How to Format URLs

A URL or permalink is the address for a website. Some of this information is from pages 188-89 and 194-96 of the MLA Handbook

What is a URL or Permalink?

  • URL stands for uniform resource locator and is the text that appears in the address bar of your browser.
  • A permalink is “a URL intended to be permanent” (p. 188), and sometimes it is called a stable, permanent, or persistent link or URL. If your source provides a permalink, use it in your citation instead of the URL that is in the address bar of your browser. Always copy permalinks directly from the source. (For example, in Gale databases, the permalink is called Get Link.)


When to Include a URL or Permalink 

  • If your source has a permalink, always include the permalink in the citation.
  • If your source does not have a permalink, include the URL for the source.

How to Include a URL or Permalink

  • Always copy URLs directly from the browser (or copy the permalink from the source).
    • Leave out the http:// or https://.
    • Some URLs do not include www. In that case, do not add www to the URL.

  • In your works cited list, it is acceptable for the length of lines within a citation to be uneven. Do not add a hyphen or space to force part of a URL onto another line. However, it is acceptable if your word processing program automatically adds a break or moves the URL to its own line.

  • Truncating or shortening a URL

   “If a URL runs more than three full lines, or is longer than the rest of the entry, truncate it. When truncating, always retain at least the host” (p. 196).


URL with more than three lines:

Truncated URL (host plus abbreviation for database name):


MLA Handbook. 9th ed., Modern Language Association of America, 2021.

The MLA Style Center: Writing Resources from the Modern Language Association. Modern Language Association of America, 2021,