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English 112 Tutorial: Literature Research

MLA citations and plagiarism

Why Cite?

Citation is a way of showing your reader where you got your information or evidence. Citation strengthens your paper by demonstrating that you are basing your own words and ideas on outside evidence. You also cite to avoid plagiarism, which is using someone else's ideas or words and presenting them as your own. Plagiarism is a violation of the College’s Academic Honesty policy.

Even if you are not using direct quotes but are summarizing or paraphrasing someone else’s ideas or works, you must cite your sources.

MLA Format

After you have found sources, you will incorporate them in your paper by citing them in-text and creating a WorksMLA, 9th edition book cover Cited list. Students taking ENG 112 should use the MLA Handbook, 9th Edition for their citations and paper formatting. The MLA Handbook was created by the Modern Language Association to assist students and researchers when writing papers in the Arts and Humanities such as English or other literature courses. 

Citation Elements

Each of your sources gets its own entry in your Works Cited list, and each entry is assembled in a specific order. Core elements found in the MLA template usually are: Author, Title of Source, Title of Container, Number, Publisher, Publication Date, and Location.

You will notice the use of the phrase "Container" in the list of core elements. Many information sources come in a larger “container” publication. For example, an article that provides literary criticism may be contained in a journal that published the article. This journal could be found in a library database. The article is the source, the journal, and the library database where you found the article are both containers.  

In the journal article citation example below:

Manson, Michael, and Robert Scott Stewart. “Heroes and Hideousness: ‘Frankenstein’ and Failed Unity.” SubStance, vol. 22, no. 2/3, 1993, pp. 228–42. JSTOR, 

Elements of the citation:

  • Authors: Michael Manson and Robert Stewart
  • Source title: “Heroes and Hideousness.”
  • Container 1 title: SubStance
  • Number: Vol. 22, no 2/3 (volume and issue numbers)
  • Publication date: 1993
  • Location: pages 228-242 (page numbers = location in the larger publication)
  • Container 2 title: JSTOR (the database where the journal article can be found).
  • Container 2 location: (url were the article can be found).

Citation tools

Many library databases will help you cite articles and other sources in various citation formats. These citing tools are not perfect however, so you should check them. When you have questions about how to cite, you can visit the Library's MLA Citation Help page. This guide has more information on citing a range of sources in MLA format. You can also ask a librarian or writing center tutor for help.

MLA citation resources