Proper MLA Citation

When you use someone else's thoughts, words, or ideas in your paper, you must write a proper bibliographic citation. This tutorial is designed to introduce you to the parts of a citation and to show you the basic formats.

The Three Cs of Citation


It is an act of courtesy to thank an author whose thoughts, words, or ideas you used in your paper. A proper citation is the way you express "thank you" in an academic paper.

A proper citation is also an act of courtesy to your readers because it allows them to easily locate your reference if they want more information.


Proper citations establish your credibility because they demonstrate the extent of your research as well as the quality of materials on which you are basis your thesis.


Giving credit to others by using a proper citation is a requirement for academic integrity. If you do not give credit, you are guilty of plagiarism. If you are guilty of plagiarism because you do not give credit to your sources, you could fail the course or even be expelled from college.

Basic Formats

For each of the following types of publications, I have provided a basic format and an example citation in MLA format. I believe that this basic formats will be helpful for the types of research students tend to complete in introductory courses. However, for a more complete understanding of MLA format, I recommend that individuals consult the materials at Purdue's On-Line Writing Lab.

Purdue's On-Line Writing Lab

Logo for Purdu's On-line Writing LabThe Purdue's On-Line Writing Lab provides detailed information concerning MLA formatting. I recommend that readers consult their resources.

Cover for the MLA Handbook

Basic Formats