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MLA Citations: Learn it. Love it.

But first, what IS M.L.A? It stands for Modern Language Association.

In-text Citation vs. Works Cited Page

An in-text citation is when the writer references the originating author in the actual body of the essay. This citation is always located just after the quoted, paraphrased, or summarized material. The in-text citation is simple, generally including the author's last name and page number. Clearly, an author's last name is not enough information for readers to know exactly where the outside information came from. This is why writers need to include a works cited page at the end of all researched essays: the in-text citation references something more fully listed in the works cited page.

A works cited page is an alphabetized list (generally by the author's last name) of all referenced materials used in the body of the essay. Following the author's name, there is a series of information that more specifically details the reference. There is a special way to order this information, and MLA guidelines provides the "how to" for just about every kind of material--from journals, to web sites, to personal interviews.

CREATE AN IN-TEXT CITATION

  1. Use an Author Tag: An author tag is when you use the author's name somewhere in the sentence. Next, if a page number is available, type the page number in parentheses at the end of the sentence. The period ALWAYS goes after the parenthesis. Ex: According to Brown, "standardized tests ineffectively measure student intelligence" (42).
  2. Using author tags over and over can be cumbersome. When you don't use an author tag, cite the information by typing the author's last name and page number in parentheses at the end of the sentence. Ex: "Standardized tests ineffectively measure student intelligence" (Brown 42).
  3. If the author's name is not known, type the title of the article instead of the author's last name.  Some titles are very long and can be cumbersome in the body of the essay. If a title is determined to be too long, a shortened version of the title is appropriate. Include the page number, if known. Ex: "Standardized tests ineffectively measure student intelligence" (American Testing 42).
  4. If the page number is not known, omit it. This is the case with most web page sources.

MLA In-Text Citations provides more information for particular situations, such as when a work has multiple authors, or is a reference book.

CREATE A WORKS CITED PAGE

As mentioned before, a works cited page is an alphabetized list (generally by the author's last name) of all referenced materials used in the body of the essay. Every in-text citation refers readers to the complete documentation of the source in a Works Cited page at the end of the paper.  You do not need to include works that are not cited in the body of your essay.

As shown in the "MLA Style: How to Format using MS Word" all pages of the essay are numbered. The Works Cited page(s) is the final page(s) of the essay, and on it, there should be the correct page number(s).  Type the words Works Cited at the top of the page, and center it.  Then, list the sources used in the paper, alphabetized by the first word in each source, usually the author's last name.  If a work has no author, alphabetize it by its title. Notice that everything is double spaced. Also, be sure to indent after the first line of each new citation.  

If the source is from the internet or the Web, use all that is available from the following list:

 
  • Author's name
 
  • Title of the short work, in quotation marks
 
  • Title of the web site, underlined (or italicized, just be consistent on which one you use)
 
  • Date of publication or last update
 
  • Sponsor of the site (if not named as the author)
 
  • Date you accessed the source
 
  • The URL in angle brackets

PRACTICE FINDING INFO FOR CITING A WEB PAGE

Copy the following bulleted list above, and use the following web article to fill-in each point: http://www.csicop.org/scienceandmedia/controversy/ You can generally find a lot of the web site information at the bottom of the web page.

 
  • Author's name Matthew Nisbet
 
  • Title of the short work, in quotation marks "The Controversy Over Stem Cell Research and Medical Cloning: Tracking the Rise and Fall of Science in the Public Eye"
 
  • Title of the web site, underlined (or italicized, just be consistent on which one you use) The Committee for Skeptical Inquiry
 
  • Date of publication or last update 2 April 2004
 
  • Sponsor of the site (if not named as the author) The Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (the name of the site is also the name of the sponsoring organization.)
 
  • Date you accessed the source 23 May 2007
 
  • The URL in angle brackets <http://www.csicop.org/scienceandmedia/controversy/>

Usually some of these elements will not be available.  Use as many as you can find. List the items in the order as shown above. Below is a quick, brief, and very short guide on how to actually type this information into your word processor:

Books:

Lastname, Firstname. Title of Book. Place of Publication: Publisher, Year of Publication.

A Page on a Web site:

"Title of Page." NameofWebSite.com. Day Month Year last updated . Day Month Year accessed online

........... <http://www.actualURL>.

 

EXAMPLES OF CITATIONS ON THE WORKS CITED PAGE
*Excerpts taken from the Purdue Online Writing Lab*

Article in Online Magazine

"Business Coalition for Climate Action Doubles." Environmental Defense.. 8 May 2007. Environmental Defense Organization.

..................24 May 2007 <http://www.environmentaldefense.org/article.cfm?ContentID=5828>.

Article from Online Newspaper

Clinton, Bill. Interview. New York Times on the Web. May 2007. 25 May 2007 <http://video.on.nytimes.com/>.

........... Keyword: Climate.

Unknown Author, Page on a Web site

Global Warming. 2007. Cooler Heads Coalition. 24 May 2007 <http://www.globalwarming.org/>.

An Article from a Professional Journal, NOT online:

Gowdy, John. "Avoiding Self-organized Extinction: Toward a Co-evolutionary Economics of Sustainability."

International Journal of Sustainable Development and World Ecology. 14.1 (2007): 27-36.

Click here to see a Works Cited page of the above information.

Finally, here are some very helpful web sites: