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Research Process: Citations

This guide focuses on the skills and resources needed to complete a research project.

MLA 8th Edition Changes

MLA Eighth Edition: What's New and Different

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 (8thed.), offers examples for the general format of MLA research papers, in-text citations, endnotes/footnotes, and the Works Cited page.

Read this update to see what has changed!

Caution! when using citation tools, as these tools may not have been updated to reflect the new 8th Edition of MLA.

Citation Basics

A citation reflects all of the information a person would need to locate a particular source. For example, basic citation information for a book consists of name(s) of author(s) or editor(s), title of book, name of publisher, place of publication, and most recent copyright date.
A citation style dictates the information necessary for a citation and how the information is ordered, as well as punctuation and other formatting.

A bibliography lists citations for all of the relevant resources a person consulted during his or her research.

In an annotated bibliography, each citation is followed by a brief note—or annotation—that describes and/or evaluates the source and the information found in it.

A works cited list presents citations for those sources referenced in a particular paper, presentation, or other composition.
An in-text citation consists of just enough information to correspond to a source's full citation in a Works Cited list. In-text citations often require a page number (or numbers) showing exactly where relevant information was found in the original source.

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Citation Overview

What's the Big Deal?

The purpose of properly citing sources is:

  • to identify the origin of the information giving the author credit, and
  • to allow the reader to find the original source.

Plagiarism is the result of not properly citing sources.

Cite it Right! APA

Cite it Right! MLA

Works Cited Page

General Guidelines for a Works Cited Page (MLA):

  • Begin your Works Cited page on a separate page at the end of your research paper. It should have the same one-inch margins and last name, page number header as the rest of your paper.
  • Label the page Works Cited (do not italicize the words Works Cited or put them in quotation marks) and center the words Works Cited at the top of the page.
  • Double space all citations, but do not skip spaces between entries.
  • Indent the second and subsequent lines of citations by 0.5 inches to create a hanging indent.
  • List page numbers of sources efficiently, when needed. If you refer to a journal article that appeared on pages 225 through 250, list the page numbers on your Works Cited page as 225-50. Note that MLA style uses a hyphen in a span of pages.
  • If you're citing an article or a publication that was originally issued in print form but that you retrieved from an online database, you should type the online database name in italics. You do not need to provide subscription information in addition to the database name.

Additional basic rules new to MLA 2016

     New to MLA 2016:

  • For online sources, you should include a location to show readers where you found the source. Many scholarly databases use a DOI (digital object identifier). Use a DOI in your citation if you can; otherwise use a URL. Delete “http://” from URLs. The DOI or URL is usually the last element in a citation and should be followed by a period.
  • All works cited entries end with a period.

Capitalization and punctuation

  • Capitalize each word in the titles of articles, books, etc, but do not capitalize articles (the, an), prepositions, or conjunctions unless one is the first word of the title or subtitle: Gone with the Wind, The Art of War, There Is Nothing Left to Lose.
  • Use italics (instead of underlining) for titles of larger works (books, magazines) and quotation marks for titles of shorter works (poems, articles)

When to Cite

All of the following require a citation:

  • Summary
  • Paraphrase
  • Direct Quote

Basically, anything that is not cited should be your own original idea or common knowledge.

In-Text Citations

In-text citations signal the reader that the information in the body of the paper is attributed to another source. In-text citations must have a corresponding citation on the Works Cited or Reference page.

The word of phrase used in the in-text citation must be the first word in the citation on the Works Cited or Reference page.

Examples of MLA in-text citations:

   Lister claims that "stained glass work is an act of meditation" (23).

   Interest in rap music has been increasingly mainstream (Bliss and Thomas 75).