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Linden Hall Library: MLA

Need to double check your citations in the MLA Handbook?
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Common Terms

Access Date: The date you first look at a source. The access date is added to the end of citations for all websites except library databases.

Citation: Details about one cited source.

Citing: The process of acknowledging the sources of your information and ideas.

In-Text Citation: A brief note at the point where information is used 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, using, and passing off as your own, the ideas or words of another.

Quoting: The copying of words of text originally published elsewhere. Direct quotations generally appear in quotation marks and end with a citation.

Works Cited List: Contains details on ALL the sources cited in a text or essay, and supports your research and/or premise.


What Is MLA (Modern Language Association) Style?
A set of guidelines for formatting academic manuscripts and citing materials used by other writers. It is most often used by writers in the humanities and liberal arts. Citing sources you've consulted gives your paper credibility, and adhering to MLA's citation guidelines protects you from unintentional plagiarism.



  • When a name is the first element in a citation, invert it (list the last name first)
  • If a citation lists two authors, do not invert the name of the second author listed
  • If there is no author, start your citation with the next element (e.g., title of article or book)


  • Capitalize the first, last, and "important" words in titles
    • Generally, this means you don't capitalize articles, prepositions, or conjunctions except when they appear at the start or end of a title
    • For more detailed guidance, see the handbook


  • When a full date is spelled out, use the format (year month day)

Page Numbers

  • Use p. for one page, pp. for two or more pages
  • If pages of an article are not consecutive, give the first page number followed by "+"

In-Text Citations

  • Begins with the shortest piece of information that di­rects your reader to the entry in the works-cited list

  • If a specific part of a work is quoted or paraphrased and the work includes a page number, line number, time stamp, include it with the parentheses
  • Avoid providing the author’s name or title of a work in both your prose and parentheses