MLA 9: Guiding Principles
The approach to citing sources in the MLA Handbook, 9th edition (or MLA 9), retains its "universal set of guidelines" used for all types of sources. The MLA Handbook is published by the Modern Language Association of America and is one of many different types of formatting styles used for academic papers.
Why Cite Sources?
Academic papers, including those found in scholarly journals, include citations to show fellow researchers and readers what studies or other previously conducted research the authors used to either prove or demonstrate their thesis or to support their research findings.
Citations also help us find new voices to learn from, further explore a specific type of knowledge using text, and gives credit and acknowledges the labor of those who did the work we read and appreciate.
The concept of the "container" (as well as containers within containers, like the idea of the Russian Matryoshka dolls,) is a metaphor used throughout this edition of the handbook. Parenthetical or in-text citations have not changed between the 8th and 9th editions.
MLA 9 keeps the formatting of MLA 8 but adds more guidance and clarification on the format. It also explains the different elements that are listed below and includes more digital and other emerging formats. Parenthetical or "in-text" citations essentially remain the same.
It is worth reviewing the handbook itself for the expanded guidance and specific citation examples of multiple sources.
However, a very basic guideline is listed below of the general elements and punctuation for the 9th edition. Any element not available for any particular source is excluded.*
*Note, elements 3-9 will repeat if your source has multiple containers. For example, a print book that is accessed electronically through a subscription database such as ProQuest Ebook Central.
** Note, location can include a page number or page number range, a URL or permalink, or a Digital Object Identifier (DOI).
Putting It All Together -- Works Cited List Examples
Academic Journal from a Library Database (Second Container)
Ely, Eric. “Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Statements on Academic Library Websites.” Information Technology
& Libraries, vol. 40, no. 4, Dec. 2021, pp. 1–22. Academic Search Complete,
Obama, Michelle. Becoming. Crown, 2018.
Color key for in-text citation elements:
Author's last name
Putting It All Together -- In-Text Citations
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