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MLA (Modern Language Association) Style: Introduction

MLA Contest

Writing with Style! The MLA Student Paper Contest

The Modern Language Association seeks submissions from students of exemplary research papers written in MLA style for publication on The MLA Style Center

The five papers that best meet the submission criteria will be published on the site, and the authors of accepted papers will receive a certificate and a $50 gift card to an online bookstore.

Contest deadline is October 28. See the website for the criteria, guidelines, and rules.

MLA Handbook

Why cite?

To be a responsible researcher and writer, you should always cite your sources. Citing:

  • Shows your reader that you know about your topic;
  • Gives credit to others by acknowledging their ideas;
  • Helps you avoid plagiarism by quoting others' ideas and words; and
  • Allows others to use the same sources you do.

Tips for MLA


  • If it’s missing, skip it.
  • 3+ authors = et al.
  • Use the DOI if possible (DOI = Digital Object Identifier)
  • Don’t use the http: in addresses.
  • Remember the p. or pp.
  • If a scholarly journal has a month or season, put that in.
  • Use the in titles (ex: The New York Times rather than New York Times)
  • Put the date in day mo., year order.
  • Don’t use the date of access (the day you look at a website) unless your professor tells you to.

Your professor has the final say in your citations! If your professor wants something in the citation (such as the date of access), do it!  That is the person grading you.

If you still have questions, email me and I'll try to answer them.

Head of Reference, Mervyn H. Sterne Library; Information Literacy Coordinator & Liaison to English

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Delores Carlito
Mervyn H. Sterne Library
Room 157F
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