MLA Style

Learning outcomes:

After completing this module, you will be able to:

  1. explain why it is important to document sources,
  2. describe different types of commonly used citation styles,
  3. know how to construct and use citations in your own work.


Please watch the following video to learn some key facts about citations.  Make sure you take note of the section on “common knowledge”:

Watch this video on MS Stream

Check your understanding:

The Importance of Scholarly Sharing:

As you learned in the plagiarism module, by giving credit to your sources you are contributing to the conversation of scholarship!

What does this mean? Citing your sources allows others to conduct further research into your topic by following the same path you took and drawing their own conclusions.  Appropriate sourcing also demonstrates that you are a respectful and diligent researcher, which is essential to your professional reputation.

ncLibraries Citation + Plagiarism Guide:

The ncLibraries Citation + Plagiarism guide is a tool created to help you construct citations successfully. Please review the guide and complete the digital “scavenger hunt” below (all of the answers can be found in the guide):

MLA Handbook:

MLA Handbook cover

In 2016, a new version of MLA style was introduced.  The 8th edition of MLA style is designed to be more flexible in order to meet the needs of researchers in the digital world.  Instead of desiging a specific model for every type of resource possible, MLA has come up with a set of core elements that researchers can use to create citations in a somewhat standard way.

What does this mean for you?

In order to use the new MLA style effectively, you will need to understand the core elements and adjust them to match the resource you are citing.  This process is designed to be easier than trying to find an exact example to follow for every single type of resource you use. ncLibraries has compiled some commonly used types of citations to help you guide you in our Citation Guide.

Borrow the handbook from ncLibraries to learn more:

MLA Handbook (Eighth Edition) by The Modern Language Association of America

Call Number: LB2369 .G53 2016 (Welland and NOTL Campuses)
ISBN: 9781603292627
Publication Date: 2016

Check your understanding:

The Core Elements of MLA Style:

The MLA Style Center has provided a template to help you create your citations.

The following are the core elements of an MLA style citation*, as defined by the 8th edition of the MLA Handbook:

1. Author. –>The author(s) of the work.  For multiple authors, list their names in the same order they appear in the work. MLA Style uses each author’s full name in the following order: authorlastname, authorfirstname.  If there are two authors, invert the second author’s name so it is authorfirstname, authorlastname. If there are three or more authors, use the first author’s name and “et al.”  For example:

One author:

Thompson, Andrea.

Two authors:

Goderich, Felicia, and Merida Oakman.

Three authors or more:

Kerich, David, et al.

2. Title of source. –>Title of the work. Subtitles are included after the main title.

3. Title of container, –>This is the name of the journal, website, newspaper, etc. that contains the work. Sometimes, you will see “nested containers,” for example, an article from a database would have the journal name as the “container” for the article and the database name as the “container” for the journal.

4. Other contributors, –>This refers to other people who were involved with the work, such as an editor or narrator.

5. Version, –> Use this when your source states indications it is a different version from the original, e.g., revised edition, 8th edition, director’s cut

6. Number, –>This element is used to refer to volume numbers in books, volume and/or issue numbers in journals, seasons and episodes in television shows, etc.

7. Publisher, –>The publisher is the organization responsible for making the source available to the public.

8. Publication date, –>This is the date when the source was published.

9. Location. –> This refers to the location of your source within its container, for example the page numbers of an essay from an anthology, the URL of a page or post from a website, or the page numbers of an article from a journal.

*NOTE: Depending on the source you are using, you may not need to include all of the elements, but the elements you do include must appear in the order listed above.

Check your understanding:

The MLA Style Center:

The MLA Style Center: A Quick Guide is the official source for templates and examples to help you create your MLA citations.  You’ll find other resources and answers to some FAQs from the MLA Style Center home page.

MLA Style Guide home page screenshot



MLA Practice Template

You can find MLA 8th edition templates from the following websites:

MLA Jumble:

Use the Citation + Plagiarism guide and the other resources described in this chapter to help you choose the correct reference in this MLA jumble.

Integrating your citations:

In order to ensure you avoid plagiarism, you also need to integrate sources into your work correctly.

You may have noticed the examples in the previous tutorial forgot to emphasize this point, so here is a helpful guide to help you use your sources appropriately (examples are APA Style): Integrating Quotations.pptx.

You can also download helpful tip sheets from College Libraries Ontario’s Learning Portal, including:

Check your understanding:

Citation Generators:

There are a number of citation generators available online for free and from library databases.  These are extremely useful tools, but always make sure to proofread your results!

Watch this video on MS Stream

Check your understanding:

Additional Resource: The Learning Portal

Visit College Libraries Ontario’s Learning Portal for further resources on citing and referencing.


Buck, Stephanie. “Why You Need to Cite Sources.” Cooperative Library Instruction Project, adapted by ncLibraries, 29 Sept. 2015,

MLA Handbook. 8th ed., MLA, 2016.

NC Libraries. “Citation Generation with ncLibraries.” YouTube, 17 Dec. 2018,

NC Libraries. “Don’t Lose “Cite” of Avoiding Plagiarism.” YouTube, 19 Dec. 2014,

NC Libraries. “The Why, Where, and When of Citing.” YouTube, 4 October 2017,

Further Questions?



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Niagara College Libraries + Learning Commons Information Skills Online Handbook Copyright © 2020 by Jackie Chambers Page and Siscoe Boschman is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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