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MLA Citation Style Guide: Overview

This guide contains examples of common citation formats in MLA (Modern Language Association) Style

About MLA Style

MLA (Modern Language Association) style is commonly used for citing references in the humanities. This guide is based on the 7th edition of MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, published in 2009.

This edition is shelved in the Ready Reference area behind the Library's Circulation Desk and may be used in the library (it can't be checked out). 

The call number is READY REF WZ 345 G437m 2009

New Content in the 7th Edition

Some of the changes include:

  • Using italics instead of underlines.
  • All citations now include an indication of the medium of the source that was viewed (e.g. Print or Web)
  • Not including a URL when citing Web Resources unless specifically directed to do so by an instructor.


Portions of this LibGuide have been copied, with permission, from the following institutions:

  • Jamestown Community College Hultquist Library
  • Penn State University Libraries
  • Red Deer College Library

General Guidelines

MLA Citation Style utilizes the following:

Parenthetical Citation (p. 214):  All sources of information and data, whether quoted directly or paraphrased, are cited with parenthetical references IN THE TEXT of your paper.  Usually the author's last name and a page number are used, as in the following example:

Medieval Europe was a place both of "raids, pillages, slavery, and extortion" (Townsend 10).

Works Cited (p. 123-135):  All parenthetical citations must point to a corresponding entry in the Works Cited list, which appears at the end of a paper.  The Works Cited entries are arranged alphabetically by the surname of the first author or by title or first word if there is no author, as in the following example:

Townsend, Robert M.  The Medieval Village Economy. Princeton: Princeton UP, 1993.  Print.


Formatting Guidelines

  • Double-space your entire paper, including the "Works Cited" list and any block quotes. (p. 116)
  • List "Works Cited" entries with a hanging indent.  (p. 130-131)

Tip: Use your word processor's Help function to learn how to create a hanging indent:
Word 2013 - Adjust Indents and Spacing
Google Docs - Page Setup - Add a Hanging (Left) Indent

  • Capitalize all significant words in a title and subtitles.  (p. 86-87)
  • Italicize book titles, journal titles, and titles of other works published independently.  (p. 88)
  • Use quotation marks around the titles of works published as part of another work, such as a: journal article, short story, or essay in an anthology.  (p. 89)
  • Omit any introductory article, such as the word "The" in a title. (p. 138).

About Plagiarism

Give credit to all sources from which you have taken information, whether you have directly quoted, paraphrased, or summarized the author’s words.   Failing to document your sources constitutes plagiarism. 

See Chapter 2 of the manual for more information about plagiarism and academic integrity.