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Researching, Citing & Instruction

Modern Language Association Style (MLA)

This style guide originated as a style sheet in 1951. Today's guide began in 1977 and has undergone nine editions. The MLA style is used throughout the humanities.

Quick-style handouts for students created by DCCC Librarians

More online resources

MLA citation style uses in-text citations throughout your paper and a works cited list at the end. Your in-text citations and reference list work together to help readers to find your sources.

  • Works cited list: a master list of all your sources on the final page of your paper or project.
    For each source, list the author, publication date, title, publication, and other important information. Reference formatting varies depending on the type of source.
  • In-text citation: a note in the body of your text appearing with your quote, paraphrase, or mention of the work. In-text citations include the author’s last name (or sometimes the title of the work), plus the page number the information is located on, if available.

Example (magazine article from a database)

Reference list entry:

Williams, Joseph P. “Fighting Food Insecurity on College Campuses.” U.S. News - The Civic Report, Feb. 2019, pp. 12–15. EBSCOhost, 

In-text citation: 

Parenthetical citation: (Williams 13)

Narrative citation: Williams [...] (13).

More on parenthetical and narrative citation

Cite your sources to:

  • give credit to authors or creators whose work you have used
  • provide evidence to support your claims
  • allow your readers to check your sources or review them for more information on your topic
  • avoid plagiarism

For more on plagiarism, take the Plagiarism tutorial or take the Plagiarism quiz located in Canvas.

Cite a source when you:

  • quote: copying text word-for-word (verbatim), and enclosing the copied text in quotation marks (“ “).
  • paraphrase or, summarize: using your own words to describe someone else’s work.
  • refer to statistics, data, or other numerical information that was compiled by someone other than yourself.

​Common knowledge: You do not have to cite facts that everyone can be expected to know or easily find. 

Common knowledge examples:

  • There are 12 months in a year.
  • The planets revolve around the sun.
  • The American Civil War began in 1861.

Facts that you may think are obvious may be in dispute.

When in doubt, cite your source.

Need help citing? Just ask.

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