Research and Documentation

2009 MLA (Modern Language Association) Documentation


What Is MLA Style?

"All fields of research agree on the need to document scholarly borrowings, but documentation conventions vary because of the different needs of scholarly disciplines. MLA style for documentation is widely used in the humanities, especially in writing on language and literature. Generally simpler and more economical than other styles, MLA style features brief parenthetical citations in the text keyed to an alphabetical list of works cited that appears at the end of the work.


MLA style has been widely adopted by schools, academic departments, and instructors for over half a century. The association's guidelines are also used by over 1,100 scholarly and literary journals, newsletters, and magazines and by many university and commercial presses. The MLA's guidelines are followed throughout North America and in Brazil, China, India, Japan, Taiwan, and other countries around the world."

from the Modern Language Association


What has changed in MLA documentation style?

In April 2009, the 7th edition of the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers and the MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing will be released, revealing a number of substantial changes to the previous documentation style.


Changes include:


  • eliminating the underlining of titles. MLA now recommends italicizing titles of independently published works
  • eliminating long URLs from your citation unless the citation information doesn't take your reader easily to the web source
  • eliminating the need to note continuous pagination
  • addition of publication medium: Print, Web, DVD, Performance, TV
  • abbreviations to note when information is missing from a source: N.p for online sites with no publisher given; n.d. for online sites with no date of publication; n.p. for online journals without pagination.

Reference the Owl at Purdue Website for sample citations.