Skip to Main Content

Research Help: MLA

MLA Style (9th Edition)

Modern Language Association LogoMLA style is an editorial style developed by the Modern Language Association and used for written materials in the humanities. MLA Style requires you to cite the sources you have used in two places: the in-text citation and as part of your works cited list at the end of your paper. The Modern Language Association released the 9th edition of its MLA Handbook in the spring of 2021

Using SUNY Cobleskill's libguide, find MLA core elements, some helpful examples of MLA citations, and get access to MLA checklists that can help set you up for success.

Find out how the 9th edition compares to the 8th edition using MLA's chart.

For a more detailed explanation of all the components of a properly formatted citation using the style introduced in the 9th edition, visit the MLA Formatting guide provided by the Online Writing Lab (OWL) at Purdue University.  Purdue University Logo

MLA Core Elements

When deciding how to cite your source, start by consulting the list of core elements. These are the general pieces of information that MLA suggests including in each Works Cited entry. In your citation, the elements should be listed in the following order:

  1. Author
  2. Title of source
  3. Title of container
  4. Other contributors
  5. Version
  6. Number
  7. Publisher
  8. Publication date
  9. Location

Each element should be followed by the corresponding punctuation mark shown above. Earlier editions of the handbook included the place of publication and required different punctuation (such as journal editions in parentheses and colons after issue numbers) depending on the type of source. In the current version, punctuation is simpler (only commas and periods separate the elements), and information about the source is kept to the basics.

Source: Purdue Owl

Using MLA Style

How do I Format In-Text Citations?

In MLA Style, each quotation or paraphrase must include the author's last name, a short title if more than one work by the same author is used, and the page number. Below are a few examples:

Identify the author in the text and give the page reference at the end: Hale has argued this point (145-47).

Identify the author and page at the end: This point has previously been argued (Hale 145-47).

Identify a short title if more than one work by an author is used: When women enter a male occupation, “pay, recognition, and opportunities drop” (Fillmore, Women MBA's, 195).

Identify the source within a sentence when necessary for clarity: As Long (37) had predicted, research demonstrated a relationship between smoking and cancer (Smith 234).

How do I Create a Works Cited Page?

  • Arrange citations alphabetically by author’s last name
  • Arrange anonymous (no author) works by the first significant word in the title
  • If there are more than three authors, you may choose to list only the first author followed by the phrase et al.
  • Double-space between each entry
  • Indent the second line of each entry (a hanging indent)
  • MLA 7 does not require the use of URLs in MLA citations. MLA 8 does.
Source Type 
References (Example) 
In-Text Citation 

Napoli, Philip M. Social Media and the Public Interest : Media Regulation in the Disinformation Age. Columbia University Press, 2019. 


(Napoli 14) 



Lee, Chih-Yuan Steven, and Sara E. Goldstein. “Loneliness, Stress, and Social Support in Young Adulthood: Does the Source of Support Matter?” Journal of Youth and Adolescence, vol. 45, no. 3, 2015, pp. 568–80, 


(Lee & Goldstein 568) 

Webpage, Group Author with publication date 

“Justice served: Case closed for over 40 dogfighting victims.” American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, 21 Nov 2019, 

("Justice Served”) 

Webpage, w/ Author but no publication date 


Lundman, Susan. “How to Make Vegetarian Chili.” eHow, Accessed 6 July 2015. 


Helpful Websites

Books @ Our Library

MLA Checklist

In-Text Citations
  • Have you given credit to other sources when you’ve quoted and/or paraphrased throughout your paper?
  • Are the in-text citations properly constructed according to MLA style?
  • Does every in-text citation have a complete, matching citation in your Works Cited List?

Works Cited List
  • Does it say Works Cited at the top of your page, centered, and without bolding or underlining?
  • Is the Works Cited page double spaced?
  • Are the citations in alphabetical order by the first word/name of each citation?
  • Are the citations properly constructed according to MLA style?
  • Is the second line of any citations longer than one line indented half an inch? This is called a “hanging indent” in your paragraph settings.
  • Does each citation in the Works Cited list have a matching in-text citation in your assignment?

Overall Paper Presentation
  • Did you cite the appropriate number of sources according to your assignment instructions?
  • Is your paper double spaced?
  • Unless specified otherwise by your instructor, is your paper in Times New Roman size 12 font?
  • Did you create a header at the top right of each page with your last name and page number?

Source: SUNY Maritime

Excelsior Owl also has a checklist you can follow: Check it out!

Excelsior Owl MLA Checklist (Link To)