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Citation Guide (MLA 8th Edition) - ARCHIVE: GUIDE

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.

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In this Guide

Core Elements - Explanation and examples of the different parts of an MLA citation.

How Do I Cite? - Find out how to cite specific types of sources, such as books, images, web sites, or newspaper articles.

In-Text Citation - How to cite a source within a paper.

Works Cited List - How to format Works Cited list.

Annotations - the Otis way

More Help - Where to get more information on citations


This citation guide is based on the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers (8th ed.). The contents are accurate to the best of our knowledge.

Some examples illustrate Seneca Libraries' recommendations and should be viewed as modifications to the official MLA guidelines. 

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.

Why Cite? (1:42)

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?

The Library offers a variety of information literacy instruction. Instructors may request an in-class workshop for Annotations and/or Citations by filling out this form.

The Student Learning Center (SLC) also provides drop-in tutoring. Be sure sure to check their current hours here.

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:

Credit: Seneca College Libraries

This guide is used/adapted with the permission of Seneca College Libraries. For information please contact

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