MLA Update 2009: New Formatting Guidelines

MLA Seventh EditionIn April, the Modern Language Association (MLA) created new citation and formatting guidelines for 2009. Unfortunately, no one informed me of this, so I’m just discovering that there are some changes I need to make to my term paper (due tomorrow!). I’m just going to show some brief update highlights; be sure to get the new MLA handbook or at least check it out. It has a companion website that you gain access to with the book. There ARE several changes to how you cite things in your bibliography, especially to internet sources. These are changes you’ll want to know, especially if you’ll be taking classes this upcoming school year.


  • Basic formatting is generally the same, but there should be only one space after punctuation. Two is not accepted unless directed by an instructor.
  • Underlining is obsolete. Italics should be used for all longer works.
  • URLs are unnecessary when citation information provides a clear enough way to search the information (author, website name, and article name, for example).
  • All citations should now include publication medium. This means if you have a book, you put “print.” If you use a website, use “web.” A movie would be “film.”
  • There are new abbreviations for things such as “no publisher” (N.p.) or no pagination (N. pag.).


“MLA Update 2009: New Formatting Guidelines.” (un)Enlightened English. 05 Aug. 2009. Web. 05 Aug. 2009.

So in this example, since you don’t have my full name (sorry guys, I’m not sharing!), you would start with the article name, followed by the website name. Then you add the date the article was written, along with the medium it was published in (Web, in this case), with the day you accessed the article following. Notice I also didn’t include the URL.

I suggest stopping by The OWL at Purdue for more information and a couple more examples. You can pick up a copy of the new MLA Handbook at Amazon for cheaper than the MLA’s price (woohoo!), and suggest picking up a copy because it seems that not all MLA sites are updated on the new guidelines. Even The OWL only has a couple references and isn’t fully up-to-date. If you are an educator, please be sure to let your students know about the update and contact your school’s writing center and let them know if possible.

I should have a new article up tomorrow or so, since it’s the last day of classes. I would have finished the one I’ve been working on today, but I felt it was pretty important for students to know these changes. Since the changeover happened in April, you probably didn’t have to worry about it for spring semester classes. However, be prepared for professors wanting the new format come this fall. Good luck!

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  1. Nice formatting techniques, i am using (EDITED OUT) to make citation, a very good citation machine.


    • I was torn on whether to accept this comment or not and decided to accept it so long as the MLA Citation Generator was omitted. I do not permit “short-cuts” or cheating on this site, but I’m glad the comment was made so I may address it.

      Yes, citation generators may make your life easier. Yes, Word 2007 includes a citation generator. Yes, you will probably never have to cite anything outside of your college career. However, more often than not, citation generators are wrong–it’s hard to cover every nuance of the citation formula and many are not up to date with the seventh edition citation format. That being said, it’s very possible that your professor will notice a problem and you will receive a worse grade because of it. Don’t say I never warned you! 😛

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