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Citation Assistance Resource Guide: MLA-9 Citation Style

MLA-9 Resources

The following resources contain examples and/or information to assist in preparing a research paper in MLA Citation Style.

Video Tutorials
Paper Set-Up
Citation Examples
Citation Help

The MLA-9 Citation Style

This resource will show you the basics of creating citations using the MLA-9 citation style. This citation style is most widely used by the humanities and english fields, and is one of the most popular on campus. 

Take a look at the information provided on this page to help you create citations, in-text citations, and for examples of how to cite different types of sources. 

MLA creates its citations by using a combination of nine different key elements. These elements are used to describe the source and where it is located (such as in a database or a published journal). Each element can be used multiple times in a citation, or some elements might not be used at all in certain citations. 

The 9 Key Elements
  • Author. (creator of the work)
  • Title of source.
  • Title of container (for example a book, journal, or video),
  • Other contributors,
  • Version,
  • Number,
  • Publisher,
  • Publication date,
  • and Location. (This is page numbers, a video timestamp, etc.)


MLA Containers

MLA uses a unique way to build its citations by using two "containers." These containers use the nine key elements to describe the source and where it was originally located. 

The image above shows the MLA containers used to create a citation. First, you use the Key Elements to describe the article or source itself. Then, in the first container you use the Key Elements again to describe the journal or publication that source was found in. And the final container uses the Key Elements a final time to describe which database (if any) was used to access the source. 

A Complete MLA Citation 

Dolhanty, Joanne, and Leslie S. Greenberg. “Emotion-Focused Therapy in a Case of Anorexia Nervosa.” Clinical Psychology & Psychotherapy, vol. 16, no. 4, 2009, pp. 366-382. Academic Search Premier,

For more detailed information about the MLA Core Elements, make sure to take a look at the MLA 9 Handbook. The Handbook provides step-by-step guidance on what each element is, where you can find it in a source, and how to use it in a citation. There is also a plethora of examples to show you how the elements would look in a citation! 

Print copies of the MLA-9 Handbook are available for use in the HCC Library & Writing Center or you can access the full searchable manual online.


MLA Works Cited Page

After you have finished writing your essay, you will need to include a list of all the sources that you cited for your research. This is called the Works Cited page and appears at the end of your paper on a separate page. The works cited page includes a citation for every source that you reference in your paper. It is very important that you cite sources in your paper because you want to show where you are getting your information from and avoid plagiarism! 

Some basic formatting tips to remember:
  • Your Works Cited Page will be listed in alphabetical order based on the author's last names. If some sources do not have any authors listed, they will be alphabetized in the list according to the first word of their title. 
  • Remember to double-space your citations. This makes them easier to read. 
  • Every citation will include a hanging indent. This is when every line in a single citation except the first line are indented in a further 1/2 inch from the left margin. If you are using Microsoft Word, you can create a hanging indent by using the command CTRL + T. 
Examples of Common Citations
Use the examples shown below to help you format correct citations for the most popular types of sources.
Scholarly article from a database:

Elements: Author's last name, Author's first name. "Title of Article." Title of Journal, volume number, issue number, date, page range. Title of Database, URL or DOI. 

Example: Goldman, Anne. "Questions of Transport: Reading Primo Levi Reading Dante." The Georgia Review, vol. 64, no.1, Spring 2010, pp. 69-88. JSTOR, 


Elements: Author's last name, Author's first name. "Title of Webpage." Title of website, date published, URL. 

Example: Hollmichel, Stephanie. "The Reading Brain: Differences between Digital and Print." So Many Books, 25 Apr. 2013, 


Elements: Author's last name, Author's first name. Title of Book. Publisher, date. 

Example: Sennett, Richard, and Jonathan Cobb. The Hidden Injuries of Class. Vintage Books, 1973. 

Online Video:

Elements: Title of video. Title of online source, uploaded by (username), date published. URL.

Example: Digoxin Nursing Pharmacology NCLEX (Cardiac Glycosides). Youtube, uploaded by RegisteredNurseRN, 9 Mar. 2019, 

D2L Source:

Elements: Author Last Name, Author First Name. "Title of Work." Course Code, taught by Instructor. D2L, HCC, date, URL

Example: Gilman, Charlotte. "The Yellow Wallpaper." ENG 102, taught by Smith. D2L, HCC, 5 April 2023,


In-Text Citations

In-text citations are the second way you will cite your sources in a research paper. Unlike the citations found in the Works Cited page, in-text citations are shorter and appear in the body of the text. Any time you use information from a source (whether you paraphrase it or use a direct quotation), you must include an in-text citation. So you will have multiple in-text citations for one source. 

MLA in-text citations will appear in parentheses within the paper you are writing and will appear at the end of the sentence where the source is being cited. You will include only the author's last name, followed by the page number where the information appeared - if available).

MLA In-Text Citation Examples
No author:
  • Use the title of the source in the sentence:

In a study titled "Relapse Prevention Program for Anorexia Nervosa Patients," researchers discovered that implementing a relapse prevention plan at the end of treatment has a positive impact on patients suffering from anorexia with only 11% of study patients suffering a full relapse (1)

  • Use the title of the source in place of an author at the end of the sentence:

In a study, researchers discovered that implementing a relapse prevention plan at the end of treatment has a positive impact on patients ("Relapse Prevention Program for Anorexia Nervosa Patients" 1)

One author: 
  • The author's name appears at the end of the sentence after a quote or paraphrase:

At the end of the day Wilbur made “in excess of half a million dollars” (Marx 43).

  • The author's name appears in the sentence:

Smith claims that "students who study are more prepared" than students who do not.

Two authors:
  • The authors' names appear at the end of the sentence after a quote or paraphrase:

According to most experts, “the best way to increase a child’s literacy” is to read to them every night (Wolf and Munemo 220–240).

  • Incorporating a signal phrase into the text (a signal phrase uses part of the citation information in the body of the paragraph):

James Wolf and Alice Munemo note that children whose parents read to them every night receive higher scores on literacy tests (220–240).

Multiple authors:
  • If a source has three or more authors, refer to the first author listed followed by et. al. in the parenthetical citation

Studying tactics are often not utilized by students (Johnson, et. al)

  • Reference the author via signal phrase

In an article by Johnson et. al, she explains why students do not utilize studying tactics. 

  • Reference the title of the video and the time stamp of the information provided

Some anorexics see the disorder as an entity that is trying to conquer them: "It feels like this demonic torturous thing that is out to make you miserable..." ("Anorexia Nervosa" 00:11:22-30)


Supplemental Elements

Sometimes you will cite a source that requires more information added to the citation than the 9 Key Elements. In previous editions of MLA, these were referred to as "Optional Elements." In MLA-9, they are re-named Supplemental Elements because while they are additional, they are sometimes necessary for a citation. Supplemental Elements help to clarify information in a citation that may be necessary for accessing the original source. Some examples include adding in contributors to the author section such as a translator or interviewer, including an access date for an online work that doesn't have a publication date, or including a format type for electronic resources.

Depending on the type of Supplemental Element you are adding to the citation, they can appear in the citation in different places. Most common is including the Supplemental Element at the end of the citation if it pertains to the entire citation, or including the element after the Title of the source if it does not pertain to the entire citation, such as the Contributor which may only be specific to the source and not the database where the source came from. 

Examples of citations with Supplemental Elements included (Supplemental Element is in bold text here to show where it is placed):

Fagih, Ahmed Ibrahim al-. The Singing of the Stars. Translated by Leila El Khalidi and Christopher Tingley. Short Arabic Plays: An Anthology, edited by Salma Khadra Jayyusi, Interlink Books, 2003, pp. 140-57.

"Orhan Pamuk: Un écrivain turc à succès." Orhan Pamuk Site, Ileti┼čim Publishing, Accessed 25 Oct. 2015. 

Rushkoff, Douglas. "Team Human: Find the Others." 92nd Street Y, New York City, 21 May 2019. Lecture.

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