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Citations: Understanding & Creating

MLA Style

 (From Purdue OWL):

Below is the general format for any citation:

Author. Title. Title of container (self contained if book), Other contributors (translators or editors), Version (edition), Number (vol. and/or no.), Publisher, Publication Date, Location (pages, paragraphs URL or DOI). 2nd container’s title, Other contributors, Version, Number, Publisher, Publication date, Location, Date of Access (if applicable).

MLA style originates from the Modern Language Association (hence its name) and is used primarily in the liberal arts and humanities. It was revised as of April 2016 into a simpler, format- and medium-neutral style. The order of elements and punctuation was standardized to fit any resource: print/physical format or electronic, or text or audiovisual.

Its premise is that we need to know the same core elements to identify, locate, and evaluate a source. These are embodied in the questions:

  • WHO is the AUTHOR of the source?
  • WHAT is the TITLE of the source?
  • HOW was the source PUBLISHED?
  • WHERE did you FIND the source?
  • WHEN was the source PUBLISHED? (MLA Handbook, p. 13).

There is less emphasis on a "correct" citation than a complete-as-possible one. There could be more than one correct entry for a particular source, depending on how elements such as authors and containers are identified (for example: volumes in a series, or episodes of TV shows). The MLA Handbook offers detailed different scenarios. You can also find examples at the MLA Style Center page called "Works Cited: A Quick Guide"  and Purdue University's Online Writing Center's (Purdue OWL) MLA Guide

Generally, if you can identify the following core elements, then you are in good shape. Not all resources will use all elements.

Picture of MLA core elements, listing Author. Title of source. Title of container, Other contributors, Version, Number, Publisher, Publication date, Location.

Picture of MLA Practice Template. With Container 1 and Container 2 elements. Author. Title of source. Container 1. Picture of MLA core elements, listing Author. Title of source. Title of container, Other contributors, Version, Number, Publisher, Publication date, Location. Container 2. Title of container, Other contributors, Version, Number, Publisher, Publication date, Location.

Picture of MLA core elements, listing Author. Title of source. Title of container, Other contributors, Version, Number, Publisher, Publication date, Location.

OWL Purdue Online Writing Lab Logo.