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Citations: MLA Style (9th ed.)

A guide to writing and citing in MLA format.

About MLA Style: Fast Facts

Current edition: 9th  


MLA Handbook coverMLA = Modern Language Association, a professional society for the humanities. MLA is their style guide for publications, and determines how you set up your document and how you write your citations, both on the Works Cited and in-text.

  • Times New Roman, size 12, double-spaced everywhere and for everything.
  • In the upper left corner of your first page, you should have the four-line MLA heading:
    • your name,
    • your instructor's name,
    • the course, and
    • the date.
  • In the upper right corner, inside the margin, you should have your last name and page number.
  • On a new page at the end of your document, start your Works Cited page (titled Works Cited).

Checklist for Any MLA Citation: Core Elements

Treat this like a checklist for writing any citation. If something is missing or irrelevant, just skip to the next thing in the list. Note the punctuation! Your final citation will use three periods and some varying number of commas.

MLA Elements

What Are These Things?

1 The author is just whoever created the work. Give the first/only author's name in reverse order: Lastname, Firstname.  2 The title of source (article title, episode title, book title, etc) will have "quotes" if it's part of a larger work, or be italicized if

Next, look for information about where this thing was originally published.

3  Title of Container could be the name of a journal, magazine, TV series, website name... whatever it is that your particular source exists as a piece of. 

4 is where you'll specify any other contributors, like "translated by FirstName LastName" or "narrated by FirstName LastName." (You'll probably skip this one a lot.)  5 Version can be numeric (like: 7th ed.) or descriptive (like: updated ed., director's cut, unabridged version). 6 Number describes where the source appears if it's published as part of a sequence (like episodes in a TV series).

7 Publisher is whoever put it out to the world, typically a company name. Omit any LLC/Ltd/Co. parts of the name. 8 is the date of that version's publication. For website comments or tweets, include the time posted along with the date.  9 Location could be page numbers or a URL or DOI, or even which disc in a DVD set, or the physical location of an artwork.

Container 2:

Repeat the elements of the first container for any additional information you need to provide. If you're looking at a source in its original context, you probably won't need to do this. However, for an article in a database, you would include element 3 Title of Container (the name of the database, e.g. JSTOR) and element  9 Location, or the permalink to that article.

Put it all together...

AuthorLast, AuthorFirst. “Article Title.” Name of Container, verbed by Some Contributor, version, number, Publisher Name, date, location. Second Container, location. Supplemental note.

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