The MLA Handbook was created by the Modern Language Association in 1977. It is a set of rules for publications, including research papers.
In MLA, you must state, or cite, the sources you have paraphrased, quoted, or otherwise used to write your research paper. Sources are cited in two places:
For over forty years, teachers and scholars of the Association continue to release new editions of their Handbook when developments in scholarly research and writing call for changes in MLA style. The current (2021) Handbook is in its ninth edition.
A copy of the print edition of MLA 9 is available at the Help Desk for onsite use only.
Digital resources designed to assist remote researchers are listed below. Hover over links for resource descriptions.
This new 2021 edition reflects, in part, the dizzying pace at which technology is changing how information is recorded, accessed, and contained. It provides clarity on several core elements of cited references, as well as expanded coverage of work cited entries by publication format. New chapters on the use of inclusive language and formatting for electronic submission are also featured.
You can read more about these changes here.
The MLA Handbook 9th edition presents a chart (and practice templates) to help you create proper citations.
All sources will have similar elements regardless of the format in which they present themselves. Some sources may not have a particular bibliographic element, so you will simply skip to the next element. For instance, a journal article should have an author, title of source (article title), container (name of journal), numbers (volume and issue) and location (page numbers), but adding a publisher is not necessary.
Digital sources will not have page numbers, but should have a URL, DOI, or persistent link to indicate the location element.
Title of source.
Title of container,
Check out MLA's Quick Guide for a thorough explanation of these core elements and containers.
This guide was created by my wonderful colleague, librarian Robert Delaney.
It has been modified to reflect changes in the 9th edition, including formatting suggestions for remote learning tools such as Blackboard, and for new media, such as TED Talks and TikToks.