It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

MLA International Bibliography Database: Home

A guide for using the MLA (Modern Languages Association) Bibliography database, which searches more than 7,100 periodicals in the areas of literature, language, linguistics, and folklore.

How to Search MLA

Advanced Search

The opening search page of the MLA International Bibliography database is actually Advanced Search. This search mode is the most effective way to search MLA.  It provides three search bars so that you can search for multiple key terms at once:

Constructing a Search

Your choice of search terms will affect the quality of your results. Think about your topic and determine the strongest and simplest words. Enclose a phrase in quotation marks to search the terms together, as a phrase. MLA Advanced Search allows you to search within fields, such as authorabstractjournal titlesubject, literary theme, and others. If no selection is made, all fields are searched.

A very simple search, for the title of a work - "catcher in the rye" in TI  returns 144 results. This search is probably too broad and without much real value on its own. It is helpful to have another search term to create a more refined set of results. A theoretical or critical term related to the work you're researching is a good choice. The Catcher in the Rye is, fundamentally, a book about adolescence, and so that term can be used in the search. NOTE: we used truncation in the form of an asterisk - * when entering "adolescen". Think of the asterisk as meaning "and, anything afterwards." This allows the search to include adolescentadolescents, or adolescence. Adding this and searching again returns 12 results.

You can also apply different limits to your search, including by Publication Date, Publication Type, Language, Genre, and Scholarly (Peer-Reviewed) Journals (see the sidebar). 

After you type in your search terms and click on the Search button, you see a list of results:

These results will include citation records for journal articles, books, and book chapters. Journal articles may  or may not be available in full text--if they are, then you will see HTML Full Text and PDF Full Text icons, as shown in the above example, or (not shown here) Linked Full Text. Citations for book chapters and books will not have full-text links, so to find them, click on the  button to search all Library holdings. 

When you click the GET ARTICLE icon, the link searches for the item throughout the library's resources - primarily, our other databases. Several things may happen when you click GET ARTICLE, including being taken to the full text of the article in another database.

In the example, here, in result #2, when you click GET ARTICLE you are taken to the Central Piedmont Community College website. You need to notice the Fall 2016 article date in the citation. On the website, you can then browse to the Fall 2016 issue and access the PDF of the article.

Basic Search

Basic Search is a simple search that you can access through the "Basic Search" link below the Advanced Search bars. We strongly recommend that you use Advanced Search, but if you're overwhelmed by all of the options, select Basic SearchIn Basic Search, you can type in one key phrase, title, or author, and choose to limit by Pubication Date, Linked Full-Text only, Language, or Scholarly (Peer-Reviewed) Journals.

More Search Tips

Using the Thesaurus

  • At the top of the EBSCO interface, there is a blue bar with a variety of different tools. On the left, next to "New Search," is a link to MLA's thesaurus. Here you can search for Subject Terms used by the database. To begin, try entering words that might be related to your topic.

  • You can specify the type of search you want to do by clicking on the radio buttons next to "Term Begins With," "Term Contain," or "Relevancy Ranked."
  • Once you've clicked on a word or phrase, it will display Broader Terms, Narrower Terms, Related Terms, and Used For.



Using Subject Terms and General Subject Terms

  • First, check the thesaurus to discover what words MLA uses to describe what you're interested in. You can use these terms to find all of the other items that have also been assigned those words as subjects.
  • If you're unable to find a heading in the thesaurus that matches your topic, try doing a keyword search.  This will return many more results than a subject search, but not all will be related to what you're interested in.
  • When you find an item that looks relevant, look to see what Subject Terms have been assigned to it.
  • In addition to Subject Terms, MLA also breaks down each item into General Subject Terms. These include the subject literature, the period, the primary subject author, and the genre. In some cases, an item will have multiple sets of General Subject Terms, as in this example. You can use these General Subject terms in much the same way as the Subject Terms, to bring together all of the items that share that subject.

Scope of Coverage

The MLA International Bibliography is the most comprehensive index for research works on literatures and languages. The database contains citations for secondary works in:

  • World literatures, including Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, and North and South Americas
  • Folklore and folk art
  • Linguistics
  • Literary theory and criticism
  • Dramatic arts
  • History of printing and publishing
  • Rhetoric and composition

The MLA does NOT include works exclusively on classical Greek and Latin literatures or works on subjects like aesthetics, human behavior, communication, and information processes, except as they relate directly to human language or literature.


The majority of citations indexed by MLA are in English. But at least seventy other languages are represented, including French, Spanish, German, Russian, Japanese, Portuguese, Norwegian, and Turkish.

Dates of Coverage

The MLA contains citations from 1926 to the present.

Full-Text Access

MLA is primary an index and contains only some full-text articles. If you need the full text of a citation that isn't available in the database, click on the GET ARTICLE button icon to search all Library holdings for its location in another database.
Check Article Linker for this item's availability.

If you have questions, don't hesitate to contact a librarian for help. We're always ready to assist. Click the chat link on the Library Page or email us at

Search Fields

(TI) Title: search this field if you are looking for known-items or items with your search terms in their title (e.g. "Satiric Tragedy: 'The Revenger's Tragedy'")

(AU) Author: search this field if you are looking for items by a particular scholar (e.g. Woolf, Virginia)

(SK) Primary Subject Work: the title of the work you are interested in researching (e.g. "The Revenger's Tragedy")

(SA) Primary Subject Author: the author of the work you are interested in researching (e.g. Alighieri, Dante)

(SU) Subjects -- All: search this field for controlled-vocabulary words, names, or phrases that describes what the item is about (e.g. "revenge tragedy," staging)


Limits are tools that enable you to focus on certain types of materials for your search based on specific categories and characteristics.  Here are some of the most common ones you may use:

Exclude Dissertations: We strongly recommend that you check this box to exclude dissertations from your search: dissertations are tricky to use and best to leave out.

Limit by Source Type: Use this to restrict your search to only one type of item such as Book, Book Article/Chapter, or Journal Article.

Limit by Language: Select "English" in this menu to limit your search to only English-language texts.

Limit by Peer Review: Check the box next to "Scholarly (Peer Reviewed) Journals" to search for only those items in scholarly journals.

Limit by Linked Full-Text: Check the box next to "Link Full-Text" to search for only items with full-text.

Limit by Publication Date: Type in the publication date limits for your search.

University Librarian

Profile Photo
Kurt Wagner
Library - 201
Monmouth University
400 Cedar Ave.
West Long Branch, NJ