MLA DocumentationMLA Documentation
What does MLA stand for?
MLA is the abbreviation for Modern Language Association. Dedicated to language and literature, MLA is a professional organization whose members are comprised of teachers, scholars, and librarians. Other similar organizations in different disciplines are the American Psychological Association (APA) and the Council of Biology Educators (CBE). All such organizations publish journals with articles about topics of interest in the discipline. All created a style guide governing how articles submitted for publication are formatted and how they give credit to the sources. The term MLA is used to refer both to the association and to the rules in the MLA style guide which is called the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers. This tutorial uses the 8th edition.
What is the purpose for developing a set of rules for style and citations?
In order to have uniformity of presentation and give proper credit to the sources used in the articles, each organization has a different set of rules called a style guide. They include rules on how to give credit to sources in the body of the paper and how to list the sources at the end in a bibliography (a list of sources). Proper credit must be given to the sources used in the paper in order to avoid plagiarism. These style rules also include instructions for page setup such as margins, font, line spacing, and headers along with mechanics of writing such as punctuation.
Why is MLA called a parenthetical documentation system?
MLA style uses parentheses to cite sources. This is why it is called a parenthetical documentation system. To cite a source, the last name of the author (or the title of the article in quotation marks if no author is named) and the page number are used in sentences that contain a quote, paraphrasing, or a summary. One way of citing is to put the last name (or title if not author) and the page number in parentheses at the end of a sentence with information from a source whether it is a quote, paraphrase, or summary. If the last name of the author (or title if no author) is used in the sentence, then only the page number is put in parentheses.
Ironically, even though MLA was developed where use of parentheses was required (if only for the page number) and is called a parenthetical documentation system, with the advent of the Internet, sometime parentheses are not used.
The page number requirement refers to the hard copy printed version. Often, when hard-copy sources are uploaded to the Internet, the page number is not used in the web page version. If we don’t know the page number the particular information was on in the printed version, we do not use a page number which means there may not be any parentheses. Since the page number requirement refers to hard-copy printed sources, any page numbers we find on sources created for the Internet should not be used. Since computer presentations are different, what is on page 1 on one person’s computer may be on page 2 on someone else’s.
Why do schools require using MLA style?
Academic institutions such as high schools, colleges, and universities have courses which require training in a style system such as MLA in order to avoid plagiarism and to train students in preparing research papers suitable for publication in scholarly journals.
MLA Page FormatMLA Page Format
Important Note: Unless your instructor gives you a template, don't use an MLA template or tool since there are commonly errors.
- 1” margins
- Times New Roman 12 black font
- Align left
- Header in upper right with name and page number: Jones 1
- Line Spacing – double throughout
- Tab in the first line of a paragraph ½” or .5
- Heading in upper left
- Title centered after heading
- Works Cited, if any, on a new page
- 1” margins – top, bottom, left, right. Some defaults are 1.25″ left and right.
- Margins are not set in the Paragraph box. In Word or Works, margins are set in Page Layout or in File/Page Setup/Margins.
- Times New Roman 12 black font.
- Do not use bold or underlining.
- Do not use all caps except for an abbreviations such as NATO, AIDS.
- Do not use italics unless there is a rule that says to use italics.
- Check default and reset default if necessary. Your instructor may accept a different font style: however, Times New Roman 12 Black is a standard setting in school and business.
- Left align – this is the usual default setting.
- Do not block or justify where the right margin is even.
- Alignment can be set in the Paragraph box if the icon is not visible.
See Related Documents on right sidebar for an image of alignment settings.
- Double space – and only double space throughout, even after the heading and around the title, if any.
- Check default settings in the Paragraph box and reset per instructions under Paragraph Settings below.
Some programs such have defaults in the Paragraph box which interfere with proper double spacing.
The settings in the Paragraph dialogue box should be as follows to have proper double spacing.
- Indentation (on top) should be set at 0 left and 0 right.
- Spacing (on the lower left) should be set to 0 Before and 0 After.
- Line Spacing (on the lower right) should be set to double.
- Check the box that says “Don’t add space between paragraphs of the same style.”
- Click Default (at the bottom) and select Yes to change defaults.
In Google docs, you can change Paragraph settings under Spacing to 0 next to Before and 0 next to After by going into the double spacing tool and clicking Custom Settings. You will have to select (highlight) the entire paper including the heading in the upper left before making the change once the paper is typed.
In Pages, you can change the Paragraph settings by clicking on Format on the top navigation bar and then Paragraph. Remember that you have to highlight (select) the entire paper including the heading in the upper left before making change in Paragraph once the paper is typed.
First Line of a Paragraph
- Tab in the first line of a paragraph 1/2″ or .5 from the left margin.
- The Tab default is usually at this setting. If not, reset defaults.
Spacing after a period or other end punctuation
Unless your instructor advises otherwise, you may use one or two spaces after a period as long as the use is consistent.
- If the instructor asks for a title page, prepare the title page as per the assignment instructions.
- Do not use a heading on the first page if a title page is required.
Create a header in the upper right corner using the Header tool with your last name and page number.
- In Word 2007 or higher, click Insert/Header/Blank. Do not choose any option with lines, boxes, or other font or color.
- Delete Type text
- Click Home and align right. Your cursor should be on the right side.
- Type in your last name only. Then hit the space bar once. This will put a space between your last name and page number.
- After you hit the space bar, hit Insert/Page # to insert pages. Do not manually type in the page number.
- Do not use the word page or any abbreviation of the word such a pg. or p. between your last name and the actual page number: Jones 2.
- While MLA format calls for the header to appear on the first page, some instructors may ask that there be no header on the first page since your name is already there. To remove the header from the first page, check Different first page in the Header tool.
- These instructions may work for higher versions of Works.
- For lower versions of Word or Works, click View/Header and Footer to get into the Header tool.
- If you are unable to follow on your computer, your program should have a Help button to give directions on how to insert a header.
Instructions for Creating Header in Office 365:
- Click Insert/Header.
- Tab over to the third box on the right.
- Under Home, click the align right button so that your cursor is all the way on the right side.
- Hit the space bar and then click Insert Page # and click the box with the number in the upper right.
- Click on the body of the paper to get out of the Header box.
- You will not see your header in the default view which is the edit view.
- You can click View and then Reading View on the left.
- Type a heading in the upper left corner of the first page unless your instructor asks for a title page. Do not use the Header tool to create a heading.
- Type the heading as follows: your name, your instructor’s name, the course, and the date (in military style – day month year – no commas) double spaced on separate lines.
- Do not use commas in the date. Months should be abbreviated if longer than four letters: Sept., Oct., and so on. Here is an example: 14 Oct. 2009
- Do not indent the heading.
- Your instructor may request different information to be typed into the heading.
After the heading, center the title of the paper or name of assignment.
- Do not use bold, underlining, or a different font style or size for the title.
- Do not use quotation marks or italics unless the title of the paper includes the title of a published work since short, published works must be in quotation marks, and long, published works must be in italics.
- Remember that in MLA format, the requirement is to double space and only double space throughout.
- There should not be any more than a double space before or after the title or name of assignment.
If a Works Cited page is required for your assignment, at the end of the body of the paper, click Insert/Page Break or Insert/Break/Page Break – however your computer gives options – to get to the top of a new page to do the Works Cited.
- Do not use the Enter key to get to the next page.
- Use the same settings including double spacing throughout except that the first line of each source must start at the left margin and the second and any subsequent lines must be indented ½”.
- This is called a hanging indent.
- To create a hanging indent, make sure to type your sources one under the other hitting Enter at the end of each source.
- Then, highlight the Works Cited list and go into the Paragraph dialogue box.
- Under Special, select Hanging from the drop-down menu. Once selected, the default under By should be .5″.
- Remember that your list has to be alphabetized and the page must have the words Works Cited centered on top.
Troubleshooting Common Page Setup Problems
- The whole page is tabbed in. There is an error in settings in the Indentation Box in Paragraph. Highlight paper and change to 0 in both Left and Right under Indentation in the Paragraph dialogue box.
- There is no top margin even though you set top margin for 1”. You’ve accidentally hidden your white space. Position your cursor at the top of the page until you see a double line. Then, double click.
- The same page number is appearing on every page in the header in the upper right.You have typed in a page number instead of using Insert Page #.
- I can’t get my header over to the right without using the tab key. Click to Home, position your cursor at the beginning of your last name, then click the align right button.
- The spacing between lines seems larger than double space. You have not reset the setting in Paragraph under Spacing on lower left to 0 before Before and 0 before After. You have to highlight the whole page before changing settings for them to take place on the page.
- There’s an extra line between paragraphs or every time I hit the Enter key. You have not checked the box which says “Don’t add space between paragraphs of the same style. You have to highlight the whole page before changing settings for them to take place on the page.
Other Resources for Your Setup Problems
- Help tool in your program. Generally, there’s a tool or a link to a tool. Just Search your problem.
- Online at website of your program. Word and other programs have help pages on their site.
- The PHSC Technical Support link: See Resource Links on the right side page for Technical Support or call 727 816-3732.
- Just Google? Maybe. However, just searching around on the Internet open files and here and there is one way to pick up a virus, and you don’t know how reliable the source is. You are better of getting help with the first listed methods. Never download a help program.
MLA In-Text CitationsMLA In-Text Citations
How to cite sources
One or two authors:
See information below about using a page number. Sometimes, there is no page number to use.
Use the last name of the author and the page number. Note that there is nothing between the last name and page number.
If there are two authors, use both last names even if both authors have the same last name.
(Sampson and Bernini) - Note that the word and is used and not an ampersand (&).
When there are two authors, note that even though both names are used to cite the source, it is still one source and should have a singular verb when used in a signal phrase: Sampson and Bernini says, not say. (The source - it - says.)
More than two people named as authors
Alvarez et al. (et al. is the Latin abbreviation for and others.). When more than two, individual names many not be listed even in the Works Cited. There is no longer a choice to list all the authors.
More than one source written by the same author
When you have more than one source from the same author, you must distinguish between them in the citation by adding the title: (Mirando, “Dinosaurs”) and (Mirando, “Jurassic Wilderness”).
If you name the author in the sentence, just put the title in parentheses in quotation marks:
According to Mirando, there are multiple theories for the extinction of the dinosaurs (“Dinosaurs”).
Different authors with the same last name
If you find two sources where the authors, have the same last name, obviously, using only the last name to cite the source will not clearly identify the source. In this case, use the first name as well: (Gonzalez, Jorge) or (Gonzalez, Marisol).
When no person named as author
Sometimes, a source has no person named as author. This is actually common in articles in encyclopedias and even newspapers, newswires, or news services such as The Associated Press. In that case, just use the title of the article or page, not the publication or website.
Occasionally, an organization or group is listed as the author: Mayo Clinic Staff. Then, the author is considered to be Mayo Clinic Staff. However, this applies only when a group or organization is actually listed as author. There are some special rule with government publications, but generally, the format applies. Start with the title of the publication when no specific agency is named as author. The agency will be listed as publisher.
Here is an example of using a title:
Articles are considered short, published works, so titles of articles or pages from a website must be in quotation marks.
If the title to an article is longer than three or four words, shorten (don't use a key word or words) the title to the first noun. “Crime: Risks for Children of Non-Biological Parents Greater” should be shortened to “Crime.” “Organic Foods: Are They Really Healthier?” should be shortened to “Organic Foods” since Foods is the first noun. (Note that the question mark is dropped on a shortened title.) An article with no author which is entitled "What Is Gene Therapy?" should be cited as "What Is Gene Therapy?" since it is not longer than three or four words, and the word therapy is the first noun anyway. The question mark is kept since the title is not shortened.) By retraining the first word(s), the reader can look alphabetically to the Works Cited list and easily find the source.
Don't forget to drop any period or comma that would ordinarily be next to a question mark or exclamation point. An example of dropping the comma is as follows: According to "What Is Gene Therapy?" there are several approaches. Ordinarily, there would be a comma after the introductory wording According to "What Is Gene Therapy?" However, since the grammar rule is to drop any comma or period next to a question mark or exclamation point, it would be dropped.
Also, the first letter of the first word and all other words in titles has to be capitalized in MLA style even if they are not so in the article itself except the following:
- articles (a, an, the),
- BOYFANS (but, or, yet, for, and, nor, so) – coordinating conjunctions, and
- prepositions (such as in, at, of, around, over, and so on).
Here’s an example of a title with words that should not start with a capital: “Genetic Manipulation of Food Has Some Scientists in the United States Worried”
Many sources are not in MLA style, so the titles are not following MLA format. Using capitals which are not capitals in the original is not a violation of the rule that you can’t change what’s in a quote. Using quotation marks for titles of short, published works is a different use of quotation marks than for quotes. (By the way, you can change a quote in quotation marks by putting brackets [ ] around your changes as previously mentioned.)
All caps are not used in MLA style except for some abbreviations such as NATO or AIDS. When there are all caps in a title, change to upper and lower case as otherwise appropriate
When you are using a specific article or page in a website, your source is the specific article or page and not the website.
If an article or page is in a website or newspaper and there is no author specifically named, use the title of the article or page as further described. The title of a source in a dictionary, encyclopedia, or other reference book is the word you are looking up. For example, if you are looking up the word sunspots, the title of the article is “sunspots” or “Sunspots,” however it is written in the source.
Here is an example of how to use the title to cite the source:
“The most accepted theory of dinosaur extinction is that a comet or asteroid hit the earth causing megatons of debris into the air blocking the sunlight” (“Dinosaur Extinction” 587).
The reference to the source could be in the sentence:
“Dinosaur Extinction” explains that “[t]he most accepted theory of dinosaur extinction is that a comet or asteroid hit the earth causing megatons of debris into the air blocking the sunlight” (587).
Punctuation and Quotes
Signal phrases (words that say who says the quote) with full sentence quotes
There is no rule to use a comma to put a comma before or after words that are in quotation marks. Quoted words must follow the same rules for punctuation as words that are not in quotation marks. The only special rule there is to separate a signal phrase from a sentence quote with a comma.
Signal phrases are phrases that identify the source of a full sentence quote.
According to Anderson, “While tattoos may be popular today, few realize that tattooing was also popular in some ancient societies” (50).
The words According to Anderson are a signal phrase. Hernandez says, Khan states, and Dubrovsky agrees are all examples of signal phrases.
Note that there is a comma separating the signal phrase from the sentence quote and that the first letter of the first word of the quote starts with a capital since it is a sentence.
The signal phrase could be at the end of the sentence.
“While tattoos may be popular today, few realize that tattooing was also popular in some ancient societies,” according to Anderson (50).
See how there is still a comma to separate the signal phrase from the sentence quote.
Note that the comma goes before and not after the end quotation mark.
Also, see how the period follows the parentheses and does not go before the parentheses. Parenthetical documentation is part of the sentence.
The signal phrase could be in the middle of the sentence.
“While tattoos may be popular today,” according to Anderson, “few realize that tattooing was also popular in some ancient societies” (50).
Signal phrases are limited to words that identify the source of the quote such as the following: Jones says, According to Chan, “Dinosaur Extinction” claims.
The addition of other words such as the word that changes a signal phrase to just the beginning of a sentence that happens to contain some quoted words (even thought they might be a sentence) so what is in the quotation marks is a continuation of the sentence and is not considered a separate sentence. In these cases, there should not be a comma, and the first letter of the quote should not be capitalized since it is not considered to be the first word in a sentence. Here is an example:
Anderson says that “[w]hile tattoos may be popular today, few realize that tattooing was also popular in some ancient societies” (50).
Note that there is no comma and no capital when the word that is used.
Partial sentence quotes; distinguishing a signal phrase
Sometimes a sentence includes words that identify the source or quoted words, but the quote is not a complete sentence. This is a partial sentence quote, and the words that identify the source are not considered a signal phrase to be separated by a comma. They are just part of a sentence that happens to begin outside the quote.
Anderson says that tattoos have been used "for thousands of years."
Remember that a signal phrase tells the source of a sentence quote. If there is not sentence quote, there is no signal phrase. Without a sentence quote, the words Anderson says (and other signal phrases wording) are just part of the sentence.
Anderson says that the interest in tattoos in the West has never been so popular.
See how there is no comma and no capital. The words Anderson says are the subject and verb of the sentence. Also see that the word that is used and not just Anderson says the interest....
More than one source with the same title and no person named as author
If you have more than one source with the same title, put the name of the publication in italics separated by a comma after the title of the article: “Farmed Salmon,” Aquaculture Journal and “Farmed Salmon,” Washington State Journal. The idea is to be sure they are distinguished from one another.
It is preferable not to include the word that after a signal phrase which introduces a sentence quote.
When the same information comes from more than one source
Sometimes, the same information is in more than one of your sources. If you are paraphrasing instead of quoting, just identify both sources separated by a semicolon in one parentheses: (“Dinosaur Extinction”; Jones).
(Note that the semicolon is placed after the end quotation mark whereas periods and commas are placed before the end quotation mark when there is supposed to be a period or comma next to an end quotation mark.)
Quoting a quote from a source (indirect quotations)
Sometimes, other people are quoted in your source. This is called an indirect quotation. When we use a quote that is quoted in the source, use the abbreviation qtd. in to let the reader know which source the quote you are quoting comes from. Say, for example, Jones wrote the article you found, but she quotes Herman Smith, and you want to use what Herman Smith says.
Say this is the wording in the source: Jones gives information provided by Professor Herman Smith. Smith says, "There are more dangers in the depth of the oceans that we know about."
Here’s a couple of ways to cite that information.
According to Smith, “There are more dangers in the depths of the oceans that we know about” (qtd. in Jones). This abbreviation qtd. in means that this quote is quoted in the article written by Jones. See how only Smith's words are actually quoted, so the quotation marks go around those words.
Here is another way Smith's words can be quoted.
"Smith says, 'There are more dangers in the depths of the oceans that we know about'" (qtd. in Jones).
In this phrasing, since the entire sentence is quoted, there is a quote within a quote. Single quotation marks must be used when you have to use quotation marks inside quotation marks. Note that there regular double quotation marks around all of the exact words from the source and single quotation marks around the exact words from Smith.
“There are more dangers in the depths of the oceans that we know about” (Herman Smith, qtd. in Jones). Here, the person who is quoted is named in the citation instead of in the sentence.
Including the name of the person being quoted is not required:
“There are more dangers in the depths of the oceans that we know about” (qtd. in Jones).
It is optional to include the name of the person quoted in the source in parentheses. If the name of the person quoted is used in the parentheses, then it should be the full name.
Use of the words qtd. in only applies when someone else is quoted in the source.
If there is no person named as author, use the title of the article or page to refer to the source. When you are using a specific article or page from a website, your source is the specific article or page and not the website. It’s like finding an article in a newspaper. Your source is the article, not the newspaper.
According to Smith, “Some earthquakes are caused by methane gas explosions” (qtd. in “Underwater Dangers”).
“Some earthquakes are caused by methane gas explosions” (Smith, qtd. in “Underwater Dangers”).
The reader has to be told which source your quote is coming from.
Length of quotations
Even though there is a sentence quote for these examples, sometimes more than one sentence is quoted. The method of documenting is still the same.
If, however, the quote is more than four lines from the source, you must indent the quote ten spaces (1”) from the left-hand margin. In this situation, quotation marks are not used, and the period goes before the parentheses. Here are more than four lines (not sentences) from a source:
“The theory that dinosaurs became extinct as a result of climate changes from a huge meteor impact has far reaching implications. There is always the possibility such an impact will happen again. There are many meteors that come close to earth’s gravitational pull. Scientists closely watch to identify potential problems. There is some discussion about an organized effort to launch a missile to either explode such meteors or defect them away from our orbit” (Jones).
Here is the quote indented ten spaces (1”) from the left margin:
The theory that dinosaurs became extinct as a result of climate changes from a huge meteor impact has far reaching implications. There is always the possibility such an impact will happen again. There are many meteors that come close to earth’s gravitational pull. Scientists closely watch to identify potential problems. There is some discussion about an organized effort to launch a missile to either explode such meteors or defect them away from our orbit. (Jones)
Paraphrasing and summarizing requires citations
Quoting is only one way of bringing information into a paper from a source. You can also paraphrase or summarize which is to put the source’s ideas into your own words. Quotation marks are not used, but you still have to give credit to the source the same way as with quotes. It is still plagiarism if you don’t use MLA or other documentation for paraphrased information. Each and every sentence with information from a source – whether you quote or paraphrase – must cite the source.
Use of Ellipsis (…) to show omitted words or sentences from a quote
You may remember seeing a series of three periods … in a quote. This is called an ellipsis and is used to represent an omission. Even though you may omit something from the beginning of a sentence you quote from, the general rule is not to use an ellipsis at the beginning of a quote. They are generally used in the middle of a quote to take out unnecessary words in a sentence or between sentences which are being quoted. You may use an ellipsis at the end of a quote if you don’t complete a sentence.
You may also use an ellipsis between quoted sentences to indicate that a sentence or sentences were omitted.
Identifying Internet sources
Increasingly, the Internet is being used for research. Because everything looks the same on the screen, it is important to figure out what exactly you are looking at. Sometimes, you are using information from a website that only has a couple of pages with no named author and which are clearly written for that website. In that case, your source is the website. Nowadays, these limited websites are not very common. Remember that the point of a citation system is to tell the reader where you found the information so that the reader can access the source. In a website that has more than a couple of pages, the reader would have difficulty finding the information.
When you are using an article or articles posted to a website or a specific page or pages in a website, your source is the particular article(s) or pages(s) just like an article in a newspaper and not the website. If there is a separate author, refer to the source by the author’s last name, just as with any other source. If there is no named author, refer to the source by the title of the article or page in quotation marks.
Page Numbers: When and how to use; When you don’t know the actual page number
The requirement to use a page number in MLA style refers to the actual page number in the original hard copy publication. The rule to use a page number does not apply to poetry or plays. See section below for details.
Sources created only for an online presentation do not have the type of page numbers to which the rule to use page numbers applies even when we have to click through a sequence of “pages.” The reason we should not use these website page numbers is that the pagination does not necessarily appear the same on everyone’s computer. What one person sees as page two could be page three on someone else’s computer.
When an article that was originally printed in a hard copy publication is posted, usually, there is no page number since it is an html format. If it is uploaded as a .pdf, the page number will appear.
When we don’t know the page number the particular information was printed on in the original hard copy publication, don’t use a page number.
If an Internet source numbers the paragraphs, you can use the paragraph number. However, if not numbered already in the web page, you should not start counting paragraphs to use a paragraph number.
The custom is that if you know a page number, you should not repeat the author’s name if you are using information from the same source in the same paragraph unless you use information from another source in between since you could just use the page number. However, if you don’t have a page number to use, you’ll have to repeat the author’s last name or title of the article (not the publication the article was printed in) for all references to that particular source.
When you have several sentences with information from a source, you should vary how you refer to the source: According to Jones, “Sasquatch is absolutely a real creature.” She goes on to say that they are intelligent enough to have hidden from humans. “The reason no skeletal remains have been found is that Sasquatch bury their dead” (Jones).
Since sometimes there is no page number or paragraph number to reference, you might not have a parentheses at all if the source is referred to as part of the sentence. The Internet has created situations where we don’t use parentheses even though MLA is called a parenthetical documentation system.
No Page Numbers: Poems and Plays
The MLA rule to use a page number for sources that were originally published in hard copy and for which we know the exact page number does not apply to poems.
In citing poetry, line numbers are used instead: (“Fire and Ice” 1). If the name of the poem is already mentioned in the sentence or it is clear that this quote is from this poem, use just the line number: (1).
When quoting two lines of poetry (not sentences), use a slash between the lines: “Some say the world will end in fire/Some say in ice” (1-2).
When quoting more than two lines, indent one inch from the left, write the lines as they appear in the poem (one under the other), do not use quotation marks, and the period goes before the parenthetical documentation:
Some say the world will end in fire
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire. (“Fire and Ice” 1-4)
If the title is mentioned previously and it is clear the quote is from this poem, use just the line numbers.
If the poem is divided into sections such as chapters or parts, then identify in the citation: (Odyssey 2.6) represent chapter or book 2, line 6.
The MLA rule to use a page number for sources that were originally published in hard copy and for which we know the exact page number does not apply to plays.
Cite the act , scene, and line number is used: Macbeth 2.1.13 referring to act. scene.line.
If lines from more than character are quoted, indent 10 spaced (1″) from the left starting a new line for each character, and indicate the character:
Mrs. Hale: (stiffly) There’s a great deal of work to be done on a farm.
County Attorney: To be sure. And yet (with a little bow to her) I know there
are some Dickson County farmhouses which do not have such roller towels.
Mrs. Hale: Those towels get dirty awful quick. Men’s hand aren’t always as
clear as they might be. (Trifles 32-34)
Note that since this is a one-act play, only the line numbers are used.
Here is a quote from a play that has acts and scenes:
Hamlet: Methinks it is like a weasel.
Polonius: It is back’d like a weasel.
Hamlet: Or like a whale. (Ham. 5.2.330-33)
- Use last name only when there is a person or persons listed as author(s) - no first name or p., pg., or other reference to the word page.
- Don't use the words source, article, or any other words to refer to a source other than the last name or the title of the article when no person listed as source.
- The page number refers to the page number the specific information was printed on in the original publication, not a page number assigned in a website. When the page number is not known, you just don’t list a page number. Sources posted to the Internet from a hard copy or pages on an web only site will not have a page number as part of the citation.
- The end quotation mark goes after the words quoted, not the parentheses. The parenthetical documentation is part of the sentence, but it is not part of the quote.
- There is no comma or period before the parentheses except for the end quotation mark. An exclamation point or question mark which is part of the quote is used.
- If you name the source in the sentence, you should not put the name in the parentheses.
- The source must be named in each and every sentence with information from a source whether you use exact words or put the information into your own words. If you don't, it is plagiarism. It is not all right to have more than one sentence from a source and then cite the source.The reader had no way of knowing how many, if any at all, of the previous sentences are from the source.
MLA Works CitedMLA Works Cited
What is a Works Cited page?
The Works Cited page is the list of sources at the end of the paper. It is called by different names such as Bibliography or List of Sources in different citation systems.
How do I format a Works Cited page?
To get to a new page for the Works Cited, position your cursor at the end of your paper and click Insert/Page Break. This may appear as Insert/Break/Page Break on some computers. The idea is not to use the Enter key to get to a new page.
The page setup and formatting are required parts of the MLA Works Cited page. The Works Cited page must have the same margins, font, line spacing, and header as the rest of the paper. The Works Cited does not have a heading in the upper left since it is simply the last page of the paper.
The sources must be listed with a hanging indent which is where the first line starts at the left margin and any subsequent line of the source is indented. It is like on reversed paragraph.
You should take a look at the sample Works Cited pages in Related Pages on the right sidebar.
How to Create a Hanging Indent
The sources must be listed in a hanging indent with the first line of each source beginning at the left margin and any second and subsequent line is indented. There is a tool for creating a hanging indent in Word. Type in your sources according to the MLA format for that source explained below and alphabetize them. Just left align and hit the Enter key at the end of each source. Then, highlight the list and click Paragraph/Special and scroll to Hanging indent. Click OK.
If you are using Google docs, you may have to set the hanging indent with the pointers in the ruler to adjust the indentation.
See links to the Sample Works Cited pages in Related Pages on the right sidebar.
How do I list a Works Cited source?
The PHSC library along with English faculty has created a list of examples of source in MLA style. See Related Pages on the right sidebar.
The list must be alphabetical. It should not be numbered.
The general format for listing a source is:
author’s name (last name first). title of the source. publication information
The problems arise with the details.
If there is a person named as an author, list last name, first name:
See how there is a comma after the last name. See that there is a period after the first name. Sections of a Works Cited listing are separated by periods.
When there two authors, the first author is listed last name, first name followed by a comma and the word and. The second author is listed first name first.
Carlyle, James, and Phillip P. Harper.
If there are more than two authors named, use the first listed last name and et al. which is the Latin abbreviation for and others: Carlyle, James, et al.
If there is no person listed author, the listing starts with the title.
More than one source by the same author
When there is more than one source from the same author, do not repeat the author’s name. Use three dashes, a period, and two spaces in place of the author: – – – . See Sample Works Cited List with Various Sources-8th-ed for an example.
Generally, sources are either books or articles from magazines, books, or journals. Commonly, the source may be an article or document in a website.
If the source is a book, the title is listed in italics. Titles of long, published works are put in italics. Note that there is a period following the title.
War and Peace.
Dostoyevsky, Fyodor. War and Peace.
If the title is an article or a document or page in a website (a smaller publication which is published in a larger publication), the rule is that the title has to be in quotation marks.
Marino, Catherine. “Implications of Piaget’s Theory in the Learning Environment.”
Important note about capitalization in titles:
In MLA style, the first letter of important words in the title are capitalized even when they are not capitalized in the source itself. Important words are all words except for articles (a, an, the), coordinating conjunctions (but, or, yet, for, and, nor, so), and one-syllable prepositions (of, at, on) unless any of these words begin the title.
See that the period at the end comes before the end (closing) quotation mark.
Marino, Catherine. “Implications of Piaget’s Theory in the in the Learning Environment.” Social Behavior. (See how the title of the journal is in italics.)
Publication information consists of information such as volume, issue, date and/or year, publisher, city of publication, year of copyright, name of website, creator/owner of website, name of database, name of subscription service, URL (preferably a permalink or doi when available for sources in databases), and date of access.
Some databases are supplied through subscription services such as EBSCO and Gale. EBSCO and Gale are not databases and should not be included as the name for a database.
The eighth edition (2016) of the MLA Handbook has a number of changes about publication information including using URLs. The problem is that not all publication information should be listed for all sources. Which information should be included and how to list that information depends upon the source.
In the handouts on the PHSC library page called MLA Documentation and Format – list of examples – 8th edition (2016), there is a table of contents at the beginning showing where the sample formats for different types of information can be found. The trick here is to determine what type of source you have in order to look up the proper format. The table of contents listings are direct links to the examples.
A note about sources from Electronic Library Resources:
When you click into Electronic Library Resources, you will be taken to the A-Z Databases page. From there you can look through databases alphabetically or by subject. You can also click on the Library Catalog and search for books as well as articles, films and books on CD. There are also links to various helpful LibGuides in each subject area offered by the College.
Many courses will require using the Electronic Library Resources for academic research. Many of these sources are databases of articles from scholarly journals, newspapers, magazines, and other copyrighted, reviewed, and professional prepared sources which are different from the Internet where anybody can post anything. Some sources on the Internet seem as though they have good information such as Wikipedia, but that is a wiki where people who are not necessarily professionals in the field can post information. By its own disclosure, some pages are in a state of development and have not been reviewed for accuracy or presentation of all side on a scholarly debate.
Students are subscribed to our library resources as part of their student fees. There is a direct link in Canvas on the left sidebar: Electronic Library Resources.
For research or citation and formatting assistance, please reach out to one of our librarians at any of our five campuses. https://libguides.phsc.edu/contact