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Citing and Writing MLA 9: How do I "follow MLA Style"?

Information on style guides, specifically MLA (9th edition), example citations, and other resources for citing and writing.

What does "following MLA Style" actually mean in concrete steps?

  1. Carefully read through your assignment. Understand how closely your instructor wants you to follow MLA style. For some assignments, they may not even want you to follow MLA format, whereas for others, you may be graded on how well you have demonstrated your knowledge of the MLA style. In other cases, they may want you to follow MLA format for certain things, but not for others.
  2. Create a draft Works Cited list. When you are doing your research and taking notes, always make sure you record what source of information your notes came from (including page numbers) and get into the habit of taking down all the information necessary for a source, even if you are not certain that you will use it for your assignment. There are many options to automatically generate draft MLA citations while you are working online if you want to create a draft works cited list during the research and writing process instead of organizing your sources at the end. That said, always double check auto-generated citations, as they are often not 100% accurate. Ask tutors or library staff for ideas on how to generate, manage and organize citations.
  3. Include in-text citations in your rough draft to save time. An MLA in-text citation follows the author page format and is in parentheses, for example, (Smith 33).
  4. Proofread your final draft to make sure in-text citations and citations in your works cited list are correctly formatted. Consult the MLA Handbook and online links below for how to format your citation according to MLA Style. If you have any questions about a citation, make sure you have allocated time well before the deadline to request help from AUArts tutors.
  5. Review MLA general formatting guidelines and format your assignment accordingly. MLA Style will determine the format of your essay, including what the title page looks like, how big your margins are, font size and spacing and where to place page numbers. Consult the MLA Handbook or the online links below for more information on formatting questions. 

What are "in-text citations" and when do I need to use them?

Example of in-text citation: In-text citations are used in your paper to credit the source of your information and direct your reader to the proper citation in your Works Cited. Below is an example of an in-text citation (author last name page number), followed by the citation which would appear on the Works Cited page: 

Ruth Asawa's approach to life was informed by two experiences. One being the artist's exposure as a child to California's progressive education system which provided the opportunity to delve into art making and second, the impact of Asawa's family being placed in internment camps in the U.S. during World War II (Molesworth 25). 

On your Works Cited page, the below entry would appear in alphabetical order: 

Molesworth, Helen and Ruth Erickson. Leap Before You Look: Black Mountain College 1933-1957. Institute of Contemporary Art, 2015.