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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.

Online resources

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!

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.

Which edition?

Style guidelines vary based on the edition of the MLA handbook that you're using. The 8th edition was published in 2016, so your textbook, your version of Microsoft Word, and other resources may still be relying on the 7th edition. Pay attention to the edition number! Make sure that any citation guides you're consulting address the same version that your instructor wants you to use.

MLA 7 resources:

MLA 8 resources:

Style guides at JSCC

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

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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