MLA style was created by the Modern Language Association of America. It is a set of formatting and documentation rules for publications and student papers in the Humanities.
MLA formatting rules tell us how different elements of a research paper should appear on the page. MLA documentation rules tell us how to credit the sources we use in our work using a combination of in-text citations and a Works Cited list.
In MLA, you must "cite" sources that you have paraphrased, quoted, or otherwise used to write your research paper. Cite a source in two places:
Access Date: The date you first look at a source. If there is no publication date available, add the access date to the end of citations for all websites except library databases.
Citation: The details about a source you are citing.
Citing: The process of acknowledging the sources of your information and ideas.
In-Text Citation: A brief note in your paper or essay, provided at the point where you use information from a source, to indicate where the information came from. An in-text citation should always match more detailed information that is available in the Works Cited List.
Paraphrasing: Taking information that you have read and putting it into your own words.
Plagiarism: Taking the ideas or words of another person and presenting them as your own without a citation.
Quoting: Copying words of text originally published elsewhere. Direct quotations appear in quotation marks and are followed by a citation that includes the page number of the source from which you copied the words.
Source: Anything you use in your research and cite in your paper. There are many kinds of sources (all of which have their own citation formats), including entire books, individual book chapters, eBooks, periodicals (i.e., magazines, newspapers, journals), articles/essays, websites, films, poems, songs, Tweets, YouTube videos, TED Talks, TV shows, advertisements, etc.
Works Cited List: Contains complete details of ALL the sources cited in a text or essay.
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This citation guide is based on the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers (8th ed.). The contents are accurate to the best of our knowledge.