The Ultimate Visual Guide to Citing Sources in MLA Format

Citing sources is one of the most critical elements of creating not only ethical material, but credible documents. Traditionally, writers have had to access the MLA handbook–a 250+ page source book for referencing citation standards–or they have had to look up citation information online, one source at at a time in order to cite their sources in MLA format.

In the chart below, however, writers have access to all the rules and guidelines and formats for citing the most common sources in MLA format in one easy-to-use visual guide!

MLA format, developed by the Modern Language Association, is one of the most widely-used citation formats in our society. Taught in high school and throughout college, MLA format is typically best for citing essays and reports for the humanities.

How It Works

Using the fan chart and by associating the numbers with the citation parts in the key to the right, you can cite nearly any source in MLA format. Here’s how:

1) Locate the type of source you are trying to cite within one of the four source categories: Books, Periodicals, Online Sources, or Other.
2) Identify the colored thread in the fan chart that is associated with your source.
3) Moving left to right in your source’s column of trapezoids, jot down each number.
4) Use the list below to match the number with the complete citation information for each number. Note: The punctuation in each numbered item is exactly as it should appear in your citation.
5) Fill out your citation in the proper order.

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One thought on “The Ultimate Visual Guide to Citing Sources in MLA Format

  • May 6, 2015 at 3:49 pm

    Hi! Enjoying reading through the visual MLA format guide. I think I found a small typo in the “In-Text Citations General Guidelines” list. The first check should say “Last name or keyword in parentheses matches the first word in the reference corresponding to it on the works cited page.” Right now it says, “…on the works cite page.” Sorry if I’m incorrect in pointing out that issue. Thank you for a great visual guide to MLA though. Looks like something my students could really benefit from.


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