What is MLA?

MLA is an abbreviation for the Modern Language Association.  It is a citation format used mainly in English, Modern Language, and Humanities research.  When your ESL professors (or another professor) ask you to use MLA to format your paper they mean use this format created by the MLA and published in a handbook. This books offers examples of MLA research papers and how to do citations. It is available at the Information Desk and has this cover. However ask a librarian for help if you have never used MLA before.


Other Formats

There are other citations formats out there. If you plan on studying Education, Psychology, or other subjects in the social sciences you may have to use APA citation format. Ask a librarian for help if you are not sure what format you need to use for your paper.

Why Cite?

After you have done your research and selected your sources for your paper you will need to cite them when writing a research paper.

Why cite?

  • To give credit to authors or artists whose work you have used
  • To allow people who are reviewing your work to check your sources
  • To show readers how you came up with your arguments or ideas
  • to provide scholars with other sources for their research
  • To avoid plagiarism

For more information on the importance of citing and plagiarism go to this link.

MLA Basics

Basic MLA formatting tips:

  • Papers should be in 12 point font and usually in Times New Roman font - but ask your professor
  • Put all the sources you cite at the end of the paper on a Works Cited Page. Sources should be in alphabetical order by author's last name.  For more information and for examples - go to this site
  • If you use sources you have to cite them in-text - using parenthesis - typically this has the author's last name and the page number where the information was taken.  For more information and for examples - go to this site
  • For more information on formatting papers in MLA, see this guide or ask a librarian for help.

Get Help With Citations & Formatting

Using MLA citation format can be difficult especially if you have never used it before.  Librarians and writing tutors can help you with citations. Contact us, call 610-359-5133, or ask us online if you need help with MLA formatting- we are here to help!