MLA Citation Rules for Primary Source Documents

The MLA bibiography style examples presented on this page have been created using the rules outlined in the  MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, 6th Edition. 

The examples here illustrate only the most common sources and circumstances encountered in the Rollins Archive; more extensive and detailed examples are available in the MLA Handbook.  Print copies of the MLA Handbook are available in the ready reference section at Olin Library.  The call number is Ref. LB 2369.G53 2003

For a quick guide to citing other sources using MLA style, please refer to Olin Library's How to Prepare MLA Citations page.

Source Type


Letter or Memo

As bibliographic entries, letters fall into three general categories:

  • Published Letters

  • Unpublished letters in an archive

  • Letters received by the researcher

Treat a published letter like a work in a collection (rule 5.6.7), adding the date of the letter and the number (if the editor assigned one).

Wollstonecraft, Mary. "To George Blood." 25 August,

1786. Letter 37 of Collected Letters of Mary

Wollstonecraft. Ed. Ralph M. Wardle. Ithaca:

Cornell University Press, 1979. 111-12.

In citing an unpublished letter, follow the guidelines for manuscripts and typescripts.

Wattles, Willard. Letter to Hamilton Holt. 25 January

1940. Willard Wattles Papers. Rollins College

Archives, Winter Park.

Treat memos similarly: give the name of the writer of the memo, a description of the memo that includes the recipient, and the date of the document.  Any title of the memo should be enclosed in quotation marks and placed immediately after the writer's name.

Anderson, Winslow S. "Moo-Moo Clubs." Memo to Marjorie

Weber, 25 Sept. 1934. Moo-Moo Club Records.

Rollins College Archives, Winter Park.

Cite a letter that you received as follows:

Rogers, Fred McFeely. Letter to the author. 2 May 2000.


Manuscript or Typescript


To cite a manuscript or a typescript, state the author, the title, or a description of the material (e.g., Notebook), and the form of the material (ms. for manuscript, ts. for typescript), and any identifying number assigned to it.  Give the name and location of any library or other research institution holding the material.

Beach, Rex Ellingwood. Dick Banning, ms. Rex E. Beach

Papers. Rollins College Archives, Winter Park.

Lecture, Speech, Address, or Reading In a citation of an oral presentation, give the speaker's name; the title of the presentation (if known), in quotation marks; the meeting and the sponsoring organization (if applicable); the location; and the date.  If there is no title, use an appropriate descriptive label (Address, Lecture, Keynote speech, Reading), neither underlined nor enclosed in quotation marks.

Belpedio, James. "Real to Reel: The Many Lives of the

Cape Nome Conspiracy." Pacific Centuries

Conference. John Muir Center for Regional

Studies. University of the Pacific, Stockton.

25 April, 1997.

Interview Begin with the name of the person interviewed.  Underline the title.  If the interview is untitled, use the descriptive label Interview, neither underlined nor enclosed in quotation marks.  The interviewers name may be added if known and pertinent to your paper.  Conclude with appropriate bibliographic information.

Lane, Jack C. Interview with Wenxian Zhang. Rollins

Digital History Archive. 10 Oct. 2008. <http://>. 

To cite an interview that you conducted, give the name of the person interviewed, the kind of interview (Personal interview, Telephone interview, E-mail interview), and the date or dates.

Duncan, Lewis M. Telephone interview. 7 Sept. 2008.


Photograph State the photographer's name first.  In general, underline the title.  Name the institution that houses the work (e.g., a museum) or, for a work in a private collection, the individual who owns it, and follow the name by a comma and the city.

Sweet Studios. Portrait of Richard Burton. 1912. Jessie

Belle Rittenhouse Papers. Rollins College

Archives, Winter Park.

For a photograph found on the web, use the following format:

Norem, Carolyn Case. Canoeing on Lake Osceola. 1906.

Rollins Digital Archives Winter Park and

Florida Gallery: . 15 Oct. 2008 <http://,743>.

To cite a personal photograph, begin with a description of its subject, neither underlined nor placed in quotation marks.  Indicate the person who took the photograph and the date it was taken.

St. Stephen's Cathedral, Vienna. Personal photograph by

author. 17 March, 2004.


Unpublished Dissertation or Thesis Enclose the title of an unpublished dissertation in quotation marks; do not underline it.  Then write the descriptive label Diss., and add the name of the degree-granting university, followed by a comma and the year.

Sakala, Carol. "Maternity Care Policy in the United

States: Toward a More Rational and Effective

System." Diss. Boston U, 1993.

To cite a master's thesis, substitute the appropriate label (e.g., MA thesis, MS thesis) for Diss