Introduction

In-Text Citation

Books

Dictionaries/
Encyclopedias

Selections from Books

Periodicals

Online Sources

Other

Citing Encyclopedias and Dictionaries in MLA Style

Remember that entries in the Works Cited list are listed alphabetically by author.  This page is for print reference books; the electronic forms of reference books (such as CD-ROMs and online versions) are described on another page.  

This citation style applies to familiar reference books.  Do not give full publication information for such books.  For other, less familiar, reference books, use the standard book style information.  If an encyclopedia or dictionary arranges information aphetically, you may cite an article as shown on this page.  Otherwise, cite it as if it were a selection in an anthology.

The components of a Works Cited list entry for an encyclopedia article or dictionary entry, listed in the proper order:  

Component

Formatting Details

    Ending
Punctuation
Author(s)
  • If an author is listed, include the author's last name, followed by a comma, followed by the author's first name.  [Example]

  • If the article is anonymous, omit this part of the citation.  [Example]

  • For more than one author, see the citation style conventions for a book.

  Period (.)
Title
  • Give the title of the entry in quotation marks[Example]
  • The period goes inside the quotation marks.  [Example]
  • If there is a title within the title or any quotation marks inside the title, transform the inner quotation marks to single quotes ("....'...'...").  
  • Click here for notes on capitalization.
  Period (.)
Definition
  • If you are citing a specific definition from a dictionary, write "Def." followed by the numbers or letters that designate the definition. [Example]
  Period (.)
Encyclopedia or Dictionary Title
  • Italicize or underline the title. [Example]
  Period (.)
Edition/Date
  • If an edition number is given, include the number of the edition followed by "ed." Follow this listing with the date of publication in YYYY format.  [Example]
  • Use a digit for the edition number, as in "5th. ed." or "3rd. ed." or "10th ed."  [Example]
  • If no edition number is given, simply include the year, followed by "ed."  Use YYYY format.  [Example]
  Period (.)
(Only one, i.e. don't write "5th ed..")

Read the Notes on punctuation and spacing and on italicization and underlining.


Citation Examples (from The Ready Reference Handbook)

"Mexico."  Encyclopedia Americana.  1985 ed. 
(Dodds 331-333)

Citation Examples (from MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers)

"Azimuthal Equidistant Projection."  Merriam-Webster's College Dictionary.
     10th ed. 1993.
"Ginsburg, Ruth Bader."  Who's Who in America. 52nd ed. 1998.
"Mandarin."  The Encyclopedia Americana. 1994 ed.
Mohanty, Jitendra M. "Indian Philosophy." The New Encyclopedia Britannica:
     Macropaedia. 15th ed. 1987.
Noon." Def. 4b. The Oxford English Dictionary. 2nd ed. 1989.
(Gibaldi 130-131)

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Created: 06/27/2000
Last Modified: 09/25/2002