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MLA Citation Style & Formatting: Introduction to MLA Style

A comprehensive guide to creating citations in MLA 2009 style

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Coming Soon! Updates from the MLA 8th edition (2016)

MLA 8th edition Handbook book cover and ebook cover Available now

The 8th edition will simplify the works cited list. We will be updating this guide soon.

Please see this brief overview from the OWL at Purdue University.


Welcome to the CSM Library guide to MLA Style & Formatting. This is a guide to the Modern Language Association's most recent version of the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers (2009) .Use the links above to get help citing sources and formatting your paper in MLA Style.

What is MLA Style?

MLA Style is a set of standards and guidelines to properly write and format papers. Developed by the Modern Language Association, MLA Style is the style typically used in the arts and humanities departments, including English and Literature classes.

This online guide is designed to help students with several areas of MLA Style including:

  • Citing sources, both in print and online sources
  • In-text citations
  • Creating a Works Cited page
  • Basic formatting
  • Avoiding plagiarism

For more information about MLA Style, please refer to the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, available in the reference section of the library.

Why do I need to use MLA Style?

Odds are that your instructor wants you to use MLA Style if you are in an English class or other humanities class (such as art, literature, etc.). MLA Style creates rules for students to follow when writing and formatting papers. Using MLA Style not only helps your instructors read and understand your work, but the act of creating citations and citing sources helps prevent plagiarism. Plagiarism is when you use a quote, idea, or any other kind of information from a source and present it as your own. If you don't cite your sources then you risk committing plagiarism, which is a serious academic offense that will or can get you expelled from school. So, to sum up the benefits of using MLA Style:

  • It makes your life easier
  • It makes your teacher's life easier
  • It keeps you from getting kicked out of school

How do I use this guide?

The dropdown menu at the top of this guide can be used to learn more about print and electronic resources and how to properly create MLA citations for a Works Cited list. There are also links throughout this guide to tools, books and other resources to help you properly format an entire MLA formatted paper.

MLA LibGuide created by Lia Thomas, Librarian 1/10

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