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MLA: MLA Style

What is MLA style?

Students in the liberal arts and humanities are usually expected to submit papers based on the MLA style, the editorial style adopted by the Modern Language Association.

For college students, the most important aspect of the style is the method for documenting sources you have used in your research. 

Proper documentation requires that you acknowledge sources within your paper.  These are called parenthetical or in-text citations. You must also provide a complete list of the sources you cite at the end of the paper. This is called a works cited list. Every source in a works cited list must also be cited within the paper AND only sources used for in text citations should appear on the works cited page.

MLA style also provides rules for clear and consistent presentation of written material. There are rules for:

  • punctuation
  • abbreviations
  • construction of tables
  • paper format, including headings, title page, page numbers etc.

MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers

The MLA Handbook (9th ed.) is available at the library. 

What's New in the 9th Edition

 ***NEW*** in 9th Edition

  • expanded, in-depth guidance on how to use the MLA template of core elements to create works-cited-list entries that shows what each core element is, where to find it, and how to style it
  • clarification that element names are not always literal and can apply to a range of situations (e.g., the Publisher element can refer to the publisher of a book or a sponsoring organization like the theater company that put on a play)
  • a new, easy-to-follow explanation of in-text citations
  • a new chapter containing recommendations for using inclusive language
  • a new appendix with hundreds of sample works-cited-list entries listed by publication format, including books, databases, websites, YouTube videos, interviews, and more
  • updated guidelines on avoiding plagiarism
  • a new chapter on formatting a research paper
  • new, expanded guidelines on spelling, punctuation, capitalization, and more
  • a new chapter on using notes in MLA style

To learn more about the changes made in the new edition, check out the "What's New" section the official MLA Website.