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MLA Citation & Style Guide

About MLA

Modern Language Association (MLA) style, most commonly used in the humanities and liberal arts, is a specific formatting style that students and scholars use when writing papers and citing sources. Citing sources in MLA Style requires a brief in-text citation and full details of each source used on a final Works Cited page. Use the navigation links to the left to learn more about these elements.

Information here is taken from the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers (8th ed.) which may be consulted for questions not addressed here. Purdue University's Online Writing Lab (OWL) is also an excellent resource. For additional help with citations Ask Us or drop by the Research Help desk to meet with a librarian. Click here to visit the archived MLA 7th edition site.

The Purdue OWL website also provides information on annotated bibliographies, as well as a sample entry.  


In-Text Citations

Any time you paraphrase or quote from a source you must give an in-text citation. Every in-text citation points a reader to complete details of each source used in the Works Cited page (at the end of your paper). In-text citations in MLA style require you to give author and specific page number(s) when available. Some examples of in-text citations when paraphrasing, in-text citations when quoting, and in-text citations for sources with no author are below. (Yellow highlighting is only used to point out in-text citation elements and is not part of MLA style.)

In-Text Citation When Paraphrasing:

In her research, Smith found that students learn best when they are actively engaged (176-80).

According to one researcher, students learn best when they are actively engaged (Smith 176-80).

In-Text Citation When Quoting:

According to Smith “the evidence demonstrated that community college students learn best when they are actively participating in a lecture” (179).

One researcher noted that "community college students learn best when they are actively participating" (Smith 179).

In-Text Citation for Sources with No Author - For sources with no author give entire title of the source - as listed in your Works Cited - in the body of your paper or abbreviate the title in parentheses:

According to Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire house elves are treated poorly (179).

House elves have historically been treated poorly (Harry 179).

Works Cited Page

The Works Cited list is the final page of a research paper and is comprised of citations for all sources used. It provides the complete details for each source that was cited briefly in-text and should be alphabetized and double-spaced. If the full citation for a source is longer than one line then every line after the first should have a half-inch hanging indent. Check out two sample Works Cited pages:

There are 9 core elements to consider and look for in each source you cite on your Works Cited page. These 9 elements include: author(s), title of source, title of container(s), other contributors, version, number, publisher, publication date, and location. Information about each of these elements is in the left menu ("Element Descriptions").