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MLA Citation Style

Unpacking the citation - core elements


Title of source.

Title of container,

Other contributors,




Publication date,



MLA's 9th edition uses the concept of containers to explain how to document sources. For more information on containers and the core elements of citations, please see the MLA Style Center Works Cited: A Quick Guide.

With the concept of containers: "An element should be omitted from the entry if it's not relevant to the work being documented"  (MLA Handbook 20). For more information on this see Ask the MLA.

Three reasons to cite

1. Give credit where credit is due

Every time you use someone else's ideas or words, you need to give them credit. Whether you are paraphrasing or quoting, no matter where you find the information (journal article, book, Wikipedia, website, etc.), you must cite your sources.

It is plagiarism if you use someone else's ideas or words without crediting them. Visit the Library's Avoiding Plagiarism guide to be sure you understand plagiarism.

2. Help your reader find your sources

By citing, you are providing your reader with the necessary information to locate your sources.

3. Lend credibility to your arguments

Citing sources demonstrates that your arguments are solid, and backed up by other research.

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