When citing a print dictionary in MLA style, do I include a page number?

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.

Yes. Cite an entry in a print dictionary like a section of a larger work. Include the page number in the “Location” element of the MLA style template:

“Content, N. (4).” Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 11th ed., Merriam-Webster, 2003, p. 269.

To cite an entry in an online dictionary, consider the URL the location:

“Content, N. (1).” Merriam-Webster Unabridged, 2016, unabridged.merriam-Webster.com/collegiate/content.

See page 42 of the MLA Handbook for guidelines on when it’s permissible to omit a publisher’s name, as in the above example.

Whether you’ve consulted an entry from a print or an electronic dictionary, you can direct readers to the definition you’re citing in a parenthetical reference:

(“Content,” def. 4.1.b)