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This guide will explain how to cite information sources using the MLA style. It will also provide many examples of properly cited paper and electronic sources. If you do not find what you need in this guide, the links at the right side of the screen may provide more assistance. The MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers (8th edition), available at Ludden Library, is the best place to look when online guides do not help. Ask at the desk and we will show you where it is located. If you cannot come to the library, contact us and we will help answer your question.
MLA style has two elements:
1. Reference cited in the text
For example, this sentence would appear in my paper:
The courts in Helena provided a liberal definition of mental cruelty which then provided women with a path out of unhappy marriages (Petrik 97).
Paula Petrik found that the courts in Helena provided a liberal definition of mental cruelty which then provided women with a path out of unhappy marriages (97).
2. References listed in the Works Cited page
For example, this reference would appear at the end of my paper, arranged in alphabetical order by author’s last name, along with all the other references I used:
Petrik, Paula. No Step Backward: Women and Family on the Rocky Mountain Mining Frontier. Montana Historical Society, 1987.
Each reference cited in the text must also have a full citation in the reference list at the end. You only need list the reference once at the end. For example, if I cite several pages in the Petrik book, I only need list the full citation once in the Works Cited list.
Follow the style guide – ALWAYS. Don’t agonize about why the guide tells you to do something, just do it!
Be consistent. If the style guide says to use italics for the title of the book or journal (and MLA does) use italics ALWAYS.
Don’t mix style guides. MLA and APA cannot be used simultaneously in a paper. Choose one and stick to it.
If you don’t know how to cite a particular source, look it up. The style guide has thought of nearly every type of source.
Print off, save, or copy the citation of the source you consulted, when you consult it. Don’t say, “I’ll do it later,” or “I am not sure I want to use this source, I’ll go back to it if I do.” Going back later without the citation is often impossible.