March 3, 2024
This article is a comprehensive guide to MLA citation, providing step-by-step instructions, tips, and best practices for citing different types of sources. It also explores popular style guides and citation generators available online, and discusses the dos and don'ts of MLA citation, as well as its broader impact on intellectual property and ethical considerations. In addition, it offers practical advice on how to develop critical thinking skills and produce original works beyond MLA citation.


As a student, you’re likely to encounter MLA citation, an essential academic writing skill. MLA citation stands for Modern Language Association citation style, which is a set of rules and guidelines for citing sources in research papers and other scholarly works. It’s important to understand and master MLA citation because it’s required by many professors and academic institutions to ensure that writers give credit to other people’s ideas and avoid plagiarism, as well as maintain academic credibility and integrity.

In this article, we’ll provide you with a comprehensive guide to MLA citation, including seven simple steps to perfect MLA citation, popular style guides and citation generators online, as well as dos and don’ts of MLA citation. We’ll also delve into the broader impact of MLA citation on intellectual property and ethical considerations, and provide practical tips on developing critical thinking skills and producing original works beyond MLA citation.

7 Simple Steps to Perfect MLA Citation

The following are seven simple steps to help you create perfect MLA citations for different types of sources:

1. Understand the key elements of MLA citation. MLA citation consists of two core components: in-text citations and a works cited page. In-text citations are brief references within the text of your paper that correspond to an alphabetically arranged list of works cited at the end of your paper. The essential elements of an MLA citation include author name(s), title of the source, container title, version, publisher, publication date, location, and access date.

2. Follow the correct format for citing different types of sources. The format for citing sources in MLA citation depends on the type of source: books, articles, websites, videos, and etc. Here are some general guidelines:

– Books: Author’s last name, first name. Book title. Publisher, year.
– Journal articles: Author’s last name, first name. “Article title.” Journal name, vol. number, issue number, year, page range.
– Websites: Author’s last name, first name. “Title of Webpage.” Title of Website, Publisher, date, URL.
– Videos: Creator’s Last Name, First Name. “Title of Video.” Title of Container, publisher, year of video release, URL (only if it’s online).

3. Pay attention to punctuation and formatting. In MLA citation, every element must be separated by a period. Use italics for titles of longer works, such as books or journals, and quotation marks for titles of shorter works, such as articles or poems.

4. Include accurate and complete information. Make sure you cite all the necessary information, such as the author’s name(s), the title of the source, publication date, and publisher. Additionally, it’s important to include specific page numbers for sources like books and journal articles.

5. Verify your sources. Check that your sources are reputable and reliable, and that the information you’re citing is accurate and up-to-date. You may also want to consider cross-checking multiple sources to confirm information and avoid bias.

6. Edit and proofread your citations carefully. Double check spelling, punctuation, formatting, and order of information. Make sure that the way you cite sources is consistent throughout your text.

7. Use style guides and citation generators as backup. While it’s best to learn how to create MLA citations manually, you can also use popular style guides and citation generators available online to help you create accurate and reliable citations.

MLA Citation Made Easy With Style Guides Online

Many citation generators and style guides are available online for free or for a fee. Some popular options include:

1. Purdue OWL (Online Writing Lab): Offers comprehensive guides on MLA citation, with examples and exercises to test your knowledge.
2. EasyBib: A citation generator that allows you to enter your source information and receive a formatted citation in various citation styles, including MLA.
3. Citation Machine: Another citation generator that creates MLA citation entries for you by prompting you to enter the source information.
4. Cite This For Me: A quick and easy citation generator with an extensive database of sources and citation style options.
5. Zotero: A free, open-source, and cloud-based citation management tool that allows you to store, manage, and share your sources and citations in various styles, including MLA.

While these tools can be helpful, it’s important to use them with caution, as they can sometimes generate inaccurate or incomplete citations. Verify your citations manually or with your professor’s guidance.

The Dos and Don’ts of MLA Citation

To ensure proper MLA citation, here are some dos and don’ts you should keep in mind:


– Do cite all sources you used, whether they are direct quotes or paraphrasing.
– Do include the page number or paragraph number for direct quotes.
– Do use clear, concise language when citing sources to avoid confusion.
– Do proofread and edit your sources carefully to ensure that they are accurate and correctly formatted.
– Do create a works cited page in alphabetical order.
– Do double-check with your professor if you are unsure or have questions.
– Do use reputable sources.


– Don’t plagiarize.
– Don’t provide in-text citations without a corresponding works cited page, or vice versa.
– Don’t include sources that you have not used in the text or works cited page.
– Don’t use websites that are not reputable or sources that cannot be verified.
– Don’t copy and paste a citation from the internet without verifying its accuracy.
– Don’t rely solely on citation tools without verifying the output.

Why MLA Citation Matters for Your Research Papers

MLA citation is crucial for research papers because it supports the credibility and integrity of academic research by ensuring that all sources are acknowledged and properly cited. By citing sources correctly, you give credit to the authors or creators of the ideas you’re using in your paper while also avoiding plagiarism, which can have severe consequences for academic or professional careers. MLA citation also helps readers verify the accuracy of information in a paper, and it safeguards intellectual property, ethical considerations, and copyright law.

What MLA Citation Doesn’t Teach You About Writing and Critical Thinking

While MLA citation is an essential academic writing skill, it is only one aspect of strong scholarly writing. To develop strong writing and critical thinking skills, you need to engage with the ideas presented in your sources and produce original works built upon your own evidence and analysis. Here are some tips for developing these skills:

– Read widely to broaden your perspective on a given topic or research question.
– Combine evidence in innovative ways to develop thought-provoking ideas.
– Analyze critically the evidence and ideas you encounter to make insightful connections among them.
– Use your own ideas and original insights to contribute to scholarly conversations and debates.
– Seek feedback and criticism from peers, mentors, and professors, and use it to further refine your writing and critical thinking skills.


In conclusion, MLA citation is crucial for academic writing, and mastering it will make scholarly writing more credible, accurate, and ethical. However, MLA citation is only one component of scholarly writing, and to produce original and insightful works, you will also need to engage with the ideas and arguments presented in your sources, develop critical thinking skills, and continuously refine your writing process. With these insights and strategies, you are better equipped to produce high-quality research papers and essays.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *