If you are a college student who has already completed your freshman year, or if you went to a high school that required research papers, odds are you’re already at least somewhat familiar with the MLA style guide. But what you may not know is that the MLA published the 8th edition in April 2016, and many things have changed!
The MLA editors have streamlined the format to make it easier to cite sources in your research paper. If you’ve already memorized the umpteen unique MLA citation formats, don’t despair; the changes aren’t that drastic, and they really have been simplified to make your lives easier! The good news is that each different medium no longer has a differing format: all sources, whether print or electronic, follow the same rules—with slight changes you’ll have to learn. Luckily, there are many tools out there for students to make it easy to catch up on the new MLA formatting guidelines.
MLA Style Center
When looking for help, why not go straight to the publisher? You may already own the MLA Handbook 8th edition—at a $12 cover price, it’s probably one of your least expensive textbooks this year. Even better, the library is sure to have at least one, and probably several, copies. But for an online aid, there’s also the MLA Style Center. Under “What’s New,” you can get a quick breakdown of the major changes in the 8th edition. It’s important to check this before you write up your works cited page for your first research paper of the semester.
But the MLA Style Center isn’t limited only to quick tips on MLA style. The bloggers and editors also offer a “Behind the Style” blog that explains the reasons behind why MLA has decided on certain topics, such as capitalizing Web, italicizing Facebook and Twitter, and where to put the end punctuation in a quote. It’s also full of style tips, such as avoiding “with” as a conjunction and referring to individuals as “faculty.” Finally, the site features an interactive guide to the sometimes dreadful works cited page, “Works Cited: A Quick Guide.” Each example work is labeled with where to find the elements of the new MLA citations, as well as what the final works cited entry should look like in your bibliography.
Other citation websites
Another good source for citation and formatting questions in MLA and other styles, including APA, Chicago Style, and the Associated Press, is Purdue’s Online Writing Lab, also known as the OWL. The MLA portion of the site has been completely updated to the 8th edition guidelines, and a quick breakdown of changes, “MLA 8th Edition: What’s New and Different,” should help you brush up on the new features. There’s also an FAQ and general format guidelines.
Questia’s research paper tutorials include a section on “Working with Documentation Styles,” including a video guide to the MLA format, which offers a friendly reminder to check with your professor to make sure you’re using the correct edition for his or her class. Some profs may not yet be up to date on the 8th edition either!
The EasyBib website promises to create your works cited page for you automatically, but it’s better not to just take their word for it. Instead, check out the number of articles they’ve posted on the “MLA Format (8th ed.).” If you’ve been using their app, beware: as of September 2016, it’s still running on 7th edition.
The Write & Cite App is a reliable and easy to use writing, research, and citation reference tool that will help you with all your writing needs including essays, research papers, reports, resumes and more.
What sites do you use to check your citations? Tell us in the comments.