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ENG W270: Argumentative Writing

Why do we cite?

There are many reasons why it is so important to cite the sources you use in your research.

  • You demonstrate to your reader you've done proper research by listing sources you used to get your information.
  • You avoid plagiarism by quoting the words and ideas of other scholars.
  • You are being a responsible scholar by giving credit to other researchers and acknowledging their ideas.
  • You allow your reader to find the sources you used by citing them accurately in your paper by using in-text citations or footnotes in combination with a bibliography or works cited list.

Citing Sources in MLA Style

Citing Sources

Many of the library's databases allow you to save or email an MLA citation for an article. 

Look for the following buttons or links:


Depending on which database you are in, you can selecting the "Citation Tools" link to save the citation in MLA format or click on the "Cite this article" icon to get citations from several different style guides.  Make sure you select the appropriate style for your citations. For W270, that will be MLA style. When you get the citation, it may look like one of the following examples: 


Tips for Managing Volunteers With Disabilities. Chronicle of Philanthropy, 18(23) (2006): 17. Academic    

     Search PremierAccessed March 25, 2009 from


Karl, Katherine A., Joy V. Peluchette, and Leda M. Hall. "Give Them Something To Smile About: A Marketing

     Strategy For Recruiting And Retaining Volunteers." Journal Of Nonprofit & Public Sector Marketing,

     vol. 20, no. 1, 2008, pp. 71-96. Academic Search Premier, Retrieved 7 Oct. 2014. 


Warning: Don't just copy and paste these citations into your paper! Note the formatting and content errors and extraneous information in the above citations in red. The library's databases are good at getting the right pieces of information in the right places for these citations, but they are not perfect. You will need to make some modifications to these to ensure they follow the guidance found in the Modern Language Association Handbook. Pay particular attention to capitalization and punctuation. 


According to the Purdue OWL site, a citation in MLA 8th style should have the following elements:


Author. Title. Title of container (self contained if book), Other contributors (translators or editors),

     Version (edition), Number (vol. and/or no.), Publisher, Publisher Date, Location (pp.).

     2ndcontainer’s title, Other contributors, Version, Number, Publisher, Pub date, Location.


Talk to your instructor or librarian, or schedule a visit with the University Writing Center for more help with MLA style.

Citing Your Sources

MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers Book Cover APA Style Book Cover Chicago Manual of Style Book Cover

There are many different "styles" you may choose from when citing sources. Your professor will probably tell you which "style" is preferred for your class. MLA (Modern Language Association), Chicago, and APA (American Psychological Association) are three of the most commonly used citation styles, but there are hundreds.

Recent editions of style manuals, which include detailed information and examples, are available at the Services & Information Desk at the University Library. If you need help on your research project, please contact a subject specialist librarian.

We have the Chicago Manual of Style available online as well as in print. For quick reference, there are many online sources. One of the best is the Purdue OWL. But be aware that the manual is always the most authoritative source.