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MLA 9th Edition Citation Style Guide


This guide is based on the MLA Handbook, 9th edition. It will assist you by providing examples for:

  • formatting in-text citations
  • formatting a works cited list
  • structuring your paper for course work

Not all of your questions will be answered here, as we have focused on commonly used sources and formatting.

For more detailed information and other examples:

Why and when we cite

Why we cite

When we write a paper, we gather background information and build arguments drawing on the work, knowledge, ideas, expressions, and reportings of others.

This information is found in many places -- journal articles, books, YouTube videos, blogs, maybe even in an email. Whatever the source, we are required to acknowledge who or what that source is when we refer to the work in our own.

We may refer to another person's work for many reasons. These include:

  • setting the stage for your position on a topic;
  • demonstrating support for an idea by another person;
  • demonstrating an opposing viewpoint.

When we cite

Citations create necessary links, directing your reader to the source you're crediting. We make an in-text citation that links to our works cited list at the end of our document, which then links to the original source.

For this reason, when we talk about citations, we're talking about two different instances, once in the body of our text -- in-text citations -- and once at the end of our text -- the works cited list.

In-text citations

In-text citations "are brief, unobtrusive references that direct readers to the works-cited-list entries for the sources you consulted and, where relevant =, to the location in the source being cited" (MLA Handbook 227). They should always appear right after the content you are summarizing, paraphrasing, or quoting. They only include a minimal amount of information, but create a link to a more fulsome citation at the end of your document.

"An in-text citation begins with the shortest piece of information that directs your reader to the entry in the works-cited list. Thus, it begins with whatever comes first in the entry: the author's name or the title (or description) of the work" (MLA Handbook 227). MLA in-text citations also typically includes some location information such as a page number. line number, time stamp, or paragraph number. 

The format is as follows:

  • (Author Last Name page number(s))

‚ÄčParaphrasing & Quoting

Paraphrasing, or summarizing, and quoting takes two forms in your text. Either you indicate in your sentence that an author has said something (narrative), or you write something, and then attribute that to the author in brackets at the end of the idea (parenthetical).

Narrative in-text citation: Raimi outlines the risks and benefits of fracking through an economic analysis and energy security benefits (145).

Parenthetical in-text citation: Several benefits and risks can be identified in the implementation of fracking for oil extraction. Considerations include regulation, water pollution, tremors etc. (Raimi 145).

More than one author

# of Authors Narrative Example Parenthetical Example
1 Bradley..... (17). (Bradley 17)
2 Janmaat and Rahimova...... (238). (Janmaat and Rahimova 238)
3 or more Beth Mei and colleagues argue....(189). (Mei et al. 189)

Group author 

Shorten the name to the shortest
noun phrase for parenthetical 
citations and written out in full for
narrative citations. 


According to a study by the American 
Historical Association.... (9).


(American Historical 9)

Works Cited List

Some general rules to consider when creating your works cited list:

  • Every source used in your in-text citations needs to be listed as part of your works cited list, in alphabetical order by author(s)' last names.
  • The words Works Cited should appear at the top of your works cited list, and centred. 
  • List all authors in the order that they appear in the source.
  • Double space all entries. 
  • For several works by the same first author, give the author's name in the first entry only, and then after that type three dashes in the place of the author name followed by the next piece of information
  • The second line should be indented a tab's distance. This is called a hanging indent.
    • For more help with creating hanging indents in Word, please check out Microsoft Office's webpage.