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Proper Citations using MLA Style

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


and from

    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)   <> 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.
When to Cite Something

   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 Should Cite a Source if:

WB00827_.GIF (132 bytes) you quote a source verbatim;
WB00827_.GIF (132 bytes) you paraphrase a passage;
WB00827_.GIF (132 bytes) you summarize a passage;
WB00827_.GIF (132 bytes) you include obscure information;
WB00827_.GIF (132 bytes) you borrow someone else's opinion.


You DO NOT need to cite the following: But you MUST cite these:
WB00827_.GIF (132 bytes) the population of China; WB00827_.GIF (132 bytes) the per-capita income of the Chinese population in 1996;
WB00827_.GIF (132 bytes) the existence of a disease called AIDS; WB00827_.GIF (132 bytes) a possible connection between AIDS and the virus that carries cat luekemia;
WB00827_.GIF (132 bytes) the fact that Charles Dickens visited America; WB00827_.GIF (132 bytes) the supposed effect of Dicken's American visits on novels he wrote after the visits;
WB00827_.GIF (132 bytes) fact that money is wagered on football games; WB00827_.GIF (132 bytes) the alleged "fix" of a specific football game;
WB00827_.GIF (132 bytes) a line from a popular nursery rhyme. WB00827_.GIF (132 bytes) 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 wish" (154).

    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: "'My name

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).

Short Quotations
   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

others disagree.

According to Foulkes's study, dreams may express "profound aspects of personality" (184).

Is it possible that dreams may express "profound aspects of personality" (Foulkes 184)?

Cullen concludes, "Of all the things that happened there / That's all I remember" (11-12).

Long Quotations
   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)

Your Works Cited List

   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.

Basic Rules

   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

A book

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

A webpage

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:

    Macmillan, 1960.

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

    (1981): 77-80.

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.

A webpage

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 <>.

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

    Jul. 1998.

An advertisement

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 <>.

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

    NewsWatch, Vers.2.1.1.

An article in Broadcast News

"Condom Distribution Does Not Increase Sexual Activity."

    Newsnight. CNN. 1 Oct. 1997. Broadcast News,

    trans. 950172877.


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