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MLA9 Guide: Introduction


MLA Referencing Style

MLA (short for the Modern Language Association) is the default formatting style for referencing at our school.  

MLA requires in-text citations, NOT footnotes.  (Note that footnotes may be used in MLA if you are providing extra or explanatory information, not citations.)

For more information about MLA, visit their website.

What Changed from MLA8 to MLA9?

What has changed since MLA 8th edition?   

  • Not much! MLA 9th edition is an expansion of the 8th edition with new sections on grammar, writing advice, mindful of inclusive language, expansion endnotes & footnotes, and new guidelines for annotated bibliographies.
  • URLs:
    • Continue: if a DOI is available it is preferred over a URL or permalink.
    • DOIs should now include the http:// and https://
    • For general websites, copy and paste from your browser, some will include the www. and some will not. Either is acceptable.
    • Full URLs are recommended but optional especially for long URLs that are three or more lines long.
    • You can shorten URLs to the general site if it is excessively long.
    • Don’t use shortening services such as
    • Remember, when getting a URL from a library database where you have to log in and is behind a closed paywall; use the permalink or stable URL provided by the database. Do not copy and paste the browser URL.  
  • If an article is issued by season (spring, summer, fall, winter) the first letter is now lower case.
  • The appendix includes over 30 pages of citation examples listed by publication format.
  • Shortening University Press publisher name. If the publisher includes University Press, abbreviate to UP. Example, Cambridge University Press would be shortened to Cambridge UP.


How to Teach MLA Containers

MLA is Different!

The 8th edition of the MLA Handbook substantially changed how citations are formed
All citations now follow one basic "core element" standard. MLA9 has continued in that tradition with additional examples and explanations.

Guides to MLA

There are a number of university libguides with excellent resources on citation. Try one of these:

Commonly Used Terms

Access Date: The date you last looked at a source. Do not provide an access date for sources from library databases. Access dates should be added to the end of citations for online sources that lack a publication date, or if a publication has been removed or appears to have been altered.

Citation: The details about one source you are citing.

Citing: The process of acknowledging the sources of your information and ideas.

In-Text Citation: A brief note in your paper or essay at the point where you use information from a source to indicate where the information came from. An in-text citation should always match more detailed information that is available in the Works Cited List.

Paraphrasing: Taking information that you have read and putting it into your own words.

Plagiarism: Taking the ideas or words of another person and using them as your own.

Quoting: Copying words of text originally published elsewhere. Direct quotations generally appear in quotation marks and end with a citation.

Works Cited List: Contains details on ALL the sources cited in a text or essay, and supports your research and/or premise.

Useful books

Below are some books in the library on referencing.


This guide was originally created by Nadine Bailey, teacher librarian at Western Academy Beijing.