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Transition Year Program

Library guide for Transition Year Program students (TYP)

MLA Style Modern Language Association

MLA (Modern Language Association) style for documentation is widely used in the humanities, especially in writing on language and literature. MLA style features brief parenthetical citations in the text and an alphabetical list of works cited that appears at the end of the document (Source: Official MLA website). Whenever a writer quotes or paraphrases someone else's work in their text, they must accompany the quote or paraphrase with relevant source information in parentheses.

Dalhousie MLA Quick Guide (9th edition)

In-Text citation with MLA

MLA Style calls for two kinds of information to be included in in-text citations:

  1. The author's last name
  2. The page number for the reference

All of these pieces of information must match the corresponding reference list entry exactly!

Example in-text citations, from fictional authors and sources:

While all flies provide sustenance, one obtains more "nutrition for the soul" from high-quality specimens (Frog 56). Make sure the period goes after the parentheses!

You could also place part of the citation in the text as follows:

While all flies provide sustenance, Ribbet Frog argues that one obtains more "nutrition for the soul" from high-quality specimens (33)

In this example, the author's name is already mentioned in the text itself; therefore the name need not be repeated in the bracketed citation.

In-text citations must correspond to an item in a comprehensive list of references, called a Works Cited page, at the end of the paper. Pay attention to your formatting when constructing your Works Cited list, as MLA is particular about which items to capitalize, italicize, and which punctuation to use in a given situation. Most citations call for the author(s) name and publication date, and many call for a publisher's name as well. If you do not have access to some or all of these pieces of information, don't panic! Not every text will have the same information available to cite. 

The Works Cited:

Documents using the MLA style of citation must contain a "Works Cited" page at the end of the text. The following are some examples of how to cite commonly used references:


Frog, Ribbet. Expert's Guide to Artisanal Fly Cuisine. Imaginary UP, 1998. Book titles are in italics and title case! UP is short for University Press.

Online Scholarly Journal Articles

Frog, Ribbet. "I've Got Ninety-nine Problems but a Fly Ain't One." Journal of Esoteric Ridiculousness, vol. 33, no. 1, 1999, pp. 12-20. Journal titles are in italics and title case!

Page from a Website

"How to Prepare Delicious Fly Scampini." Food Network Canada, Corus Entertainment, Inc., 4 Jan. 2005, www.flyscampini/ Journal and web articles are in standard type, title case and quotation marks!

For more information on how to cite different formats (such as multiple authors, video, etc) in MLA style check out the links to Purdue OWL or the Dalhousie Quick Guide! (Links box below)

Online guides