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Stony Brook University

Citation Guides

This guide can help you learn how to properly format your bibliographies and papers in AMA, APA, Chicago and MLA citation styles, and avoid plagiarism.

What is MLA?

MLA stands for "Modern Language Association," which provides a style handbook that serves as an important guide for writing and formatting papers. This guide is most often used within arts and humanities disciplines by authors engaging in textual analysis and literary criticism.

MLA citation makes up an important part of the MLA style guide, and is the focus of this page. Many university writing teachers use MLA citation as the default citation style for their students, no matter what the subject of the student's paper is.

How does MLA citation work?

Like most citation styles, MLA works by coordinating an in-text citation--which appears by each paraphrase, summary, or quotation throughout the paper--with a source list at the end of paper, which, in MLA is called the "Works Cited." Here is a sample Works Cited page, provided by the Purdue OWL. Note the "hanging indent" which makes it easy for your reader to scan your source list to find the information referenced in the in-text citation. The formatting and placement of the in-text citations and source list citations can depend on the type of source, whether or not there is an author, how many authors, whether there are page numbers, where you found the source, and a variety of other factors.

An example of an in-text citation for a journal article, as paired with the full citation in the Works Cited, is shown below:

Sample Papers in MLA Style

SBU Libraries MLA Citation Workshops -- Fall 2021