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MLA Citation Guide (9th edition) : Getting Started

This guide covers citations and formatting for MLA style (9th edition).

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What is MLA?

MLA style was created by the Modern Language Association. It is a set of rules for research papers and publications.

In MLA, you must cite sources that you have paraphrased, quoted, or consulted to write your research paper. Cite your sources in two places:

  1. In the body of your paper (in-text citation).
  2. In the Works Cited list at the end of your paper (full bibliographic reference).

MLA Core Elements

Entries in the list of works cited are made up of core elements given in a specific order, and there are optional elements that may be included. The core elements in your works cited list are the following, given in the order in which they should appear, followed by the correct punctuation mark. The final element in an MLA reference should end with a period:

  1. Author.
  2. Title of source.
  3. Title of container,
  4. Contributor,
  5. Version,
  6. Number,
  7. Publisher,
  8. Publication date,
  9. Location.

To use this template of core elements, first evaluate what you are citing to see which elements apply to the source. Then list each element relevant to your source in the order given on the template. For a work containing another work (e.g. an article published in a journal and contained in a database), you can repeat the process by filling out the template again from Title of container to Location, listing all elements that apply to the container.

MLA 9th Edition

The 9th edition of the MLA Style Guide was developed to provide more in-depth guidance on the core element structure of MLA style. The Guide goes into more detail about how to identify the core elements of a typical bibliographic reference and also offers additional advice on inclusive language, in-text citations, and key grammar points.