Banner Image

Citing Sources -- MLA

Formatting citations

Whenever you write a paper, you draw from existing sources of information.  It is important to acknowledge those sources when you write your own paper.  But how exactly do you write an acknowledgement of a source you incorporated into your paper?  What does a source citation look like?

The following guide can help you write citations in the Modern Languages Association (MLA) style.  (And yes, the MLA style is used by many different disciplines, not just linguistics). 

Citations consist of two elements:

  • A quick note in the text of your paper anytime you use an existing source of information.  The "in-text citations" tab above shows you how to include a note in the text of your paper when you use a source.
  • A complete list of the sources you used at the end of your paper.  The tabs above will show you how to present a webpage, article, book, encyclopedia, or DVD in the list of references at the end of your paper.  General guidelines on how you present a your list of references include:
    • The Works Cited list starts on a new page. Type the words "Works Cited" centered at the top of the page.

    • Double-space all reference list entries

    • The first line of each reference is set at the left margin and subsequent lines are indented ½ inch

    • Arrange alphabetically, not by format (book, journal, etc)

    • Elements of a citation are separated by a period and one space.

See Chapters 5 and 6 of the MLA Handbook for details on formatting and citation style.

Additional media

This guide offers examples of the major types of media which are frequently cited in bibliographies.  You shouled be aware, however, that the MLA Handbook offers examples of how to cite other media formats beyond those described here.  Sections 5.7.4 through 5.7.17 of the Handbook offer examples of the following types of work:

  • A performance
  • A musical score or libretto
  • An interview
  • A map or chart
  • A cartoon or comic strip
  • An advertisement
  • A lecture, speech, address, or reading
  • An original manuscript or typescript
  • A letter, memo, or e-mail message
  • A legal source
  • A print article from a looseleaf collection or articles

Changes to the MLA citation style

Between 2008 and 2009 the APA published updated editions of its Style Manual and Handbook.  These revised editions embody changes to multiple different citation formats -- citations for Internet-based media in particular, but other formats as well.  Please see the link below for the Meriam Library's guide to these changes.

More information

meriam library | csu, chico