How do I cite a data table?
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.
To cite a table, follow the MLA format template to create a works-cited-list entry for its source. The following example is an entry for a census report on language course enrollments:
Goldberg, David, et al. Enrollments in Languages Other Than English in United States Institutions of Higher Education, Fall 2013. Modern Language Association, Feb. 2015, www.mla.org/enrollments_census.
This report has page numbers as well as numbered figures and tables, so the parenthetical reference will include the page number on which the table appears and the table number, in square brackets:
The MLA’s latest census of postsecondary institutions in the United States shows that 50.6% of the nation’s 1,562,179 enrollments in foreign language courses were in Spanish (Goldberg et al. 39 [table 6]). That is, enrollments in Spanish account for more enrollments in foreign language courses than all the other languages combined, putting Spanish “in a class of its own” (4).
In some contexts (e.g., when citing a table from an extensive data set), it might be practical to create a works-cited-list entry for an individual table:
“Table 311.80: Number and Percentage Distribution of Course Enrollments in Languages Other Than English at Degree-Granting Postsecondary Institutions, by Language and Enrollment Level: Selected Years, 2002 through 2013.” Digest of Education Statistics, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015, nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d15/tables/dt15_311.80.asp.