Skip to Main Content

Research Help for PLS-135 & 136

Need research help? Ask us!


Downtown: 804.523.5211
Parham: 804.523.5220
Goochland: 804.523.5419

Start Here

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 9th edition of 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. 

Another crucial concept in the 9th edition of 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.

Image taken from the MLA Style Center - Works Cited: A Quick Guide -

Image taken from the InfoPower Tutorial, San Jose State University Library which is licensed under a licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

By Nature of Writing. Video shows how to format a paper in MLA 9th edition when written by one student as well as as when you have other contributors (students) who worked on the same paper (group project).

Formatting a Hanging Indent

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.

Important Note

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


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