MLA Overview

MLA Overview MLA In-Text Citations MLA Quoting and Paraphrasing MLA End Citation Models
This guide focuses on MLA style, which was developed by the Modern Language Association. Most high school English classes use it, so it might the one you are most familiar with. In college, English courses as well as other humanities disciplines tend to use this style format. The style is designed to provide guidelines for preparing and organizing writing, as well as providing enough detail about a source to allow others to locate it. The various text format changes and what content is provided in a citation also help provide clues to the reader about what type of source it is. As with any citation style, make sure that your discipline (or instructor) requires MLA style for writing and research before you use it.
In 2016, the Modern Language Association updated its approach to citations, creating a uniform structure for citing all works rather than providing individual rules for each type of work. With this new approach, there can be more than one way to correctly cite a work depending on the way you are using it. At the undergraduate level, it is best to keep your citations as simple as possible. In more advanced research, you will want to dig deeper into the possibilities and details of citations.
Use the “MLA In-text Citations” button above to find more information on proper in-text citations, and the “MLA End Citation Models” button for instructions/examples on full citations for your Works Cited section. The “Quoting and Paraphrasing” button will take you to information on the various ways to format direct quotations and paraphrases according to MLA guidelines. Note: All material provided in this guide reflects the latest version of the MLA Handbook (8th ed.), published in 2016.
If you need additional help with writing or document formatting, consider visiting the Writing Center at VCU. For help finding or assessing the quality of a resource, talk with a research librarian at one of the VCU Libraries. And of course, it’s always a good idea to speak with your professor for these and any other assignment-related questions you might have.
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