MLA Style Electronic Formats

by Dr. Mary Ellen Guffey

Revised April 2005

The following formats and examples are offered as models for references that might appear in the text and in the "Works Cited" section (bibliography) of a business writer's research paper. Our focus is on electronic formats only. For a complete discussion of all bibliographical formats, see Joseph Gibaldi, MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, Sixth Edition (2003). This discussion is based on Gibaldi as well as on information at the Modern Language Association Web site (

Many electronic sources do not supply all the desired information; therefore, writers must settle for citing whatever information is available. Our list of model formats is not definitive and will doubtless change as electronic publication practices evolve. Writers using electronic materials should download or print the materials so that these items can be verified if inaccessible later.

In-Text Citations

Writers using MLA documentation formats use parenthetical in-text citations to identify their sources. These citations include an author's name and page number to guide readers to the appropriate complete reference in the works-cited-list entry. However, most electronic sources do not have page numbers unless the source is in PDF format and retains page numbers from a print source. Occasionally an electronic source may have numbered paragraphs. If so, use these paragraph numbers instead of page numbers (e.g., Smith par. 8). Most electronic sources, however, have neither paragraph nor page numbers. Study the following in-text citation methods to determine how to treat your references.

Traditional print publications with page numbers. Include the author’s name and page number for the reference. In the works-cited list, the reader will be able to find a fuller version of each of these brief references by locating the author's name or the organization's name.

A company can ask any number of sources to rate how well it’s doing. However, the most honest opinions come from a company’s employees (Greengard 76).

Electronic source without author. When referring to an electronic source such as a secondary page at a Web site that provides neither author nor page number, use an abbreviated reference to the page title. Include enough information that the reader can find the reference alphabetically in the works-cited list. Omit a page reference.

Job candidates today should expect to be asked behavioral questions during an employment interview. Sample questions can help candidates prepare (Behavioral Questions).

Electronic source when only a beginning page number is given. To identify a source that has no author and only a beginning page number, include a few words from its title so that readers may find it listed alphabetically in the works-cited list. Include the beginning page number followed by a hyphen and a space.

Government leaders show increasing concern about global warming, especially the news that continental cooling poses challenges to models of climate and ecosystem change (Cooling Trend 17- ).

Alternate method for electronic source without page number. Another way to handle references to electronic sources without page numbers is to include enough information in the text that no parenthetical citation is necessary. Readers will find the URL in the works-cited list.

A company can ask any number of sources to rate how well it’s doing. However, Samuel Greengard, in his article in Workforce Management Online, reports that the most honest opinions come from employees.

Works-Cited List

  • General guidelines. To refer to electronic sources, include print information, if available, along with as much other information as necessary for a reader to locate a source. Underline (or italicize) the title of a database, periodical, or professional or personal Web site.
  • Use of underlining or italics. MLA style suggests that italics can be ambiguous. For printed student writing submitted for grading and for printed writing submitted for professional editing, the MLA suggests underlining. If you wish to use italics instead, check with your instructor or organization before doing so.
  • Use of "Accessed." Although MLA style does not suggest including the word "Accessed" or "Retrieved" before the access date, you may wish to include one of these words to distinguish retrieval dates from publication dates.
  • Hanging indents. Use hanging indented for all entries; that is, the second and succeeding lines are indented five spaces.
  • Dividing electronic addresses. Divide an electronic address only at a logical place, such as at a diagonal (/), period, or hyphen. When dividing at a period, some experts suggest placing the period on the second line to prevent confusion.
  • Journal year. MLA style requires that the year of journal publications be shown in parentheses, while the dates of newspaper publications are not shown in parentheses.
  • Page number. If a source shows only the starting page number of an article’s original print publication (e.g., “p192”), give the number followed by a hyphen, a space, and a period: “192- .”
  • Spacing after punctuation. Either one or two spaces may be left after concluding punctuation marks. It is increasingly common, however, for papers to be prepared with a single space after all punctuation marks. That is the style shown here.

Bibliographic citation forms and examples in the MLA style are shown for the following:

  1. World Wide Web Home Page, Professional Site
  2. World Wide Web Home Page, Personal Site
  3. World Wide Web, Secondary Page
  4. Book, Online
  5. Book Review, Online
  6. Encyclopedia Article, Online
  7. Encyclopedia Article, CD-ROM
  8. Journal Article, Online
  9. Journal Abstract, Online
  10. Magazine Article, Online
  11. Newspaper article, Online
  12. Document Within Database, Online
  13. Source From Library or Private Subscription Service
  14. Online Posting
  15. E-Mail Communication


Basic Form

Name of author or creator (if given). Title of Web site. (If no title is available,
provide description such as name of site plus Home page, neither
underlined nor in quotation marks.) Name of any institution or organization
associated with the site. Access date <URL>.


Deans, David H. The David H. Deans Portfolio Page. Accessed 27 Jan. 2005
<http://www.geocities.colm/dhdeans/portfolio/>. Home page. Accessed 8 Feb. 2005 <
edweb/ >.

Business Ethics Resources. Foster Business Library, University of Washington
Libraries. Accessed 3 Mar. 2005 <


Basic Form

Name of site owner. Title of Web site. (If no title is available, add description such
as Home page, neither underlined nor in quotation marks). Date of latest
posting (if available). Name of organization sponsoring Web site (if given).
Access date <URL>.


Robertson, Richard E. Home page. Last updated 4 Mar. 2005. University of
Michigan. 2 May 2005 <


Name of author or creator, if available. "Title of topic or article" (if given). Title of
page (if named). Name of any institution or organization associated with
the site. Latest update (if given). Access date <URL>.


Reed, Philip. “10 Steps to Finding the Right Car for You.”
Accessed 25 Jan. 2005 <

“Behavioral Questions.” Career Center, University of South Carolina. Updated
31 Oct. 2002. Accessed 25 Feb. 2005 <

“Five Myths of Data Mining.” Teradata, a division of NCR. Accessed 18
January 2005 <>.

Jouve, Olivier. “Text Mining: A Critical Path to Greater Business Understanding,”
appearing in Data Warehousing Report, July 2004. Accessed 18 Jan. 2005
from at <>.


Basic Form

Name of author or creator, if available. “Title of part or chapter” (if given). Title
of book
. Date of original publication. Name of any institution or organization
sponsoring or associated with the Web site (if given). Access date <URL>.


Strunk, William. The Elements of Style. 1918. “Elementary Rules of Usage.” Great Books Online.” Accessed 2 Apr. 2005


Basic Form

Author of review. Rev. of Book Title by Author. Journal or Magazine Title:
Volume, Issue, or other identifying number (For journal, year of publication
in parentheses; for magazine date without parentheses): pages (if given).
Access date (URL).


Frey, Chuck. Rev. of The Seeds of Innovation: Cultivating The Synergy That
Fosters New Ideas, by Elaine Dundon. MindMatters Technologies, Inc.
20 May 2003. Accessed 14 Nov. 2004 <
Articles/ BookReviewDetails.asp?a=90>.


Basic Form

Author (if given). “Title of Material Accessed.” Date of material (if given). Title of
Encyclopedia. Publication information for any print version of the source if
available. Date of electronic publication, of the latest update, or of posting
(if known). [search term if necessary for retrieval]. Access date <URL>.

“Great Depression.” The Columbia Encyclopedia, 5e, 2001. Great
Books Online. Accessed 23 June 2004. <


Basic Form

Author (if given). “Title of Material Accessed.” Date of material (if given). Title of
Encyclopedia. Edition, release, or version (if relevant). CD-ROM. Name
of vendor (if relevant). Electronic publication date.


“Genetic Engineering.” Compton’s Interactive Encyclopedia. Version 2.0.
CD-ROM. Compton’s NewMedia, Inc., 1994.


Basic Form

Author. “Article Title.” Journal Title Volume.Issue or other identifying number
(Year of publication in parentheses): paging. Name of database (underlined
if given). Access date <URL>.


Schwartz, Mark S. “Effective Corporate Codes of Ethics: Perceptions of Code
Users.” Journal of Business Ethics 55.4 (2004): 321-341. Kluwer Journals
Online. Accessed 5 Jan. 2005 <
IPS/content/ext/x/J/ 4562/I/184/A/7.htm>


Basic Form

Author. “Article Title.” Journal Title Volume.Issue or other identifying number
(Year of publication in parentheses): paging. Name of database
(underlined if given). Abstract. Access date <URL>.


Tidwell, Michael, and Patricia Sias. “Personality and Information Seeking:
Understanding How Traits Influence Information-Seeking Behaviors.”
Journal of Business Communication 42.1 (2005): 51-77. Sage
Publications. Abstract. Accessed 3 Feb. 2005 <


Basic Form

Author. “Article Title.” Magazine Title. Date: page (for magazines published
every month or two months, do not give volume and issue numbers even
if they are listed). Access date <URL>.


Greengard, Samuel. “Civil Wars Over Recruiting Technology.” Workforce
Management Online. June 2004: 64. Accessed 25 Aug. 2004


Basic Form

Author. “Article Title.” Newspaper Title. Date, edition, section: page (if given).
Database Name (underlined if available). Access date <URL>.


Belson, Ken. “AT&T Looks Beyond ‘Number, Please.’” The New York Times.
22 Jan. 2005, Business. Accessed 4 Feb. 2005


Basic Form

Name of author (if given). "Title of material." Name of database. Date. Name of
sponsoring institution or organization (if relevant). Access date <URL>.


Murray, Barbara. “Wendy’s International, Inc.,” Hoover’s Online. 2005. Hoover’s
Inc. Accessed 9 Nov. 2005. <’s/—ID__
11621—/ free-co-factsheet.xhtml>


Basic Form

Name of author (if given). “Title of material.” Name of print source (if given) Date.
Name of database. Name of library or service (if useful). Access date
<URL or service’s home page>.


Godwin-Jones, Robert. “Emerging Technologies: Messaging, Gaming, Peer-to
Peer Sharing: Language Learning Strategies & Tools for the Millennial
Generation.” Language, Learning & Technology 9.1 (2005):17-23.
InfoTrac College Edition. Accessed 11 Feb. 2005

“Cooling Trend in Antarctica.” Futurist. May-June 2002: 15. Academic Search
Premier. EBSCO. City U of New York, Graduate Center Lib. Accessed
2 Mar. 2005 <>.


Basic Form

Author (if given). "Title of document" (as given in subject line). Online posting.
Date. Name of forum (if known). Access date <URL>.


Yellen, Mike. <> “Managing Managers and Cell Phones.”
Online posting. 26 June 2005. Technical Writers Listserv. Accessed 9 Sept.
2005 (>.


Basic Form

Author. “Title of Message” (as given in subject line). Description of message
including recipient. Message date.


Seefer, Carolyn M. “A New Electronic Documentation Format.” E-mail to
Mary Ellen Guffey. 24 May 2005.

*Dr. Mary Ellen Guffey is the author of Business Communication: Process and Product, 5e (South-Western/Thomson, 2006); Essentials of Business Communication, 6e (South-Western/Thomson, 2004); Business English, 8e (South-Western/Thomson, 2005); and Professional English, 1e (South-Western/Thomson, 2005). She and Carolyn M. Seefer are co-authors of Essentials of College English, 3e (South-Western/Thomson, 2005)..