Cover Image for How to Cite a Journal in MLA Style
Citation

How to Cite a Journal in MLA Style

Citing a journal in MLA style involves several key components. You need to include the author’s name, article title, journal title, volume and issue numbers, publication year, and page range. Additionally, for online articles, include the DOI or URL. This guide will help you format these elements correctly to ensure your citations are clear and consistent.

Core Components of an MLA Journal Citation

A typical MLA journal citation includes the following elements:

  • Author’s name
  • Title of the article
  • Title of the journal
  • Volume and issue numbers
  • Publication date
  • Page numbers
  • DOI or URL for online sources

Each component plays a vital role in identifying the source and making it easy for readers to locate.

Distinguishing Between Print and Online Sources

Print and online citations share key elements, but differ in specifics. Print citations include page numbers, while online sources often require DOIs or URLs. Recognizing these distinctions ensures accurate and comprehensive referencing.

Formatting the Author’s Name

Single Author

When citing a single author, the format is straightforward. The author’s last name is followed by a comma and their first name. For example:

Smith, John.

Multiple Authors

For works with two authors, list them in the order they appear in the source, separated by “and.” For example: Smith, John, and Jane Doe. For works with three or more authors, list the first author’s name followed by “et al.” For example:

Smith, John, et al.

No Author

If no author is listed, start with the title of the article. This ensures that the citation is still clear and traceable. For example:

“Impact of Climate Change.” Journal of Environmental Studies, vol. 10, no. 2, 2023, pp. 45-60.

Crafting the Journal Title

Italics vs. Quotation Marks: Knowing the Difference

MLA format distinguishes between journal titles and article titles. Journals are italicized; articles appear in quotation marks. This convention clarifies the relationship between the broader publication and individual works.

“The Future of Renewable Energy.” Energy Journal, vol. 12, no. 1, 2023, pp. 123-140.

Handling Special Cases in Titles

Sometimes, titles include special formatting, such as italics within the title or titles within a title. In such cases, retain the original formatting to preserve the integrity of the source. For example:

“Reading Moby-Dick in the 21st Century.” Literature Today, vol. 15, no. 3, 2023, pp. 88-102.

Including the Article Title

Proper Capitalization and Punctuation

Article titles should be capitalized using sentence case, meaning only the first word and any proper nouns are capitalized. Additionally, place the title in quotation marks. For example:

“Exploring the depths of the ocean.”

Dealing with Subtitles and Long Titles

If the article has a subtitle, include it after the main title, separated by a colon. For example:

“Exploring the depths of the ocean: New discoveries and challenges.”

Volume and Issue Number

Locating Volume and Issue Information

The volume and issue numbers are typically found on the first page of the article or in the table of contents of the journal. These numbers are essential for locating the specific issue in which the article appears.

Formatting Volume and Issue Correctly

In your citation, the volume number is followed by the issue number, separated by a comma. For example:

Journal of Marine Biology, vol. 20, no. 4, 2023, pp. 45-67.

Publication Date

Determining the Correct Date to Use

The publication date is usually found on the journal’s cover or on the first page of the article. Use the year of publication, and if the journal is published monthly or quarterly, include the month or season as well.

Formatting Dates in MLA Style

In MLA style, dates are written in day-month-year format. For example:

15 Mar. 2023 or Spring 2023.

Page Numbers: Where and How

Citing Specific Pages: In-Depth and Accurate

When citing specific pages, include the page range of the article. For example: pp. 123-145. If citing a specific page within the article, include only that page number. For example: p. 130.

What to Do When Page Numbers Are Missing

If the article does not have page numbers, omit this element from your citation. Ensure that other elements are complete to compensate for the missing information.

Citing Online Journals

DOI and URL: Which One to Use?

For online journals, include the DOI (Digital Object Identifier) if available. If there is no DOI, use the stable URL. The DOI is preferred as it provides a permanent link to the article. For example:

doi:10.1000/j.jmb.2023.01.001 or www.journalofmarinebology.com/article/12345.

Access Date: Is It Necessary?

While MLA does not require the access date, it can be included if the content is likely to change over time. The access date is the date you accessed the article online.

Examples of Journal Citations

Sample Citations for Print Journals

Smith, John. “Exploring the Solar System.” Astronomy Journal, vol. 25, no. 3, 2023, pp. 45-67.

Sample Citations for Online Journals

Doe, Jane. “The Evolution of Digital Marketing.” Marketing Today, vol. 15, no. 2, 2023, doi:10.1000/j.mt.2023.02.002.

Useful Tools and Resources for Accurate Citations

Creating accurate citations can be daunting, but there is WriterBuddy (https://writerbuddy.ai/)  to help you. It provides a user-friendly interface for generating MLA citations, ensuring that all elements are correctly formatted.

FAQs

What is the correct format for citing a journal article with multiple authors in MLA style?

When citing a journal article with multiple authors, list the authors in the order they appear in the source. For two authors, use “and” to separate their names, like this: Smith, John, and Jane Doe. For three or more authors, use “et al.” after the first author’s name, e.g., Smith, John, et al.

How should I cite an online journal article without a DOI?

If an online journal article does not have a DOI, include the stable URL of the article instead. For example:
Doe, Jane. “The Evolution of Digital Marketing.” Marketing Today, vol. 15, no. 2, 2023, www.marketingtoday.com/article/12345.

Do I need to include the access date when citing an online journal article?

While MLA does not require the access date, it is recommended to include it if the content is likely to change over time. This provides a snapshot of when you accessed the information, ensuring future readers understand the context of your citation.

What should I do if there is no author listed for the journal article I am citing?

If no author is listed, start your citation with the title of the article. This maintains clarity and ensures your citation is still traceable. For example:
“Impact of Climate Change.” Journal of Environmental Studies, vol. 10, no. 2, 2023, pp. 45-60.

Conclusion

Citing journal articles in MLA style correctly is important for academic work. Include the author’s name, article title, journal name, volume and issue numbers, publication date, and page numbers or DOI. Check the latest MLA Handbook for current rules. WriterBuddy can make creating these citations easier.

Stop Stressing, Start Writing

Join over 540,000+ happy users writing smarter with WriterBuddy. Try WriterBuddy for Free!

Copyright © 2024 WriterBuddy. All rights reserved.