Brookhaven College Library QuickStarts

MLA Citation Guide (8th edition)

What is MLA Style?

MLA Format is a citation format created by the Modern Language Association. It is used for research papers in many college classes, including English classes.
Your instructor will tell you if your class requires MLA format.

The Two Required Types of Citation

MLA Citation requires two types of citation, or documentation...

  • Works Cited Documentation
  • In-Text Documentation

Click on the tabs for more information.

Works Cited Documentation provides details about the sources used for your research project. Your Works Cited list goes at the end of your project or paper and includes information about each source that must be put in a specific order. MLA calls this information Core Elements. Here is the list of Core Elements in order, including the punctuation that must be included after each element (from page 20 of the MLA Handbook, 8th Edition):

  1. Author
  2. Title of source.
  3. Title of the container,
  4. Other contributors,
  5. Version,
  6. Number,
  7. Publisher,
  8. Publication date,
  9. Location.

Some sources don't require all elements these elements. Click on the link below for more details.

In-Text Documentation (also called parenthetical documentation or citation) goes in your project or essay near where you use information from your source. In-text citations are required when you do the following:

  • Directly quote information from a source by putting exact wording in quotation marks
  • Paraphrase information from a source by putting ideas into your own words
  • Summarize information from a source

Your in-text citation consists of the first Core Element in your Works Cited citation and a page number, if the source you used has page numbers. Often the first element you use is the author of the source. Click on the link below for more details.

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Citation Formats

Citation formats are rules and guidelines that make writing styles uniform within a specific work or publication. They cover the following:

  • Layout of the paper (margins, spaces between lines, font size, etc.)
  • In-Text documentation of sources (parenthetical citation)
  • Source documentation at end of paper (Works Cited in MLA, References in APA)

There are many citation formats. Some of the more commonly used ones are MLA format, APA format and Chicago format.

There are several reasons why you would want to cite your sources...

  • Lend authority and credibility to your work
  • Allow readers (including your instructor!) to cross‐referencesources easily
  • Provide consistent format
  • Acknowledge academic debts and avoid plagiarism

Plagiarism is giving the impression that you wrote or thought something that you borrowed from someone else.

  • Even accidental plagiarism can lead to failing your class or being expelled.
  • Plagiarism in your professional career can result in being sued, fired, and publicly embarrassed.

How Can You Avoid Plagiarism? Cite your sources using a citation format.

  • Directly Quoted Information – Info straight from a source, which goes in quotation marks
  • Paraphrased Information – Ideas from source but phrasing changed to your words
  • Summarized Information – Ideas from large passage of source condensed using your words
  • Factual Information – Factual information that is NOT common knowledge

Material Is Probably Common Knowledge If...

  • Same info is undocumented in at least five other sources
  • Your readers probably already know the info
  • Facts found in many places and likely known by a lot of people

From: The Online Writing Lab. Purdue University

  • MLA Format – Created by the Modern Language Association. Used for research papers in many college and academic classes, including English classes.
  • APA Format – Created by the American Psychological Association.
  • Chicago Format – Published by the University of Chicago Press in The Chicago Manual of Style.
  • AMA Format – made by the American Medical Association for writing medical research.

How do you know which format to use? Your instructor will let you know which format is required for your class and assignments.

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