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MLA (Modern Language Association) Style: Introduction

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 Mervyn H. Sterne Library Department of Research and Learning; Liaison to English Language and Literature

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Delores Carlito
Mervyn H. Sterne Library
Room 157F

English Language and Literature Librarian

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Sydney Orason
Sterne Library, office 157D

Education Librarian

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Summer Upton
she / her
Mervyn H. Sterne Library
917 13th Street South
SL 157A
(205) 934-6367
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