How do I cite a map?
Note: This post relates to content in the eighth edition of the MLA Handbook. For up-to-date guidance, see the ninth edition of the MLA Handbook.
Maps appear as stand-alone print works, as images in books or websites, and as functional independent websites or parts of websites. As with any work, to cite a map, follow the MLA template of core elements.
Free-Standing Print Maps
To cite a free-standing print map, provide the publication details given by the source–in the example below, the title of the map (italicized because it is a stand-alone work, like a book), its publisher, and the publication date are given:
Michigan. Rand, 2000.
If you do not directly refer to the work as a map in your prose, you might list the medium of publication in the optional-element-slot at the end of the entry:
Michigan. Rand, 2000. Map.
Static Maps Contained in Other Works
If a map appears as a static image contained in another work, like a book or website, you can refer to it in the text and then provide an entry for the larger work in the works-cited-list entry:
As one map shows, the western boundaries of Brazil have changed over time (Fitz 43).
Fitz, Earl E. Brazilian Narrative Traditions in a Comparative Context. Modern Language Association, 2005.
Researchers can now see where the accusers and accused lived in relation to each other in Salem Village (Kretzschmar, fig. 1).
Kretzschmar, William A., Jr. “GIS for Language and Literature Study.” Literary Studies in the Digital Age: An Evolving Anthology, edited by Kenneth M. Price and Ray Siemens, Modern Language Association, doi:10.1632/lsda.2013.7.
In such cases, you can also treat the map as a work contained in another work and create a works-cited-list entry that gives the name of the map as the title of the source and the name of the book as the title of the container. Be sure to key your in-text reference to the entry:
The western boundaries of Brazil have changed over time (“Western Boundaries”).
“Western Boundaries of Brazil, 1600, 1780, and the Present.” Brazilian Narrative Traditions in a Comparative Context, by Earl E. Fitz, Modern Language Association, 2005, p. 43. Map.
Note that titles of maps appearing as images in other works are placed in quotation marks.
Functional Digital Maps
Digital maps are often interactive, allowing the user to display certain sections and engage special features, and sometimes they use software applications that run on top of websites. For this reason, the page displaying the map may provide limited publication information, as in the example below:
The Agas Map of Early Modern London. mapoflondon.uvic.ca/
Additional publication information can sometimes be gleaned from the landing page for the map or from other informational pages on the website, as in the following example. Note also that the title is treated like a stand-alone work contained in another work:
Jenstad, Janelle. The Agas Map of Early Modern London. Map of Early Modern London, U of Victoria, 9 June 2016, mapoflondon.uvic.ca/
If you use a mapping tool like Google Maps to see a specific area, in the “Title of source” slot, place a description of the area displayed. The entry below, for a map of Santo Domingo, provides the title of the website in which the map is displayed as the title of the container. It then provides the copyright date from the bottom of the website and the site’s root URL (read more on truncating lengthy URLs):
Map of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Google Maps, 2018, maps.google.com.