There are many reasons to cite your sources including to:
- Give credit to authors or artists whose work you have used
- Allow people who are reviewing your work to check your sources
- Show readers how you came up with your arguments or ideas
- Provide scholars with other sources for their research
- Avoid plagiarism
What you don't know CAN hurt you!
When to Cite
Cite a source when you:
- Copy information exactly from it; this includes primary sources, such as when you have interviewed someone or are referring to a work of art or image.
- Paraphrase, summarize or use your own words to describe ideas from a work.
- Cite statistics, data, or other numerical information that was compiled by someone other than yourself.
NOTE: Do not cite a source when you are using what is considered "common knowledge," such as a date in history, basic biographical facts about a prominent person, or other well known facts (e.g. there are 12 months in a year, the planets revolve around the sun, the American Civil War began on April 12, 1861). If the facts are in dispute, it is best to cite sources.
How to Cite
The essential parts of MLA citation style are the works cited list and in-text citations. These two components work together to allow readers to find the exact sources used by the writer, as well as where in the paper these sources were used.
The works cited list is the master list of all sources used. It is located after the paper body. Each source has its own entry on the list and is formatted according to MLA's style. For example, here is a citation for an article from a magazine:
Williams, Joseph P. “Fighting Food Insecurity on College Campuses.” U.S. News - The Civic Report, Feb. 2019, pp. 12–15. EBSCOhost, search-ebscohost-com.libdb.dccc.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=f5h&AN=134613507&site=ehost-live&scope=site.
Citations for this article found in the body of the paper are linked back to the exact entry for the source appearing on the works cited list. These citations use the least information possible about the source in order to make an accurate match. For example, when information from the above source is used in the body of the paper an embedded citation is included:
Research has shown that students at community colleges and trade schools are more likely to experience food insecurity compared to students at other types of higher education institutions (Williams 13).
Basics for Creating Works Cited List Entries
MLA identifies several core elements that should be included in each citation, when available such as author, title, and publication date.
The template itself may contain:
- Author last name, first name.
- “Title of Source.” (e.g. article title or book title)
- Container #1, (italicize the name of magazine, journal, book or website when source forms part of a larger whole, e.g. short story in an anthology or an article in a newspaper)
- Version, (edition (ed.)),
- Number, (vol., issue no., date, pp.).
- Publisher, (not part of a magazine or journal citation)
- Publication date,
For more information see the template below. Or refer to section 5.1 and Appendix 2 of the MLA Handbook.