How to Cite Multiple Authors and Author Types in MLA

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In this guide, you will learn how to format author names when creating an entry on a works cited page, according to guidelines in the 9th edition of the MLA Handbook (the Modern Language Association is not affiliated with this guide).

Real examples are included below to help you easily understand what to do with the various author situations you’ll find when citing sources.

Are you looking for author formatting in relation to in-text citations? Review the EasyBib MLA in-text citation guide.


What is an Author?

When creating a citation, the “author” is the individual credited with creating the source you are using. Usually, this is the individual(s) or organization who wrote a source. Sometimes, the “author” element could also be the work’s editor, translator, or performer (MLA Handbook 107).

Here are general guidelines on formatting an author’s name:

  • The author’s name is always the first thing listed in a works cited entry, unless there is no author.
  • Entries on your works cited page should be listed in alphabetical order according to the author’s last name.
  • The first (or only) author’s name is listed as Last Name, First Name.

Examples:

Crystal, David. The Story of English in 100 Words. St. Martin’s Press, 2013.

Hunter, David J., et al. “Covid-19 and the Stiff Upper Lip – The Pandemic Response in the United Kingdom: NEJM.” New England Journal of Medicine, 17 Mar. 2020, www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMp2005755.

The “Works Cited: A Quick Guide” page from the official Modern Language Association Style Center calls each element of a works cited entry a “core element.” These elements (e.g., author, title, publisher, etc.) are the most common facts listed for most sources. They are assembled in a set order, starting with the author.


How to Format Author Names in MLA 9

It’s important that you correctly cite the last name of the author(s) whose work you’re referencing. To correctly cite the author, always begin the citation with the author’s last name, a comma, and the rest of the name as it appears on the source. Place a period after the author’s name. Below are examples for citing one or more authors.


How to Cite One Author:

List the author’s last name, add a comma, then add the author’s first name or initials (Handbook 111). Use the author’s name as it appears on the source.

Patterson, James.

Rowling, J.K.

King, Laurie R.


How to Cite Two Authors:

Place the authors in the order in which they appear on the source (Handbook 111). Note that only the lead author’s name is listed last name first; all additional authors are listed by their first name, middle initial if applicable, and then last name:

Shields, David, and Caleb Powell.


How to Cite Three or More Authors:

List the first author’s last name, first name, and then middle initial if applicable. Follow it with a comma, and then add “et al.” in place of the additional authors’ names (Handbook 112):

Beck, Isabel L., et al.


How to Cite Works by Individuals Other Than the Author:

In cases where the person responsible for creating a work is someone other than the author, such as an editor, producer, performer, or artist, always include the individual’s role after the name (Handbook 147):

Kansaker, Tej Ratna, and Mark Turin, editors.

When citing works of entertainment, such as film or television, include the name and role of the person on whom you’ve focused (Handbook 147):

Byrne, Rose, performer.

*Note: If you are writing about a film or television show that does not focus on an individual’s role, omit the author’s name and start the citation with the title. Contributors can be listed separately following the title if necessary. 


How to Cite Translated Works:

When your focus is on the translated text rather than the original, use the translator as the author (Handbook 147). Include the name of the original creator after the title, preceded by the word “By”:

Rojas, Carlos, translator. The Four Books. By Yan Lianke.


How to Cite Using Pseudonyms in MLA 9:

If an author has published a work under a different, lesser-known name, there are a few different ways you can list the author in your citation (Handbook 115-117). You can list the author only under their more well-known name; you can list the author’s more well-known name in square brackets; or you can use the author’s more well-known name in the author field, followed by a “published by” note and their pseudonym in square brackets.

King, Stephen.

[King, Stephen].

King, Stephen [published as Richard Bachman].

Alternatively, you can choose to use the author’s lesser-known name in the author field (be it their given name or a pseudonym), and include the author’s more well-known name in square brackets before the period.

Clemens, Samuel [Mark Twain].

Bachman, Richard [Stephen King].


Related guides:


Overview


Notes on Titles and Suffixes

Some authors will also have additional information tied to their names. It could either be a title (e.g., Sir, Saint, President, etc.), a degree (e.g., MLIS, PhD, etc.), or a suffix (e.g., Jr., III, etc.).

According to the official Handbook, leave out titles and degrees from the works cited list (49).

Full Name (in Source) Name in Works Cited List
Dame Naomi James James, Naomi
Sister Joan D. Chittister Chittister, Joan D.
Benjamin Hardy, PhD Hardy, Benjamin

For suffixes, include them. Add a comma after the full author’s name, then add the suffix. No comma is needed before the suffix if it is numerical.

  • King, Martin Luther, Jr.
  • Eaton, Maxwell III

Works Cited:

MLA Handbook. 9th ed., Modern Language Association of America, 2021.

“Works Cited: A Quick Guide”. The MLA Style Center, Modern Language Association, 2020,
style.mla.org/works-cited-a-quick-guide/. Accessed 26 Mar 2020.

“How Do I Cite A Source That Has No Author?” The MLA Style Center, Modern Language Association, 2017, style.mla.org/source-with-no-author/. Accessed 26 Mar 2020.


Published April 14, 2016. Updated May 18, 2021.

Written and edited by Michele Kirschenbaum and Elise Barbeau. Michele Kirschenbaum is a school library media specialist and the in-house librarian at EasyBib.com. Elise Barbeau is the Citation Specialist at Chegg. She has worked in digital marketing, libraries, and publishing.

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