Citing an Article in MLA Format

Contributor: Melissa Kowalski. Lesson ID: 11888

Periodicals are published periodically, and contain many different types of articles. These require some different elements in the Works Cited page, so learn the context clues to help find the info!



English / Language Arts
learning style
personality style
Grade Level
Middle School (6-8), High School (9-12)
Lesson Type
Dig Deeper

Lesson Plan - Get It!

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  • What is a periodical?
  • Can you name any examples of a periodical?
  • On top of that, do you know how to properly cite them on your Works Cited page?

It's not the same as citing a book.

A periodical is a source that is published on a regularly recurring basis.

There is no specific publishing timeline; periodicals can be published daily, weekly, quarterly, biannually, yearly, or even less frequently. Periodicals include newspapers, magazines, and journals.

They are comprised of articles shorter than books, covering a variety of topics, so an article from a periodical is the material you would most likely be citing in a paper or project, because you are probably going to be referring to a specific article rather than the entire content of a magazine or newspaper.

In the previous of the Related Lessons in this MLA Works Cited Page series, found in the right-hand sidebar, you learned about the nine pieces of information that may be needed to cite a source on the Works Cited page.

  • How many do you remember?

The nine pieces of information that may be needed to cite a source, in order, are:

  1. author
  2. title of source
  3. title of container
  4. other contributors
  5. version
  6. number
  7. publisher
  8. publication date
  9. location

Remember that not all the items in the list are applicable to every type of source, or even individual sources, because the information available may vary from source to source.

For periodicals, the relevant pieces of information you should look for are the author (#1), the title of the source (#2), the title of the container (#3), the number, which is the volume and issue numbers that show when the periodical was published (#6), the publication date (#8), and the location (#9).

The term "container" is new to MLA, and it refers to the name of the larger source in which the text can be located.

So, for example, the name of a newspaper (New York Times) is the container for a newspaper article ("Funding Education with Federal Grants").

You may want to write this general information on a notecard to use as a model for taking notes when you are conducting research for a paper or project. When you write down the citation information for a source in the correct order during the note-taking process, it makes it easier to create the Works Cited page citation.

To learn how to cite periodicals, print the Citing Periodicals in MLA Format handout found in Downloadable Resources in the right-hand sidebar. Read all of the notes on how to cite newspapers, magazines, journals, and special cases.

You can also find reliable citation information for the eighth edition of MLA at MLA Works Cited: Periodicals, courtesy of The Writing Lab at Purdue University (OWL).

  • Now that you know how to cite a periodical on the Works Cited page and have seen several examples, which type of information do you think might be missing from a newspaper article, a magazine article, and a journal article if you were looking for the information to write your citation?

Check your answer in the Got It? section.

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