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Citation Guide (MLA 9th Edition) UNDER CONSTRUCTION

How to cite sources according to MLA
August 2023: We are updating this guide from MLA 8 to MLA 9. Some content may be missing or incorrect.

Access the older MLA 8 guide

Good news: MLA 9 expands upon MLA 8. There are a few minor changes. The new handbook clarifies the elements and provides many, many examples. It also has a section on inclusive language.

Why Cite?

The Credible Hulk Always Cites His SourcesWriters must be credited for their work and their writing.

Not to do so is to plagiarize.

Plagiarism is defined as intentionally or unintentionally using the ideas, language, or work of another without acknowledgement that such material is not one's own.

Whenever you quote, paraphrase, summarize, or otherwise refer to the work of another, you are required to cite its source. In research papers, any source information that you provide in an in-text citation must correspond to a source in your Works Cited page.

There are several common systems in use. At Otis College, the most common style is MLA (which is short for Modern Language Association), but you may come across others. There are style manuals for each style that you can use.

Follow your instructor's guidelines. Be consistent with whatever citation format you choose to use.

Image from Reasonist Products

Why Cite? (Video, 1:42)

What is MLA?

MLA style was created by the Modern Language Association of America. It is a set of rules for publications, including research papers.

There are two parts to MLA: In-text citations and the Works Cited list.

In MLA, you must "cite" sources that you have paraphrased, quoted or otherwise used to write your research paper. Cite your sources in two places:

  1. In the body of your paper where you add a brief in-text citation.
  2. In the Works Cited list at the end of your paper where you give more complete information for the source.

Copyright and Fair Use

Always give credit where credit is due.

Even if the source is in the public domain. Even when using the source is covered under fair use. Even if the material is released under a Creative Commons license that does not require attribution. Even when the source comes from social media, such as a Facebook or Tumblr post.

For more information, check our the Copyright and Fair Use guide.

Citation Generators

A Note of Caution

Always check over auto-generated citations! Sometimes they make odd mistakes or capitalize all of the words. For instance, this auto-generated citation has parsed the author's name incorrectly.

Auto-generated version:

Megan, Thee S. "Why I Speak Up for Black Women: [Op-Ed]." New York Times, Oct 14, 2020. ProQuest,

Correct version:

Megan Thee Stallion. "Why I Speak Up for Black Women: [Op-Ed]." New York Times, Oct 14, 2020. ProQuest,


Some of our databases -- such as EBSCOhost, ProQuest, JSTOR, and Gale in Context: Opposing Viewpoints -- provide pre-formatted citations! Look for a link or button called "Cite" or "Citation."

Example: ProQuest databases

Screenshot of Proquest Cite Tool

Free Online Generators

Many of these services also offer browser extensions for Chrome and Firefox.

Free with Ads

MLA Paper Templates

Do You Need Citation Help?

In addition to this guide, the Library offers a variety of information literacy instruction.

You may also visit the Library for citation help, or use the Ask a Librarian form on the Library website.

See also:

Purdue OWL

OWL Purdue Online Writing Lab logo

The Purdue Online Writing Lab (Purdue OWL) has excellent online manuals for these commonly used citation styles:

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