How to Cite a Website in MLA Format

how to cite a website in MLA format

If you are like most students, you do much of your research online. In fact, you may have research papers or essays that only have on-line sources. If you have been following the last few MLA Style Manuals, then you know that MLA has struggled to keep up with the rapidly evolving availability of internet-based sources. MLA has wavered on whether to include the URL in citations, whether to indicate that a source is electronic in your citation, and other key issues. The result has been that even students who felt confident in MLA citation style may have been puzzled by some of the changes.

In our MLA website citation guide, we hope to clear up any lingering confusion you may have about citing internet sources in MLA format. Our goal is to make all aspects of the research paper process easier for you to understand.

What if Information is Missing?

One of the most common questions we get from students is how they can cite something in MLA format if a necessary piece of information is unavailable. This is a particularly valid question, given that so many websites lack an author, publication date, or clear publisher. The reality is that you can only work with the information that you can find. While you may be expected to do a small amount of research to find out additional information, you cannot fabricate information, even with an educated guess. Therefore, there will be times that you are missing information that seems necessary in the citation. The only solution that you have is to omit that missing information, and, when possible, indicate that it was unavailable. If you have any specific questions about how to deal with missing information, please visit our Student Questions forum.

Page Numbers/ Paragraph Numbers

MLA citation format usually requires indicating page numbers, when available. For many online sources, there are no page numbers available. In those instances, you may need to include references to paragraphs. While this information applies more to in-text citations than to citations format for Works Cited pages, it is useful information to know when compiling your source notes for your research paper. You will denote paragraph number with the abbreviation par. or pars.

Do I include a URL?

MLA 8 requires the inclusion of a URL in citations for web-based sources. However, there is a change for URLs that users need to be aware of for MLA 8. Prior MLA Style Manuals required the inclusion of http: or https: in the URL space. MLA 8 changes that designation and wants the website without the hypertext transfer protocol language. Because MLA 8 was only published in 2016, you may be asked to use MLA 8 style or MLA 7 style. Therefore, you need to be aware of this difference. We are omitting the introductory http or https to reflect MLA 8 changes. Whether you are using MLA 7 or MLA 8, you are expected to provide as much identifying information as possible for your source, so that you should include the URL or, when it is available the doi.

How to find the URL

If you find yourself puzzled by our use of the term “URL” you are not alone. Many modern internet users are very competent at web-based research, but might not know the terms and identifiers for different parts of a website. Therefore, we are including a brief note about how to find the URL. The URL is usually the text found in your browser bar once you have accessed a website.

For our example, we are using the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s website. The URL for that website is While the https language is not technically part of the URL, it is required for citation in MLA 7. Not all browsers will display the http or https language, but you will want to have the correct information if your designated MLA format requires inclusion. As a default, Internet Explorer does not display this part of the address. However, you can locate it by highlighting the source while in browser ball; this makes the full address appear. However, that is inconvenient. Instead, we suggest that you might want to use a browser like Google Chrome, which displays the full address. We have included examples below:

Accessed Dates

In MLA format, it is preferred that you indicate the date that a website was accessed. While you can omit this information without being technically incorrect, including it is the preferred way of completing a full citation for an MLA formatted Works Cited page. Therefore, we suggest including it in all of your MLA website citations.

Basic MLA website citation format

If you are used to working with APA format, the first thing you will notice is that MLA format wants more information than APA format for website citations. However, you will also notice that there is great consistency from one type of internet source to another in MLA style.
The basic format for an MLA website citation is:

Author Last, Author First. Title. Title of Website, Other contributors, Version or Edition,

Volume, Number, Publisher, Publication Date, Pages or Paragraphs, URL or doi,

Accessed Day Month Year.

Entire Website:

Sometimes, you may find it necessary to reference an entire website. How you do that depends on whether or not there is an author listed for the website. If there is an author listed for the entire website, begin the reference with the author name. If not, then follow with as much information as you can include from the list above.

For example, if you are citing the World Shakespeare Bibliography, the screenshot for the homepage looks like this:

From the top of the page, you get the following information:

Website Name: World Shakespeare Bibliography


Scanning through the entire page, it is clear that there is no author for the page. However, there is copyright and publisher information at the bottom of the page.

This tells us:
Copyright: 2017

Publisher: Folger Shakespeare Library

So, working with the information we have, the citation would be:

World Shakespeare Bibliography. Folger Shakespeare Library, 2017, Accessed 19 May 2017.

The accessed date is really small on our example, but is in the bottom right corner of the screenshot. You will use the date you accessed a resource.

Article or Page from a Website:

While there are some citations that will be very complex, most articles from websites are actually very easy to site. That basic format some types of information that requires a specialized format, the basic MLA website citation format is very simple:

Last, First. “Article Name.” Container Name. URL. Accessed Day Month Year.


Author Name: Soraya Chemaly

Article Title: 50 Actual Facts About Rape

Date of Publication: December 8, 2014 (using updated date because that is when this actual article was published; the prior version was published on the original publication date)

Therefore, the citation would be:

Chemaly, Soraya. “50 Actual Facts About Rape.” Huffington Post, 8 December 2014, Accessed 19 May 2017.

Online Encyclopedias

Generally, encyclopedias lack author information. However, this is not universal; before assuming there is no author name, check the article to be certain. Usually, if there is an author, the author’s name will either be indicated at the top of the page, near the article name, or at the bottom of the page before any notes or resources. Authors might be listed as authors or they may be included as contributors.

The general MLA format for an online encyclopedia is:

Title. Title of Website, Publication Date, URL or doi,

Accessed Day Month Year.

Although many colleges and universities discourage the use of Wikipedia as a source in research papers or essays, because of its popularity with students, we are including it as an example.

Article Name: William Shakespeare

Encyclopedia Name: Wikipedia


In Wikipedia, the last date the article was edited, which would be the publication date of the article you are viewing, is included at the bottom of the page:

Date: May 9, 2017

Putting together the information, the citation would be:

William Shakespeare. Wikipedia, 9 May 2017,, Accessed 19 May 2017.

Article from an Online Periodical (Magazine or Non-Scholarly Journal)

The general format for an online periodical like a magazine is very similar to that for a scholarly journal:

Last, First. “Article Name.” Periodical Name, vol., no., year of publication, URL.

Accessed Day Month Year.

However, you first need to see if the article is actually available in the periodical or is simply a web article. Most magazines have an online presence that includes articles that are not actually included in the print version of the periodical. Therefore, when you choose to use an article, you want to know whether it is from the periodical or a web-only source. For a web-only source, you can use the web-article citation format highlighted above, rather than the citation format for an online periodical. For the purposes of this example, we use Time Magazine.

If you visit, you will see that it contains both magazine articles and web-only articles. To highlight this, we have included a screenshot of the homepage below. By visiting that homepage, you can see the different types of articles. Of course, not all online periodicals make it this easy to differentiate between web-only and magazine articles.


In this example, we want to show how to properly cite a reference that you found online, but that is also included in the print version of the magazine. Therefore, let us look for the identifying information on the article’s webpage:

That information includes:


Authors: Michael Scherer, Alex Altman

Date: May 18, 2017.

Looking over that information, we see that we have enough information to create a citation for a web article, but not for an online periodical article. We need to find the volume, number, and page number information if it is available:

This provides additional information, including:

Date of publication: May 29, 2017

Volume: 189

Issue: 20

We can then put that information together to form the citation:

Scherer, Michael and Alex Altman, A. “Trump’s Loyalty Test.” Time Magazine, 189 (20), 29 May 2017. Accessed 19 May 2017.

Article from an Online- Scholarly Journal

There is a difference in how you site online-only scholarly journals and scholarly journals that are also published in print. Those also published in print need to include page numbers, while those that are online-only do not need to include page numbers. Remember, if the doi is available, use it instead of the URL.

The general format for an online-only scholarly journal is:

Last, First. “Article Name.” Journal Name, vol., no., year of publication, URL or doi.

Accessed Day Month Year.

Our example is from the Journal of Investigate Medicine: High Impact Case Reports available from the PMC database. While this journal is also available in print, this particular article was published online prior to publication in the print journal, making it functionally an online-only resource.

Unlike the problems we encountered locating all of the necessary information with the regular periodical, the scholarly journal has the information we need readily available:

Author names: Veysi Hakan Yardimci and Aytul Hande Yardimci

Date of Publication: April 27, 2017

Volume number: 5

Issue number: 2


DOI:  10.1177/2324709617706709

Article Name: An Unusual First Manifestation of Hodgkin Lymphoma: Epitrochlear Lymph Node Involvement- A Case Report and Brief Review of Literature

Periodical Name: Journal of Investigative Medicine: High Impact Case Reports

Using that information, we can put together the following citation:

Yardimci, Veysi and Aytul Yardimci. “An Unusual First Manifestation of Hodgkin Lymphoma:

Epitrochlear Lymph Node Involvement- A Case Report and Brief Review of Literature.

Journal of Investigative Medicine: High Impact Case Reports, 5, 2,

2017.  10.1177/2324709617706709. Accessed 19 May 2017.

For a journal that includes page numbers, you simply modify the basic structure by adding the page numbers in the citation after the year of publication

Last, First. “Article Name.” Journal Name, vol., no., year of publication, pp. xxx-xxx, URL or

doi. Accessed Day Month Year.

Most modern scholarly journals have doi’s associated with them, but if they do not you include the URL. In APA format, you use the URL for the journal’s homepage. However, in MLA you use the website where you actually accessed the article.

The basic format for an online scholarly journal with no doi is:

Last, First. “Article Name.” Journal Name, vol., no., year of publication, pp. xxx-xxx, URL.

Accessed Day Month Year.


Author Name: Martin Kovan

Article Name: Capital Punishment: A Buddhist Critique

Journal Name: Journal of Buddhist Ethics

Volume: 24

Date of Publication: 2017

URL for article:

URL for journal:

Kovan, Martin. “Capital Punishment: A Buddhist Critique. Journal of Buddhist Ethics, 24. Accessed 19 May 2017.

Newspaper Articles

Newspapers are another popular online resource. The basic citation for a newspaper article is simple:

Last, First. “Article Name.” Newspaper Name, Day Month Year, URL.

Accessed Day Month Year.

Information from the page is:

Author: Julie Takahashi

Article Name: Judge Dismisses Ahmed Mohamed ‘Clock Boy’ Suit against Irving ISD

Newspaper: Houston Chronicle

Date: May 19, 2017

Therefore, the citation is:

Takahashi, Julie. “Judge Dismisses Ahmed Mohamed ‘Clock Boy’ Suit Against Irving ISD.” Houston Chronicle, 19 May 2017, Accessed 19 May 2017.

Electronic Books

It is always preferable to cite to a hard-copy of a book, if that is available. If the book has a doi, then use the doi in place of the URL. If it is not, then the citation format for an electronic book is:

Last, First. Title of Book. Publisher, Publication Date, URL or doi. Website, Publisher,

Publication date, Location, Date of Access.

Although Pride and Prejudice is available in print format, for the purposes of this example, we will assume that we could only access an electronic copy:

Author: Jane Austen

Title: Pride and Prejudice


Copyright Date: 1918

Publisher: Charles Scribner’s Sons

This is a fairly complicated citation because there are two publishers: Charles Scribner’s Sons and Google Books. The citation would look like:

Austen, Jane. Pride and Prejudice. Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1918, Google Books. Google. Accessed 19 May 2017.

Books accessed through Kindle or Nook are cited like books, but with the version (Kindle or Nook) shown in their citation:

Last, First. Title of Book. Version. Publisher, Publication Date


Last, First. Title of Book. Kindle Edition. Publisher, Publication Date.


Last, First. Title of Book. Nook Edition. Publisher, Publication Date

General MLA Format for Films or Videos

MLA has a general format for films or videos, which applies to those viewed online and those not viewed online, though videos not viewed online would not include the URL.

Late name, First name of the creator. “Title of the film or video.” Title of the website, role of

contributors and their First name Last name, Version, Numbers, Publisher, Publication

date, URL. Accessed Day Month Year.

MLA format for films or videos found on a Database

If a film or video is found on a database such as Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, or HBO Go, you want to include that information in the citation.

The proper citation for those sources is:

Late name, First name of the creator. “Title of the film or video.” Title of the website, role of

contributors and their First name Last name, Version, Numbers, Publisher, Publication

date, Database name, URL. Accessed Day Month Year.

How to cite a YouTube video in MLA format

YouTube is becoming an incredibly popular source for videos and creates particular challenges for the creation of a citation for a works cited list because of the substitution of usernames for actual names. Unfortunately, MLA does not have specific instructions for citing a YouTube vide. The suggested format would be:

Late name, First name of the creator. “Title of the film or video.” YouTube, uploaded by

username, date of upload, URL. Accessed Day Month Year.

Jack Septic Eye is a very popular YouTube personality, but clearly Jack Septic Eye is not his actual name- it is his username. However, he is both the creator of most of the works that he posts and the person who uploads them to YouTube. You can see his username posted to a video below:

Even though he is the creator, you would not try to make Jack Septic Eye into the author name and cite it like, Eye, Jack Septic in your works cited page. Instead, omit the creator name and simply reference the user name in the citation.

Therefore, the MLA citation for this YouTube video would be:

“We won the game: Player unknown’s battlegrounds #2 w/ Robin.” YouTube, uploaded by Jack Septic Eye, 15 May 2017, Accessed 19 May 2017.


While you might initially find citing internet sources in MLA format intimidating, once you begin using them you will find that the process is not as difficult as you feared. All MLA citations follow the same basic format, which means that, even if you cannot find a specific example for the type of internet source you are using, you can identify the appropriate MLA format and then simply use the information you can find to fill in the spots for your citation. If you have any questions about MLA citation for websites, you can always visit our Student Questions forum.

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