Skip to Main Content

MLA Citation Style & Formatting

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 menu at the left 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.

About MLA Style

MLA (Modern Language Association) style is most commonly used to write papers and cite sources within the liberal arts and humanities. This resource, updated to reflect the MLA Handbook (9th ed.) offers examples for the general format of MLA research papers, in-text citations, endnotes/footnotes, and the Works Cited page.

According to MLA style, you must have a Works Cited page at the end of your research paper. All entries in the Works Cited page must correspond to the works cited in your main text. These entries are called citations.

You need to create a citation for every resource you use in your paper or project. Citations can be created for print books, electronic books, magazine articles, newspaper articles, films, online videos, websites, songs, works of art, interviews, and the list goes on. Basically any kind of outside work referenced within your paper or project must have a corresponding MLA citation. These citations all appear alphabetically at the end of your paper or project in the above mentioned Works Cited page.

Guides & Examples

Citation Generators