MLA – MLA Handbook, 9th Edition

What is the MLA Handbook, 9th Edition?

The MLA Handbook (9th edition, 2021) is MLA’s current title of its style and formatting guidelines.

What is MLA?

MLA is an abbreviation for the Modern Language Association. The MLA is a global, professional organization composed of over 23,000 teachers, scholars, and researchers in the humanities.

Scholars in the humanities worldwide pay membership dues to MLA, read MLA journals, and attend MLA conferences.


The terms MLA or MLA Style may be used informally to reference efforts to attribute and cite evidence.

Related Readings: Annotated Bibliography; Attribution, Citation, Information Has Value, Intellectual Property; The CRAAP Test (Currency, Relevance, Authority, Accuracy, Purpose)

Why Does the MLA Handbook, 9th Edition Matter?

Scholarship as a Conversation

The MLA Handbook is a form of ledger keeping, a way of keeping tracking of information and scholarly conversations on topics.

Since its inception, the MLA Handbook (9th edition, 2021) has codified the processes of attribution and citation for writers and researchers in the humanities. To publish in influential, peer-reviewed journals in the humanities, scholars must accurately follow the MLA Handbook.

Information Has Value

In a knowledge society, information has value. It’s a commodity:

  • For business people and entrepreneurs, a business plan, a copyright, a patent, may have enormous financial value.
  • For writers of research papers in the humanities, correct usage of MLA constitutes a signal of professionalism
  • For engineers, algorithms, blueprints, mathematical equations may be nearly invaluable.

“[I]nformation possesses several dimensions of value, including as a commodity, as a means of education, as a means to influence, and as a means of negotiating and understanding the world. Legal and socio economic interests influence information production and dissemination”

Framework, 2015, n.p.

MLA & Contemporary Information Literacy Perspectives & Practices

Viewed holistically, the MLA Handbook (9th edition, 2021) reflects the discourse practices of its members. These practices are conventions, codes of conduct, and ethical approaches to research and information literacy practices.

For instance, The ACRL (Association of College and Research Libraries) conceptualizes literacy and a cluster of six frameworks, six perspectives, on information literacy perspectives & practices:

  1. Authority is Constructed & Contextual
  2. Empathetic Information Literacy
  3. Information Creation as a Process
  4. Information Has Value
  5. Research as Inquiry
  6. Scholarship as a Conversation
  7. Searching as a Strategic Exploration

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