Shahila Zafar (Corresponding Author)
Asst Professor English Division
School of Social Sciences and Languages
VIT University, Vellore-632014
TN, India Zaved Ahmed Khan Dr K Meenakshi
The MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers presents a set of conventions to help a researcher in the written presentation of research. These guidelines follow current practices that are recommended by the Modern Language Association of America (a professional organization of some 25,000 instructors of English and other languages). These conventions are used primarily in the humanities. Joseph Gibaldi’s MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers provides the researcher with a streamlined and easily referenced guide to the MLA format.
A Research Paper based on MLA guidelines Definition of a Research Paper
A research paper is a factual essay about a specific subject. The information used to write the research paper is taken from a combination of primary and secondary information sources, which must be cited throughout the paper and listed in a bibliography at the end of the paper. A primary source is original, unedited information; examples include letters, interviews, and firsthand accounts of an event or practice. A secondary source analyzes or summarizes information and can provide a critical or historical perspective on a subject.
There are two types of research papers: informational and analytical. The informational paper summarizes and presents factual information in a coherent and organized way. The analytical paper includes research findings from primary and secondary sources, in addition to the writer’s own analysis of the research topic. Therefore, the analytical paper has some elements of persuasive writing in that the writer’s conclusion is an opinion derived from factual evidence.
The following are the general guidelines to be followed for the formatting of a research paper:
- The paper should be typed or written on a computer and printed out on standard-sized paper (8.5 X 11 inches).
- It should be double-space.
- The margins of the document should be set to 1 inch on all sides.
- A header that numbers all pages consecutively in the upper right-hand corner, one-half inch from the top and flush with the right margin should be created.
- Throughout the essay, italics should be used for highlighting the titles of longer works and providing emphasis.
- Title page for the paper should not be made unless specifically requested.
- A double-spaced entry in the top left corner of the first page that lists the researchers name, the instructor’s name, the course, and the date should be provided.
- A header that numbers all pages consecutively in the upper right-hand corner, one-half inch from the top and flush with the right margin should be created. The title on the line below the header with the scholar’s name should be centered.
A good research paper begins with a thesis statement, which clearly states to the reader what the writer intends to cover in the paper. Here are two examples of a thesis statement:
The development of the automobile led to economic, social, political, technological and ecological changes.
Nathaniel Hawthorne’s short stories reflect a pattern in which characters who are innocent and trusting are destroyed by the stronger forces of evil.
The thesis statement provides the framework for the entire paper. Every section of the paper is tied to this statement, and the conclusion relates each section back to this original statement of the writer’s intentions.
When writing a research paper, lab report or any other type of academic assignment, a researcher generally uses resources such as books, articles and websites written by other people to support his/ her argument. However, when using someone else’s information, he/ she must indicate where that information came from (credit must be given where credit is due) by citing his/ her sources. If he/ she fails to acknowledge his/ her sources, he/ she is guilty of plagiarism.
When to Cite
Before examining the specific formats of the MLA citation style, it is important to understand when to cite to avoid plagiarism. A source must be cited or acknowledged within a paper when one:
- quotes material verbatim (word for word)
- rewords or paraphrases information
- includes statistics or findings from a survey or study
- incorporates facts, ideas or opinions that are not common knowledge
Listed below are a few examples to illustrate when citations are required. MLA generally uses the author’s surname and page number to cite information within the body of the essay.
Quoting- When a researcher quotes someone, he/ she uses the author’s exact words.
In his book On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, Stephen King offers his personal views on writing: “I’m convinced that fear is at the root of most bad writing.”
Paraphrasing- When a researcher paraphrases someone, he/ she uses his/ her own words and sentence structure to convey another author’s ideas.
Stephen King blames fear for the overuse of adverbs and passive verbs, hallmarks of bad writing, and he/ she encourages fledgling writers not to resort to using such devices as a crutch.
Stephen King is convinced that fear is at the root of bad writing and encourages writers to energize prose with active verbs.
The words in bold in the above unacceptable example are exactly as King wrote them. They have not been changed therefore they are plagiarized. Simply eliminating one or two words is not paraphrasing.
Summarizing- To summarize is to condense ideas into fewer words and with fewer details. A paragraph, page, or even a chapter, might be summarized in a single sentence. The summary should
accurately convey the author’s message.
For Stephen King, fear yields bad writing. Inaccurate:
Stephen King says students should be afraid of writing the SAT writing sample.
King acknowledges that students often are afraid of writing the SAT essay. He/ she does not claim that they should be. The point he/ she is trying to make in this passage is about fear and poor writing. The SAT is mentioned only as an example of what types of writing tasks make writers afraid.
Supplies for Notetaking
Cards in one size (3″x5″ or 4″x6″) should be used. These cards can be sorted, arranged and rearranged before writing the outline or essay.
Types of notecards:
- Source cards b. Note cards
What to Include on Source Cards
The researcher should write one card for each source to identify all the details needed for his/ her Works Cited page. He/ she should arrange these cards into alphabetical order to make the Works Cited page. Information needed varies depending on the type of source one uses. Basic information for any source card includes Author, Title, Publisher, Date and Page (as available). A unique number or color code for each source card should be used and that code should be applied to information cards to eliminate the need to rewrite the source information (Author, Title, etc) on each information card.
What to Include on Note Cards
Each information card should be given a topic heading. Only one piece of information related to that heading on each card should be included so that the researcher can sort related topic cards together later. These topic areas will probably become the major divisions of the outline. Major ideas, significant details and quotations on the card should be written.
Finally, the card should be coded by color or number to tie the information to its source.
How to Outline
Preparing an outline is a helpful step that comes between taking notes and writing a rough draft of the paper. It gives the chance to put one’s notes into a sensible order. When a researcher does this, he/ she can decide whether more of any special type of research is still needed. It also gives him/ her the opportunity to see if he/ she has really done what he/ she said he/ she would do in the thesis statement. Once an outline has been sketched out, the researcher may decide to revise the thesis statement, or he/ she may decide to re-emphasize some points more than others in the paper. In this way, he/ she may find that his/ her research approach changes as he/ she goes about the research. He/ she might end up doing a series of outlines.
How to Organize Thoughts and Notes for the Outline
Sometimes a teacher will require only a trial outline. This is a more-or-less organized listing of the topics a researcher plans to cover in the general order he/ she intends to follow in his/ her paper. He/ she should place the note cards into stacks of the various main topics they cover. These stacks should be placed into a logical order. Several organizing techniques are possible, including:
- Chronological (by time)
- Cause and effect (what caused an event or series of events)
- Process (what steps occurred in a specific sequence)
- Inductive (moving from specific examples of a problem, such as food shortages and ammunition supplies, to broad, general statements about that problem)
- Deductive logic (starting with a general problem, such as family problems, to specific examples, such as child abuse, divorce and poverty)
Notes in the trial outline should be added to indicate which quotes and reference sources the researcher will be referring to at that point. If he/ she had numbered his/ her notecards, those numbers should be used to code those notes in the trial outline.
What the Outline Should Look Like
A formal outline is typed and follows a specific format. The guide may request either a topic outline (short phrases) or sentence outline (full sentences with conventional punctuation). The parts of an outline are typically labeled using this order:
- Main idea
- Detail of subtopic
- Another detail
- Related idea about the detail
- Another related idea
- Supporting fact or related matter
- Perhaps another supporting fact
- Another micro-detail
- Second subtopic
- Detail of second subtopic
- Another detail
- Supporting information for this second detail
- Added supporting information related to second detail
In general, a researcher may find that he/ she will have different amounts of details for some topics and subtopics than for others. That is acceptable; he/ she should just seek to keep his/ her descriptions in balance, not overemphasizing some topics at the expense of others. When he/ she has a I, there should be at least a II and possibly a III. When he/ she has an A, there should also be at least a B, and so on. Usually no element should occur singly; when one supporting point is listed, there should be at least one more at that level.
General Guidelines for Authors, Titles and Use of Numbers
The following are the general guidelines given in The MLA Handbook about how the names of the authors, titles and numbers can be mentioned in a research paper:
- The author should be referred to by his/ her or her full name the first time it is mentioned in the text, but by last name only thereafter, unless there are two authors with the same last name. In that case, both the first and last names should be used consistently.
- Titles of books, plays, magazines, journals, newspapers, movies, television shows, compact discs, and Web sites are to be italicized.
- Titles of articles, short stories, essays, poems, and songs are in quotation marks.
- The first and last words and all main words should be capitalize. Examples: “Eight Days a Week,” Great Expectations, Wall Street Journal, The Simpsons, “The Raven”.
- Numbers that can be written in one or two words (four, thirty-five) should be spelled out; to represent longer numbers (110, 5 ½), numerals can be used.
- If the paper calls for a series of numbers or frequent use of numbers, such as statistical findings, numerals can be used. Also, numerals can be used for numbers preceding units of measurement (17 amperes).
- A sentence should not begin with a numeral – it should be spelled out.
- Related numbers can be express in the same format (5 out of 50 states).
- Following are examples of inclusive numbers. The second number is given in full through ninety- nine and when necessary for clarity. This format can be used for page number ranges:
13-35 83-110 101-07 191-217 1,954-59
Internal Documentation (In-text citations, parenthetical references)
Every time a researcher paraphrases or directly quotes a source, he/ she must give the reader the author’s last name and the page number of the source, either in the tag (introductory) line or in parentheses. A comma between the author’s name and the page number should not be used. One should paraphrase wherever possible. When a source has no page numbers or any other kind of reference numbers, no number can be given in the parenthetical reference.
The following are the different ways in which in- text citations can be given:
Author’s Name in Tagline
If the writers name is given in the tagline itself, the name should not be repeated in the parenthetical reference with the page number:
“He was obeyed,” writes Joseph Conrad of the manager in Heart of Darkness, “yet he inspired neither love nor fear, nor even respect” (87).
Author’s Name in Parentheses
If the author’s name is not given in the tagline itself, then the name should be mentioned in the parentheses with the page number at the end:
The author, speaking of the manager in Heart of Darkness, says that “He was obeyed, yet he inspired neither love nor fear, nor even respect” (Conrad 87).
More than three authors
If a work has more than three authors, one may either give all the last names followed by the page number, or use et al. followed by the page number. Notice that et al., which means “and others,” ends with a period. Example: (Bell, Peters, Monsour, and Pope 19) or (Bell et al. 19). One can use the same format for the names in his/ her list of works cited.
Material from primary sources can be used whenever possible. If the researcher needs to include a quotation from an indirect source, he/ she should use the original author’s name in the tag line and add qtd.in (“quoted in”) before the indirect source in the parenthetical reference:
Sir William Berkeley believed that “learning has brought disobedience and heresy and sects into the world, and printing has divulged them” (qtd. in Chappell 139).
In the above example, Chappell’s book would appear in the works cited list.
Work Listed by Title
If there is no author, the article or book title (or a shortened version of the title, if it is a lengthy title) should be used before the page number. For example, a parenthetical reference to the anonymous article “Tweeting All the Way to the Bank” which appeared in the Economist would be formatted as (“Tweeting” 61).
Citing More than One Source in a Single Parenthetical Reference
If one wishes to cite more than one source, the citations should be separated with a semicolon. (Badke 48; Lupton 411-13). In the given example, Chappell’s book would appear in the works cited list.
Corporate authors are groups such as the United Nations, the Modern Language Association etc. It is easier to read if the corporate author is cited in the text (rather than parenthetically) the first time it is referenced, as in the following example:
“The American Diabetes Association (ADA) warns that too much sugar could be bad for a child’s health” (42).
After the first citation, one may just use the initials to refer to the author:
“Recent research has shown that sugar can cause dental problems” (ADA 44).
When a researcher quotes more than four typed lines of prose or more than three lines of poetry, the quotation should be set off by indenting it one tab from the left margin. Long quotations should be introduced with a tag line followed by a colon. Quotation marks around the material should not be used. For example:
At the conclusion of Golding’s Lord of the Flies, Ralph and the other boys realize the horror of their actions:
The tears began to flow and sobs shook him. He/ she 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. (186)
As it can be seen in the example given above, the parenthetical reference follows the ending period of the quotation. There is also a space after this period.
Errors in Source Material
If there is an error in the original copy, one may add sic, which is Latin for “thus,” to assure the readers that the quote is accurate, even with the error. The error should not be corrected. One can use sic in square brackets if it appears within the quote or in parentheses if it appears after the quote. One should use sic for directly quoted material, not a paraphrase. For example:
“According to the Transportation Department, the trains where [sic] running late that day.” Shaw admitted, “Nothing can extinguish my interest in Shakespear” (sic).
Ellipsis points (three spaced periods) are used to designate that material has been omitted from the source material. These are used only with directly quoted material, not paraphrases.
How to Include Works Cited / Bibliography Basic Rules for the Works Cited / Bibliography
A Works Cited list should be available at the end of a research paper. It should contain bibliographical references to all the works cited in the research paper. Following are some of the rules mentioned in The MLA Handbook that relate to the Works Cited section of a research paper:
- Works Cited page should begin on a separate page at the end of the paper.
- The page should be labeled Works Cited (the words Works Cited should not be underlined or put in quotation marks) and the words Works Cited should be centered at the top of the page.
- All citations should be double-spaced with hanging indentation, but one should not skip spaces between entries.
- The page numbers of sources should be listed efficiently, when needed. If a journal article that appeared on pages 225 through 250 is referred to, the page numbers on the Works Cited page should be listed as 225- 250.
- If an article or a publication that was originally issued in print form but was retrieved from an online database is cited, the researcher should provide enough information so that the readers can locate the article either in its original print form or retrieve it from the online database (if they have access).
- The researcher should capitalize each word in the titles of articles, books, etc, but not capitalize articles, short prepositions, or conjunctions unless one is the first word of the title or subtitle: Gone with the Wind, The Art of War, There Is Nothing Left to Lose.
- Italics should be used for titles of larger works (books, magazines) and quotation marks for titles of shorter works (poems, articles)
Listing Author Names
Entries should be listed by author name (or, for entire edited collections, editor names). Author names should be written last name first; middle names or middle initials should follow the first name:
Burke, Kenneth; Levy, David M.
Titles (Dr., Sir, Saint, etc.) or degrees (PhD, MA, DDS, etc.) should not be listed with names. A book listing an author named “John Bigbrain, PhD” should appear simply as “Bigbrain, John”; however, suffixes like “Jr.” or “II” can be included. Putting it all together, a work by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. should be cited as “King, Martin Luther, Jr.,” with the suffix following the first or middle name and a comma.
If two or more works by the same author are being cited, the name should be listed in the first citation only. Three hyphens and a period should be used for all the following references. The same rule applies for multiple authors, as long as the authors’ names in each source appear in the same order. If they are not in the same order, or if there are different coauthors, the researcher must list all names in the same order as shown in the original source. The entries beginning with the same name, but with different coauthors should be alphabetize by the last names of the second author listed.
Zepeda, Sally J. “Cognitive Dissonance, Supervision, and Administrative Team Conflict.” International Journal of Educational Management 20.3 (2006): 224-32. ProQuest Research Library. Web. 2 Aug.2009.
—. “Leadership to Build Learning Communities.” Educational Forum 68.2 (2004): 144-51. ProQuest Research Library. Web. 2 Aug. 2009.
Citing Different Types of Sources
The following are some examples of citing different kinds of sources on the Works Cited page. All citations should be double-spaced with hanging indentation,
Book by a Single Author
A book by a single author should be cited in the following way:
Author’s Name. Title of the Book. Place of Publication: Publisher, copyright date.
Franke, Damon. Modernist Heresies: British Literary History, 1883-1924. Columbus: Ohio State UP, 2008. Print.
There are times when more information is needed. The following is a list of the possible components of a book entry and the order in which they should be arranged:
- Name of the author, editor, compiler, or translator
- Title of the work (italicized)
- Edition used
- Number(s) of the volume(s) used
- City of publication, name of the publisher, and year of publication
- Medium of publication consulted (Print)
- Supplementary bibliographic information and annotation Book by Two or More Authors
To cite a book by two or three authors, their names should be given in the same order as on the title page—not necessarily in alphabetical order. Only the name of the first author should be reversed, a comma added, and the other name or names given in normal form.
Booth, Wayne C., Gregory G. Colomb, and Joseph M. Williams. The Craft of Research. 2nd ed.
Chicago: U of Chicago P, 2003. Print.
Vare, Ethlie Ann, Sheldon Olson, and Greg Ptacek. Mothers of Invention. New York: Morrow, 1988.
If there are more than three authors, only the first can be named and et al. (“and others”) added, or all names can be given in full in the order in which they appear on the title page.
Plag, Ingo, et al. Introduction to English Linguistics. Berlin: Mouton, 2007. Print. or
Plag, Ingo, Maria Braun, Sabine Lappe, and Mareile Schramm. Introduction to English Linguistics.
Berlin: Mouton, 2007. Print.
Book with an Editor
To cite an anthology or a compilation (e.g., a bibliography) that was edited or compiled by someone whose name appears on the title page, the entry should begin with the name of the editor or compiler, followed by a comma and the abbreviation ed. or comp.
Hall, Donald, ed. The Oxford Book of American Literary Anecdotes. New York: Oxford UP, 1981. Print. Shell, Marc, ed. American Babel: Literatures of the United States from Abnaki to Zuni. Cambridge:
Harvard UP, 2002. Print.
Work in an Anthology (Book, Chapter, Essay, Poem, Short Story)
The entry should begin with the author and title of the piece, normally enclosing the title in quotation marks. The title of the part of the book should be followed with a period. If the anthology contains the work of a translator, the translator’s name should be given next, preceded by the abbreviation Trans. (“Translated by”). Then the title of the anthology (italicized) should be stated. The inclusive page numbers of the piece one is citing should be given. The page numbers for the entire piece should be provided, not just for the material one used. Inclusive page numbers should follow the publication date and a period.
Fagih, Ahmed Ibrahim al-. The Singing of the Stars. Trans. Leila El Khalidi and Christopher Tingley. Short Arabic Plays: An Anthology. Ed. Salma Khadra Jayyusi. New York: Interlink, 2003. 140-57. Print.
More, Hannah. “The Black Slave Trade: A Poem.” British Women Poets of the Romantic Era. Ed. Paula
R. Feldman. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 1997. 472-82. Print.
If the work was originally published independently (as, e.g., autobiographies, plays, and novels generally are), its title should be italicized instead. Often the works in anthologies have been published before. If the researcher wishes to inform his/ her reader of the date when a previously published piece other than a scholarly article first appeared, he/ she should follow the title of the piece with the year of original publication and a period. He/ she does not need to record the medium of previous publication.
Douglass, Frederick. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, Written by Himself. 1845. Classic American Autobiographies. Ed. William L. Andrews and Henry Louis Gates, Jr. New York: Lib. of Amer., 2000. 267-368. Print.
Reprint in an Anthology
To cite a previously published scholarly article in a collection, the complete data for the earlier publication should be given and then Rpt. in (“Reprinted in”), the title of the collection, and the new publication facts should be added.
Frye, Northrop. “Literary and Linguistic Scholarship in a Postliterate Age.” PMLA 99.5 (1984): 990-95. Rpt. in Myth and Metaphor: Selected Essays, 1974-88. Ed. Robert D. Denham. Charlottesville: UP of Virginia, 1990. 18-27. Print.
If the article was originally published under a different title, the new title and publication facts should be stated first, followed by Rpt. of (“Reprint of”), the original title, and the original publication facts.
Lewis, C. S. “Viewpoints: C. S. Lewis.” Twentieth-Century Interpretations of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Ed. Denton Fox. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice, 1968. 100-01. Print. Rpt. of “The Anthropological Approach.” English and Medieval Studies Presented to J. R. R. Tolkien on the Occasion of His Seventieth Birthday. Ed. Norman Davis and C. L. Wrenn. London: Allen, 1962. 219-23.
A Multi-Volume Work
If researcher is using two or more volumes of a multivolume work, he/ she should cite the total number of volumes in the work (“5 vols.”). This information should come after the title—or after any editor’s name or identification of edition—and before the publication information.
Lauter, Paul, et al., eds. The Heath Anthology of American Literature. 5th ed. 5 vols. Boston: Houghton, 2006. Print.
Rampersad, Arnold. The Life of Langston Hughes. 2nd ed. 2 vols. New York: Oxford UP, 2002. Print.
If only one volume of a multivolume work is being used, the number of the volume in the bibliographic entry (“Vol. 2”) should be stated and publication information for that volume alone should be given; then one need give only page numbers when he/ she refers to that work in the text.
Lawrence, D. H. The Letters of D. H. Lawrence. Ed. James T. Boulton. Vol. 8. New York: Cambridge UP, 2000. Print.
Wellek, René. A History of Modern Criticism, 1750-1950. Vol. 5. New Haven: Yale UP, 1986. Print. An Online Book: A Work on the Web Cited With Print Publication Data
This format should be used for a work on the Web cited with print publication data or for books that are available through a subscription database (including books that have been scanned). The entry should begin with the relevant facts about print publication. Instead of concluding with Print as the medium of publication, the following information should be recorded in sequence:
- Title of the database or website (italicized)
- Medium of publication consulted (Web)
- Date of access (day, month, and year)
Tanner, Jennifer Lynn. Emerging Adults in America: Coming of Age in the 21st Century. Washington DC: American Psychological Association, 2006. PsycBooks. Web. 7 July 2009
Walsh, Richard, and Robert Lang Adams. The Complete Job Search For College Students: A Step by- Step Guide to Finding the Right Job. Avon, MA: Adams Media, 2007. Google Book Search. Web. 7 July 2009.
If a book is scanned for access through Google Book Search and was published before 1900, the researcher does not need to include the name of the publisher. After the print publication data, the title of the overall website, the medium of publication consulted, and the date of access should be included.
Child, L. Maria, ed. The Freedmen’s Book. Boston, 1866. Google Book Search. Web. 15 May 2008. Ovid. Metamorphoses. Trans. Arthur Golding. London, 1567. The Perseus Digital Library. Ed. Gregory
Crane. Tufts U. Web. 12 Mar. 2007.
A Digital Book
Digital files can exist independently from the Web or a published disc. In general, the researcher should determine the kind of work he/ she is citing (e.g., a book), and follow the relevant guidelines according to MLA for the formatting the entry in the works-cited list. In the place reserved for the medium of publication, the digital file format should be recorded, followed by the words file—PDF file, MP3 file, XML file, and so on—neither italicized (except for titles of software programs) nor enclosed in quotation marks. The file type is usually indicated by the extension at the end of the file name, after a period: If one cannot identify the file type, the words Digital fileshould be used.
Malkin, Michelle. Culture of Corruption: Obama and His Team of Tax Cheats, Crooks, and Cronies.
Kindle Edition. 27 July 2009. Digital File.
Mezrich, Ben. The Accidental Billionaires: The Founding of Facebook A Tale of Sex, Money, Genius and Betrayal. Kindle Edition. 14 July 2009. Digital File.
Print Encyclopedia Articles
An encyclopedia article or a dictionary entry should be treated as one would a piece in a collection. If the article is signed, the author’s name should be given first (often articles in reference books are signed with initials identified elsewhere in the work); if it is unsigned, the title should be given first.
When citing widely used reference books, especially those that frequently appear in new editions, the full publication information should not be given. For such works, only the edition should be listed (if stated), the year of publication, and the medium of publication should be consulted.
“Ginsburg, Ruth Bader.” Who’s Who in America. 62nd ed. 2008. Print.
“Japan.” The Encyclopedia Americana. 2004 ed. Print.
If a specific definition among several is being cited, the abbreviation Def. (“Definition”) and the appropriate designation (e.g., number, letter) should be added.
“Noon.” Def. 4b. The Oxford English Dictionary. 2nd ed. 1989. Print.
When citing specialized reference works, however, especially those that have appeared in only one edition, the full publication information should be given, omitting inclusive page numbers for the article if the dictionary or encyclopedia is arranged alphabetically.
Bram, Jean Rhys. “Moon.” The Encyclopedia of Religion. Ed. Mircea Eliade. Vol. 10. New York: Macmillan, 1987. Print.
Electronic Reference Publications
Here the title of the website and the medium of publication consulted (Web) should be mentioned, followed by the date of reference.
“Dominican Republic.” CountryWatch. Web. 10 May 2001.
VandenBos, Gary R. “Schizophrenia.” Encyclopedia of Psychology, Vol. 7. 160-163. American Psychological Association. PsycBOOKS. Web. 13 July 2009.
To cite an English-language newspaper, the name should be given as it appears on the masthead but any introductory article should be omitted (New York Times, not The New York Times). The articles should be retained before the names of non-English-language newspapers (Le monde). If the city of publication is not included in the name of a locally published newspaper, the city should be added in square brackets, not italicized, after the name: “Star-Ledger [Newark].” The medium of publication consulted should follow. For sections labeled with letters and paginated separately, the section letter is sometimes part of each page number: “A1,” “B1,” “C5,” “D3.”
Haughney, Christine. “Women Unafraid of Condo Commitment.” New York Times 10 Dec. 2006, late ed., sec. 11: 1+. Print.
Jeromack, Paul. “This Once, a David of the Art World Does Goliath a Favor.” New York Times 13 July 2002, late ed.: B7+. Print.
Newspaper from a Database Subscription Service
It should include the date of online publication, the medium of publication consulted (Web), followed by the date of reference.
Hayenes, V. Dion. “To Stop School Violence, Educators Look for Ways to Stop Bullying, Help Diffuse.”
Chicago Tribune 11March 2001:n.pag. Academic Search Premier. Web. 13 July 2009.
McKay, Peter A. “Stocks Feel the Dollar’s Weight.” Wall Street Journal 4 Dec. 2006: C1+.
ABI/INFORM Global. Web. 4 July 2009.
A Web site sponsored by a newspaper
“The Scientists Speak.” Editorial. New York Times. New York Times, 20 Nov. 2007. Web. 15 May 2008. “Utah Mine Rescue Funeral.” CNN.com. Cable News Network, 21 Aug. 2007. Web. 21 Aug. 2007.
To cite a magazine published every week or every two weeks, the complete date (beginning with the day and abbreviating the month, except for May, June, and July) should be given, followed by a colon, the inclusive page numbers of the article, and the medium of publication consulted. If the article is not printed on consecutive pages, only the first page number and a plus sign should be written, leaving no intervening space. The volume and issue numbers should not be given even if they are listed.
Kates, Robert W. “Population and Consumption: What We Know, What We Need to Know.”
Environment Apr. 2000: 10-19. Print.
McEvoy, Dermot. “Little Books, Big Success.” Publishers Weekly 30 Oct. 2006: 26-28. Print. Paul, Annie Murphy. “Self-Help: Shattering the Myths.” Psychology Today Mar.-Apr. 2001: 60-68. Print.
Magazine from a Database Subscription Service
Here the the medium of publication consulted (Web), followed by the date of reference should be mentioned.
McEvoy, Dermot. “Little Books, Big Success.” Publishers Weekly 30 Oct. 2006: 26-28. Literature Resource Center. Web. 10 July 2009.
Paul, Annie Murphy. “Self-Help: Shattering the Myths.” Psychology Today Mar.-Apr. 2001: 60-68.
Proquest Central. Web. 10 July 2009.
A Web site sponsored by a magazine
Here, the supplementary information about the Web site (such as the name of its editor, sponsor, or publisher) following its name can be added.
Green, Joshua. “The Rove Presidency.” The Atlantic.com. Atlantic Monthly Group, Sept. 2007. Web. 15 May 2008.
The following information (as available) should be included while citing from a scholarly journal in a print format:
- Names of author(s).
- Title of article in “quotation marks.”
- Title of journal or magazine italicized.
- Volume number and issue number.
- Year of publication.
- Page numbers of the article.
- Name of the database italicized.
- Medium of publication (Web).
- Date of access (day, month, and year).
Posen, J. Sheldon and Joseph Sciorra. “Brooklyn’s Dancing Tower.” Natural History 92.6 (1983): 30-37.
Levine, June Perry. “Passage to the Odeon: Too Lean.” Literature Film Quarterly
14.3 (1986): 139-50. Print.
Scholarly Journals Available in Subscription Database
Many databases include digital scans of entire periodicals that were previously published in print; often these scans present facsimiles of the printed works. To cite a work from a periodical in an online database, such as an article, a review, an editorial, or a letter to the editor, the entry should begin by following the recommendations for citing works in print periodicals, but the medium of original publication (Print) should be dropped. A periodical article on the Web may not include page numbers. If possible, the inclusive page numbers should be given or, when pagination is not continuous, the first page number and a plus sign should be given; if pagination is not available, n. pag should be written.
Killen, Joel D. et.al. “Weight Concerns Influence the Development of Eating Disorders: a 4-Year Prospective Study.” Journal of Consulting and Cinical Psychology 64.5(1996): 936-940. PsycArticles. Web. 13 July 2009.
Tolson, Nancy. “Making Books Available: The Role of Early Libraries, Librarians, and Booksellers in the Promotion of African American Children’s Literature.” African American Review 32.1 (1998): 9-
16. JSTOR. Web. 5 June 2008.
Scholarly journals on the Web (Electric Form only)
Some scholarly journals exist only in electronic form on the Web, while others appear both in print and on the Web. A periodical publication on the Web may not include page numbers, or it may include page numbers in a new sequence for each item rather than continuously across the entire issue. In such cases,
- pag.should be used in place of inclusive page numbers
Armstrong, Grace. Rev. of Fortune’s Faces: The Roman de la Rose and the Poetics of Contingency, by Daniel Heller-Roazen. Bryn Mawr Review of Comparative Literature 6.1 (2007): n. pag. Web. 5 June 2008.
Raja, Masood Ashraf. Rev. of Voices of Resistance: Muslim Women on War, Faith, and Sexuality, ed.
Sarah Husain. Postcolonial Text 3.2 (2007): n. pag. Web. 5 June 2008.
Most works on the Web have an author, a title, and publication information and are thus analogous to print publications. But while readers seeking a cited print publication can be reasonably assured that a copy in a local library will be identical to that consulted by the author, they can be less certain that a Web publication will be so. Electronic texts can be updated easily and at irregular intervals. Publications on the Web present special challenges for documentation. Because of the fluidity of the network and the many hypertextual links between works accessed there, it is often difficult to determine where one work stops and another begins. The researcher should only include a URL as supplementary information only when the reader probably cannot locate the source without it or when his/ her instructor requires it. If he/ she present a URL, it should be given immediately following the date of access, a period, and a space. The URL should be enclosed in angle brackets, and concluded with a period.
“Maplewood, New Jersey.” Map. Google Maps. Google, 15 May 2008. Web. 15 May 2008. “Six Charged in Alleged N.J. Terror Plot.” WNBC.com. WNBC, 8 May 2007. Web. 9 May 2007.
“Verb Tenses.” Chart. The OWL at Purdue. Purdue U Online Writing Lab, 2001. Web. 15 May 2008.
The reference starts with the name of the article itself:
“It Barks! It Kicks! It Scores!” Newsweek 30 July 2001: 12. Print.
“Where Angels No Longer Fear to Tread.” Economist 22 Mar. 2008: 89+. Print. Editorials
A newspaper editorial should include the name of the editor if it is clearly mentioned; otherwise the entry should start from the title of the editorial itself:
Gergen, David. “A Question of Values.” Editorial. US News and World Report 11 Feb. 2002: 72. Print. “It’s Subpoena Time.” Editorial. New York Times 8 June 2007, late ed.: A28. Print.
Here depending on the source of the review, the entry should be similar to an entry in a newspaper, magazine or a journal including the words ‘Rev. of’.
“Racial Stereotype Busters: Black Scientists Who Made a Difference.” Rev. of American Science Leaders. Journal of Blacks in Higher Education 25 (1999): 133-34. Print.
Tommasini, Anthony. “A Feminist Look at Sophocles.” Rev. of Jocasta, by Ruth Schonthal and Hélène Cixous. Voice and Vision Theater Company, Cornelia Connelly Center for Educ., New York. New York Times 11 June 1998, late ed.: E5. Print.
Here the name of the company and year of publication of the report should follow the title of the report: Hershey’s. 2008 Annual Report to Stockholders. Web.
Nike. 2008 Annual Report. 24 July 2009. Web.
A Lecture, a Speech, an Address, Class Notes, a Reading
If there is no title, an appropriate descriptive label (Address, Lecture, Keynote speech, Reading), neither underlined nor enclosed in quotation marks, should be used.
Atwood, Margaret. “Silencing the Scream.” Boundaries of the Imagination Forum. MLA Annual Convention. Royal York Hotel, Toronto. 29 Dec. 1993. Address.
Herbster, Gene. “Managing Change.” Leading Change Class. Manhattanville College. Graduate School of Business and Professions. Purchase, NY. 12 July 2003. Lecture.
Dissertations and Theses (Published and Unpublished)
To cite a thesis, an appropriate label ( MA thesis, MS thesis, Diss.) should be used:
Boyle, Anthony T. “The Epistemological Evolution of Renaissance Utopian Lierature.” Diss. New York U, 1983. Print.
Covell, Dusty. “Understanding the Workplace: A Dog’s Life.” MS thesis. Manhattanville Coll, 2005.
A published dissertation should be cited as one would a book, but pertinent dissertation information should be added before the publication facts. If the dissertation was privately published, privately published should be stated in place of the publisher’s name.
Fullerton, Matilda. Women’s Leadership in the Public Schools: Towards a Feminist Educational Leadership Model. Diss. Washington State U, 2001. Ann Arbor: UMI, 2001. Print.
A Source without Stated Publication Information or Pagination
When a source does not indicate the publisher, the place, date of publication, or pagination, use the following information for information one cannot supply.
- n.p. No place of publication given
- n.p. No publisher given
- n.d. No date of publication given
- N.pag. No pagination given.
Additional Common Sources a given in The MLA Handbook,
In addition to the sources mentioned above, the MLA Handbook covers television and radio broadcasts, sound recordings, performances, musical scores, visual art, maps, charts, comic strips, advertisements, lectures, speeches, manuscripts, letters, and e-mail messages. Some examples are given below:
The following is an example of a citation for a file downloaded from the Web:
American Council of Learned Societies. Commission on Cyberinfrastructure for the Humanities and Social Sciences. Our Cultural Common wealth . New York: ACLS, 2006. PDF file.
Videos or films
The citation should begin with the title of the film, unless one is citing the contribution of a particular individual.The director, distributor, year of release and the medium should be included. One can include the original release date in a citation for a DVD, if it is relevant.
My Fair Lady. Dir. Frank Capra. RKO, 1946. Film. Interviews
The following is an example for interviews conducted, either in person or on the phone:
Wiesel Elie. Interview by Ted Koppel. Nightline. ABC. WABC, New York, 18 Apr. 2002. Television.
The MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers is a very useful for researchers. It is comprehensive in nature and is constantly updated according to the changing needs of scholars of modern literature and the humanities. This effort is visible from the latest 7th edition of the Handbook from which most of the instances given above are taken and discussed.