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MLA 9th referencing style

A guide to using MLA 9th referencing style

About MLA 9th

The "MLA style" is an in-text style for citing and referencing information in assignments and publications, and is widely used in the fields of literature and linguistics. This guide is based on the MLA Handbook  9th edition (2021). 

MLA style uses very brief citations in the text of the document, with an alphabetical list of works cited at the end of the document. 

Always check with your lecturer or tutor about the bibliographic style preferred by the School. There may be differences in styles recommended by the School.

This "how-to" guide gives examples of common entries in the works cited list. For further information refer to the MLA Style Centre or the MLA Handbook (2021)Links to these resources may be found on this page under the "Other resources" heading.

Why reference?

It is important to understand the basics of referencing and why it is important. 

A referencing style is a set of rules on how to acknowledge the thoughts, ideas and works of others in a particular way. Different types of sources eg. books, articles, each have a specific format, determined by the referencing style you are using.

Referencing is a crucial part of successful academic writing, avoiding plagiarism and maintaining academic integrity in your assignments and research.

Watch Introduction to referencing (YouTube 3m43s) to learn about the basics of referencing.

Publication types examples

Many types of publication examples have been provided in this guide. If you cannot find the example you need, you can:

  • consult the MLA Handbook (9th ed.) or MLA Style Centre
  • type the title of the item into Library Search to see if it has a suggested citation
  • view the reference lists of articles in publications that use MLA such as Publications of the Modern Language Association of America (check which MLA edition used)
  • adapt the rules of a similar publication type to the item
  • consult other institutions’ style guides
  • consult the Instructions to authors, if writing for a journal
  • consult with your tutor or course coordinator.

Additional referencing information

Referencing specific formats

Suggestions for citing these formats, if there is not an existing rule in your referencing style:

  • ChatGPT and other Generative AI tools:
    • Check whether you are permitted to use ChatGPT or other Generative Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools prior to commencing your assignment.
    • If you use content from AI tools you must reference it or acknowledge it in accordance with course coordinator instructions or publisher policies.

Elements of a citation

The ninth edition of the MLA Handbook recommends a universal set of guidelines to apply to any source. The MLA core elements are:

  1. Author.
  2. Title of source.
  3. Title of container,
  4. Contributor,
  5. Version,
  6. Number,
  7. Publisher,
  8. Publication date,
  9. Location.

When deciding how to cite a source refer to the list of core elements. The elements should be listed in the order shown and be followed by the punctuation mark shown. 

Optional elements can be included if they help the reader identify the source:

  • Date of original publication
  • City of publication
  • Date of access
  • DOIs or URLs

More information on the core elements, containers, a practice template and examples are available through the MLA Style Center's Works Cited: A Quick Guide.

Print or save this guide

To print or save this guide:

  1. Go to the print version of the guide
  2. Click Print Page at the end of this page or use your browser’s Print tool.

This guide was updated on 30 June 2023.