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MLA Citation Style, 8th Edition: Dictionary or Encyclopedia

A University of Lethbridge Library guide to MLA style citations.

7th Edition: 5.5.7 (pp. 160-61)

Please not that the MLA 8th Edition does not have specific instructions on articles in reference books. For more information, please consult the 7th Edition Guide.

Example 1 – Well-known General Dictionary

WC:   "Saturnalia." Oxford English Dictionary. 2nd ed., 1989.


Example 2 – Well-known General Encyclopedia

WC:   "Eugenics." Encyclopaedia Britannica. 15th ed., 2007.


Example 3 – Specialized Dictionary or Encyclopedia

IT:     (Olohan 248)

WC:   Olohan, Maeve. "Scientific and Technical Translation." Routledge Encyclopedia of Translation Studies. Edited by Mona

                  Baker and Gabriela Saldanha. 2nd ed., Routledge, 2011.


NOTE: As long as you reference the entry (e.g. "eugenics") and the source (e.g. Encyclopaedia Britannica) in the text, you need not include a parenthetical reference for well-known general dictionaries and encyclopedias.

The distinction between general and specialized reference works is not always clear.  If a dictionary or encyclopedia focuses on a particular subject or topic, and if the entries within it are substantial and are authored by scholars whose names are provided, it is likely best to use the format shown in example 3 above.

If citing a specific entry among several for the same word, add Entry and the appropriate designation (e.g., number, letter).

"Manual." Entry 2. Webster's Third New International Dictionary. 1981.