What Is MLA Style?
MLA is a style of writing and formatting developed by a professional organization called the Modern Language Association. It is commonly used in the humanities and liberal arts, including some sections of Cornerstone. Other styles such as APA and Turabian are required in some courses.
MLA style covers the mechanics of writing, the format of the research paper, proper documentation of sources utilized, and other topics. This guide focuses on the MLA style of documenting sources used in a paper or other assignment and contains numerous examples, mostly from the Purdue University Online Writing Lab (OWL).
Proper documentation requires that you acknowledge sources within your paper. These are called parenthetical or in-text citations. You must also provide a complete list of the sources you cite at the end of the paper. This is called a works cited list. The reader must be able to go from the brief in-text references to the full reference in the works cited list and then be able to find the actual source.
- MLA Sample Paper from OWL (with examples of in-text citations matched to Works Cited)
This sample paper highlights numerous MLA style and documentation issues. Note the brief in-text references which provide the author name(s), sometimes with page numbers, and the corresponding full reference at the end of the paper on the Works Cited page.
- MLA Sample Works Cited Page from OWL
This sample page shows examples of how to provide full citations of a wide range of sources such as newspaper articles, websites, academic journal articles, and books.
It is a good idea to maintain a working bibliography of sources with citation details like author, title, publisher, page numbers, and so on. Later, the working bibliography can be converted to the Works Cited page after you decide which sources you will actually use for the project.
About This Guide
This guide is based on material and examples from the Purdue University Online Writing Lab MLA website, the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, and an MLA guide by Dalyce Joslin of Camosun College. Sample citations from other sources are noted.
MLA Online Guides
The Modern Language Association (MLA) provides a quick guide and other aids to help in using MLA style.
Other sources, such as the Purdue University Online Writing Lab, provide instructions and interpretations on how to use Modern Language Association Style and citation guidelines. Some required Cornerstone textbooks provide tips on how to use MLA style.
The Purdue OWL MLA pages are based on the two handbooks listed below; copies are located at the Rod Library reference desk and reserve desk.