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What is MLA?
MLA style was created by the Modern Language Association of America. It is a set of rules for publications, including research papers.
There are two parts to MLA: In-text citations and the Works Cited list.
In MLA, you must "cite" sources that you have paraphrased, quoted or otherwise used to write your research paper. Cite your sources in two places:
- In the body of your paper where you add a brief in-text citation.
2. In the Works Cited list at the end of your paper where you give more complete information for the source.
This citation guide is based on the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers (8th ed.). The contents are accurate to the best of our knowledge.
Core Elements and Containers
Each entry in the list of works cited is composed of facts common to most works—the MLA core elements. They are assembled in a specific order.
- Title of source.
- Title of container,
- Other contributors,
- Publication date,
The concept of containers is crucial to MLA style.
When the source being documented forms part of a larger whole, the larger whole can be thought of as a container that holds the source.
For example, a short story may be contained in an anthology. The short story is the source, and the anthology is the container.
Commonly Used Terms
||The date you first look at a source. The access date is added to the end of citations for all websites except library databases.
||Details about one cited source.
||The process of acknowledging the sources of your information and ideas.
|| A brief note at the point where information is used from a source to indicate where the information came from. An in-text citation should always match more detailed information that is available in the Works Cited List.
|| Taking information that you have read and putting it into your own words.
||Taking, using, and passing off as your own, the ideas or words of another.
||The copying of words of text originally published elsewhere. Direct quotations generally appear in quotation marks and end with a citation.
|Works Cited List
||Contains details on ALL the sources cited in a text or essay, and supports your research and/or premise.
Modern Language Association (MLA) Resources
MLA Style Center
A collection of resources from the Modern Language Association, including Works Cited: A Quick Guide; guidelines for formatting research papers, an interactive template for creating works-cited entries, and sample papers written in MLA style.
Works Cited - A Quick Guide
An introduction to concepts important to MLA Style 8th edition: Core Elements and Containers. Two example citations of a source in a single container are given (an essay in a book collection and a video on a website). One example of citation of a source in two containers is given (a journal article retrieved from a database).
MLA Guidelines for Formatting a Research Paper
Guidelines from MLA for the most common components of formatting a research paper, including: Margins; Text Formatting; Heading and Title; Running Head with Page Numbers; Placement of the List of Works Cited; Tables and Illustrations; Paper and Printing; Corrections and Insertions on Printouts; Binding a Printed Paper; and Electronic Submission. Always check with your instructor for any specific requirements for the format of your research paper before preparing your final draft.
Sample Papers Written in MLA Style
Two sample college research papers that demonstrate the use of MLA style to document sources and the formatting of the margins, line spacing, and other physical attributes of a printed paper. The papers can also help you learn about organizing an argument and working with sources.
Plagiarism and Academic Dishonesty Handout
This downloadable handout on plagiarism and academic dishonesty from MLA explains the why behind attribution. Topics discussed include: What Is Plagiarism?: What Makes Plagiarism a Serious Offense?; What Does Plagiarism Look Like?; How Can You Avoid Plagiarism?; and Does Absence of Documentation Indicate Plagiarism?
Interactive Practice Template
Use the template to build a works-cited-list entry by entering the elements present in your source. You must include any necessary punctuation, capitalization, and italics. The entry will appear under “Your Citation,” color-coded to correspond to the template. The template is a tool for teaching and learning MLA style, not a citation generator.
MLA Formatting and Style Guide
An overview to help students better understand how to cite sources using MLA eighth edition, including how to format the Works Cited page and in-text citations. Presented by OWL (Online Writing Lab) at Purdue University.
MLA Sample Paper - with Appendix (Purdue OWL example)
This example shows the correct way to format your Appendix, and the individual MLA citations are formatted according to the 8th (2016) edition of MLA.
MLA Handbook by
Call Number: R 808.02 MLA
Publication Date: 2016-04-01
Provides guidance on selecting a topic and conducting research for a research paper; defines plagiarism; covers writing mechanics; and outlines MLA format and documentation style. Available for reference use only at the librarian's desk.
This guide is used/adapted with the permission of Seneca College Libraries. For information please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.