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MLA Style Guide: Encyclopedias & Dictionaries

This guide is designed to help students learn about MLA style and cite sources for their research.

Quick Tips

If there is no individual author for the encyclopedia article or dictionary definition, you should begin the reference with the article title in quotation marks.

When citing standard reference books (such as World Book Encyclopedia), do not give full publication information. List only the edition (if stated), and the year of publication.

When citing a work by title in a parenthetical reference, you may have to distinguish between two works with the same article title by also providing an abbreviated form of the title of the reference book. If entries in the book are arranged alphabetically, it is not necessary to provide page numbers either in the parenthetical reference or in the list of works cited.

If the book is a multivolume work, you should specify the volume number used in the list of works cited. If you have consulted more than one volume, cite the entire work and indicate the total number of volumes.

Encyclopedias & Dictionaries

Information required for a reference to an article in an encyclopedia or dictionary includes:

  • Author
  • Title of article
  • Title of encyclopedia or dictionary
  • Editor or editors
  • Edition number
  • Volume number (if only one used)
  • Publisher
  • Date of access (for articles retrieved from the Internet)

Examples of References:

Adams, Nicholas. "Gropius, Walter." World Book Encyclopedia. Millennium ed., 2000.

"Bauhaus.", Accessed 21 Mar. 2019.

"Bauhaus." Encyclopedia of Artists, edited by William Vaughan. Vol. 6, Oxford UP, 2000.

Lucie-Smith, Edward. "Jugendstil." The Thames & Hudson Dictionary of Art Terms. 2nd ed.,Thames & Hudson, 2004.

Macdonald, Colin S., compiler. A Dictionary of Canadian Artists. Canadian Paperbacks, 1967. 5 vols.

Examples of In-Text Citations:

The Bauhaus school of art and design was founded in Germany in 1919 and was closed by the Nazi regime in 1933 ("Bauhaus,"

Gropius saw the Bauhaus school as a "medieval cummunity of craftsmen living and working together in harmony" ("Bauhaus," Encyc. of Artists).

Jugendstil is generally more restrained in style than its French and Belgian Art Nouveau counterparts (Lucie-Smith).

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