How to Cite a Database in MLA

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Database Definition 

A database is a structured, electronic collection that may contain full-text articles, abstracts, data, and citations. Databases typically require a subscription to access. A few examples of databases are JSTOR, ERIC, and PubMed, but these are just a few of the many that are available.

You are citing a source from the database, not the whole database

MLA does not have guidelines for citing only a database on its own. So, before we talk about citing, let’s be clear: You are citing a work/source from the database, not the entire database itself. You can cite several works from the database, but each has its own individual title, author, date published, etc., so the individual work is cited instead of the database.

Database information is still included in the publishing and location information, so your reader or teacher will still know that the information was found using a database.

Work published online in a database

Online Database Citation Structure:

Last, First M. “Article Title.” Publication Title, volume, number, issue (if provided), date published, page numbers (if applicable). Database Name, DOI or URL.

Online Database Citation Example:

Trier, James. “‘Cool’ Engagements with YouTube: Part 2.” Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, vol. 50, no. 7, April 2007, pp. 598-603. JSTOR,

Online Database In-text Citation Structure:

(Author’s Last Name page number)

Online Database In-text Citation Example:

“Two important, intertwined search aspects enabled by YouTube are immediacy and availability” (Trier 601).

Creating MLA in-text citations? See this MLA in-text citation guide.

Published October 31, 2011. Updated November 10, 2021.

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How do I cite an article from an online database in MLA format?

To cite an an article from an online database in MLA style, it is important that you know some basic information including the author, publication year, title of the work, name of the database, and URL (uniform resource locator). The templates and examples for an in-text citation and a works cited list entry for an article from an online database are provided below:

In-text citation template and example:

Use the author surname in in-text citations.

Citation in prose:

Author Surname



(Author Surname)


If you are citing a direct quote, include the page number in the in-text citation if applicable, e.g., (Winner 4).

Works cited list entry template and example:

The name of the database is italicized.

Author Surname, First Name. “Title of the Article.” Journal Title, Volume, Issue, Page Numbers. Name of the Online Database, URL.

Winner, Langdon. “Do Artifacts Have Politics?” Daedalus, vol. 109, no. 1, 1980, pp. 121–136. JSTOR,

Do I need to include the full URL when citing a database that requires a subscription in MLA?

You need not include the full URL when citing a database that requires a subscription in MLA, as the URL will not be accessible to readers who have not subscribed to the database. It is sufficient to include only the homepage URL of the subscription database when citing it in MLA style. However, do include the DOI whenever one is available.