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Finding Literary Criticism Tutorial: VI. Citing Literary Criticism

Putting It All Together

On this page, you will find information about:Overhead view of laptop computer with coffee, paper, and pencil.

  • Citing sources
  • Avoiding plagiarism

After you have completed your research, the Learning Center can also help you write your Literary Criticism paper.

MLA Citation Style

MLA format, the citation style created by the Modern Language Association, is used often in English, other language studies, and the humanities.

It requires in-text citations (sometimes known as parenthetical citations) within the body of your paper, and a Works Cited list that includes all your sources at the end of the paper.  

The formatting style will also tell you what font size, line spacing, margins, and page numbers to use.  Formatting styles are updated periodically;  check the Citing Sources page on the NCC Libraries website for the most current version.

Common knowledge:  The only exception to the citation rule is common knowledge.  If a fact is something that the average person would know, you do not have to cite it.  These are some examples of common knowledge:

  • Dates of famous historical events
  • Widely known and accepted concepts
  • When writing in a specific field, information that people in that field would recognize and understand

These are not common knowledge and require a citation:

  • Any statement that might be disputed or contested
  • Figures or statistics from other research studies
  • When writing in a specific field, information from a different field that is not well-known outside of that field

Additional Citation Resources:

These websites can help you with documenting sources and formatting your paper according to MLA style:

Modern Language Association Style Center

Purdue OWL MLA Formatting Guide 


The following resources may also help you with writing Literary Criticism:

Video: MLA Citation Style

Watch the video below to learn more about in-text citations and how they work alongside your Works Cited list.  From our friends at Imagine Easy Solutions.

About Plagiarism

Plagiarism means using someone else's words or ideas as if they were your own.  It is a serious violation of academic honesty and can result in significant consequences.  Always remember to:

 Use quotation marks around another author's exact words

 Acknowledge the source of an idea that you are paraphrasing or summarizing

Common pitfalls to avoid:

  • Just changing a few words around is not the same as paraphrasing.  You must put the idea into your own words.
  • It is possible to self-plagiarize.  You must create original work for each assignment in each course.
  • Turning in a paper that you got from a friend or obtained online is DEFINITELY plagiarism.
  • Keep track of your sources!  If you want to use an idea but you can't remember where you found it, don't use that idea.
  • Even if you quote/paraphrase correctly, you still need to cite your sources (see below).

There are other reasons for acknowledging the original creator of an idea besides just staying out of trouble.  Some of the benefits of citing your sources include:

  • It demonstrates to your instructor that you fulfilled the requirements of the assignment, i.e. that you learned something
  • It makes the argument that you are trying to prove stronger
  • It shows respect for other researchers, just as you would expect it to be shown to you

Additional Plagiarism Resources:

The NCC Learning Center offers this handout on Plagiarism.

The Student Conduct and Academic Honesty web page describes the expectations and procedures around plagiarism for the NCC community.

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