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MLA Citation Guide

This guide will help you understand how to use the MLA citation format for both in-text citations and works cited lists. It includes some more commonly used source formats. For complete information, please consult the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research

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Ann Grafstein
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About MLA Citation

The Modern Language Association (MLA) Citation Format is the preferred citation format for the humanities (literature, philosophy, arts, sometimes history). There are two primary reasons for citing your sources:

1. Citations provide information that readers need to identify and locate the sources you use in your research

2. You must give credit to the people who wrote or created the sources you used in your project. Doing so ensures that you do not commit plagiarism.

The MLA style provides extensive specific guidelines for researching and formatting your paper. This guide shows you the format for creating Works Cited Lists and parenthetical in-text citations.

This guide is valid for both the 8th and 9th editions of the MLA Handbook. Those of you who are familiar with previous editions will notice some changes, such as

  1. With certain exceptions (books published before 1900 and different editions of a book published by the same company), the location of the publisher is not listed.
  2. You will notice that there are some abbreviations in the names of publishers (e.g., UP instead of University Press).
  3. In a departure from the 7th edition, the medium of a work is no longer listed (print, web, etc.)
  4. DOIs (Digital Object Identifiers) are preferred to URLs.
  5. The main purpose of MLA 8th edition is to help the reader identify the sources in your Works Cited List. Therefore, the inclusion of some information is left to the discretion of the writer. For example,  MLA 7 required you to always provide the access date for any electronic source, whether it is an article found in a library database or an open Internet site. In MLA 8, access dates are provided if the writer believes they will assist the reader to locate the source.

This is a guide to some of the more commonly used types of sources. For complete searchable guide to MLA formatting--or for anything that is not included here--consult the MLA Handbook Plus. The print version can be found at the Reference Desk:

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