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How to Cite Wikipedia in MLA Format

Writing an academic paper or professional report requires you to cite verified and authoritative sources. Unlike primary and secondary sources, Wikipedia is considered a tertiary source since its information is written and edited by its own users. At any point, a user can modify a Wikipedia entry with misinformation or omit information altogether. 

Therefore, professors advise against exclusively using Wikipedia for your research. However, using it as a starting point has become an increasingly acceptable practice, as developed Wikipedia entries often have a list of references to original, credible sources that you can explore in more depth.

 If you’re allowed to use Wikipedia as a source, there are citation format nuances to be aware of. The MLA format for citing Wikipedia includes the following elements: the title of the entry (same as on-page headline), container name, publisher, last updated date, and permalink.

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How to cite Wikipedia in MLA style

Since there are multiple users that have contributed to the page, omit the author element that would usually start a standard MLA citation. Instead, begin the entry on your works cited page with the Wikipedia page name in quotation marks. 

For the container name, use Wikipedia’s full name. Here’s what a Wikipedia citation looks like in MLA format:

“Page name.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, Wikimedia Foundation, Day

Month Year last updated, permalink.

Example:

“The Fellowship of the Ring.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, Wikimedia

Foundation, 7 May 2022, en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php

?title=The_Fellowship_of_the_Ring&oldid=1086698464.

The last updated date can be found at the bottom of all Wikipedia entries. MLA format doesn’t require the “https://” as part of the permanent link.

In-text citation 

Typically, an in-text and parenthetical citation using MLA format includes the author and page number elements. However, Wikipedia entries don’t name a single author and don’t have page numbers.

When incorporating an in-text citation in your research paper, use an abbreviated version of the Wikipedia entry title in quotation marks. Below is an example of how an in-text citation might look for the same Wikipedia source

In-text citation example: 

(“Fellowship”)

If you’re citing a Wikipedia entry as a part of a written sentence, simply use the shortened entry name in quotations without the parentheses. For example:

As demonstrated in “Fellowship,” the dynamic between Middle-earth and . . .

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