MLA Citations (OLD): Getting Started

Overview of MLA Style Guidelines
This guide has been updated! The current MLA style guide is located at

MLA offers online help at The MLA Style Center.

Use their search box in the upper right corner to search for citation examples.

It's Here!

The Modern Language Association has published the new 9th edition of the MLA Handbook (2021), with more in-depth explanations and plentiful new examples. See more info online at the MLA Style Center. 

Core Elements of a Citation

MLA Template 9th edition
Image from MLA Style Center

The MLA Handbook identifies 9 core elements placed in a specific order to help you create a citation. Note: Some of your sources may not contain every core element. 

What's in this Guide?

In April 2016, MLA published its  MLA Handbook (8th ed.) to help make citing sources more consistent and an easier process for students. This new approach places less emphasis on publication format and shifts focus to a source's core elements. As a result, there can be more than one correct way to document a source depending on elements highlighted for a specific scholarly use.

The new edition of the MLA Handbook asks researchers to think about their sources and select and organize the necessary information to document their sources. Instead of looking up an entry on how to cite an article from a website, researchers identify the source's core elements: Who is the author? What is the article's title?  Where is this article located (its container)?

To help you in this task, this guide will show you how to

  • identify core elements of a source.
  • use the MLA Practice Template to create citations for your Works Cited page.
  • include in-text citations in the body of your essay.
  • properly format your essay according to MLA style guidelines.
  • evaluate and use citation generators.


Why Cite Sources?

  • To give credit to the original author. If you quote or paraphrase someone else's words or ideas, you must cite the source.
    • A quotation uses the exact words of the author.
    • A paraphrase accurately states all the relevant information from a passage in your own words and sentence structures
  • To allow readers to locate sources on your Works Cited page and explore the sources you used in your research.
  • To avoid plagiarism.

The MLA Style Center

The MLA Style Center is a helpful resource published by the Modern Language Association to help acquaint users with new citation guidelines. Take a look at the links below for more information:

MLA Handbook (8th ed.)

Privacy & Confidentiality StatementLibrary Code of Conduct