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Citation Style: MLA

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MLA citation style is a set of rules created by the Modern Language Association that establishes standards of written communication (college research papers; articles, books and other documents submitted for publication) including:

  • formatting and page layout
  • writing style
  • citing sources

MLA citation style is often used in the following classes/fields:

  • English
  • Cultural Studies

We keep a copy of the handbook at the Library Reference Desk at all three Reynolds campuses. 

Citations in the 8th edition of the MLA style are all made up of 9 elements, called core elements. These are elements common to most citations. By using the core elements, any item can be cited, regardless of format.  Please play close attention to the punctuation after each element.

When an element is unavailable, it is simply skipped.

A crucial concept for the new MLA style is the concept of containers. A container is the larger work that includes the source. A chapter is contained in a book; an article is contained in a periodical; an episode of a sitcom is contained in the series, etc.  There are other changes in the 8th edition; to learn about them, click here.

Note: This playbook uses the core elements to format the most common types of citations, but it is recommended that everyone spend some time learning how to put the elements together to format any citation.

Save time by using Microsoft Word to format the hanging indent:

[1] Select the text you would like to format (you can select your entire list of citations, for example, to format all at once)

[2] From the Home tab in Word, select the arrow next to Paragraph

[3] Next, under Special, select Hanging

[4] Click OK.  Your selected text will now be formatted with a hanging indent.

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Important Note

Always check with your instructor on what format specifications to use for a particular class or assignment, especially when citing electronic resources including material found in library databases.

Credit

This guide was adapted from the MLA Style 8th Edition pages in the Citation Styles Playbook created by Piedmont Virginia Community College Library.