How to Cite With No Author in MLA

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The Modern Language Association (MLA) publishes guidelines for the proper citation of sources. In college, you may find yourself needing to format term papers according to MLA style, which is most commonly used in liberal arts disciplines such as English and history. If you come across a source that has no known author, MLA style sets guidelines for the proper citation of the source.

  • Begin your reference list citation with the title of the work instead of the author. For example, if you were citing a book with an unknown author, it would appear in the following format:

    Title (in italics). City of Publication: Publisher, Year. Medium of Publication.

    For example:

    Chinese Art in American Culture. Boston: Doubleday, 1996. Print.

  • Alphabetize your reference according to the title. For example, your entry for "Chinese Art in American Culture" would come after a work written by Mark Caine and before a work written by Tom Collins.

  • Use the title instead of the author's name when citing within the text. The title and page number you are referencing should appear in parentheses. For example:

    One unknown author at the time suggested that Chinese art had a great deal to do with the American understanding of Buddhism (Chinese Art in American Culture 199).

    When citing a book or major work by an unknown author, the title should appear in italics. If the work is a poem or smaller work, the title should appear in quotation marks. For example:

    One unknown author at the time suggested that Chinese art had a great deal to do with the American understanding of Buddhism ("Chinese Art in American Culture" 199).

    If the title of the work is long, you should use a shortened version.

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