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Ready, Set, Cite! - Guide for Citation in MLA 8

Document sources responsibly!

Why We Cite

When you write a research paper, you use information and facts from a variety of resources to support your own ideas to develop new ones. You cite these sources for the following reasons:

To Give Credit
Giving credit to the original source acknowledges experts and scholars for their contribution. In some fields, citations can lead to career advancement.

To Establish Credibility
Citations build credibility because they demonstrate how much you have read and learned, including sometimes from competing and multiple viewpoints. It will be clear to your reader that your ideas are well supported. 

To Help the Reader
Citations can guide your readers to more information about your topic. They can also offer in that they suggest clues to the larger conversation in which your work is positioned. 

To Participate in the Conversation
Your work contributes to ongoing intellectual conversations. 

Elements of Citation

Whenever you use a citation style, you will be governed by that style in three ways:

  1. The general format of the paper. This includes margins, font, page numbers, line spacing, titles, headings, etc. (See an Example Paper in MLA format here.)
     
  2. The bibliography. The bibliography is the cumulative list of all sources used in your research. In MLA, this is called the Works Cited list.
     
  3. Parenthetical (or In-Text) references. Citing sources within the body of your paper let's your reader know you are incorporating someone else's words/research/ideas.