Academic EE IAs TOK

MLA Formatting: A Comprehensive Guide

Are you lost about what MLA citation is? Is your EE or coursework due in a few hours only to find out that you have no idea how to format your bibliography? Look no further! Here is a quick guide to the MLA citation format: 

What even is MLA? 

The MLA (Modern Language Association) citation format is one of the most commonly used citation formats in academic research. There are lots of similarities and overlaps with other forms of citation, but OWL Purdue lists the specific format that an MLA citation should take: 

  1. “Author.
  2. Title of source.
  3. Title of container,
  4. Other contributors,
  5. Version,
  6. Number,
  7. Publisher,
  8. Publication date,
  9. Location.”

A container is where the source comes from. This often is the main website or journal that published the source. What that translates to in a citation looks like this: 

Author. “Title of source.” Title of Container, Other contributors, Version, Number, Publisher, Publisher date, Location. 

In practice, this article would be referenced like::

Co, Regina. “Overview: Theatre HL and SL.”, 11 Mar. 2021, Accessed 26 May 2021.

In addition, there are specific features to a paper that uses MLA citation:

  • Avoid using footnotes. Instead, MLA uses in-text citations. Just before the full stop of the sentence, you place a citation that includes the surname of your source and the page number. If you are taking from a source that doesn’t have a surname and/or page number, naming the source is enough. For example:

    “Researchers claim that getting 8 hours of sleep is beneficial for IB students, especially those taking 4 Higher Level subjects (Smith, 82).”

    “Some teachers have said that CAS projects can help solve global warming (”
  • The name of your bibliography is “Works Cited.” This doesn’t really change the function of the bibliography, but, as the title suggests, the sources you cite in the main body of your paper should be present in its full form in the “Works Cited” list. 

Other common forms include: Harvard, APA and Chicago. This is what the MLA format looks like in comparison to other forms of citation: 

MLA Citation

Co, Regina. “Overview: Theatre HL and SL.”, 11 Mar. 2021, Accessed 26 May 2021.

Harvard Citation

Co, R. (2021). Overview: Theatre HL & SL – IBlieve. [online] IBlieve. Available at: [Accessed 26 May 2021].

APA Citation: 

Co, R. (2021, March 11). Overview: Theatre HL & SL – IBlieve. IBlieve.

Chicago Citation

Co, Regina. “Overview: Theatre HL & SL – IBlieve.” IBlieve, March 11, 2021.

Recommended Apps

Of course, you don’t have to manually cite everything! If you’re looking to save time, here are the apps we recommend at IBlieve:

Chrome Extensions

  1. MyBib
    This is my personal favourite; I started using it in the IB and I’ve never looked back! The display is very streamlined and it’s very user-friendly. I’d recommend MyBib if you are looking for a basic, simple citation service.

    Monica: “myBib saved my IBDP”
  2. EasyBib
    This is another popular option. A benefit to using EasyBib is that lots of academic sources have an “import to EasyBib” function already built in to their websites to make your research easier.

    Diya: “i LOVE easybib”
  3. Cite This For Me
    Cite This For Me is also a very popular option! It is available as both a Chrome extension and website.

    Gabriella: “My classmates constantly use ‘cite this for me’. Easy and quick.” 
  1. Zotero
    Zotero not only allows you to run a test drive with ZoteroBib, but it also has a special collaborative function.

    Dorothy: “Zotero is really convenient!! It’s a plug in ive discovered recently” 


  1. CiteFast
    CiteFast provides a very direct display that is user-friendly.

    Elena: “i still use citefast up to this day! it alphabetically arranges, does the indent thing and changes the font to times new roman automatically”
  2. Scribbr
    In addition to the ‘Works Cited’ function, Scribbr provides a citation guide of their own at the bottom of your bibliography.

    Vaishnavi: “ ‘Scribbr’ is really easy to use as well”
  3. BibMe
    Created by Chegg, BibMe not only provides a comprehensive citation guide on top of its bibliography service, but it also has a plagiarism checker.

    Matthew: “BibMe was my life saver”

Downloaded Apps/Word Processing 

  1. Mendeley (App for MacOS and Windows)
    Mendeley offers a variety of citation services for you to choose from. Their options are more geared towards those doing more scientific research, so their services could appeal to you!

    Joseph: “Mendeley was my go to for all my IAs, EE, TOK!!!”

Google Docs/Microsoft Word
If you’re not in the mood to download Chrome extensions or additional apps, both Microsoft Word and Google Docs have built-in citation services. 


  1. How do you cite different sources from the same author?

    In your main body, the citations should look like this:

    “The IB is a two-year program for high school students (Smith, 1). Many IB students move abroad for university education (Smith, “Universities,45).”

    In your “Works Cited” list, it should look like:

    Smith, Jane. “Guide to the IB.”, 29 May 2021.  
    — “Universities and the IB.”, 29 May 2021. 
  1. What does the IB say about MLA?
    The IB says, “the IB does not endorse any particular style guide. This choice is left to the discretion of the authors/creators, or their advisers.” However, “for assessment purposes, IB students are not expected to show faultless expertise in referencing but are expected to acknowledge all uses of other people’s work.”

    What this means is that, so long as your citation style is consistent in your work, the IB does not mind if you use MLA or APA or Chicago and so on! 
  1. What is your biggest advice for citation? 

Cite as you go! It’s going to be much easier to remove sources that you ended up not needing rather than looking for that one source you forgot to cite. 

In my experience, practicing proper citation in the IB has given me a massive head start for university. I now know what citation styles and resources work for me and that could be different for everybody! Because of my early experience with citation, I’ve also been able to help my peers with their citation work. 

Good luck with your citations! 

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