Sarah Is Writing A Research Paper For History Class

The MLA Format
Avoiding Plagiarism and Documenting Sources

In this lesson, you will learn...

  • What the MLA Format is and why it is important
  • How to write a citation in the MLA format
  • How to cite sources in your paper

 This lesson consists of 3 parts:

  1. What is the MLA Format?
  2. Essentials of the MLA Format
  3. Citing Your Sources

Lesson Directions

This lesson takes approximately 1 hour to complete. If you need a score summary, you must respond to all 8 Self Check questions in one sitting. Your progress will not be saved if you exit the lesson. Each section of this lesson covers a different concept.

  1. Read each section.
  2. Some terms are in bold green letters. Hover your mouse over words like these for a text popper.
  3. This lesson also includes links to other web sites. Click on one of these links to learn more about a specific concept. The link will open in a new window. When you are ready to return to this lesson, close the window with the outside link.
  4. This online exercise includes 8 activities to help you understand the topic. Complete the activity as many times as you like.
  5. This online exercise also includes 8 Self Check question to test your knowledge. You can retry the question until you get the correct answer. You must get all Self Checks correct to receive credit for completing this exercise.
  6. After completing the lesson, enter your name and print your score summary.

System Requirements

  • Web Browser: Internet Explorer 5.5 or above, Netscape 6.x or above, Mozilla/Firefox, or Apple Safari 1.x or higher
  • Flash Player 8 or higher (free download)
  • Adobe Reader (free download)


What is the MLA Format?

The MLA format is a writing style established by the Modern Language Association that governs:

  • The Paper Format
  • Punctuation and Quotations
  • Documentation of Sources and Works Cited

It is used for research papers in many classes at Richland College, including English, but it is not the only research paper format. Examples of other paper formats include APA (American Psychological Association), Chicago, and Turabian.

You can learn more about the MLA Format in the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, available at your library reference desk.

Why Is the MLA Format Important?

The MLA Format is important because it provides a consistent format for writing papers. It also guides us in documenting and citing our sources. You must cite your sources in order to...

  • Lend authority and credibility to your work
  • Allow your readers to cross-reference your sources
  • Acknowledge your academic debts
  • Avoid Plagiarism.

What is Plagiarism?

If you have not done so already, complete Acadia University's online plagiarism tutorial below. When given the chance to select a player, choose Maiko for situations similar to the ones you will encounter at Richland College.

"You Quote It, You Note it."

Activity: Plagiarism

Sort each given statement into the Plagiarism or Not Plagiarism pile.



Essentials of the MLA Format: Paper Format and The First Page

Paper Format

Always follow your instructor's directions!

  • One inch margins on all sides
  • Recomended font is 12-point Times New Roman
  • Double spaced
  • A header on each page in the upper right-hand corner, half (1/2) inch below the top edge that includes:
    • Your last name
    • The page number

Click here to see an example of a paper correctly formatted in the MLA Format


The First Page

  • No title page
  • In the upper left-hand corner provide:
    • Your name
    • Your instructor's name
    • The course
    • The date
  • Center the title of your paper in the next line

Your first page should look like the picture below. Click on the image for a larger view.

Self Check # 1

Test your knowledge by answering the question below.



Essentials of the MLA Format: The Works Cited Page

The Works Cited page lists all the sources you used (or cited) in your paper.

  • Begin "Works Cited" on a new sheet of paper
  • Title it Works Cited in the center of the first line
  • Arrange entries in alphabetical order
  • Begin each entry at the left margin and indent all additional lines of the entry by a half (1/2) inch. This is called Hanging Indentation. Each entry will look something like this:

Berg, Orley. Treasures in the Sand: What Archaeology Tells Us About the

Bible.New York: Pacific, 1993. Print.

Your Work Cited page should look like the picture below. Click on the image for a larger view.


Essentials of the MLA Format: Quotations and Punctuation

Short Quotations

When you use somebody else's words, you are quoting them. Short quotes must be inside quotation marks. For example:

Victor Hugo once said, "He who opens a school door, closes a prison."

Quoted in "Victor."*

Block Quotations

A quotation longer than 4 lines must be put into a block quote.

  • NO quotation marks
  • Start on a new line
  • Indent 1 inch from margin

For example:

W. E. B. DuBois emphasized education as a fundamental civil right :

Of all the civil rights for which the world has struggled and fought for 5,000 years, the right to learn is undoubtedly the most fundamental... The freedom to learn... has been bought by bitter sacrifice. And whatever we may think of the curtailment of other civil rights, we should fight to the last ditch to keep open the right to learn, the right to have examined in our schools not only what we believe, but what we do not believe; not only what our leaders say, but what the leaders of other groups and nations, and the leaders of other centuries have said. We must insist upon this to give our children the fairness of a start which will equip them with such an array of facts and such an attitude toward truth that they can have a real chance to judge what the world is and what its greater minds have thought it might be (230-231).


For a review of correct punctuation, visit Robert Harris' "Punctuation Reminders" at


*See "Works Cited" for all citations used in this exercise.

Activity: Paper Format

Click on the DragNDrop Activity below to match the MLA guideline with the item it refers to.



Self Check #2


Citing Your Sources 

 Whenever you use somebody else's ideas in your research paper you must cite your sources by:

  1. Listing the complete source citation in your works cited list.
  2. Acknowledging the source in the text of your paper (in-text documentation).

You must cite your sources when...

  • Quoting any words that are not your own.
    Quoting means to repeat another source word for word, using quotation marks "".

  • Summarizing facts and ideas from a source.
    Summarizing means to take the key ideas from another source and shorten them, using your own words. For more about summarizing, visit How to Summarize.

  • Paraphrasing a source.
    Paraphrasing means to put somebody else's ideas into your own words. For more about how to paraphrase a source visit Paraphrase: Write it in Your Words.

  • When using factual information that is not common knowledge.

Common Knowledge

Common knowledge is information that appears in more than 5 sources.

Examples of information that is "common knowledge":

General Custer lost the battle at Little Big Horn.

Franklin Pierce, 14th President of the United States, was born in 1804 and died in 1869.

If in doubt, cite your source!

Activity: Quotes, Paraphrases, and Common Knowledge


Works Cited Page

At the end of your paper, you must provide a Works Cited page that lists all the sources you cited in your paper. Do not include sources that you did not cite in your paper. The MLA format requires that you provide information about the source so that somebody could find it. You must provide this information in a specific format based on the type and medium of the source.

Format of the Works Cited Page

If you need a reminder of the general MLA format, refer to "Essentials of the MLA Format."

  • Begin "Works Cited" on a new sheet of paper
  • Title it Works Cited in the center of the first line
  • Begin each entry at the left margin and indent all additional lines of the entry by a half (1/2) inch. This is called Hanging Indentation.
  • Arrange entries in alphabetical order
    • If no author is provided for a source, alphabetize the source by its title
    • If you use more than 1 source by the same author, only provide the author's name for the first source. For each additional source, use three dashes (- - -)in place of the author's name. Example:

McKibben, Bill. The End of Nature. New York: Anchor, 1989. Print.- - -.

- - -. "Happiness Is...." The Ecologist Feb. 2007: 32-39. Print.

Do not list sources that you did not use in your paper.

Self Check #3


Anatomy of a Citation

No matter the type or medium of the source, all citations in MLA format share the same basic elements: 

  • Author or editor
  • Title of part
  • Title of whole
  • Publication information (examples include publisher or sponsor, date of publication, and page numbers)
  • Medium: Print, Web, or other specific medium such as radio, television, or DVD.
  • Additional information, if needed (For example, you must provide date of access for web sources.)

Sample Citation 

An electronic book available from a library database:

Reiman, Alan, and Roy Edelfelt. Careers in Education. 4th ed. Chicago: VGM Career, 2004. VGM Professional

Careers Ser. NetLibrary. Web. 31 Oct. 2009.

  • Author or editor: Reiman, Alan, and Roy Edelfelt.
  • Title of part: Not provided.  If a field is not provided, skip it and continue to the next field.
  • Title of whole: Careers in Education
  • Publication information
    • Edition: 4th  
    • Imprint (city of publication: publisher, date): Chicago: VGM Career, 2004.
    • Series: VGM Professional Careers Ser.
    • Title of database: NetLibrary
  • Medium: Web
  • Additional information (date of access): 31 Oct. 2009

How To Cite Books

Information you will need about the book:

  • Author's (or Editors) name: For the first author, list the last name, then first name. List all authors first name first (Ex: Jones, Bob and Sally Smith).
  • Title of the part or selection of the book (in quotes)
  • Title of the book (in italics)
  • Name of the editor, translator, or compiler
  • Edition used
  • Number(s) of volume(s) used
  • Series name, if any is given
  • Imprint: city of publication, name of publisher, and year of publication
  • Title of database or website (for web books only)
  • Page numbers of the selection from the book. Do not give page numbers for reference book entries that arrangend in alphabetical order.
  • Medium: Print or Web
  • Additional information about the source (i.e., total number of volumes in a multi-volume work) and annotation when required

If a source doesn't provide one of these fields, skip it and continue to the next field.

Book Examples:

Article from a Typical Reference Book

Dinwiddie, Gniesha Y. "Education, USA." International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences. Ed. William A.

Darity. 2nd ed. Detroit: Macmillan Reference USA, 2008. Print.


A Typical Book

Friedman, Thomas. The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century. New York: Farrar, 2005. Print


A Typical eBook

Reiman, Alan, and Roy Edelfelt. Careers in Education. 4th ed. Chicago: VGM Career, 2004. VGM Professional

Careers Ser. NetLibrary. Web. 31 Oct. 2009.


More Examples

See the Citation Guide for more examples.

Activity: Book Citation

Put citation fields in the correct order.


Self Check #4


How to Cite Periodicals

Periodicals include newspapers, magazines, and journals. Click this link to learn the difference between popular magazines and scholarly journals.

Information you will need about the periodical:

  • Author's name (if given)
  • Title of article in quotes
  • Title of the periodical (in italics)
  • Volume and issue number for journals only (Do not give volume and issue numbers for magazines or newspapers.)
  • Date of publication
  • Edition for newspapers
  • Page numbers of article (and section number for newspapers) Use "n. pag." if no page numbers are given.
  • Title of database or website for online periodicals (in italics)
  • Medium: Print or Web

Periodical Examples:

Typical Newspaper Article

DeShong, Rae. "Troops Sending Their Thanks for Girl Scout Cookie Donations." Dallas Morning News 15 Apr.

2005, Garland ed.: 2R. Print.

Journal Article with 2 Authors

Tebbs, Jeffery and Sarah Turner. "College Education for Low-Income Students." Change 37.4 (2005):

34-43. Print

Magazine Article from a Database

Madison, Gray. "Jobs Decline for Black Men Without a College Education." Crisis Sept.-Oct. 2006: 9.

Academic Search Premier. Web. 30 Mar. 2007


More Examples

See the Citation Guide for more examples.

Database Specific Examples

Click on one of the links below for examples of article citations from specific databases.

  • Our most popular databases:
  • Opposing Viewpoints:

Activity: Magazine Citation

Label the fields in the magazine citation below.



Self Check #5


How to Cite Web Pages

Information you will need about the source:

  • Author or editor (if given)
  • Title of article. essay, entry or project accessed  (in quotes)
  • Title of web site, database, periodical, or professional site (underlined)
  • Any additional information required for a comparable type of source
  • Publisher or organization sponsoring the Web site. Use "N.p." for no publisher, if not given.
  • Date of material (if given) or use "n.d." for no date (if not given)
  • Date you accessed the information
  • Only provide the URL (address of Web page) if the website is difficult to find (enclosed in brackets  <        >).

Many times you will have to consult a Web page other than the one you are viewing to identify author, date, and/or page publisher. Examine the home page or page just before the one you are viewing. You will usually not be able to find all of the information listed above.


Typical Web Page

Karper, Erin. "Creating a Thesis Statement." The OWL at Purdue. Purdue University, 28 Sept. 2006. Web.

31 Mar. 2007.

Web Page with No Author

"Alzheimer's Disease." MedlinePlus. U.S National Library of Medicine, 2007. Web. 2 Apr. 2007


No Author and No Date Given

"Cars, Trucks, & Air Pollution." Clean Vehicles. Union of Concerned Scientists, n.d. Web. 3 Aug. 2009.


Web Site Would be Difficult to Find Without URL

Eaves, Morris, Robert Essick, and Joseph Viscomi, eds. The William Blake Archive. Lib. Of Cong., 28 Sep. 2007.

Web. 20 Nov. 2008. <>.


More Examples

See the Citation Guide for more examples.

Activity: Citing Web Pages



Self Check #6 


 Special Situations: More than 1 Author

2 or 3 Authors

Only invert the name of the first author.


Lester, James D., and James D. Lester, Jr.Writing Research Papers: A Complete Guide. 10th ed.

New York: Longman-Addison, 2002. Print.

Benton, Jeremy B.,Andrew N. Christopher, and Mark I. Walter. "Death Anxiety as a Function of

Aging Anxiety." Death Studies 31.4 (2007): 337-50. Print.

4 or More Authors

List only the first author. Add "et al.," Latin for "and others."


Wechsler, Henry, et al. "Trends in College Binge Drinking during a Period of Increased Prevention

Efforts." Journal of American College Health 50.5 (Mar. 2002): 203-18. Print.

Special Situations: Reprints

Reprint sources gather information from other sources and reprint the information as a collection. For example, a book in the Opposing Viewpoints Series may contain information that was originally published as a newspaper article, web page, and a speech transcript. When you cite reprints, you must provide information about the original source and the reprint source. The format depends on if the reprint changed the original title or not.

If the reprint article title has not been changed from the original source, begin with the original and end with the reprint.

If the reprint article title has been changed from the original source, begin with the reprint and end with the original.

Reprint Example 

Reprint Title Has Been Changed from Original

Impararto, Nicholas. "The Information Revolution Will Become More Competitive."The Information

Revolution. Ed. Laura K. Egendorf. Opposing Viewpoints Ser. San Diego: Greenhaven, 2004.

177-80. Rpt. of "Innoation Leadership Undone." N.p., 9 Mar. 1999.

<>. Print.


Reprint Title Has Not Been Changed from Original

Berger, Gaston. "Existentialism and Literature in Action." The University of Buffalo Studies 18.4 (1948):

157-86. Rpt. in Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism. Ed. Laurie DiMauro. Vol. 42. Detroit: Gale.

220-206. Print.

Other Types of Sources

Go to for examples of even more types of sources.

Activity: Special Situations

Match the special situation with its requirment.


Self Check #7


In-Text Documentation

In-text documentation is sometimes called parenthetical documentation because it requires the use of parentheses ( ). For every fact or idea you borrowed from another source, you must provide the author's last name and the page of the source. There are two ways you can do this:

  1. Begin the quote or paraphrase with the author's last name and end the borrowed information with the page number in parentheses. For example:
    According to Gary S. Becker, human capital, "the knowledge, information, ideas, skills, and health of individuals," is the greatest form of capital in the 21st century (3).
  2. Or, provide the author's last name and the page number inside parentheses at the end of the borrowed information. For example:
    Human capital, "the knowledge, information, ideas, skills, and health of individuals," is the greatest form of capital in the 21st century (Becker 3).

No Author

If the source you borrowed information from does not list the author's name, use the first significant word of the title. Use quotation marks and italics as apporopriate. For a review of when to italicize or use quotation marks for a title see

For Example: The difference in earnings between the average American with just a high school diploma and the average American with a college degree has increased in the past twenty years, with most college graduates earning at least 23 percent more than those with just a high school diploma ("Rising" 35).

No Page Numbers

If the source does not have numbered pages, you are not required to provide a page number.

Example: Since 1998, our earth has experienced the five hottest years in recorded time, with the hottest year being 2005 (Choo).

However, you may provide the number of the paragraph, if possible. 

Example: The evidence clearly proves that the benefits of a college education to an individual and society prevail over the cost of earning a college degree (Porter par. 11).

More Than 1 Page Used

If the pages are continues, use a dash between the first and last page used.

Example: Maurice Holmes of Xerox Corp feels the only way the U.S. will gain a competitive edge is by utilizing information technology to "learn faster than the rest of the world" (qtd. in Imparato 179-80).

Additional Information

In some cases, you might need to provide additional information within your parenthetical documentation.

Author Has Two or More Works in the "Works Cited"

Place shortened titles within the citation whenever an author has two or more works listed in the "works cited."

Example: Some see climate change as an "opportunity for us to live happier, more fulfilling lives" (McKibben "Happiness" 33).

More than one author of a work.

For 2 or 3 authors, cite all names.

Example: "Since the late 1800's, the global average temperature has increased about 0.7 to 1.4º F" (Mastrandrea and Schneider 232).

For more than three authors, use the abbreviation "et al.", which means "and others."

Example: (Wechsler, et al. 209).

Use a double reference when one source quotes another.

Within the sentence, state the name of the original source. At the end of the sentence, begin the parenthetical documentation with the phrase "qtd. in." Then list your source.

Example: Maurice Holmesof Xerox Corp feels the only way the U.S. will gain a competitive edge is by utilizing information technology to "learn faster than the rest of the world" (qtd. inImparato 179-80).

Activity: In-Text Documentation


 Self Check #8 


Works Cited

Works cited for this lesson are below.


You have completed the online MLA lesson.

Always ask your Mentor which style to use before you begin your paper.

The MLA style refers to the method of writing research papers recommended by the Modern Language Association. The MLA style is used in some areas of the humanities, e.g., composition and literature. Other humanities disciplines such as history, philosophy, and religion may require other styles for formatting your papers. Ask your Primary Mentor which style to use, then come to the Writing Center for further guidance.

  • Always double space, including the text of your paper, quotations, notes, and the list of works cited.
  • Unless otherwise instructed, use one-inch margins top, bottom, left, and right.
  • Use parenthetical citations to acknowledge direct quotations, indirect quotations, and/or any ideas you have borrowed from another person.
  • Use a Works Cited page for reference to parenthetical citations.
  • Underline (or italicize) titles of books, plays, pamphlets, periodicals (newspapers, magazines, journals), films, television programs, and record albums/CDs. Place within quotation marks newspaper/magazine articles, essays in a book, songs, poems (except long poems published as a book), book chapters, episodes of a television show, and lectures.
  • Number pages in the upper right hand corner of the page.
  • Use present tense to introduce cited or quoted material and to make personal comments on such materials. Use past tense only when directly quoting a passage that is in past tense or when reporting historical events.
  • As Winkleman states in the novel Diary of a Madman, "I was never ignorant" (293). Winkleman's purpose in Diary of a Madmanis to point out the innate imperfection of humans. Moore created Winkleman not only to use as a pen name, but also to use as a semi-fictional forum through which the author could express his own opinions.

    Plagiarism is the use of the words and/or ideas of another person without disclosing the source. Whether deliberate or unintentional, plagiarism can lead to failure in a course and/or dismissal from college. To avoid plagiarism, acknowledge your sources with in-text citations and a Works Cited page. Always cite direct quotations(see below). If you use another person's idea or paraphrase another person's words, don't simply rearrange the words. Instead, make sure to use your own style of writing and language, and use an in-text citation to acknowledge the source. Then, list on the Works Cited page the publications or sources from which you obtained your citations.

    The Writing Center here at GVC has a separate handout on this called, "Plagiarism and How to Avoid it: Guidelines for Students."

    I. In-text Citations

  • First Appearance

    Cite the first appearance of or reference to another person's words or ideas by introducing the quotation, paraphrase, or citation with the author's full name exactly as it appears in the source, but exclude titles such as Mr., Mrs., Ms., Miss, Dr., Reverend, etc. Be sure to include the page number(s) on which the cited material can be found. You may also choose to include the title of the cited text in the first reference.

    Rebecca Peacey states in The Art of the Short Story that, to write good fiction, authors of short fiction must master grammar and punctuation (17).

    The phrase "Rebecca Peacey states in The Art of the Short Story that, ..." is the signal phrase in this example.

    Note:After the first appearance, use only the author's last name within the text of your writing; you do not need to restate the name of the text.

    Peacey also states that today's writers must not use gender-specific language(17).

  • Authors Name Not Used in Text

    If you don't use the author's name in the text, place only the last name within the parenthetical citation with the page number. In the parenthetical citation, don't use "p." or "pp." to indicate page number(s), and don't include the text's title.

    Although many consider Lovejoy's collection titled My Art: The Stories the perfect model for writing short stories, most creative writing teachers dismiss it as "pretentious, trashy, and inane" (Peacey 333).

  • More Than One Author

    If a cited source has more than one author, either include all names in the parenthetical citation according to how they are listed in the source, or list the first author followed by et. al.

    Critics harshly emphasize Lovejoy's chronic use of stale metaphor, cliched symbolism, and predictable twists of irony in his short stories (Newman, Banya, Benis, and Cramer 814).


    Critics harshly emphasize Lovejoy's chronic use of stale metaphor, cliched symbolism, and predictable twists of irony in his short stories (Newman, et. al. 814).

    Note:Make a clear distinction between your words and another person's words so the reader knows where borrowed ideas, paraphrased passages, and/or direct quotations begin and end. In the following example of what not to do, there is no clear distinction between the student's words and ideas and the cited author's words and ideas.

    Trent Lovejoy uses a variety of avian symbolism in his fiction. Doves represent peace. Eagles stand for self-deterministic freedom. Ravens signify the mysterious. Vultures symbolize either death or opportunism. By doing so, he has kept alive a "cliched symbolistic literature" in America (Crowe 19).

    In comparison, the following passage clearly delineates words and ideas, and the reader of this passage can see that the student borrowed both a direct quotation and ideas from Crowe's book, For the Birds.

    In For the Birds, James Crowe explains that Trent Lovejoy uses avian symbols to represent peace, freedom, mystery, death, and opportunism. In doing so, Crowe argues that Lovejoy has managed to keep alive the tradition of "cliched symbolistic literature" for America (189).

    If you are citing an author who has been quoted in another book or article, use the original author's name in the text and the author of the source in which you found the quotation in the parenthetical citation.

    It is far more important for authors to ". . .honor the semiotic tradition by using established symbolism" than it is for them to create new symbols as Lovejoy asserts (qtd. in Crowe: 278).

  • Quotation Lengths

    1. Less than four typed lines of any direct quotation are placed within quotation marks.

      Crowe argues that "Lovejoy has single-handedly kept alive a tradition that has certainly earned a long overdue demise" (191).

    2. More than four typed lines of any direct quotation must be indented. From the left margin, indent one inch on a computer or ten spaces on a typewriter. Double space the quotation, and don't use quotation marks. Insert a parenthetical citation two spaces after the last punctuation mark of the quotation.

      Peacey states that many authors of contemporary short fiction have not mastered the commonly accepted set of prescriptive rules by which standard American English is defined. She argues that such a lack of proficiency is detrimental to these authors' works and may well be damaging to the language as a whole. She makes this observation:

      Authors of fiction have always manipulated the grammar of their respective eras. Whether writing in dialect to validate certain characters or stylistically misusing a language, fictionists have routinely broken grammatical rules. However, the misuse of language by contemporary writers is more often the result of ignorance of grammar than it is of creative design. For a variety of reasons, not the least of which is academic political correctness, many contemporary American authors simply do not know a grammar that delineates the language in which they write. Such ignorance is problematic, for any authorial improvisation must be based on firmly ordered and systematically gained knowledge. (198)

      As can be understood from this passage, Peacey clearly believes that the mastery of the rules precedes creativity.

    3. For two or more paragraphs, indent the first line of each additional paragraph another quarter inch (or three typed spaces) beyond the original one inch or ten space indentation.

  • Two or More Works by the Same Author

    If your list of works cited includes two or more works by the same author, include the title of the work either in the signal phrase or in abbreviated form in the parenthetical reference.

    In his article "California and the West," reporter T. Christian Miller asserts that from 1990 to 1997, California spent roughly $26 million on conservation lands "to provide habitat for exactly 2.6 mountain lions" (A3). According to T. Christian Miller. "Mountain lions, also called pumas or cougars, range vast territories in search of food, sometimes as large as 100 square miles" ("Cougars" 1).

    Note:The title of an article from a periodical should be put in quotation marks, as in the examples. The title of a book should be underlined or italicized. When both the author and a short title must be given in parentheses, the citation should appear as follows:

    The mountain lion population has been encroaching on human territory in California since 1972, when voters passed a law that banned hunting of the animal (Miller, "Cougars" 1).

  • The Author Is Unknown

    If the author is not given, either use the complete title in a signal phrase or use a short form of the title in the parentheses.

    In California, fish and game officials estimate that since 1972 lion numbers have increased from 2,400 to at least 6,000 ("Lion" A21).

  • Authors With the Same Last Name

    If your list of works cited includes works by two or more authors with the same last name, include the first name of the author you are citing in the signal phrase or parenthetical reference.

    At least 66,665 lions were killed between 1907 and 1978 in Canada and the United States (Kevin Hansen 58).

  • A Novel, a Play, or a Poem

    1. In citing literary sources, include information that will enable readers to find the passage in various editions of the work. For a novel, put the page number first and then, if possible, indicate the part or chapter in which the passage can be found.

    Fitzgerald's narrator captures Gatsby in a moment of isolation: "A sudden emptiness seemed to flow now from the windows and the great doors, endowing with complete isolation the figure of the host"(56: ch. 3).

    1. For a verse play, list the act, scene, and line numbers, separated by periods. Use Arabic numerals unless your instructor prefers Roman numerals.

    In his famous advice to the players, Hamlet defines the purpose of theater, ". . . whose end, both at the first and now, was and is, to hold, as 'twere, the mirror up to nature" (3.2.21-23).

    1. For a poem, cite the part (if there are a number of parts) and the line numbers, separated by periods.

    When Homer's Odysseus comes to the hall of Circe, he finds his men ". . . mild / in her soft spell, fed on her drug of evil" (10.209-11).

  • The Bible

    If the book of the Bible that you are citing does not appear in the signal phrase, include it in parentheses along with the chapter and verse numbers.

    Consider the words of Solomon: "If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink" (Prov. 25.21).

    Note: If it is relevant, you may also include the version of the Bible you are citing:(Prov. 25.21, RSV).

  • Two or More Works

    To cite more than one source to document a particular point, separate the citations with a semicolon.

    The dangers of mountain lions to humans have been well documented (Rychnovsky 40; Seidensticker 114; Williams30).

    Note:Multiple citations can be distracting to readers, however, so the techniques should not be overused. If you want to alert readers to several sources that discuss a particular topic, consider using an information note instead.

  • A Work without Page Numbers

    You may omit the page number if a work has no page numbers. Some electronic sources use paragraph numbers instead of page numbers. For such sources, use the abbreviation "par." or "pars." in the parentheses:(Smith, par. 4).

  • An Electronic Source

    To cite an electronic source in the text of your paper, follow the same rules as for print sources. If the source has an author and there is a page number, provide both.

    Using historical writings about leprosy as an example, Demaitre argues that ". . . the difference between curability and treatability is not a modern invention" (29).

    Note: Electronic sources often lack page numbers. If the source uses some other numbering system, such as paragraphs or sections, specify them, using an abbreviation ("par.," "sec.") or a full word ("screen"). Otherwise, use no number at all.

    A clip of the film Demolition d'un mur demonstrates that "cinema is all about transformation, not mere movement" (Routt, sec. 1). Volti writes, "As with all significant innovations, the history of the automobile shows that technological advance is fueled by more than economic calculation."

    Note:If the electronic source has no known author, either use the complete title in a signal phrase or use a short form of the title in parentheses.

    According to a Web page sponsored by the Children's Defense Fund, fourteen American children die from gunfire each day ("Child")

  • Use four ellipsis points to indicate the omission of an entire sentence within a quotation.

    Peacey claims that ". . . although a living language is constantly changing . . . . It is the author's duty to be aware of the language's grammatical conventions as well as to be knowledgeable of its linguistic history" (7).

  • Use four spaced periods to indicate an omission at the end of a direct quotation. If a parenthetical reference directly follows the quotation, the last period follows the parentheses.

    Lovejoy argues that ". . . authors are duty-bound to carry on the semiotic tradition as it is inherited from those authors who precede them . . ." (4).

  • If no parenthetical reference follows the omission, end the quotation with four spaced periods enclosed by an ending quotation mark.

    Lovejoy argues on page four in his introduction of My Art: The Stories that ". . . the author is duty-bound to carry on the semiotic tradition as presented to him by those authors who precede him . . . ."

  • Books

    Begin each reference at the left hand margin. List the author's last name first, then the first name followed by a period. Type two spaces, then list the title of the book underlined and with the first letter of all major words capitalized. A period follows (not underlined). Next list the place (city) of publication followed by a colon, one space, the publisher followed by a comma, and the year of publication followed by a period. Omit the words Publishing Company and Inc. from the publisher's name. If the reference is more than one line in length, indent one-half inch (computer formatted) or five spaces (typed) all lines following the first. Double space all lines.

    1. Book by one Author

    Hyde, Bernard. Perspectives on Literature: The New Historical Criticism in America. Peoria: Bancroft, 1992.

    Note:List two or more books by the same author alphabetically by title. Give the author's name in the first entry only. After the first entry, type three hyphens and a period. Skip two spaces, then list the title. (In the following example, UP is the accepted MLA abbreviation for University Press).

    Britt, Ponsiby. Representation of Indigenous North American Mammalia in Twentieth Century American Humor. Frostbite Falls: Rockland UP, 1963.

    ---. Character Stereotypes in Cold War American Literature. Frostbite Falls: Rockland UP, 1967.

    1. Books by two or more authors -- list authors as they are listed in the book. Reverse only the first author's name.

    Ciccone, Eva, Lorna Smith, and Natasha Fatale. Femininity and Feminism in Literature: Two Views. Boston: Singleton, 1991.

    1. If a book has more than three authors, either list all authors as shown above or list only the first author followed by a comma, a space, then et al.

    Jones, Sarah, Michael Williams, Charles Porter, William Mayer, and Anthony Rofollo. Scenes in a Coffee Shop. Toronto: Middleman, 1996.


    Jones, Sarah, et al. Scenes in a Coffee Shop. Toronto: Middleman, 1996.

    1. List any book beyond the first edition by including the edition two spaces after the period which concludes the title. Do not underline the designation for the edition.

    Young, Keith. Symbols of Morality. 4th ed. Scranton: Crowell, 1976.

    1. For an author's work cited in a textbook, anthology, or other full-length work, list according to the author of the cited work within the anthology. Typically, such a cited work would be an article, an essay, a short story, or a poem, so enclose the title of the cited work within quotation marks. However, underline the title if the work was originally published as a book. Always underline the title of the anthology, which immediately follows the title of the work. Include the page numbers of the anthology in which the cited work appears.

  • Editor

    An entry for an editor is similar to that for an author except that the name is followed by a comma and the abbreviation "ed." for "editor." If there is more than one editor, use the abbreviation "eds." for "editors."

    Kitchen, Judith, and Mary Paumier Jones, eds. In Short: A Collection of Brief Creative Nonfiction. New York: Norton, 1996.

  • Author with an Editor

    Begin with the author and title, followed by the name of the editor. In this case the abbreviation "Ed." means "Edited by," so it is the same for one or multiple editors.

    Wells, Ida B. The Memphis Diary. Ed. Miriam DeCosta-Willis. Boston: Beacon, 1995.

  • Translation

    List the entry under the name of the author, not the translator. After the title, write "Trans." (for "Translated by") and the name of the translator.

    Mahfouz, Naguib. Arabian Nights and Days. Trans. Denys Johnson-Davies. New York: Doubleday, 1995.

  • Unknown Author

    Begin with the title. Alphabetize the entry by the first word of the title other than A, An, or The.

    Oxford Essential World Atlas. New York: Oxford UP, 1996.

  • Edition Other Than the First

    If you are citing an edition other than the first, include the number of the edition after the title: 2nd ed., 3rd ed., and so on.

    Boyce, David George. The Irish Question and British Politics, 1868-1996. 2nd ed. New York: St. Martin's, 1996.

  • Multivolume Work

    Include the total number of volumes before the city and publisher, using the abbreviation "vols."

    Conway, Jill Ker, ed. Written by Herself. 2 vols. New York: Random, 1996.

    Note: If your paper cites only one of the volumes, give the volume number before the city and publisher and give the total number of volumes in the work after the date.

    Conway, Jill Ker, ed. Written by Herself. Vol. 2. New York: Random, 1996. 2 vols.

  • Encyclopedia or Dictionary

    Articles in well-known dictionaries and encyclopedias are handled in abbreviated form. Simply list the author of the article (if there is one), the title of the article, the title of the reference work, the edition number, if any, and the date of the edition.

    "Sonata." Encyclopaedia Britannica. 15th ed. 1997.

    Note: Volume and page numbers are not necessary because the entries are arranged alphabetically and therefore are easy to locate. If a reference work is not well known, provide full publishing information as well.

  • The Bible

    The Bible is not included in the list of works cited. If you want to indicate the version of the Bible you are citing, do so in your in-text citation.

  • Work in an Anthology

    Present the information in this order, with each item followed by a period: author of the selection; title of the selection; title of the anthology; editor of the anthology, preceded by "Ed." (meaning "Edited by"); city, publisher, and date; page numbers on which the selection appears.

    Malouf, David. "The Kyogle Line." The Oxford Book of Travel Stories. Ed. Patricia Craig. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996. 390-96.

    Note:If an anthology gives the original publication information for a selection and if your instructor prefers that you use it, cite that information first. Follow with "Rpt. in" (for "Reprinted in"), the title, editor, and publication information for the anthology, and the page numbers in the anthology on which the selection appears.

    Rodriguez, Richard. "Late Victorians." Harper's Oct. 1990: 57-66. Rpt. in The Best American Essays 1991. Ed. Joyce Carol Oates. New York: Ticknor, 1991. 119-34.

  • Two or More Works From the Same Anthology

    If you wish, you may cross-reference two or more works from the same anthology. Provide a separate entry for the anthology with complete publication information.

    Craig, Patricia, ed. The Oxford Book of Travel Stories. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1996.

    Then list each selection separately, giving the author and title of the selection followed by a cross-reference to the anthology. The cross-reference should include the last name of the editor of the anthology and the page numbers in the anthology on which the selection appears.

    Desai, Anita. "Scholar and Gypsy." Craig 251-73.

    Malouf, David. "The Kyogle Line." Craig 390-96.

  • Foreword, Introduction, Preface, or Afterword

    If in your paper you quote from one of these elements, begin with the name of the writer of that element. Then identify the element being cited, neither underlined nor in quotation marks, followed by the title of the complete book, the book's author, and the book's editor, if any. After the publication information, give the page numbers on which the foreword, introduction, preface, or afterword appears.

    Kennedy, Edward M. Foreword. Make a Difference. Henry W. Foster, Jr., and Alice Greenwood. New York: Scribner, 1997. 9-15.

  • Book with a Title within Its Title

    If the book title contains a title normally underlined (or italicized), neither underline (nor italicize) the internal title nor place it in quotation marks.

    Vanderham, Paul. James Joyce and Censorship: The Trials of Ulysses. New York: New York UP, 1997.

    Note:If the title within the title is normally enclosed within quotation marks, retain the quotation marks and underline (or italicize) the entire title.

    Faulkner, Dewey R. Twentieth Century Interpretations of "The Pardoner's Tale." Englewood Cliffs: Spectrum-Prentice, 1973.

  • Book in a Series

    Before the publication information, cite the series name as it appears on the title page followed by the series number, if any.

    Malena, Anne. The Dynamics of Identity in Francophone Caribbean Narrative. Francophone Cultures and Literatures Ser. 24. New York: Lang, 1998.

  • Republished Book

    After the title of the book, cite the original publication date followed by the current publication information. If the republished book contains new material, such as an introduction or afterword, include that information after the original date.

    McClintock, Walter. Old Indian Trails. 1926. Foreword William Least Heat Moon. Boston: Houghton, 1992.

  • Publisher's Imprint

    If a book was published by an imprint of a publishing company, cite the name of the imprint followed by a hyphen and the publisher's name. The name of the imprint usually precedes the publisher's name on the title page.

    Coles, Robert. The Moral Intelligence of Children: How to Raise a Moral Child. New York: Plume-Random, 1997.

  • Translation

    List the entry under the name of the author, not the translator. After the title, write "Trans." (for "Translated by") and the name of the translator.

    Mahfouz, Naguib. Arabian Nights and Days. Trans. Denys Johnson-Davies. New York: Doubleday, 1995.

  • Periodicals

    Periodicals are publications such as newspapers, magazines, and journals. Generally, list the author(s), title of article in quotation marks, name of the journal underlined, series number (if relevant), volume number (for journals), issue number (if needed), date of publication, and inclusive page numbers not preceded by "p." or "pp." If the article is not published on consecutive pages, include only the page number on which the article first appears, followed by a + sign with no space in between.

  • Journals

    Many scholarly journals are paged continuously throughout the year. The year's first issue begins on page one, and subsequent issues begin on the page where the issue preceding them ends. Therefore, listing the month of publication is unnecessary. Instead, list the volume number followed by the year of publication in parentheses. Then include a colon followed by page number(s) on which the article appears.

    Gregory, Norman. "Australian Aboriginal Dialects." The Journal of Modern Languages 75 (1987): 74-101.

    However, some journals page each issue separately. In such cases, include in the bibliographic citation the volume number immediately followed by a period, which is immediately followed by the issue number.

    Douglas, Oliver. "Gentrification of Rural Lands: Migration Beyond the Suburb." The American Quarterly 18.2 (1969): 12-24.

  • Magazines

    1. Weekly

      For a magazine published weekly or biweekly, follow the general directions for periodicals, but include the entire date with the day first, followed by the month (abbreviated) and year. Do not include an issue or volume number.

    Ziffel, Arnold. "Confessions of an Overeater." Pound Watchers Weekly 8 June 1970: 14-17.

    1. Monthly

      Follow the directions for a weekly magazine, but do not include the day of publication.

    Douglas, Lisa. "To Live on Park Avenue." Urban Life Sept. 1970: 36-44.

  • Newspaper

    List the author(s); title of the article in quotation marks, name of newspaper as it appears on the masthead omitting any introductory article such as "the," the complete date of publication -- day, month, and year, a colon, and a page number(s) (including section designation such as A and B or 1 and 2 if included) as listed in the newspaper. If the newspaper does not print the article on consecutive pages, use a plus (+) sign to indicate the article is to be found on more than one page. Omit any volume or issue numbers.

    1. Lettered Sections

    Charles, Raymond. "School Administration Closes Middle School Library." The Chronicle of S Learning 12 Sept. 1990: A1-A6.

    1. Numbered Sections

    Wilbert, Kenneth. "Writer Searches America for Lost Hope." Mecklenburg Tribune 24 Aug. 1987, sec. 2: 1+.

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