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Citation & Documentation



Documenting sources is an important aspect of writing common to all academic fields. Writers must have comprehensible, verifiable means of referring to one another's work. The references are formatted in a standard way so they can be quickly understood and used by all, like a common language. 

Think of MLA style principles as flexible guides rather than rules. The goal is to inform, persuade, and otherwise connect with the audience; error-free writing, along with trustworthy documentation, allows readers to focus on your ideas. Once the basic principles of style and citation are known, it allows for application for wide and generative use. The 8th and 9th edition MLA Handbook provides detailed guidelines for using MLA style. Please see our video below for a general overview. 

The Modern Language Association (MLA) released an updated handbook (9th edition) in summer 2021. MLA 9 provides more clarity, examples, and guidance on MLA style, and everything from MLA 8 is still accurate and useful. Your instructor may provide more specific guidance or requirements, but rest assured that information from both 8 and 9 will be accepted for your writing needs. 

A copy of the most recent edition of the MLA Handbook is kept in the library at the Research Assistance Desk. The Writing Center also has several copies of the MLA 8 and 9 handbook. 

​For help with any aspect of writing, including formatting, citing, and documenting, you should schedule an appointment with a writing specialist at the DSC Writing Center. Currently, only our main Daytona Beach location is open for in-person tutoring, but virtual sessions are readily available through Microsoft Teams. Walk-ins are great, but we always recommend an appointment, even if it's on the same day. You can make an appointment by visiting our website or calling 386.506.3297. Our website has a responsive live-chat and email. 

For specific details and examples on citing sources within a paper and on creating a Work Cited Page, mouseover the "MLA Style" tab and choose the appropriate subpage.

A presentation with all of the MLA details can be found here.


Looking for more? Check out the Official MLA Style Blog.


MLA Handbook. 8th ed., MLA, 2016.

MLA Handbook. 9th ed., MLA, 2021. 

Principles of MLA 9th

Core Principles of MLA 9th Edition

1. Cite simple traits shared by most works

  • MLA no longer centers itself on different types of publication formats. Instead, they have shifted to the use of the "container system." See more about containers on our "Understanding MLA Works Cited" tab located on the left taskbar.

2. There is often more than one correct way to cite a source

  • Remember, different situations call for different solutions. For example, as a student you may be required to cite things differently than a scholar who's working in their field of expertise. So, you always need to think about your purpose for writing, who your audience is, and in what genre you're writing in. Doing this will help you to successfully find the best way to document your sources.

3. Make your citations useful to readers

  • Some things to keep in mind when reviewing your sources are 1) thoroughness, you want to make sure your sources are relevant to your essay or argument. 2) You want to always give credit where credit is due. Never take the words, ideas, or opinions of other scholars or researchers and claim them to be your own. Usually this is done through in-text citations or signal phrases. 3) You also want to ensure your sources are accessible and easy for your audience to find, should they want to learn more directly from the source itself. And lastly, 4) you want to ensure you are relaying information that is comprehensible and consistent in structure. This is usually done through uniformity of format and citation style.