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English: Using MLA

Library and web resources for English - speech and writing.

About This Page

This page provides information on citing journals, books, websites and other sources using MLA.

Library Resource

MLA Tips

MLA stands for the Modern Language Association.  The MLA also publishes a manual that offers a standard for writers in English and the humanities to use when formatting papers and bibliographies.

The MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers describes how to format your paper, how to cite the resources you use within the body of the paper, and how to create the Works Cited list - the list of sources you used - at the end of the paper.  

There are many online resources to help you with MLA.  These are some we recommend: 

  • OWL - The Online Writing Lab at Purdue University.  
  • Noodlebib  on the RTC Library Database page- This web resource can help you format your MLA reference list. Sign up for an account and this will save your citations for you for up to a year.
  • The Citation Machine - Another web resource to help you format MLA citation lists.  This one won't save your citations.
     

Works Cited

The Works Cited list is the bibliography  - the list of sources you used  for your paper - at the end of your paper.  This is a sample of a Works Cited list:

MLA Works Cited

Creating Citations for the Works Cited List

A Book Citation

These elements go in this order:  The Author's last name, Author's First and Middle Names. Book Title.  City of Publication: Publisher Name, Year of Publication. Format 

Example:
Finer, Kim. Tuberculosis. New York: Columbia UP, 1995. Print. 

A Journal article from an online database

These elements go in this order: The Author's last name, Author's First Name and Middle Initials, Title of the article, Title of the journal, volume, issue (date): pages. Name of the database from which the article was retrieved. Format. Date the item was retrieved.

Example:

Griffith, Richard. “Role of the Law in Controlling the Spread of Tuberculosis.”  Nurse Prescribing 7.7 (2009): 320-324. CINAHL. Web. 6 June 2009. 

An Article from a Paper Journal 

These elements go in this order: The Author's last name, Author's First Name and Middle Initials. Title of the article. Title of the journal, volume issue (date): pages. 

Example:

Henderson, Donald A. “Smallpox: Dispelling the myths.” Bulletin of the World Health Organization 86.12 (2008): 917-19.

A Website

These elements go in this order: The Author's last name, Author's First and Middle Initials. Title of the page. Sponsor of Website. Where retrieved. Date retrieved. (URL, when your instructor requires it, or page can’t be found without it.)

Example:

Clay, Gordon. Menstuff: The national men's resource. National Men’s Resource Center, 2009. Web. 3 November 2009. 


Showing Your Sources Within Your Paper - In-Text Citations

While quoting or paraphrasing a book, journal article, website, or other source in your paper, you need to signal that these words or ideas are not yours.  This is usually done by listing the author’s last name and year at the end of the sentence. This is called in-text citation, because you are citing the work in your text.

Example: It has been noted that “the best known lipids are fats” (Finer 25).


Short Quotes and Long Quotes

Short quotes - Put in double quotation marks, then in parenthesis list the author’s last name and page number.

Example: It has been noted that “the best known lipids are fats” (Finer 25).

Long quotes – For quotes that  take up more than four lines – put in one blank line and then indent one inch from the margin. Do not put in quotation marks.

Example:
 

The text of the paper. This is your writing.  Then comes the long quote.  You include a blank line, indent an inch, and then:

Scientists believe that malaria originated in Africa around 30 million years ago. Human malaria perhaps evolved into its current state along with our anthropoid and early human ancestors, although no one really knows when. There is no record of its presence in Europe until the first century A.D., when it was first recorded in Rome. (Marcus 2004).

After a blank space, the text of paper – your writing - continues.



Paraphrases

Paraphrases are when you use your own words to tell the reader what someone said.  We often do this for clarity or to shorten an explanation.

To show that you are paraphrasing, include the author and page at the end of the sentence, before the period.

Example: Others who have studied the coast believe that dams have limited erosion (Campbell 255).