Research 101 - Common Citation Formats in MLA

Remember when we talked about citing your sources being an essential skill for every subject area?

Remember that a citation “style” means a certain, specific set of rules to follow when formatting a citation for a source in your research?

Remember when we talked about MLA being a citation style that we use in Humanities to cite our sources?

Today we are going to dive a bit deeper into citing our sources with MLA.

If you’ve really been paying attention - you’ll know that many of our online Library resources (WorldBook, Britannica, GALE) all have citation builder tools built in to their websites, so all of the work is done for you. All you need to do is copy and paste the citation onto your Works Cited page, and then maybe tweak some formatting.

BUT what if the source you’re using doesn’t have a citation generator? What if you want to really master these skills and build your citations from scratch to better prepare yourself for university? My best advice for building a citation from scratch is to find an example citation for a source that’s the same information type. If you are trying to cite a website, for example, find an example of a proper MLA website citation - and then make yours look just like it, but with your source’s information.

When I say make it look just like the example, I really mean that!! Where the example is written in italics, type the same part in italics on your citation. Where the example has quotation marks, use quotation marks in yours. Same goes for all punctuation: periods, commas, colons. Every single piece of a citation is there for a reason and meets the exact rules of the citation style. You might get to feeling like you’re watching a tennis match - looking to see where they have capital letters, checking to see where you have capital letters… and back and forth, and back and forth - but this is one of the best ways to make sure the citations you’re building follow the rules perfectly.

With ALL that being said, I’ve put together an infographic with some of the most common citation formats for MLA - books, websites, online encyclopedia articles, articles from databases and images from the internet.

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