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Citation Guide: General

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:

  1. 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.

Do You Need Help With Citations?

If you need help with your citations, stop by the library and ask the library staff for assistance or email Ms. Howard at

Inclusive language guidelines

The MLA 9 Handbook includes tips to help writers use language thoughtfully when discussing race and ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, ability, age, and economic or social status.

Oxfam has an inclusive language guide that can assist writers in their writing.


Commonly Used Terms

Access Date: The date you first look at a source. The access date is added to the end of citations for all websites except library databases.

Citation: Details about one cited source.

Citing: The process of acknowledging the sources of your information and ideas.

In-Text Citation: 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.

Paraphrasing: Taking information that you have read and putting it into your own words.

Plagiarism: Taking, using, and passing off as your own, the ideas or words of another.

Quoting: 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.

Core Elements of an MLA Citation

MLA 8th edition provides 9 core elements to complete any works cited entry. It is your job to try to fill in these core elements with the information you have about a source. If any element is missing or not applicable, you can skip that element.


"Title of source." (title is in italics if the source is self-contained. For example, an entire book.)


Title of Container, (for example, the title of a book, journal, web site)
Other contributors, (such as editors, translators, or directors.)
Publication date,

Note: According to p. 42 of the MLA Handbook, publisher information may be omitted for:

  • periodicals (journals, magazines, newspapers)
  • works published by an author or editor
  • web sites whose title is the same as the name of the publisher
  • a web site not involved in producing the work it makes (e.g. user-generated content sites like YouTube)


Thank you to the following:

MLA 8 Handbook.

Columbia College, Vancouver, Canada LibGuide.

Front Range Community College, Colorado, USA LibGuide

This guide is used/adapted with the permission of Seneca College Libraries, Ontario, Canada. For information please contact

United Nations International School, Hanoi