How to Format DOIs and URLs in MLA

The incorporation of Digital Object Identifiers (DOIs) and Uniform Resource Locators (URLs) into your citations according to the MLA style is crucial. These alphanumeric designations act as entry points for accessing and citing online content with precision. Familiarity with the appropriate circumstances and methods for their inclusion can significantly improve the clarity and dependability of your MLA citations.

  • DOI stands for digital object identifier. DOIs can be found in database records and the works cited lists of published works.
  • A DOI is a string of numbers and letters that typically begins with the number 10. 
  • URL stands for uniform resource locator and is the text that appears in the address bar of your browser.


  • The format for a DOI follows the style provided by the International DOI Foundation:, where XXXX represents the DOI number. For example, the DOI 10.1016/2021.113395 would become
  • It is essential to always directly copy URLs from the browser or extract the permalink directly from the source.
  • When including URLs, exclude the “http://” or “https://” prefixes. If a URL doesn’t have “www,” don’t include it.
  • The MLA recommends truncating a URL if it extends beyond three full lines or surpasses the length of the rest of the entry. Truncation should follow a specific method, omitting the protocol (anything after the double slash) and the “//”. If further shortening is necessary, it’s advised to keep the host intact to enable readers to assess the website and locate the source.

Prioritize DOIs: When citing a source with both a DOI and a URL, include only the DOI in your citation.

Understand URL Components: Familiarize yourself with the parts of a URL, including the protocol, double forward slash, host (e.g., www), and path, to better manage and truncate URLs effectively in your citations.

Consider Accessibility: Be mindful that inaccessible URLs, such as those behind paywalls or defunct sources, can hinder retrieval of information. However, readers may still extract valuable insights from the URL, aiding in understanding your research path.


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Tomas Elliott (Ph.D.)

Tomas Elliott is an assistant Professor of English at Northeastern University London. His research specialisms include the history of theatre and film, European modernism, world literature, film adaptation, transmedia studies and citation practices. He read English and French Literature at Trinity College, Oxford, before completing a PhD in Comparative Literature and Literary Theory at the University of Pennsylvania.

Learn how to cite in MLA