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MLA Style

Learn about plagiarism and how to avoid it. Find resources to help you create source citations, plus see examples to get started with citing books and journal articles.

Handouts for more MLA 8 sample entries:

But what does it mean?

When an assignment directs you to format a paper in MLA style, it means that you need to follow formal guidelines provided in the MLA handbook; you can also find this information on certain reliable websites, like those listed above. These guidelines include style choices like line-spacing, page numbering, and punctuation, as well as conventions for documenting sources (like books and articles) that you consult in your research.

Citing sources

Documenting (or citing) your research sources has two basic parts:

  • In-text citations – signals in the body of your paper that you're introducing information from an outside source
  • A list of Works Cited – a list at the end of your paper that includes all the sources you cited in the text

Citing your sources is part of your assignment, so allow yourself enough time to do it correctly. If you need help, don't hesitate to ask the library staff!

Style guides at JSCC

The latest MLA handbooks are available for in-library use from the reference desk.

A note on automatic citations

You may be able to find citations ready-made, either in article databases or from commercial sites like EasyBib or BibMe. While somewhat helpful, these citations are machine-generated, aren't edited, and may contain errors. Always double-check them for accuracy and adherence to style guidelines.

MLA example: Book source

Book title page

Title page from Edith Wharton's The Reef (1912), via Open Library, with relevant information for citation highlighted
Title page image from Open Library.

In-text and works cited example: Book

MLA: Works Cited entry

Lastname, Firstname. Title of Book. Publisher, year.

Wharton, Edith. The Reef. Appleton, 1912.

MLA: in-text citations

(Lastname pages)

(Wharton 112-13)

If the author's name is in the signal phrase or the source you're referring to is otherwise clearly indicated in the body text, include only the page number/s in the parenthetical citation.

Online resources

All websites, articles, images, videos, etc., linked on this site are provided for informational purposes only. External content is not maintained by James Sprunt Community College, nor does it represent the views of the College or its employees. Please notify the library staff if you have concerns about linked content. Students are expected to evaluate all web and print resources and to determine their appropriate academic uses. A hyperlink to a resource or article from these LibGuides does not constitute an endorsement of that resource or article by the library.

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