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How to Cite an Encyclopedia in MLA 8: The Main Rules With Examples

An encyclopedia refers to a scholarly work that contains information from different areas of knowledge. Basically, scholars draw evidence from compilations to support their central arguments when citing an encyclopedia in the MLA format. In this case, credible bibliographic entries should include the author’s name, the title of entry and encyclopedia, publication details, and permalinks. Also, writers need to identify the name of the encyclopedia’s authors and present it in an inverted format. Then, MLA source entries should contain the necessary publication details, like the edition, volume number, publisher’s name, publication date, and pagination. In turn, other essential features include the permalink, URL, or DOI for online encyclopedias. Hence, students should learn how to cite an encyclopedia in MLA 8 to organize their essays and research papers correctly.

General Guidelines of Citing an Encyclopedia in MLA 8

Encyclopedia refers to a work that entails information from all areas of knowledge. Basically, such sources contain the meaning of terms and phrases arranged alphabetically. In some instances, an encyclopedia contains comprehensive expertise in a specific area of study. For example, such references include articles arranged in alphabetical order following the subjects. In this case, writers can find credible information from compilation to support their arguments and cite encyclopedias in MLA 8. However, they require specific guidelines when providing reliable citations for an encyclopedia. In turn, scholars may find references in print and online forms, and from specific library databases. Hence, one must provide accurate and adequate details for each type of compilation when citing an encyclopedia in MLA 8.

How to cite an encyclopedia in MLA

Key Elements for Citing an Encyclopedia in MLA 8

A writer should obtain the right information when citing an encyclopedia in MLA 8. For example, some of the typical details include the author, title of the entry, title of the reference, publication details, and permalinks where applicable. Hence, the following are the guidelines that one should follow when providing the correct citation for an encyclopedia.

1. Author’s Name

Students should identify the name of the encyclopedia’s author. Basically, one should follow the acceptable order when writing the author’s name. In this case, writers should use an inverted form of the author’s name. Also, one should start with the surname, followed by the first name. One should use the initial of the third author’s name when writing a bibliographic entry of an encyclopedia in the MLA citation. Besides, authors should separate the names using a comma. However, a period should follow the initial of the third author’s name. Therefore, students must identify the actual names of the encyclopedia’s authors and write them while tracking the inverted order. 

2. Title of Entry

Scholars should include the title of the entry cited in the text. In most cases, an encyclopedia exists in different listings. Basically, one must identify the correct entry used. In other instances, authors should use the article’s title in this section when citing an encyclopedia in MLA 8. Also, this information should appear in quotation marks and title case. In turn, a period must follow the article’s or entry’s title. Therefore, one should identify the title of the entry or material used in the MLA style citation.

3. Encyclopedia’s Title

The bibliographic entry of a reference should include the actual title. As a rule, one should consist of an italicized encyclopedia’s name. Besides, this name should appear in the title case. Moreover, all the significant words must begin with a capital letter when citing an encyclopedia in MLA 8. In turn, a period should follow the encyclopedia’s title. Therefore, encyclopedia bibliographic entries in MLA 8 should include an italicized encyclopedia’s name.

4. Editors’ Names

Some encyclopedias contain editors, which must appear in the bibliographic entry. For example, writers use the standard form of the editor’s name. In this case, one should start with the first name followed by the surname. As a rule, the phrase “Edited by…” should precede the editor’s name. Moreover, a comma should follow the editor’s name. Hence, one should identify editors where applicable.

5. Publication Details

Publication details of an encyclopedia include the edition, volume number, publisher’s name, publication date, and pagination. In this case, writers need to include the version only when it exceeds the first one. As a rule, the phrase “vol.” should precede the volume number of the encyclopedia. Besides, one should use commas to separate all the publication details. In turn, prudent writers include the range of pages when citing an encyclopedia in MLA 8. Also, the phrase “pp.” should precede the pages, which should appear as “first page – last page.” In turn, a period should follow the page range of the article cited. Hence, students must include the relevant publication details of the encyclopedia.

6. Database

Students should include the name of the database where necessary. For example, writers may use encyclopedias found in specific library databases. In this case, one should consist of the correct title of the database. As a rule, one should italicize the database’s name. Moreover, a comma should follow the database’s title if the bibliographic entry contains permalink, URL, or DOI. Hence, writers should include the name of the database where applicable.   

7. Permalink, URL, or DOI

Writers should include permalink, URL, or DOI when citing an encyclopedia in MLA 8 where necessary. For instance, credible bibliographic entries should contain the correct identifiers that can allow interested readers to locate the actual source used by a writer. In this case, the permalink, URL, and DOI are the most acceptable and unique identifiers for scholarly sources. Also, one needs to include such details to enhance the quality of the source. In turn, a period should follow this element of the MLA encyclopedia citation when included in the bibliographic entry. Hence, one should consist of the correct identifier of the encyclopedia used for the MLA citation. 

Schemes and Examples of Actual MLA Citation for Different Types of Encyclopedia

1. MLA Schemes

The following are typical schemes of citing an encyclopedia in MLA 8 that writers can use to prepare the bibliographic entries.

Encyclopedia from Library Database:

Author’s Surname, First Name. “Title of Entry.” Title of Encyclopedia, edited byEditor’s First Name Surname, The Edition of the Encylopedia and not the first edition, vol. Actual Volume Number, Publisher’s Name, Year of Publication, pp. First Page – Last Page. Name of Database, permalink URL, or DOI.

Encyclopedia from a Website:

Author’s Surname, First Name. “Title of Entry.” Title of Encyclopedia, Year of Publication or Update, Name of Website. URL. Accessed Day Month Year of Access. 

Encyclopedia in Print Form:

Author’s Surname, First Name. “Title of Entry.” Title of Encyclopedia, edited byEditor’s First Name Surname, Edition if given and not the first edition, vol. Volume Number, Publisher Name, Year of Publication, pp. First Page – Last Page.

3. Examples of Actual MLA Citations for Encyclopedias

The following are examples of citations for referencing an encyclopedia in MLA 8 that writers can use for their essays and research papers:

Example of a source entry of an encyclopedia from a library database:

Barber, Russell J. “Anthropological Ethics.” Ethics, edited by John K. Roth, Salem Press, 2005, pp. 67–69. ProQuest.

Example of a source entry of an encyclopedia from a website:

Cooke, Fred, et al. “The Encyclopedia of Animals: A Complete Visual Guide.” Amazon.Com, 2019, www.amazon.com/Encyclopedia-Animals-Complete-Visual-Guide/dp/0520244060. Accessed 20 Nov. 2019.

Example of a sources entry of an encyclopedia in a print form:

Barber, Russell J. “Anthropological Ethics.” Ethics, edited by John K. Roth, Salem Press, 2005, pp. 67–69.

Summing Up on How to Cite an Encyclopedia in MLA 8

Encyclopedias contain credible information that learners can use for citations. Basically, scholars should determine exact details for each type of compilation used for essays and research papers when citing an encyclopedia in MLA 8. Besides, one should consider the correct punctuation when preparing MLA bibliographic entries. Hence, the following are the tips that one should consider:

  • MLA bibliographic entries should include the names of authors in an inverted format.
  • The entry’s title should appear in quotation marks, while students must italicize the encyclopedia’s name.
  • Credible bibliographic entries should include adequate bibliographic information for the source.
  • When citing encyclopedias in MLA 8, such bibliographic entries should contain the correct permalink, URL, or DOI.