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Writing & Citing

This guide will help you cite sources for your papers and demonstrate tools to make this process easier.

MLA Style

MLA (Modern Language Association) style is widely used in the humanities, particularly by disciplines that study literature, arts, and critical theory.

Quick Citation Guides

Handbooks at the Library


Introduction to Citation Styles: MLA 9th ed.

This video (3:39) from California State University Dominguez Hills Library reviews basic citation principles for MLA 9th edition.

"Introduction to Citation Styles: MLA 9th ed." courtesy of CSU Dominguez Hills licensed under Creative Commons Attribution (reuse allowed).


A sample student paper formatted in MLA 9th edition style. Checklists below the image detail formatting guidelines.

Formatting checklist:

  • Use 1” margins at the top, bottom, left, and right sides of the page.
  • Right-align the running head at the top of every page, include your last name and page numbers.
  • Use a readable typeface like Times New Roman in 11-13 points.
  • Align the text at the left margin only.
  • Double-space the entire paper, including quotations, notes, and the list of works cited.
  • Indent .5” from the left margin at beginning of each paragraph.
  • Leave one space not two after a period or other concluding punctuation.

Title formatting:

  • In the top left write your name, instructor’s name, course, and date (Day Month Year with no commas ie. 3 January 2023). Start a new line for each item.
  • Double-space between the date and the title.
  • The title is centered with no bold, underlining, quotation marks, or end punctuation marks.

A sample works cited list formatted in MLA 9th edition style. A works cited formatting checklist is included below the image.

Works Cited Checklist:

  • Place the works cited list at the end of the paper and after endnotes if they are included.
  • Title the page Work Cited if the list contains only one entry.
  • Double-space between the title heading (Works Cited) and first entry.
  • Begin each entry flush with the left margin.
  • If the entry is more than one line, create a hanging indent with subsequent lines indented .5” from the left margin.
  • Entries are arranged alphabetically by author's last name or by the title if the author name is missing.
  • If you are using multiple works by the same author, write the author name for the first entry and use an em dash (---three hyphens) in the author element in subsequent entries. List the entries alphabetically by the title of the source. 

Hanging Indent

A hanging indent is used to format the list of references at the end of an academic paper. If the reference is longer than one line, the first line aligns with the left margin, but the subsequent lines are indented a half inch. This video (2:17) explains how to automate hanging indents in Microsoft 365 Word and Google Docs.

 Creative Commons logo Hanging Indents by Bridgid Fennell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.​

9th Ed.

The MLA Handbook 9th ed. was published in 2021 and is the latest style guide from the Modern Language Association. Ask your instructor which edition you should use for your assignments.

8th Ed.

The MLA Handbook 8th ed. was published in 2018. Ask your instructor if you should use the newest edition or the 8th ed. because many instructors continue to use older editions despite new publications.

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