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ECC - Identifying Parts of a Citation: Identifying Parts of a Citation


This page illustrates how to interpret the parts of an MLA citation for different types of sources. This is important when one has a citation in hand (for example, from the bibliography of a journal article, from a website, or from a professor) and wants to track down the original source.

Although citations look different in other styles such as APA and Turabian, the same information is generally present, but with a different order and formatting.

What is a DOI?

A DOI, or digital object identifier, is a unique combination of numbers and letters that identifies and permanently links to specific articles or internet content. The publisher of the content assigns and makes the doi available for electronically published content. 

What does a doi look like in a citation? 

In APA Format: 

Orr, L., & Govindjee, G. (2010). Photosynthesis online. Photosynthesis Research, 105(2), 167-200. 
This part is the digital object identifier.  doi:
MLA does not require a DOI at this time, as of the 7th edition. "A digital object identifier (DOI) is a unique alphanumeric code assigned by the International DOI Foundation to identify content and provide a persistent link to its location on the Internet. MLA style (7th ed.) does not require inclusion of DOIs. (Source: MLA handbook for writers of Research papers, 7th ed.) " 


Book citation

Book Chapters

If the entire book was written by the same author(s), including the chapter being cited, there will be no book editor(s) listed in the citation.

Book chater citation

Journal Articles

If the article is available online in a research database, the database's name and the date of retrieval will appear in the citation, as in the example below. If the article was obtained from a print copy of a magazine or journal, the citation will end with the page numbers.

Journal article citation

Web Sources

If the web document has no author or publication date, its citation will not include this information. The "publisher" refers to the organization, company, or other entity on whose website the article or page resides.

Web Source Citation

MLA and APA Citation Guides