MLA Citation Style

Introduction to MLA Style

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Time needed to complete this module: 15 minutes

Image of cover of the 9th edition of the MLA handbook

Learning Objectives: 

  • Students will be able to explain what "MLA Style" means within the context of citation. 
  • Students will be able to identify when to use MLA Style for in-text citations and Works Cited entries in their writing. 
  • Students will be able to practice creating and editing MLA Style citations with the help of online and print citation guides.

“MLA Style” refers to a set of rules and guidelines for formatting research papers and citations in the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers (or just the MLA Handbook for short). This book is produced by the Modern Language Association, an organization of language and literary scholars, and is updated periodically. MLA Style is used most often in fields like literature, media studies, film studies, and theater, although instructors in other arts and humanities disciplines may expect you to use MLA Style for your research papers as well. This tutorial will take you through the basics of using MLA Style for in-text citations and your Works Cited list. 

If you are directed to use MLA Style for a research or writing assignment, it is best to always use the most current edition of the MLA Handbook as a guide unless specifically directed by your instructor. The current edition of the MLA Handbook is the 9th edition, which was first published in 2021. You will sometimes see this referred to simply as “MLA9” or “MLA 9th edition.”

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