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MLA Citation Style Quick Guides

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MLA Style Basics

Principles of citing, MLA Style:
  1. When citing any work, no matter what type or format, use a series of “core elements”.
  2. Omit any core elements not relevant to the work.
  3. In MLA style, "containers” describe how your source was published or made available to readers.
Core Elements, in order of placement in citation:

Note each element ends in a comma or a period:

  1. Author.
  2. Title of Source.
  3. Title of Container,
  4. Other Contributors,
  5. Version,
  6. Number,
  7. Publisher,
  8. Publication date,
  9. Location.
  10. Optional elements.
About Containers:

Most sources are part of a larger work. In MLA these larger works are called “containers.”

Examples:

  • A webpage (source) is part of a website (container)
  • An article (source) is part of a magazine (container)
  • A short story (source) is part of a book (container)

A few types of works are self-contained, and so are not part of a larger work, but are themselves a large work. Examples:

  • A book
  • A film
  • A work of art seen in person

Use core elements 3 through 9 to give details about the container. Repeat these same elements (3 through 9) for works that have 2 containers. Example:

  • An article (the source) is published in a journal (1st container) which is available in an online database (2nd container). 

1: Author

The author is the first core element of any citation.
  • Author name(s) always end with a period. 
  • If source has more than one author, list the authors or editors for each citation in the order given on the publication. 
If source has one author:
  • Last/Family name, First name Middle name. 

Examples: 

Rushkoff, Douglas.

Kalish, Mildred Armstrong.

If source has two authors:
  • Last, First Middle, and First Middle Last. 

Example:

Kauffman, James M., and Harold J. Burbach.

If source has three or more authors:
  • Give only first listed author, Last, First Middle, then “et al.” to indicate multiple authors.

Example:

Wolfteich, Claire E., et al.

If source has editors but no authors:
  • Format names as you would for authors, comma, then the word "editor" or "editors", then a period.

Example:

Smith, John, and Margaret Jolly, editors.

If source has a corporate author:
  • Give organization name as it appears in work, but omit any beginning A, An, or The.

Example:

Modern Language Association.

If source has a government author:
  • Name of country, comma, Department followed by a period.

Example:

United States, National Institutes of Health.

If source gives no author:
  • Skip the author and begin citation with title of source (see Element 2: Title of source).

2: Title of source

The title of the source will either have quotation marks for shorter works within a larger work (for example: a short story, an article, or a web page), or italics for self-contained works (for example: a movie or a book).
Capitalize first, last, and principal words:

Example of a shorter work: (The period goes before the closing quotation mark)

“A Perfect Day for Bananafish.”

Example of a longer work: (The text is in italics and ends with a period)

The Godfather.

Include any subtitle after a colon:

Example:

ScreenAgers: Lessons in Chaos from Digital Kids.

If no title is given, write a generic description, using sentence capitalization and no quotation marks. End with a period:

Photograph of sunset at Rocky Mountain National Park. 

3: Title of container

The container is the larger source that contains the work you are citing.
  • For example: a book that contains a short story or essay; a journal that contains an article, or a web site that contains a web page.
  • Use italics and follow with a comma.
  • First, last, and principal words capitalized.

Examples:

Journal of Education,

Webster’s New World College Dictionary,

4: Other contributors

Use the "other contributors" element to include any additional names important to your research or to identification of the work.
  • Most often used for a translator or editor of a book, or for names of people involved in making or performing in a film or series. 
  • Write name: First Middle Last, and precede with a descriptive phrase or noun. Common phrases include:
    • adapted by
    • directed by
    • edited by
    • illustrated by
    • introduction by
    • narrated by
    • performance by
    • translated by
  • Use sentence capitalization. This means if the previous element ended with a comma, the first word isn't capitalized. See example.

Examples:

Translated by Jay Rubin, 

performances by James Stewart and Donna Reed,

5: Version

Use the Version element to indicate an edition or version.
  • Abbreviate edition (ed.) and revised (rev.).
  • Use sentence capitalization. This means if the previous element ended in a comma, the first word isn't capitalized. See example.

Examples:

Updated ed.,

5th ed.,

unabridged version,

6: Number

Use the "number" element when the source is part of a numbered sequence, such as a journal article or a television series
episode.
  • Abbreviate volume (vol.) and issue/number (no.)
  • Use sentence capitalization. Do not capitalize the first word after a comma.

Examples:

vol. 42, no. 5,

season 2, episode 10,

7: Publisher

Use the "publisher" element mostly for books, websites, and films.
  • Do not use in journal article citations
  • Abbreviate “University Press” to UP
  • Omit any initial article (A, An, or The) and business abbreviations (like Co. or Inc.)
  • For websites, find the publisher name at the bottom of the page after the ©.
  • Publisher name not needed if it's the same as the website title.
  • For films, use the name of the distributor.

Examples:

U of Chicago P,

RKO,

University of Iowa Museum of Art, 

8: Publication date

Every citation will include a publication date, unless no date is given in the source.
  • Format for dates is: day month year.
  • Abbreviate months longer than four letters to first 3 letters.
  • If more than one date is given, use the date most relevant or most recent.
  • If no publication date is given, omit the date.
  • For websites, add the access date under “Optional elements” (see description below).

Examples:

27 Aug. 1971,

June 1995, 

9: Location

Use location element for any information that helps the reader locate the source. This includes:
  • The URL of a website or online article, without the http:// and including a period at the end.

Example:

www.bls.gov/careeroutlook/2018/data-on-display/education-pays.htm.

  • The doi of a journal article (use instead of URL).

Example:

doi:10.1002/pits.20246.

  • The page numbers of an article, preceded by p. for a single page, or pp. for multiple pages.

Examples:

pp. 65-8.

p. 102. 

  • The museum, if an artwork was viewed in person.

Example:

The Art Institute of Chicago.

10: Optional elements

Use any of these optional elements, but only if they are important to your use of the source. 
  • Date of access for online work with content that changes often, or that doesn’t have a published date.
  • Precede the date with the word "Accessed".

Example: 

Accessed 7 June 2016.

  • Use for unexpected formats. Include a word that describes the format.

Examples:

Lecture.

Address.

Transcript.

MLA Books, eBooks, chapters

General guidance:
  • In a print book, the information you need to cite is usually found on the "title page" 2 or 3 pages inside the front of the book, and on the back side of that same title page.
  • For an eBook, the first part of the citation will usually be the same as for the print book, then the title of the "container" (in this case the database or other electronic platform) where you found or retrieved it, and the URL. See examples below.
Single Author (p. 26*)

Title of Book. Shortened Publisher Name, Year.

Lampe, Gregory P. Frederick Douglass: Freedom’s Voice. Brown, 2015.

Two Authors (p. 21)

Andrews, Kevin, and Michelle Curtis. A Changing Australia: The Social, Cultural and Economic Trends. Crown, 2014.

Three or More Authors: (p. 22)

Brown, Frank, et al. On the Edge of the World. Harcourt, 2013.

Book with edition information (2nd or later edition, revised or updated edition, etc. (pp. 38-39)

Lerner, Gerda. The Grimke Sisters from South Carolina. 2nd ed., Little, 2013.

Book with editors instead of authors (pp. 22-23)

Smith, John, and Margaret Jolly, editors. Colonial Experience. Macmillan, 2017.

Chapter in an Anthology or a Compilation (p. 30)

Author(s) of Chapter. “Chapter Title.” Title of Book, Edited by followed by the editor’s name. Shortened Publisher Name, Copyright Year. Pages of Chapter.

Deeb, Robert, and Charles D. Brower. “Law and Justice.” American Decades: 1950-1959, Edited by Richard Layman. Gale, 1995. pp. 225-256.

Encyclopedias (MLA Style Dictionary Entry, Columbia College of Vancouver, Canada)

Reid, Donald J. “Alfalfa.” World Book Encyclopedia, vol. 1, World Book, 2015. pp. 345-348.

Dictionaries (MLA Style FAQ)

“Literally.” Webster’s New World College Dictionary, 5 th ed., Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016, p.726.

eBook (p. 34) 

Forbes, Scott. A Natural History of Families. Princeton UP, 2007. Project Muse, muse.jhu.edu/book/31159. 

Bull, Alvin F. and Sylvan T. Runkel. Wildflowers of Iowa Woodlands. 2nd ed., University of Iowa P, 2009. EBSCOhost eBook Collection, resources.kirkwood.edu/login?url=https://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=nlebk&AN=325293&site=ehost-live&scope=site. 

* Page numbers refer to the print MLA Handbook, available at Kirkwood libraries.

MLA Articles from magazines, journals, newspapers, and library databases

General rules:
  • If pages aren't continuous, put the first page and a plus sign (for example, 46+).
  • For website URLs: copy and paste complete URL from the browser address, then remove the http:// at the beginning.
  • For database article URLs: copy and paste the "permalink" or other link provided by the database.
  • For articles with a DOI number: Use this instead of the URL.
Magazine Articles (p. 43*)

Author(s). "Title of Article." Title of Periodical, Day Month Year, pages.

Drucker, Peter. “Beyond the Information Revolution.” Atlantic Monthly, 31 Jan. 2015, pp. 47-48.

Journal Articles (Continuous Pagination or by Issue) (pp. 39-40, MLA Style FAQ)

Author(s). "Title of Article." Title of Journal, vol. Volume number, no. Issue number, Month Year, pp. Page numbers.

Kauffman, James M., and Harold J. Burbach. “Creating Classroom Civility.” Journal of Education, vol. 181, no. 3, Feb. 2013, pp. 12-18.

Library Subscription Service (Gale, EBSCOhost,Opposing Viewpoints,CQ Researcher, JSTOR,etc.) (pp. 38,110,113)

Author(s). “Title of Article.” Title of Journal, vol. Volume number, no. Issue number, Month Year, pp. page number(s). Database Provider Name, www.urlwhereyoufoundarticleorpermalink.edu.

Example without doi:

Smith, Gary. “Onward to the Top.” Successful Business, vol. 24, no. 7, 2019, pp. 204-210. EBSCOhost, resources.kirkwood.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&d b=bsh&AN=5265312&site=ehost-live&scope=site.

Example with doi: 

Chan, Evans. “Postmodernism and Hong Kong Cinema.” Postmodern Culture, vol. 10, no. 3, Mar. 2017. JSTOR, doi:10.1353/pmc.2000.0021.

Opposing Viewpoints database
  • The articles in Opposing Viewpoints have been published before in other publications. To recognize this, the first set of elements are about the original publication. The second set (or container) is about the publication that re-published it. The third set (or container) is about the database. 
  • Remember that the Opposing Viewpoints database will create a citation for you, which you can copy and paste, then check against this guide for correctness.

Butrymowicz, Sarah. "Charter Schools Have Had Mixed Results." Charter Schools. Edited by Margaret Haerens and Lynn Zott. Detroit: Greenhaven Press, 2012. "Charter Schools: An Experiment with Mixed Results." Politics Daily. 2011. Gale Opposing Viewpoints In Context. resources.kirkwood.edu/login?url=http://link.galegroup.com/ apps/doc/EJ3010800207/OVIC?u=kcccedar&xid=4c792463. Accessed 16 Aug. 2019.

Newspaper Article in Print (pp. 42-43, 111)

Price, Hugh B. “ S.A.T. Scores.” The New York Times, 26 Apr. 2017, late ed., pp. A23+.

“Security in Airports.” The Gazette [Cedar Rapids], 5 May 2013, p. A1.

Newspaper Article on Website

Flitter, Emily. "This Is What Racism Sounds Like in the Banking Industry." The New York Times, 11 Dec. 2019, www.nytimes.com/2019/12/11/business/jpmorgan-banking-racism.html. Accessed 19 Dec. 2019.

* Page numbers refer to the print MLA Handbook, available at Kirkwood libraries.

MLA Websites

General rules:
  • Copy and paste URLs for accuracy, but remove the initial "http://".
  • If a URL is so long it is distracting or confusing for the reader, it may be shortened to a home page or search page where the article may be located.
  • Find the publisher's name at the very bottom of the webpage, after the © symbol.
  • Do not include the publisher name if it is the same as the title of the website.
  • Access date is optional, but recommended especially for pages where the content might change.
Basic format

Author. "Title of Page or Article." Title of Website, Publisher of website, Date published, URL. Accessed day month year. [Access date is optional, but recommended especially for pages where the content might change.]

Examples:

Lohr, Kathy. “Controversy Swirls around Harsh Anti-Obesity Ads.” All Things Considered, NPR, 9 Jan. 2012, www.npr.org/2012/01/09/144799538/ controversy-swirls-around-harsh-anti-obesity-ads. 

Lambert, Verity. “Time and Relative Dimensions in Space.” Gallifrayan Compendium, 4 July 2017, www.tombakerltd.edu/timevehicle. Accessed 9 Oct. 2019.

Web page, no author:

“Don’t Just Manage Your Money, Own It!” Feed the Pig, American Institute of CPA, www.feedthepig.org/manage-yourmoney#.WMLUKvKs6Rg. Accessed 10 Aug. 2019.

“Gout and Diabetes.” WebMD, 10 Nov. 2017, https://www.webmd.com/arthritis/gout-diabetes-connection#1. Accessed 25 Nov. 2017.

Web page, government author:

United States, Census Bureau. Statistical Abstract of the United States, 2012, www.census.gov/library/publications/2011/compendia/statab/131ed.html. Accessed 1 Dec. 2019.

Congress, Public Law:

United States, Congress. Public Law 111-122. United States Statutes at Large, vol. 123, 2009, pp. 3480-82. U.S. Government Publishing Office, www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/STATUTE-123/pdf/STATUTE-123.pdf. Accessed 6 May 2019.

MLA Film, Television, Video, and Audio

Film, Television and Video

  • The citation format for a film or television episode depends on whether your focus is on a particular person involved in the creation (director, actor, writer, etc.) or on the film or episode as a whole.
Film and TV, focus on a person
  • If the focus of your discussion is on a person, you begin with that person's name and the role they play. Some roles include: director, creator, performer, writer.
Example of film, focus on a person:

Last name, First name, role. Title of Film. Distributor of film. Date released.

Garland, Judy, performer. The Wizard of Oz. Loew's, 1939.

Example of TV episode, focus on a person:

Last name, First name, role. "Title of Episode." Title of Series, season number, episode number, Distributor, date released.

Whedon, Joss, creator. "Hush." Buffy the Vampire Slayer, season 4, episode 10, Twentieth Century Fox, 14 Dec. 1999.

Film and TV, focus on the whole
  • If the discussion is of the film or episode as a whole, you begin the citation with the title.
Examples of film, focus on entire work:

Title of Film. Directed by First name Last name, performances by First name Last name, Distributor, date released.

It's a Wonderful Life. Directed by Frank Capra, RKO, 1946.

Philadelphia Story. Directed by George Cukor, performances by Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn, and James Stewart, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1940.

YouTube, Kanopy, or other online or streaming video

  • If you don't have the director's name, you may use the poster's name or user name, or company name where appropriate.
  • If no creator, poster, or director's name is given, begin with the title.
Examples:

Director Last Name, First Name, director. “Title of Video/Segment.” Title of Website/Program. Publisher of Website, Date of Release, URL. Accessed Date Accessed.

Khan Academy. “Converting Fractions to Decimals.” YouTube, 8 Apr. 2007, youtu.be/Gn2pdkvdbGQ. Accessed 1 Nov. 2016.

Lohr, Kathy, director. “Controversy Swirls Around Harsh Anti-Obesity Ad.” All Things Considered. NPR, 9 Jan. 2018, www.npr.org/2012/01/09/144799538/controversy-swirls-around-harsh-anti-obesity-ads. Accessed 10 Jan. 2019.

McGonigal, Jane. “Gaming and Productivity.” YouTube, uploaded by Big Think, 3 July 2012, www.youtube.com/watch?v=mkdzy9bWW3E. Accessed 15 Aug. 2019. 

Talreja, Sanjay and Sut Jhally. Advertising and the End of the World. Media Education Foundation, 1997, Kanopy, kirkwood.kanopystreaming.com/video/advertising-end-world. Accessed 15 July 2019.

Podcast

  • Podcasts, like films or television shows, may be delivered through a number of different stations, services, or apps. We give a number of examples below, based on the different ways you might have accessed the podcast.
  • You may also choose to apply the rules listed above under "Film, Television, and Video" about which contributor or creator was your focus in your use of the resource. For example, your discussion of the podcast might focus on the person being interviewed, on the host's commentary, or on the words spoken by the narrator. Include this information about the role of the contributor in your citation.
Podcast, accessed through a browser:

Name(s) of creator, host, or narrator. "Title of Episode." Title of Podcast, season and episode number if available, publisher, date published, URL.

Clark, Josh, and Chuck Bryant, hosts. "How Bail Works." Stuff You Should Know, iHeartMedia, 23 Feb. 2010, www.iheart.com/podcast/105-stuff-you-should-know-26940277/episode/how-bail-works-29468033/.

Podcast, accessed through a browser and part of a larger website:

Name(s) of creator, host, or narrator. "Title of Episode." Title of Podcast, season and episode number if available, publisher, date published. Title of Website, URL. 

Douthat, Ross, et al., hosts. "The Pandemic vs. The President." The Argument, The New York Times, 12 Mar. 2020. The New York TImes, www.nytimes.com/2020/03/12/opinion/the-argument-coronavirus-trump.html.

Podcast, accessed through an app:

Name(s) of creator, host, narrator, or interviewee. "Title of Episode." Title of Podcast, Name of app, season and episode number if available, publisher if available, date published. 

Roose, Kevin, narrator. "One: Wonderland." Rabbit Hole, iHeartRadio app, 16 Apr. 2020.

 

MLA Talon content

If your instructor uploads content (like an article or book chapter) to Talon, and you need to cite that content in your own work, use these guidelines to help:

  • Follow the basic core elements of MLA style
  • Include the elements you have, and skip information you don't have
Example of article, unknown source:

Anderson, W.T. "As a Farm Woman Thinks." Talon, uploaded by Bessie Wilder, 21 Dec. 2017, www.kirkwood.edu/talon.

Example, information without a title:
  • If no title is given, create your own brief description of the document, and use sentence capitalization.

Economic definitions. Talon, uploaded by Adam Smith, 6 Jan. 2019, www.kirkwood.edu/talon.

MLA Literary criticism and other articles reprinted in books

Literary criticism reprints or collections

In much of the literary criticism the library provides, articles have been previously published in other publications.

  • The MLA style citations for these first include information about the original source, then about the "container" source when you actually accessed the article.
  • Remember that the library's databases provide a citation for each article that you can copy and paste, then double check it against these examples and correct any errors.
Examples, in print:

Smith, Annie. Environmental Protection. Mentor, 1990. pp. 34-36. Contemporary Literary Criticism, general editor, Thomas Votteler, vol. 20. Gale, 1999. pp. 23-36.

Wilson, Edmund. “The Ambiguity of Henry James.” The Hound and Horn, vol. 7, no. 3, 1934, pp. 385-406. Short Story Criticism, general editor, Thomas Votteler, vol. 8, Gale, 1991. pp. 274-276.

Example, online from a library database:

Grossman, Edward. “Vonnegut & His Audience.” Commentary, May 1974, pp. 40-46. Edited by Carolyn Riley and Phyllis Carmen Mendelson. Contemporary Literature. Criticism. vol. 5. Gale Research, 1976. Literature Resource Center. /link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/H1100000832/LitRC?u=kirkwood_main&sid=LitRC&xid=3b48fa10. Accessed 9 Dec. 2019. 

MLA Photographs, artwork reproductions, artwork viewed in person

General guidance:

  • The artist's name is given for the "author" element.
  • First give information about the creator of the artwork, then for the website, article, or book in which it was published.
  • If you viewed the artwork in person, see section "Artwork seen in person".
  • The medium is an optional element, and may be included after the date, with comma between. See example below.
Photographic reproduction of artwork, print book

Last name, First name of artist. Title of Work. Date of composition, Location of original work. Title of Book, edited by Editor's First and Last name, Publisher name, Date of book publication, p. Page number of reproduction. 

Eakins, Thomas. Spinning. 1881, private collection. Thomas Eakins. Edited by Darrel Sewell, Yale UP, 2016, p. 102.

Picasso, Pablo. Violin with Sheet of Music. 1912, Réunion des Musées Nationaux. Pablo Picasso, edited by Jesse McDonald, Barnes & Noble, 1993, p. 47.

Photographic reproduction of artwork, online

Important note on Google Images:

  • None of the images found on Google (or any other search engine) are actually on Google. Google helps you locate information but is not the creator or publisher of that information, so you don't cite the image with Google as the source. Click on the button "Visit Page" or click again on the image to get to the website where the image is published, and where you can find the information you need to cite the image.

Last name, First name of artist. Title of Work. Date of composition, Museum/Location of original artwork [skip location and city if same as name of website], City of location. Title of website, Publisher of website, URL. 

Da Vinci, Leonardo. Mona Lisa. 1503-19. Louvre, Musée du Louvre, www.louvre.fr/en/oeuvrenotices/mona-lisa-portrait-lisa-gherardini-wife-francesco-del-giocondo. 

Wood, Grant. American Gothic. 1930. Art Institute of Chicago. www.artic.edu/aic/collections/artwork/6565. Accessed 23 Sept. 2019. 

Photograph, online

Last name, First name of photographer. Title of photograph. Date photograph was taken or if not available date uploaded. Title of website, Publisher of website, URL. 

Hartmann, Trish. Southern Leopard Frog. 26 June 2013. Flickr, flic.kr/p/eW8jiS.

Photograph, personal

Brief description of the photograph. Date of photograph, [Or estimate the date in brackets if unknown], personal photograph.

Dorothy Thompson with the Waucoma High School basketball team. [Circa 1933], personal photograph.

Artwork seen in person

Last name, First name of artist. Title of work. Date of composition, Name of museum, city of museum. 

Picasso, Pablo. Violin and Sheet of Music. 1912, Musée National Picasso, Paris.

Wood, Grant. American Gothic. 1930, Art Institute of Chicago.

Example including the medium
  • If the medium is important to your discussion of the work, include it after the date, separated by commas.

Anatsui, El. Transit. 2002, wood and pigment, University of Iowa Museum of Art, Iowa City.

MLA Unpublished student paper

General guidance:

  • Can be used to refer to your own previous writing.
  • If quoting from another student's unpublished paper, first get their permission.
Unpublished student paper (from MLA Style Center)

Last name, First name of author. "Title of Paper." Date of paper. Course for which paper was written, the college name, student paper.

Smith, Sam. "The Meaning of Life." 21 Oct. 2019. Introduction to Philosophy, Kirkwood Community College, student paper.

MLA Personal Interview or Correspondence

Examples:

Name of person who was interviewed. Interview. Conducted by Your Name, Date of interview.

Reynolds, Serenity. Interview. Conducted by Jayne Cobb, 24 June 2019.

Interview conducted by email:

Gellar, Ross. E-mail interview. Conducted by Rachel Green, 6 June 2019.

Personal correspondence, E-mail or letter:

Name of writer. "Subject line." Received by Recipient's name. Date received.

Blythe, Gilbert. "Windy Poplars." Received by Anne Shirley. 15 July 2019.

MLA in-text citations

What is an in-text citation, and how is it different from the Works Cited list? (MLA Handbook 54-58 and 116-128)

The in-text citation is a way to quickly acknowledge where you got the idea or quote you used in your writing. It also points your reader to the complete citation for that source in your Works Cited list, because the in-text citation starts with the first word(s) of your Works Cited citation.

When should I use in-text citations in my writing?

Use an in-text citation when you summarize, paraphrase, or directly quote a source. If it isn't your original idea, cite it. 

What is included in the in-text citation?
  1. The key, and sometimes only element of your in-text citation is the first word(s) of the Works Cited entry for that source. This is often the author's last name.
  2. If no author is given, the title (or just the first few words for a longer title) is given instead.
  3. The in-text citation might be included in parentheses at the end of the sentence that includes the reference, or it might be included within the sentence as part of the "signal phrase". See examples of parenthetical and signal phrase in-text citations below.
  4. The page number of the quote or information referenced is also included, for publications with page numbers. 
In what order do I put the quotation mark, parentheses, and period?

At the end of a quotation: closing quotation mark, then parentheses, then period.

"...in treatment" (Wall 809).

At the end of a sentence: parentheses, then period.

Others found many changes (Andrews and Curtis 65).

At the end of a block quote: place ending punctuation first, then the parentheses.

...In both countries it was clearer than crystal to the lords of the State preserves of loaves and fishes, that things in general were settled for ever. (Dickens 1)

What if there are no page numbers in my source?

Only use page numbers if they are given in the source. You do not need to count paragraphs or pages, just leave the page number out. See below for more details on numbered paragraphs and sections. 

Use of parentheses or signal phrase

Examples of parenthetical and signal phrase in-text citations:

In-text example in parentheses. In this example there are two authors, and the reference is a paraphrase of an idea in the source:

...they are careful to use words that make it clear they aren't trying to control someone's behavior (Deci and Flaste 106-8).

Below is the same citation, but with use of a signal phrase. Notice that the information included in the signal phrase (the authors' names) is not repeated in the parentheses. Only the page number is needed there:

Deci and Flaste demonstrate that they are careful to use words that make it clear they aren't trying to control someone's behavior (106-8). 

In-text examples with different authors

One author, examples:

Brown based his book Play on research done by experts in many different fields of biology (6).

The study of play in humans has lately been informed by research in many different fields of biology (Brown 36).

Two authors, examples:

Bede and Xing found that the most commonly prescribed treatment was often ineffective (10).

Some experts disagree, claiming that global warming is nothing new (King and Nguyen 22-23).

Three of more authors: include the first name then the phrase "et al.":

...these symptoms don't appear until age 14 on average (South et al. 7).

Group, Corporate, Government author:
  • If the corporate name is long, it is better to cite it in the signal phrase text rather than interrupting the writing with a long parenthetical citation.
  • Common abbreviations may be used when citing a corporate author parenthetically.

...United States Environmental Protection Agency found that river water quality is profoundly improved with the addition fo wetlands in surrounding areas (42).

Another study found that water quality was improved by nearly 38% (United States, Environmental Protection Agency 51).

No author given:
  • Use the title in full or shortened to the first noun phrase. If the title doesn't start with a noun phrase shorten to the first word. However give additional words if needed for clarity.
  • Exclude initial articles (a, an, the).
  • Titles of short works go in quotation marks. Titles of longer works are italicized, as they are in the Works Cited citation.

("Study" 301).

(Depression 141-48).

Multiple works by the same author:
  • To distinguish between the multiple works, include all or part of the title in addition to the author's last name in the in-text citation.
  • In parenthetical references a comma is inserted after the author name.

...arrived, about 100 million years after the first reptiles" (Brown, "Through the Lens" 8).

In "Through the Lens of Play" Brown cites evidence that play has been around since "the earliest warm-blooded creatures" roamed the earth (8).

Multiple sources in a single parenthesis:
  • Use a semi-colon to separate multiple in-text citations from different sources, in a single parentheses.

(Baron 194; Jacobs 55)

No page numbers:
  • If paragraphs are numbered use those instead with abbreviation "par.".
  • If sections are numbered use those with abbreviation "sec.".
  • If the parenthetical citation includes the author or title, a comma is inserted after the name.
  • If there are no page numbers or paragraphs numbers, cite only the author or title.

...United Stated Environmental Protection Agency found that water quality is profoundly improved with the addition of wetlands in the landscape (par. 8).

...findings were inconclusive (Thomas, sec. 3).

Citing indirect sources (second-hand quoting):
  • Citing a source indirectly should be avoided if possible by locating the original source of the quote.
  • If that isn't possible, the abbreviation "qtd. in" is used.
  • Include the last name of the person being quoted within the sentence, and include the author of the source you used in the parentheses, as well as the page number if available.

Mary Jones admitted that she had lied "to protect the honor of her father" (qtd. in Hammond 201).

MLA Paper formatting directions

These directions are for how to format your document in Word or other word processing programs in MLA style. For directions on how to format your Works Cited page, see farther down this page.

From MLA Style Center, Formatting a Research Paper

Margins:
  • 1 inch on all sides (Word default) 
  • To check margin settings, go to Word menu "Layout" then "Margins". It should be called "Normal" and show 1 inch margins all around.
Font style and size:
  • Any readable font, where regular and italic have good contrast
  • Generally 12 point font. MLA states the font size should be "set to a standard size"
  • To change font of your paper, press Ctrl+A to select all text, then use the drop downs on the "Home" menu, in the "Font" section, to make any needed changes.
Line spacing
  • Spacing throughout your paper should be double-spaced. This is NOT the Word default, and should be changed in the "Home" menu.
  • To change line spacing, press Ctrl+A to select all text, then click the up-and-down arrows in the Home menu, in the Paragraph section, to select 2.0.
  • In the same line spacing menu, also click "Remove space after paragraph".
Paragraphs and tab
  • Indent the first line of each paragraph half an inch from the left margin. This should be the default tab size on Word.
  • Indent quote blocks half an inch as well, using the "Increase Indent" button with the right-pointing arrow in the Paragraph menu section.
Heading and Title
  • Begin at the top of the first page, flush with the left margin.
  • Type your name, your instructor's name(s), the course numbers, and the date, each on separate lines. Double-spaced.
  • On a new, double-spaced line, use the "Center" button in the Paragraph menu section to center your title. Do NOT put title in quotes, italics, or all caps. Follow title capitalization, capitalizing the first word and all important words. Do not use a period in your title.
  • Begin your first paragraph one double-spaced line after the title, and return to left-flush margin. Tab to indent your first line a half inch.
  • See sample heading and title on the MLA Style formatting page
Page numbers and running header
  • Number all pages of your paper, in the upper right-hand corner. In Word, find the automatic page number settings in the "Insert" menu, "Header & Footer" section. Click "Page Number" drop down, move mouse to "Top of Page" and select the number in the top right-hand corner.
  • When the page number appears on your paper, leave the cursor there and type in your last name. This creates the running header for your paper.
  • If your instructor prefers no running header on the first page: While your cursor is still in the header area, click the box in the "Desgin" menu "Options" box that says "Different first page". This should take the page number and your last name off the first page, but leave it on the remaining pages.

MLA Works Cited page formatting

 

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