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ENGL:1200:0027 - The Interpretation of Literature - Krzywonos, Fall 2023: MLA

A Brief Intro to MLA

What is it?
  • MLA style refers to a specific formatting style created by the Modern Language Association.
  • MLA is most commonly used by students and scholars in the humanities and liberal arts when writing papers and citing sources.
How does MLA work?
  • MLA Style uses a brief in-text citation and a full citation on a works cited page
Where can I find Examples?
  • Examples of MLA citations can be found by source in the box to the right on this page or in the print version of the handbook.

What you'll find in the MLA Handbook

MLA Handbook: Ninth Edition

Chapter 1: Formatting Your Research ProjectFront cover of MLA Handbook 9th edition, featuring a white background and multi-color swirl

This section covers the basics of how to structure your research project, including margins, page numbering, and inserting lists, tables, and illustrations. These general guidelines are useful but remember to always follow specifics for your course.

Chapter 2: Mechanics of Prose

This extensive section addresses some of the most common and some not-so-common challenges of writing clearly and effectively. This section is a useful refresher on spelling, punctuation, capitalization, and other technical aspects of writing.

Chapter 3: Principles of Inclusive Language

Utilizing inclusive language in your writing demonstrates respect for the identity of individuals and groups while avoiding bias and assumptions. This section provides generalized guidelines for inclusive language use regarding race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, ability, age, and economic or social status. 

Chapter 4: Documenting Sources: An Overview

Academic writing often creates a dialogue with previously created research - make sure that you are properly giving credit to other creators and avoiding plagiarism. This chapter discusses the importance of accurately giving credit to others for their ideas, properly quoting and paraphrasing, and when documentation is not needed. A charge of plagiarism carries severe consequences for your university career. Use this chapter, along with other campus resources, to ensure your writing properly cites the work of others. 

Chapter 5: The List of Works Cited

This section delves deeply into the core elements that make up a citation in MLA style. Using a combination of text, images, and sample citations, this chapter addresses the majority of source types that you will encounter. It also guides writers through determining how to navigate web-based resources, interviews, music, television and movies, and many of the other resources you may utilize in your research.  Note: Citing Indigenous knowledge is not specifically addressed within the MLA handbook. For information on respectfully utilizing Indigenous style principles, refer to Elements of Indigenous Style: A Guide for Writing By and About Indigenous Peoples by Gregory Younging.   

Chapter 6: Citing Sources in the Text

MLA citation style most typically uses brief citations that appear within the text of the document inside parentheses. This chapter also addresses using block quotations, quoting poetry and dialogue, how to cite multiple works by the same author, and technical aspects of in-text citations like punctuation and capitalization.  

Chapter 7: Notes

This chapter briefly addresses the situations when end- or foot-notes may be necessary in your MLA formatted work to provide additional information for your reader, as well as how to properly include them in your writing.   

Appendix 1: Abbreviations

Abbreviations, when used consistently, can smooth the reading experience. Here you'll find lists of words that are usually abbreviated, like US states, or resource types. This appendix includes abbreviations for texts by Chaucer, Shakespeare, and books of the Bible, as well as guidelines for abbreviating the title of any work. 

Appendix 2: Works-Cited-List Entries by Publication Format

This appendix has over 200 citation examples! A table of contents in this appendix will help you quickly find examples of how to cite your specific resources.

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Useful Resources for MLA Citation