MLA Citations: Getting Started

What's in this Guide?

What's in this Guide?

The MLA Handbook (9th ed.) helps make citing sources a consistent and an easy process for students. This 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.


This guide will show you how to:

  • Identify core elements of a source.
  • Include in-text citations in the body of your essay.
  • Properly format your essay according to MLA style guidelines.
  • Evaluate and use citation generators.

MLA handbook


The Modern Language Association has authored and 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. 


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:

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