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Citations: Summary of MLA Style

by David Barnhill last modified Nov 21, 2010 05:53 PM

How do you cite sources in MLA style? Read on:

There are several standard forms for citing quotations (notes) and for listing works cited (bibliography). The main ones are MLA, Chicago Manual of Style, and the APA. It is helpful to learn at least one style, and in my courses I ask you to use the MLA style. Below is a summary of the most common citation forms. If your type of citation is not included in this list, see the website above. Always alphabetize the entries. You are responsible for proper citation. I will return to you papers with improper citation for correction , or mark down your final paper, so you might as well get it right the first time.

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Works Cited (Bibliography)

Article in a periodical
Gross, Rita M. “Hindu Female Deities as a Resource for the Contemporary Rediscovery of the Goddess.” Journal of the American Academy of Religion 46 (1978): 269-91. Print.

Article in a book
LaFleur, William R. “Saigyō and the Buddhist Value of Nature.” Nature in Asian Traditions of Thought. Ed. J. Baird Callicott and Roger T. Ames. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1989. 183-208. Print.

Book by a single author
Sanders, Scott Russell. Writing from the Center. Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1995. Print.

Book by a single editor
Warren, Karen J., ed. Ecofeminism: Women, Culture, Nature. Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1997. Print.

Book by two authors or editors
Herndl, Carl G., and Stuart C. Brown, eds. Green Culture: Environmental Rhetoric in Contemporary America. Madison, U Wisconsin P, 1996. Print.

Book by three or more authors or editors
Zimmerman, Michael E., et al., eds. Environmental Philosophy: From Animal Rights to Radical Ecology. Third edition. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2001. Print.

Later edition
See previous example.

Repeated entries:
If there are several texts by an author, the author’s name is replaced by three dashes.

Williams, Terry Tempest. Leap. New York: Random House, 2000. Print.
---. An Unspoken Hunger Stories from the Field. New York: Random House, 1994. Print.

Note: If the work cited is an article from an anthology of essays, you need to cite the individual article and its author (see “Article in a book” above), not simply the book and its editor.

Sample electronic sources

Article in online journal
Elam, Diane. "Disciplining Woman: Feminism or Women's Studies." Surfaces 5.101 (1995): 34. 11 pp. Web. 24 June 1998.

Article in online webpage
Harris, Jonathan G. "The Return of the Witch Hunts." Witchhunt Information Page. Jan. 1996. Web. 28 May 1996.

Article in online newspaper, anonymous
"Endangered Species Act Upheld." AP Online 22 June 1998. Web. 22 June 1998.

Article in online newspaper, with author
Stanley, Bruce. "OPEC Mulls Output Cut to Buoy Prices." Chicago Tribune 23 July 2001. Web. 23 July 2001.

Parenthetical notes (in-text citations)

Parenthetical notes are used in the body of your paper to identify the source of the information (direct quotation, indirect substitute, fact, etc.). They are an alternative to footnotes and endnotes. Their advantage is the ease for both writer and reader, since the information required is minimized and placed right with the quotation or reference. Remember: failure to cite the source of your information is, technically, plagiarism. Here are the main points to keep in mind in doing parenthetical notes in the MLA style.

1. Standard form: In the body of your paper, give the quotation, put the quotation mark without a period, then put in parenthesis the author and the page number, then a period.
Example. “The more attentively I dwell in my place, the more I am convinced that behind the marvelous, bewildering variety of things there is one source” (Sanders x).

2. Page number only: If you mention the authors name before the quotation, however, you need to include only the page number. Thus the above quotation could be cited as follows:
Example. At the end of his Preface, Sanders states that “The more attentively I dwell in my place, the more I am convinced that behind the marvelous, bewildering variety of things there is one source” (x).

3. Author and title: If your Works Cited includes more than one book by the author, give an abbreviated version of the title after the author’s name.
Example. (Sanders Writing x).

4. Indirect source: If you are giving a quote by one person that you found in work by another person, you need to make clear both the author of the quote and the author of the work.
Example. Willa Cather, in O Pioneers!, speaks of the barrenness of landscape: “One could easily believe that in that dead landscape the germs of life and fruitfulness were extinct forever” (qtd. in Sanders 42).

Note : If the quotation comes from an article in an anthology, you need to cite the author of the article , not the editor of the book.

5. Electronic source: Cite Internet sources as you would print documents.  Include enough information to direct readers to the appropriate citation in your Works Cited list. 
Example : Tonnie G. Maniero, of the National Park Service, reports an alarming increase in the death of national parks wildlife from heavy metal pollution ("Non-acidic Particulates")

6. Internet address: If you use an Internet address or an email address in the text of your writing, enclose them in angle brackets.  Do not italicize or underline them. If you must break an Internet or email address at the end of a line in-text or in the Works Cited page, do so only after a slashmark ( / ).  Do not add a hyphen and never break the protocol (http://).
Example: Further information about the increase in air pollution is available at the Environment Defense Fund site, <>.

Indented quotations

If you are quoting more than four typed lines, indent the quotation ten spaces, but run each line to the usual right margin. Omit the quotation marks. Do not single space the quotation. Give the necessary citation in parentheses after the final period.

Essays, poems, and books

When you give the title of an essay or a poem, you put the title in quotation marks – you do not italicize or underline. When you give a title of a book, you put it in italics or you underline it. For instance, Terry Tempest Williams's essay "Testimony" appears in her book The Unspoken Hunger.

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by David Barnhill last modified Nov 21, 2010 05:53 PM