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Citation & Documentation

Principles of MLA


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 edition MLA Handbook provides detailed guidelines for using MLA style. 

The Modern Language Association (MLA) released an updated handbook (8th edition) in summer 2016. Unless otherwise directed by your instructor, this is the edition you should use when formatting, citing, and documenting your papers.  Unfortunately, some citation generator sites and some of our database providers have not updated to the newest version so you should always double check citations retrieved from these sources.

A copy of the most recent edition of the MLA Handbook is kept in the library at the Research Assistance Desk.

​For help with any aspect of writing, including formatting, citing, and documenting, you should schedule an appointment with a writing specialist at one of the DSC Writing Centers which are located on all DSC Campuses.  You can make an appointment by calling 386.506.3297. 

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.

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

Additional Information

Additional information on MLA Style may be found at these websites: