MLA (Modern Language Association) Format

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For research papers, I require the Modern Language Association (MLA) style of documentation.   MLA format requires students to document outside sources in two ways:

     1) All sources are acknowledged within the essay (in-text citation) utilizing parenthetical references.

     2) All sources cited within the essay are listed in a specific way in a final page known as a Works Cited page.

For a fantastic handout that makes this web page obsolete click the link below http://www.elcamino.edu/library/library_ser/docs/MLA.11.30.2009.pdf

In-text Citations

For the in-text citation, it is important that the reader of the essay is able to discern whom the author of the outside source is, on what page the passage or paraphrase can be found, and may also include the title of the source.  The purpose of the in-text citation is to give credit to the original author of the borrowed material and to give the reader everything necessary to find the source on the works cited page.  There are several different ways to deliver this pertinent information in your essay.

     1)     At the end of the sentence wherein the quote or paraphrase occurs, include the author's name and the page number within parentheses:

Example:    An expert on Beowulf has accurately noted that "the poem opens with the story of Scyld, the mythological founder of the Scylding dynasty, whose glorious reign and magnificent sea-burial are vividly set forth" (Klaeber 9).

     2)     Use the author's name within your sentence and include only the page number in your parenthetical reference:

 Example:    Fr. Klaeber, a known expert on Beowulf, has accurately noted that "the poem opens with the story of Scyld, the mythological founder of the Scylding dynasty, whose glorious reign and magnificent sea-burial are vividly set forth" (9).

     3)     When summarizing an entire work, simply use the author's name in your sentence.  This approach is used only when you are summarizing an entire work.

Example:    Fr. Klaeber was the first Beowulf expert to fully realize the importance of the mythological ties found at the beginning of the poem.

 Please note: if the above were a summary of a section of the work, it would be appropriate to indicate page numbers in the parenthetical reference.

     4)     In addition to the author's name and page number, you will need to include the title of the work being cited when you cite more than one work by the same author in your paper.  If in your essay you cited two books by Fr. Klaeber (Beowulf  and Interpretations of The Epic Poem), you would have to do the following:

Example:          Fr. Klaeber, a known expert on Beowulf, has accurately noted that "the poem opens with the story of Scyld, the mythological founder of the Scylding dynasty, whose glorious reign and magnificent sea-burial are vividly set forth" (Beowulf 9).

     5)     When the quote you use takes up more than four lines within your essay, use block quote format.  Be sure to introduce the block quote with a complete sentence followed by a colon as is done in the example below.

Example:         The narrator in Rebecca Harding-Davis' Life in the Iron Mills suggests the merits of Wolfe's self reflections are limited:

He held up humanity in its grand total;  showed the great world-cancer to his people.  Who could show it better?  He was a Christian reformer; he had studied the age thoroughly; his outlook at man had been free, world-wide, over all time.  His faith stood sublime upon the Rock of Ages; his fiery zeal guided vast schemes by which the gospel was to be preached to all nations.  How did he preach it tonight?  In burning, light-laden words he painted the incarnate Life, Love, the universal Man:  words that became reality in the lives of these people,--that lived again in beautiful words and actions, trifling, but heroic. (49)


    Keep the following in mind whenever citing outside sources in your essay:

               *  Introduce quotes with your words.  Do not simply insert a quote into your essay. 

               *  Make sure that when you introduce your quote, the passage being quoted flows smoothly within your sentence. 

               *  Draw conclusions to whatever you quote.   Do not force the reader to figure out why the particular quote you used is in the essay.

                *  Put the parenthetical reference at the end of your sentence even if the material being quoted appears at the beginning or middle of your sentence.

For more on citing sources within your essay, the following links should prove useful:

http://www.ccc.commnet.edu/mla/index.shtml    (Great general coverage of MLA)

http://www.bedfordstmartins.com/hacker/resdoc/humanities/english.htm (This site covers MLA format quite well.  In addition, it is a complete composition handbook)

http://www.bedfordstmartins.com/online/cite5.html (This site covers electronic sources)

http://www.mla.org/  (Limited, but useful coverage)

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Works Cited

The works cited page contains important information.  It is a separate page that you place at the end of your essay.  It should be titled "Works Cited."

When citing books, you will need to display the following information in the following order:

Author's last name, First name.  Book Title.  City of Publication:  Publisher, Publication date. Type of source.

Example of a book with only one author:

Hilton, James.  Goodbye Mr. Chips.  New York:  Bantam Books, 1962. Print.

Example of a work found in an anthology:

Tan, Amy.  "Rules of the Game."  Leaving Home.  Eds. Hazel Rochman and Darlene

          McCampbell.  New York:  Harper Collins Publishers, 1998.  35-52. Print.

When citing periodicals (magazines) or newspapers, use the following format:

Author of article (last name first).  "Article Title."  Publication Title.  Date: pages. Type of Source.

 

 

For more detailed directions relating to your works cited page, look to the following web sites:

http://www.elcamino.edu/library/library_ser/docs/MLA.11.30.2009.pdf El Camino College Guide to MLA

http://www.ccc.commnet.edu/mla/index.shtml   (Great general coverage of MLA)

http://www.mla.org/  (Limited, but useful coverage)

www.cas.usf.edu/english/walker/mla.html (Good for electronic sources)

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