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Citing Sources in MLA 9

A quick guide to help you cite sources in MLA 9.

Copying and Pasting Database Citations


NOTE: Although most library databases provide citations that you can copy and paste into your assignment, these citations are not always 100% correct!

As the author of your own work, you must correct any errors that appear in the database citations, and correct any formatting that gets lost when you paste it into your assignment. This guide is a tool you can use to compare the database citations to make sure they are correct.

Watch Out for These 2 Common Errors in Database Citations

1. Database Errors - Incorrect Capitalization

  • In some databases some of the time, some MLA citations may have either the author or title displayed in ALL CAPS or all lowercase. Both are wrong. The author name should be in normal case with the last name appearing first ---- Doe, Jane. The main words of the title of the book or article should be in caps with the remaining letters in the word in lowercase. Compare the 5 wrong examples with the right one on the bottom:
    • Wrong -  PIERCE, PATRICIA.  “Shakespeare and the Forgotten Heroes.”
    • Wrong -  PIERCE, Patricia.  “Shakespeare and the Forgotten Heroes.”
    • Wrong  - Pierce, Patricia.  “Shakespeare and the forgotten heroes.”
    • Wrong  - Pierce, Patricia.  “SHAKESPEARE AND THE FORGOTTEN HEROES.”
    • Wrong  - Pierce, Patricia.  “SHAKESPEARE and the Forgotten Heroes.”
    • Right  -  Pierce, Patricia.  “Shakespeare and the Forgotten Heroes.”

2. Database Errors - Pasting Errors

  • Gray Background - When pasting from some databases, you may notice the gray background is pasted along with the text of the citation. This occurs when you use the left Paste Option in Microsoft Word or the command keys CTRL-V (or CMD-V, if a Mac) to paste. To avoid this, use the middle or far right Paste Option. On a Mac hover over the citation,and  a little clipboard will appear. Choose "Paste Text Only." 

greyed out citation

NOTE: For MLA 9 format, notice that database articles have either a URL, or a "doi" number in place of a URL.

  • Missing Italics - Often when pasting a citation into a Word or Google document, the italics will revert to regular type. Go into your pasted citation and add the italics back in. Both the source (name of a book, newspaper, magazine or journal) and the database name must be in italics.
    • Wrong (Pasted without Italics)
      • Pierce, Patricia. “Shakespeare and the Forgotten Heroes.” History Today, vol. 56, no. 7, July 2006, pp.3-4. EBSCOhost,ip,cpid&custid=s6269778&db=aph&AN=21432939&site=ehost-live&scope=site.
    • Right (Corrected with Italics)
      • Pierce, Patricia. “Shakespeare and the Forgotten Heroes.” History Today, vol. 56, no. 7, July 2006, pp.3-4. EBSCOhost,,ip,cpid&custid=s6269778&db=aph&AN=21432939&site=ehost-live&scope=site.

Formatting Your Works Cited List (also in an Annotated Bibliography

  • When you set up your Works Cited list be sure to double-space the citation for correct MLA format. 
  • Indent your citation beginning on the second line, and for each line after. This is known as a "hanging indent."

Pierce,  Patricia. “Shakespeare and the Forgotten Heroes.” History Today, vol. 56, no. 7, July 2006, pp.3-4.   EBSCOhost,ip,cpid&custid=s6269778&db=aph&AN=21432939&site=ehost-live&scope=site.

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