Proper Citations using MLA
The information on this page is taken from the Purdue University Writing Online Writing
Lab MLA Format Page
Using Modern Language Association (MLA) Format. Purdue
University. 1 January 1999
Crews, Frederick, and Schor, The Borzoi Handbook for Writers.
New York: Alfred Kopf, inc., 1989.
Also, the Official Site of the Modern Language Asscociation (MLA)
<http://www.mla.org> is a useful resource.
This page contains the following information:
- When to Cite Something;
- Handling Quotations In Your Text;
- Your Works Cited Page;
- Examples of Proper MLA Citations.
One of the key tasks of writing a research paper is gathering evidence to
support your hypothesis. You will depend on other people, both experts and actual
historical figures, as sources for your evidence. You need to give credit to these
people (referred to as sources) when you use their words, opinions and thoughts in you
research paper. You must cite your sources.
There is a general rule for citations: The harder it would
be for your readers to come across your fact through their own efforts the more surely you
need to cite it.
|You DO NOT need to cite the following:
||But you MUST cite these:
| the population of China;
|| the per-capita income of the Chinese population in 1996;
| the existence of a disease called AIDS;
|| a possible connection between AIDS and the virus that
carries cat luekemia;
| the fact that Charles Dickens visited America;
|| the supposed effect of Dicken's American visits on novels
he wrote after the visits;
| fact that money is wagered on football games;
|| the alleged "fix" of a specific football game;
| a line from a popular nursery rhyme.
|| a line from a poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.
|Handling Quotations In Your Text
When using MLA format, follow the author-page method of citation. This
means that the author's last name and the page number(s) from which the quotation is taken
must appear in the text, and a complete reference should appear in your works-cited list
(see below). The author's name may appear either in the sentence itself or in parentheses
following the quotation, but the page number(s) should always appear in the parentheses,
never in the text of your sentence.
Freud states that "a dream is the fulfillment of a
Some argue that "a dream is the fulfillment of a
wish" (Freud 154).
Sometimes more information is necessary to identify the source from which a
quotation is taken. For instance, if more than one author has the same last name, it is
necessary to provide the author's initials (or even her or his full name if different
authors share initials) in your citation. If you cite more than one work by a particular
author, it is necessary to include a shortened title for the particular work from which
you are quoting.
The Romantic poets demonstrate a concern with the fleeting nature of life:
is Ozymandias, king of kinds: / Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!' / Nothing
beside remains" (P.B. Shelley, "Ozymandias" ll. 10-12); and "The
flower that smiles
to-day / To-morrow dies" (P. B. Shelley, "Mutability" ll. 1-2).
Some gothic novels feature a character who is in the throes of "the violence
of his feelings"
and "the dark tyranny of despair" (M. W. Shelley, Frankenstein 12).
To indicate short quotations (fewer than four typed lines of prose or three
lines of verse) in your text, enclose the quotation within double quotation marks and
incorporate it into your text. Provide the author and specific page citation (in the case
of verse, provide line numbers) in the text, and include a complete reference in the
works-cited list. Punctuation marks such as periods, commas, and semicolons should appear
after the parenthetical citation. Question marks and exclamation points should appear
within the quotation marks if they are a part of the quoted passage but after the
parenthetical citation if they are a part of your text.
According to some, dreams express "profound aspects of personality"
(Foulkes 184), though
According to Foulkes's study, dreams may express "profound aspects of
Is it possible that dreams may express "profound aspects of personality"
Cullen concludes, "Of all the things that happened there / That's all I
Place quotations longer than four typed lines in a free-standing block of
typewritten lines, and omit quotation marks. Start the quotation on a new line, indented
one inch from the left margin, and maintain double-spacing. Your parenthetical citation
should come after the closing punctuation mark. When quoting verse, maintain original line
breaks. (You should maintain double-spacing throughout your essay.)
Ralph and the other boys finally realize the horror of their actions:
The tears began to flow and sobs shook him. He gave himself up to them now for
the first time on the island; great shuddering spasms of grief that seemed
to wrench his whole body. His voice rose under the black smoke before the
burning wreckage of the island; and infected by that emotion, the other little
boys began to shake and sob too. (Golding 186)
Elizabeth Bishop's "In the Waiting Room" is rich in evocative detail:
It was winter. It got dark
early. The waiting room
was full of grown-up people,
arctics and overcoats,
lamps and magazines. (6-10)
This list, alphabetized by authors' last names, should appear at the end
of your essay. It provides the information necessary for a reader to locate and retrieve
any sources you cite in the essay. Each source you cite in the essay must appear in your
works-cited list; likewise, each entry in the works-cited list must be cited in your text.
Authors' names are inverted (last name first); if a work has more than one
author, invert only the first author's name, follow it with a comma, then continue listing
the rest of the authors. If you have cited more than one work by a particular author,
order them alphabetically by title, and use three hyphens in place of the author's name
for every entry after the first. When an author appears both as the sole author of a text
and as the first author of a group, list solo-author entries first. If no author is given
for a particular work, alphabetize by the title of the piece. The first line of each
entry in your list should be flush left. Subsequent lines should be indented one-half
inch. This is known as a "hanging indent."
All references should be double-spaced.
Capitalize each word in the titles of articles, books, etc. (This rule does
not apply to "a," "an," "the," or to conjunctions, unless
they are the first word of the title.) Underline or italicize titles of books, journals,
magazines, newspapers, and films.
|Basic Forms for Sources in Print
Author(s). Title of Book. Place of Publication: Publisher, Year of
A part of a book (such as an essay in a collection)
Author(s). "Title of Article." Title of Collection. Ed. Editor's
Name(s). Place of Publication: Publisher, Year. Pages.
An article in a periodical (such as a newspaper or magazine)
Author(s). "Title of Article." Title of Source Day Month Year:
N.B. When citing the date, list day before month; use a three-letter abbreviation of the
month (e.g. Jan., Mar., Aug.). If there is more than one edition available for that date
(as in an early and late edition of a newspaper), identify the edition following the date
(e.g. 17 May 1987, late ed.).
An article in a scholarly journal
Author(s). "Title of Article." Title of Journal Vol (Year): pages.
N.B. "Vol" indicates the volume number of the journal. If the journal uses
continuous pagination throughout a particular volume, only volume and year are needed,
e.g. Modern Fiction Studies 39 (1993).: 156-174. If each issue of the journal begins on
page 1, however, you must also provide the issue number following the volume, e.g. Mosaic
19.3 (1986): 33-49.
|Basic Forms for Electronic Sources
Author(s). Name of Page. Date of Posting/Revision. Date of
Access. <electronic address>.
Note: It is necessary to list your date of access because web postings are often
updated, and information available at one date may no longer be available later. Be sure
to include the complete address for the site. Also, note the use of angled brackets around
the electronic address; MLA requires them for clarity.
An article in an online journal or magazine
Author(s). "Title of Article." Title of Journal Volume. Issue
(Year): Pages/Paragraphs. Date of Access <electronic
Note: Some electronic journals and magazines provide paragraph or page numbers;
include them if available. This format is also appropriate to online
magazines; as with a print version, you should provide a complete publication date rather
than volume and issue number.
Author. Email to the author. Date.
Note: This same format may be used for personal interviews or personal letters. You
need only change the designation accordingly.
A listserv posting
Author. "Title of Posting." Online posting. Date. Name of
listserv. Date of access <electronic address for retrieval>.
An electronic database (such as NewsBank, Ethnic NewsWatch, or Broadcast News)
Provide the bibliographic data for the original source as for any other of its genre, then
add the name of the database along with relevant retrieval data (such as version number
and/or transcript or abstract number).
|Examples of Proper MLA Citations
A book with one author
Frye, Northrop. Anatomy of Criticism: Four Essays. Princeton:
Princeton UP, 1957.
A book with more than one author
Gesell, Arnold, and Frances L. Ing. Child Development: An
Introduction to the Study of Human Growth. New York:
Note: If there are four or more authors, you may list only the first author followed
by the phrase "et al." (which means "et alli," Latin for "and
others") in place of the other authors' names, or you may list all the authors in the
order in which their names appear on the title page.
A book with no author named
Encyclopedia of Photography. New York: Crown, 1984.
An anthology or collection
Rueschemeyer, Marilyn, ed. Women in the Politics of Postcommunist
Eastern Europe. Armonk: Sharpe 1994.
An essay in a collection
Krutch, Joseph Wood. "What the Year 2000 Won't Be Like."
Finding a Voice. Ed. Jim W. Corder. Glenview: Scott
Foresman, 1973. 21-36.
An article from a reference book
"Mandarin." Encyclopedia Americana. 1980 ed.
An essay in a journal with continuous pagination
Flanigan, Beverly Olson. "Peer Tutoring and Second Language
Acquisition in the Elementary School." Applied
Linguistics 12 (1991): 141-58.
An essay in a journal that pages each issue separately
Barthelme, Frederick. "Architecture." Kansas Quarterly 13.3-4
A magazine or newspaper article
Nimmons, David. "Sex and the Brain." Discover Mar. 1994: 26-27.
A government publication
United States Dept. of Labor. Bureau of Statistics. Dictionary of
Occupational Titles. 4th ed. Washington: GPO, 1977.
Daly, Bill. Writing Argumentative Essays. 1997. 26 Jun. 1998
An online journal article
Inada, Kenneth. "A Buddhist Response to the Nature of Human
Rights." Journal of Buddhist Ethics 2 (1995): 9 pars.
26 Jun. 1998 <http://jbe.la.psu.edu/>.
An interview that you conducted
Lesh, Philip. Personal Interview. 12 Nov. 1996.
A television or radio program
"The Blessing Way." The X-Files. Fox. WXIA, Atlanta. 19
Acura. Advertisement. Rolling Stone 16 May 1996: 8-9.
McDonald's. Advertisement. CNN. 4 May 1998.
Information on CD-ROM
The CIA World Factbook. CD-ROM. Minneapolis: Quanta, 1992.
An article in a reference database
"Fresco." Britannica Online. Vers. 97.1.1. Mar. 1997. Encyclopedia
Britannica. 29 Mar. 1997 <http://www.eb.com/180>.
An article in NewsBank
Derks, Sarah A. "Binge Drinking and College: New Pressures for
an Old Mixer." Commercial Appeal 8 Dec. 1997: A1.
NewsBank NewsFile Collection, Vers. 2.40.
An article in Ethnic NewsWatch
Reed, William. "Whites and the Entertainment Industry."
Tennessee Tribune 25 Dec. 1996: 28. Ethnic
An article in Broadcast News
"Condom Distribution Does Not Increase Sexual Activity."
Newsnight. CNN. 1 Oct. 1997. Broadcast News,
||The Intro Paragraph