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MLA Documentation Style

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1 MLA Documentation Style
Sandra Pesce, Librarian San Diego Miramar College

2 What We’re Going to Do What: This tutorial will cover the basics of in-text and Works Cited page citations using the Modern Language Association’s guidelines, often referred to as “MLA Style.” Why: Your instructors may require you to follow this style (or something similar) when you quote other authors in your papers. Also, it gives your papers a consistent look, and makes it easier for your readers to understand what you’ve written. How: Explanations and active links will guide you through this tutorial.

3 What’s a Citation? No, we’re not talking about a parking ticket or a moving violation. A citation is a brief description of an information source (like an article, book, or web site). It includes such items as: the author’s name, article title, publication title, volume, issue, page(s), and date of publication.

4 What is a Style? A style is a set of guidelines or a template for formatting the citations of sources you’ve come across in your research and used in your term paper. Using a style communicates to your reader that you used other people’s work to support your findings, and makes it easy for your reader to find the sources you used.

5 Why Styles? When you use a style, you apply specific design rules to your paper. In doing so, you give your paper: Uniformity: For example, all in-text citations are enclosed in parentheses, with the author name followed by a page number: (Smith 48). Consistency: For example, titles of all journal articles are enclosed in quotation marks. Readability: For example, your reader always knows to look in the same part of a citation for author names. Authenticity: The better you describe your sources, the better you can prove to your reader they are real. Reliability: Your reader can find the full text of the exact source you used, to read it for herself.

6 Life Without A Style Guide
Have you ever tried to bake a cake from scratch without a recipe? What you finally end up with may confuse your audience. ? ? ?

7 What is MLA? The Modern Language Association is a group of English and foreign language teachers. Its style guide, the MLA Handbook For Writers of Research Papers, is used by many teachers as a standard for research papers. Many other style guides exist, including the American Psychological Association (APA) and the Chicago Manual of Style. More style guides are found at: .

8 Vocabulary Here are some major concepts to keep in mind:
In-text Citation in the body of your paper Works Cited Citation at the end of your paper Formatting how the text looks Punctuation where the markings go Capitalization thE importanCe of BeiNg cOnsiStenT Citation Machine when to use one

9 In-Text Citation This citation appears in the body of your paper.
Parts of an in-text citation include: Optional signal phrase: author’s name Required parenthetical citation: (page number in parentheses) Here’s an example with a signal phrase: According to Sharon Brodie, energy drinks could be harmful to young children and exposure should be minimized (C3). Here’s an example without a signal phrase, putting author’s last name and page number in parentheses: “Energy drinks could be harmful to young children and exposure should be minimized (Brodie C3).”

10 Works Cited Citation This citation is found at the end of your paper, on a separate page, called the Works Cited page. This citation gives full information about the source used in the body of your text. The format of this citation will vary depending on the source (book, article, web site), which is why a style guide is necessary. Here’s the full citation for the sample in the previous slide: Brodie, Sharon. “To Your Health: Be Cautious of Energy Drinks.”  Maryland Gazette  [Glen Burnie, Md.] 12  Oct. 2005, C3.  ProQuest Newsstand. ProQuest.  San Diego Miramar College Library/LRC, San Diego, CA. 14 Nov <>.

11 Formatting Matters All text on the Works Cited page should be in the same font family and size. If you copy and paste citations from web pages or other documents, make sure your end product looks uniform by doing the following: copy the selected text from a document; go to your new Works Cited page and use Paste Special and pick “unformatted text;” once you’ve pasted a whole page of citations together like this, you can Select All and reformat the whole page at one time instead of each individual citation as you go.

12 Punctuation Punch Make sure periods, commas, and colons are all in the correct place. Check the location of any special characters, like <angle brackets> around URLs. Always end the citation with a period. When in doubt, check your work against examples in a style guide!

13 Capitalization Per MLA style, you should capitalize the first letter of: an author’s first and last name, the first word of a work’s title, major words (not articles like: a, an, the) within the title of a work, the publisher name, the place of publication.

14 Citation Machine Some electronic article databases,
like ProQuest, have a really neat feature that will create citations automatically. You tell it what style guide to use and it will pull the descriptive information from the article for you and build the citation. Each product does this differently, so check the help screens in the product you are using. Most importantly, be sure to compare the finished product against a real style guide. A citation machine is helpful when you don’t know what information is relevant to put into the citation, however, you still need to check the accuracy of the citation formatting against a style guide.

15 Take a Closer Look Go to the following web site to see a sample paper: Open the sample humanities paper. Look at the overall formatting of the manuscript, including margins, line spacing, indents, capitalization, and punctuation. Look at the in-text citations. Look at the Works Cited page.

16 Further Information: Books
MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers. By Joseph Gibaldi, 6th Edition. Important Chapters: Chapter 4: Format of the Research Paper Chapter 5: Preparing the List of Works Cited Table of contents Sample citations Chapter 6: Citing Sources in the Text Table of Contents Sample references Appendix B: Endnotes & Footnotes Research and Documentation in the Electronic Age By Diana Hacker, 3rd Edition. Important Chapters: Part IV: Documentation Styles In-Text Citations Directory Sample citations/references List of Works Cited/References Manuscript Format Sample Paper Companion Web Site:

17 Further Information: Web Sites
Companion to Research and Documentation This site has citation examples and sample papers. Purdue University OWL This site has more detail on MLA format. Chapman University Libraries page This site has links to citation machines and style guides.

18 Activity Have Fun! How much do you remember from this tutorial?
Match wits with the computer and find out! Go to Rags to Riches (Clicking the link will open a new window.) Have Fun!

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