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MLA Citation Guide (MLA 8th Edition): Welcome

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This citation guide is based on the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers (8th ed.). The contents are accurate to the best of our knowledge.

Some examples illustrate Seneca Libraries' recommendations and should be viewed as modifications to the official MLA guidelines. 

Credit: Seneca College Libraries

This guide is used/adapted with the permission of Seneca College Libraries. For information please contact

Note: When copying this guide, please retain this box.

What is MLA?

MLA style was created by the Modern Language Association of America. It is a set of rules for publications, including research papers.

There are two parts to MLA: In-text citations and the Works Cited list.

In MLA, you must "cite" sources that you have paraphrased, quoted or otherwise used to write your research paper. Cite your sources in two places:

  1. In the body of your paper where you add a brief in-text citation.
  2. In the Works Cited list at the end of your paper where you give more complete information for the source.

Commonly Used Terms

Access Date: The date you first look at a source. The access date is added to the end of citations for all websites except library databases.

Citation: Details about one cited source.

Citing: The process of acknowledging the sources of your information and ideas.

In-Text Citation: A brief note at the point where information is used from a source to indicate where the information came from. An in-text citation should always match more detailed information that is available in the Works Cited List.

Paraphrasing: Taking information that you have read and putting it into your own words.

Plagiarism: Taking, using, and passing off as your own, the ideas or words of another.

Quoting: The copying of words of text originally published elsewhere. Direct quotations generally appear in quotation marks and end with a citation.

Works Cited List: Contains details on ALL the sources cited in a text or essay, and supports your research and/or premise.

Do You Need Citation Help?

The Academic Resource Center (ARC) hosts MLA workshops. Check out the current schedule.

The Writing Center also provides drop-in tutoring. Be sure sure to check their current hours here.

You may also visit the Library Reference Desk for citation help, or use the "Ask a librarian" chat box on the Library website.

MLA Citations

What are MLA Citations and Why Do I Have to Use Them?

MLA citation style is a set of rules that tells you how to format citations—you put specific pieces of information in a specific order so that the people reading your paper will be able to find the sources you used. Essentially, a citation is like the address for a source used in your research paper.

When you address a piece of mail, you format the address based on a set of rules that has probably become automatic to you. You don’t change the order of the pieces  of information because then the address would be hard—if not impossible—for the postal service to find.

You always put the information you have in the same place, in the same order, using the same punctuation and abbreviations. The information (core elements) that make up an address may include:


Company Name

Street Address, Suite or Apartment Number

City, State  Zip Code-Zip Code Add-on

The same is true for MLA citations. You put the information (core elements) in the same order, using the same punctuation and abbreviations. The only thing that will change is the actual information. Not every address includes all of these pieces of information, just as not every citation will contain every one of the core elements of a citation.

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