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MLA Citation Style

This guide will show you how to cite your sources using the MLA (Modern Language Association) citation style.

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What's Different in the 8th edition

MLA recently published a new manual of style. 

The information on this guide reflects the criteria of the old MLA 7th edition. To find information on how to cite using the new 8th edition, you can contact a librarian or see the following guide from the OWL at Purdue.

Check with your instructor to see if they prefer you to cite using MLA 7th or 8th edition.

To learn more about these changes, you may also want to check out the "What is new" section on the official MLA Website.

About MLA style

Modern Language Association (MLA) style is commonly used in Humanities courses, such as English, for citing references in student papers. 

 The purpose of documentation is to:

  • Identify (cite) other people’s ideas and information used within your essay or term paper.
  • Indicate the authors or sources of these in a Works Cited list at the end of your paper.

This guide is based on the MLA Handbook (7th ed.), published in 2009. 

Avoiding Plagiarism

Here are three different ways you can present information you have found in your research to consciously avoid plagiarizing.

1. Direct quote

When you use or copy the exact words or section of words from an author, you can surround that direct quote by quotation marks. Include the correct citation acknowledging the original author in your sentence.

2. Summary

Write a summary using your own words of the ideas or the text you want to use. Be original without using the words of the original work and be sure you cite that statement.

3. Paraphrase

Paraphrasing is similar to a summary. It just means taking what you have read and rewriting it in your own words. You must cite that paraphrase.

Instructor Requirements Differ!

Some instructors may have additional or specialized requirements for your citations.

For example, while the current MLA format does not require you to include the full URL in your citation, some instructors prefer that you do.

Always be aware of class requirements- check with your instructor if you're not sure!


Meet with a Librarian: TRU Library offers individualized, in-depth, one-on-one research consultations.

The Writing Centre can provide help with any stage of the writing process, and will provide feedback on your writing.