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How to Cite ChatGPT and AI in MLA Format

Updated on July 12, 2023Students

AI chatbots like ChatGPT have lots of practical uses when you’re writing a paper: They can help you brainstorm topic ideas, phrase your thesis statement, generate examples or summaries, and of course research—they can scan the entire internet in seconds! But as you do with all sources, you still need to cite AI/ChatGPT in MLA format.

How do you cite a chatbot in MLA? Below, we answer all your questions on citing AI for papers written in the MLA format. Tools like ChatGPT can provide valuable aid in research papers—but only if you use them correctly.

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How to cite AI in MLA format

The recent surge in popularity of AI (artificial intelligence) chatbots means they have quickly seeped into academia, becoming a standard research tool in very little time. Tools that use generative AI can act as a speedy assistant, helping with tasks like gathering research, summarizing source passages, or brainstorming ideas.

However, no matter what you use AI for in your paper, you still need to cite it. Moreover, the rules for how to format citations change depending on which style you’re using: MLA, APA, or the Chicago Manual of Style. This article focuses only on MLA format, but we also have articles on how to cite AI/Chat GPT in APA and Chicago.

To cite AI/ChatGPT in MLA, you still follow the standardized template for all MLA citations. Even so, that template can get a little confusing with AI: What should you put in the “author” field? Where do you include the prompt?

You can always use Grammarly’s auto-citations feature to generate the correct citations for you, but maybe you prefer to do it yourself. So below, we explain the details of how to cite AI in MLA format and even share some MLA citation examples that you can use as a formula. But first, let’s discuss when you need to cite AI/ChatGPT in MLA.

When should you cite ChatGPT and AI in MLA?

Regardless of which format you’re using, citations are necessary for each new idea in your paper that’s not your own. If you’re making a point based on something you read or sharing another researcher’s evidence, you have to include details about that source so readers can verify the information is correct.

On top of that, MLA also has a few additional notes on when to cite AI chatbots in general:

  • When you paraphrase or directly quote any text generated by it
  • When you incorporate into your work any content (images, data aggregation, etc.) it created
  • When you use one of its functional tools like translation or editing (you can cite this in a note or mention it in the text)

AI technology is far from perfect, and MLA recognizes that. It recommends that, if you use AI for research, you cite the sources the AI used rather than the AI itself. Of course, not all AI chatbots disclose their sources or which facts come from which sources; if you cannot track the original source the AI used, citing the AI is good enough.

How do you cite a chatbot in MLA?

There are two types of citations in MLA format: full citations that go at the end of the paper and parenthetical citations that go in the text.

How to cite AI in MLA: Full citations

Full citations in MLA follow a standardized formula, although not all fields are necessary when you’re citing AI. Here is a short list of the core elements in an MLA citation, with descriptions of how they apply to AI specifically:

  • Author: blank for AI
  • Title of source: the prompt you used to generate the text or a description if the prompt itself is too long
  • Title of container: the name of the AI tool, such as ChatGPT
  • Version: the tool’s version (some tools list their version as a date)
  • Publisher: the company that created the AI
  • Date: the date you accessed the AI, in day-month-year format
  • Location: the URL of the tool

Put it all together, and it should look like this:

“Example of an MLA citation” prompt. ChatGPT, GPT-4, OpenAI, 30 Jun. 2023,

Pay particular attention to the punctuation, indentation, and use of italics: These remain the same for all citations, regardless of the source.

Full citations go in the works cited page at the end of the paper. Because there is no author for AI sources, alphabetize them by the first word in their entry, typically the description of the prompt.

How to cite AI in MLA: Parenthetical citations

For citations, MLA prefers in-text parenthetical citations, although footnotes and endnotes can still be used for supplemental information. Place parenthetical citations after the related sentence, clause, or paragraph that contains the information being cited but before the final punctuation mark.

Most entries in MLA parenthetical citations use the author’s last name and a page number—but AI chatbots have neither. Instead, use the description of the prompt in the “Title of source” section, set in quotes with no other punctuation.

(“Example of an MLA citation”)

Because these prompt descriptions can get long, shorten them to the first phrase. For example, if your prompt was “Describe the religious themes of Lord of the Rings,” the parenthetical citation would be “Describe the religious themes” only.

Sacrifice, redemption, and the feud between good and evil are all present in J. R. R Tolkien’s series (“Describe the religious themes”), but some are more prevalent than others.

Keep in mind that full citations still use the complete prompt.

How to cite ChatGPT in MLA format

You can cite ChatGPT in MLA using the instructions above. For quick references, here’s an MLA citation example for ChatGPT that you can use as a template.

Full citation in works cited page:

“Summarize the book Thus Spoke Zarathustra” prompt. ChatGPT, GPT-4, OpenAI, 30 Jun. 2023,

Parenthetical citation in text:

(“Summarize the book”)

How to cite ChatGPT and AI in MLA: FAQs

When should you cite ChatGPT and AI in MLA?

In academic writing, you cite a source every time you present a new piece of information from it. When you’re using AI and ChatGPT as a source, use citations whenever you reference generative text or other content; if you use functional tools like translation or editing, mention that in a note or in the text.

How do you cite a chatbot in MLA?

Citations for AI chatbots follow the same citation template as all other sources, with some changes to suit their unique needs. No author is given, the title describes the prompt, the publisher is the company that created the AI, and the location is the AI’s URL.

How do you cite ChatGPT in MLA format?

A full citation for ChatGPT in MLA format would appear on the works cited page as:

“Summarize the book Thus Spoke Zarathustra” prompt. ChatGPT, GPT-4, OpenAI, 30 Jun. 2023,

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