches.


This LibGuide is based on the MLA Citations LibGuide created by Montgomery College Libraries. The content and format are used with permission.

The MLA Formatting Style Guide by OWL at  Purdue was also used with permission.

General Information

NoodleTools will help you correctly format your citations for the Works Cited list. The following information is basic information you should remember when working with encyclopedias and dictionaries.

  • Encyclopedias: For entries from commonly-used encyclopedias, dictionaries, and other reference works, cite the piece as you would any other work in a collection but do not include the publisher information. If the book is organized alphabetically, do not list the volume or the page number of the article or item. Provide the full citation, including volume number, for more specialized reference books.
  • Abbreviating Months: When you include the month in the publication date or date of access, abbreviate to the first three letters (e.g., Dec.). May, June, & July do not need abbreviations.
  • For more than 3 authors:Provide only the first author, followed by et al. For example: Wingert, Peter, et al.
  • Capitalize the main words in the document title. If there is a colon in the title (a subtitle), capitalize the main words after the colon.

Creating a Works Cited Entry for Encyclopedia or Reference Work

In-Text Citations - Electronic Sources with No Page Numbers

If there are no page numbers on the electronic source, use only the author name or the first main word of the title.


Signal phrase, "quote" (Author).

Signal phrase, "quote" ("Entry Title").


According to a study, "Twins reared apart report similar feelings" (Palfrey).

Osmosis is defined as, "the process of gradual or unconscious assimilation of ideas' ("Osmosis") 

How to Create a Works Cited Entry for a Reference Source Using NoodleTools

MLA Checklist - Quick Guide for Printing

For more information on MLA from OWL at Purdue

OWL at Putdue so one of the best sources of information on citing. Please review the following material if more information is required.

Citation Tools