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Citation Guide

This guide gives overviews and sample citations for MLA and APA citation styles.

MLA Style - 9th Edition

What Changed in the 9th Edition of MLA?

As stated in the Ninth Edition of the MLA Handbook, “This edition retains the MLA’s unique system of documentation, established in the 8th edition of the handbook in 2016”

While the Core Elements and In-text citation guidelines remain the same as MLA 8, this updated version includes “more comprehensive resources with more examples, a reorganized handbook where information could easily be found, and [an] explanation of the documentation system”

New and expanded information on Inclusive language, Annotated Bibliographies, and Bibliographic and Content Notes has also been added.

Inclusive Language [MLA 3.1 - 3.6] (page 89 - 92)

There are a few general guidelines to consider when choosing Inclusive Language:

  • Make references to identity relevant [3.1]
  • Be precise [3.2]
  • Choose terms of identity that respect your subject [3.3]
  • Be thoughtful about capitalization and styling [3.4]
  • Minimize pronouns that exclude [3.5]
  • Avoid negatively judging other’s experiences [3.6]
  • Use a dictionary to check for offensive terms [3.7]

Ultimately, Inclusive Language should be respectful and approached with sensitivity, keeping the context and audience in mind. It’s important to understand that each reader comes from a variety of different backgrounds and unique experiences, so avoiding bias that could make some people feel excluded is essential.

Annotated Bibliographies [MLA 5.132] (page 226)

Annotations are typically written as brief and clearly expressed phrases or complete sentence, and are used to evaluate or describe a source, and sometimes they do both.



Some other things to keep in mind:

  • Style the Annotated Bibliography like you would the Works Cited list
    • Provide the citation, then add the annotations at the end
  • Use hanging indentations
    • Half inch hanging indent for the citations (see example below)
    • One inch hanging indent for the annotations (see example below)
  • Annotations are usually no longer than one paragraph
  • Use one of the following titles for this list:
    • Annotated Bibliography
    • Annotated List of Works Cited



► When in doubt, reach out to your instructor for clarification on the desired length of the annotations, and if phrases or complete sentences are preferred.  

Bibliographic Notes [MLA 7.1] (page 287)

“Bibliographic notes can help writers avoid cluttering the text to digressing from the paper’s argument. Below are examples of common uses of notes:

  • To cite a lengthy string of sources
  • To explain an unusual documentation practice
  • To flag editions and translations used

Like sources cited parenthetically in the text, sources cited in bibliographic notes must correspond to entries in the list of works cited.”

Content Notes [MLA 7.2] (page 288)

“Content notes offer the reader commentary or information that the main text cannot accommodate. Use them in the following ways:

  • To amplify
  • To explain word choice
  • To justify the scope of your study
  • To provide more examples
  • To provide counterexamples
  • To identify or comment on allusions
  • To point to an area of future research
  • To identify authors whose names appear as et al. in documentation
  • To acknowledge”

Endnotes – found at the end of the research paper

Footnotes – found at the bottom of each page of the research paper (as necessary)

For more information on the Styling and Placement of Notes in Text refer to [7.3] and [7.4] of the MLA Handbook Ninth Edition.

Formatting the Citations

The List of Works Cited [5.1] (page 105) 

For the Works Cited list, there are three types of entries that will be used most often. [5.100] (page 197)

1. Works that use One Container [5.101] (page 198-199)

  • This may include:
    • An article from a print journal
    • An episode from a series watched on broadcast television
      • The series contains the episode
    • A short story contained in a multivolume edition


2. Works that use Two Containers [5.102] (page 200-203)

This may include:

  • An article from a print journal in an online database
    • The database contains the journal, which in turn contains the article
  • An episode of a television series watched on a streaming service
    • The streaming service contains the series
  • A short story from a multivolume work contained on a website


3. Works that are Self-Contained [5.103] (page 204-206)

This may include:

  • A book read in print
  • A movie watched in a theater
  • A manuscript read in person
  • A performance of a play attended in person

Formatting the Work Cited Page

Citing Sources in the Text [6.1 - 6.2] (page 227-230)

There are two types of In-Text Citation:

1. Citation in prose – this type of citation is worked into the natural flow of the sentence structure.

2. Parenthetical Citations – this type can be found in (parentheses) at the end of the sentence.



Citation in prose: Naomi Baron broke new ground on the subject.

Parenthetical citation: At least one researcher has broken new ground on the subject (Baron).

Work cited

Baron, Naomi S. “Redefining Reading: The Impact of Digital Communication Media.” PMLA, vol. 128, no. 1, Jan. 2013, pp. 193-200.


Sometime the In-Text Citation will also include the specific location of where the information can be found: page number, line number, time stamp, etc. This additional information must be included in the parentheses.


Parenthetical citation

According to Naomi Baron, reading is “just half of literacy. The other half is writing” (194). One might even suggest that reading is never complete without writing.


Reading is “just half of literacy. The other half is writing” (Baron 194). One might even suggest that reading is never complete without writing.


Avoid – providing the author’s name or title of a work in both your prose and parentheses.

Incorrect: According to Naomi Baron, reading is “just half of literacy. The other half is writing” (Baron 194)

Correct: According to Naomi Baron, reading is “just half of literacy. The other half is writing” (194).


Avoid – using the author’s full name in the parenthetical citation. Only the surname is required.

Incorrect: At least one researcher has broken new ground on the subject (Naomi S. Baron).

Correct: At least on researcher has broken new ground on the subject (Baron).


Avoid – using the words like “page”, “pages”, or “page number” in your in-text citations. It is assumed that any numbers used are references page numbers (unless otherwise specificed).

However, if you are citing something other than page numbers, you must specify. See the example below:

In Prose             In Parenthetical Citations

chapter 2             (ch. 2)

line 110               (line 110) – Do NOT abbreviate “line” or “lines”

scene 4                (sc. 4)

MLA Book Cover

MLA Handbook by The Modern Language Association of America

Call Number: LB2369 .M52 2021

ISBN: 9781603295611

Publication Date: 2021-05-17

The new, ninth edition builds on the MLA's unique approach to documenting sources using a template of core elements--facts, common to most sources, like author, title, and publication date--that allows writers to cite any type of work, from books, e-books, and journal articles in databases to song lyrics, online images, social media posts, dissertations, and more. With this focus on source evaluation as the cornerstone of citation, MLA style promotes the skills of information and digital literacy so crucial today.