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Modern Language Association (MLA) Writing Style Workshop Tomás Rivera Center.

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Presentation on theme: "Modern Language Association (MLA) Writing Style Workshop Tomás Rivera Center."— Presentation transcript:

1 Modern Language Association (MLA) Writing Style Workshop Tomás Rivera Center

2 What we will cover today General manuscript instructions Grammar guidelines Citations in text Quotations in text Works Cited page Writing suggestions

3 General Instructions for Preparing the Paper Manuscript Typeface (12-pt Times New Roman) Double Spacing Margins (1 in. all sides) Your last name preceding the page number (upper right-hand corner)

4 General Instructions, cont. Title Page – MLA format does not require a title page – Check with your instructor for specific formatting guidelines – The first page of your paper should include the following in the upper left hand corner: Your name Your instructor’s name The course title The date

5 First… Grammar guidelines for MLA papers

6 Commas Use in series of three or more items – The height, width, or depth. Use to set off nonessential clauses – George W. Bush, who was at the summit… DO NOT USE before an essential clause – George W. Bush attended the summit that took place in St. Petersburg.

7 Semicolons Use to separate two independent clauses that are not joined by a conjunction – The Germans laid the groundwork for electronic pop music; artists like The Human League and Gary Numan helped bring it into the mainstream. Use to separate elements in a series that already contain commas – Classic Universal horror movies include Dracula, starring Bela Lugosi; Frankenstein, starring Boris Karloff; and The Wolf Man, starring Lon Chaney, Jr.

8 Semicolons, cont. Use when connecting clauses with a conjunctive adverb or transitional phrase – Walt Whitman documented America during the Civil War; however, he did not serve as a soldier. – The lottery winner showed little gratitude; on the contrary, he expected more money than he received.

9 Colons Use after an independent clause to indicate a list, an appositive, or a quotation – The grocery list includes the following: eggs, bread, and milk. – We came home from the hike wanting two things: food and sleep. – Remember the words of Franklin D. Roosevelt: “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

10 Quotation Marks Periods and commas belong INSIDE quotation marks. Colons and semicolons belong OUTSIDE quotation marks. Question marks and exclamation points belong inside quotation marks unless they apply to the sentence rather than the quote. – Mary asked, “Where has all the cake gone?” – Do you believe “all’s well that ends well”?

11 Quotation Marks, cont. Use quotation marks to enclose direct quotations. – The mayor declared, “The votes have been counted.” Use single quotation marks to set off a quotation within a quotation. – Emily replied, “The state motto of New Hampshire, ‘Live free or die,’ reminds me of the spirit of America.”

12 Quotation Marks, cont. Use to indicate titles of journal and magazine articles, newspaper articles, poems, short stories, songs, television episodes, and book chapters or subdivisions. – The choir sang “America the Beautiful.” – The newspaper headline read, “No Rain in Sight.” – “Ulysses,” Tennyson’s epic poem, recounted Odysseus's journey home from the Trojan War. Use to set off structurally independent elements. – The voting patterns were dramatically different (see Figure 5).

13 Parentheses Use to introduce abbreviations. – The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Use to set off structurally independent elements. – The voting patterns were dramatically different (see Figure 5).

14 Brackets Use to enclose parenthetical material that is already within parentheses Use to enclose material inserted in a quotation by some person other than the original writer – “when [his own and others’] behaviors were studied” (Hanisch 24).

15 Capitalization Capitalize major words in titles and headings. Capitalize the first word after a colon or dash in a title. Capitalize proper nouns and trade names.

16 Capitalization, cont. Capitalize the first word after a colon if it begins an independent clause. – The race ended in a tie: The leader stumbled near the finish line. Capitalize the first word of a quoted sentence—do NOT capitalize the first word of a quoted phrase. – Mark declared, “Art is essential to humanity.” – In the twenty-first century, art remains “essential to humanity.”

17 Abbreviations Use sparingly Do not use etc.; explain what you mean

18 Numbers (MLA p.) Spell out numbers containing one or two words. – Forty-four, not 44. Use figures for numbers that contain more than two words. – 530, not five hundred and thirty. If your sentence begins with a number, spell it out. – Twelve people sat on the jury.

19 Numbers, cont. Use figures to express: – Dates – Percentages – Addresses – Exact amounts of money – Time of day – Scores – Surveys and statistics

20 Next up… In-text citations

21 Citations in Text One Author: – According to Smith, “The end is nigh” (34). – As one author declares, “The end is nigh” (Smith 34). Two or Three Authors: – Smith and Jones concur that “the end is nigh” (57). – Both authors concur that “the end is nigh” (Smith and Jones 57).

22 Citations in Text, cont. Four or More Authors: – Name all authors or the first author followed by “et al.” Smith, Jones, Barnaby, and Fish surveyed the participants (56). The scientists surveyed the participants (Smith et al. 56).

23 Citations in Text, cont. Source quoted in another source – According to Ballard, “The future will not be violent or exciting, but merely average” (qtd. in Smithburg C17). Dictionary or encyclopedia – The word anorexic has a Latin root (“Anorexic”).

24 Citations in Text, cont. Anonymous or No Author – If short, use complete title. Anorexia affects an alarming number of teenage girls (“Anorexia Blues”). – If long, truncate title. Although horror films have decreased in popularity, they still attract a small, dedicated audience (“You Can’t Kill…”). Two or More Titles By The Same Author – Mention title of work in text or include short version of title in parentheses.

25 Third topic… In-text quotations

26 Quotations in Text If a quotation has four or fewer typed lines, enclose it within quotation marks and insert it within the essay text. – Williams asserts, “Eight out of ten Americans admit to believing in ghosts” (69).

27 Quotations in Text, cont. If the quote is longer than four typed lines, use block quote formatting. – Black found the following: The “bystander effect” is a dangerous symptom of social apathy. The most infamous case occurred in 1964 when Kitty Genovese was stabbed to death in front of approximately 40 witnesses; despite her repeated cries for help, no one assisted her. (276)

28 Quotations in Text, cont. When omitting material within a quote, use an ellipsis mark. – McNab relays that “when the amount of interest on a loan rises …, consumers are less likely to borrow” (76). When inserting material, enclose in brackets. – The researchers contend that “[women] tend to seek information while men tend to give information” (Smith and Jones 34).

29 Fourth topic… The Works Cited Page

30 Works Cited Journal Article: – Masters, Edna. “Flora and Fauna.” Botanical Quarterly 45.7 (2005): Book: – Tombs, Peter. Immoral Tales. New York: Doubleday, Internet Source: – Elmira, Vivian. “Perfumes of The World.” Scents and Sensibility. 13 June July Remember to tab the second line of each entry or use the “hanging indent” format on Microsoft Word.

31 Works Cited Article in an anthology: – Johnson, Robert. “Fear in The Western World.” New World Politics. Ed. Rosemary Finklestein. Chicago: Random House, Book with an editor: – Poe, Edgar Allan. The Complete Works. Ed. Jonas Salkerman. New York: Harcourt, 2000.

32 Works Cited English translation of a book: – Ng, Lee. Vietnamese Diaries. Trans. Mary Whitehead. New York: Scarsdale Press, 2003.

33 Works Cited More examples of Internet sources: Document, no author identified, no publishing date: “Buddha Smoked My Cigarettes.” Religion Today. 12 April *NOTE: The date above refers to the date of access, not the publishing date.

34 Works Cited Personal Interview: – Simon, Paul. Personal interview. 24 July Film or Video: – Crash. Dir. David Cronenberg. Perf. James Spader, Holly Hunter, and Rosanna Arquette. New Line, Lecture/Public Address: – Edwards, John. “Education Initiatives to End Poverty.” Laurie Auditorium, Trinity University. San Antonio, Texas. 12 April 2006.

35 FINAL topics to help you…

36 Writing Suggestions A note on passive voice: – In some instances, passive voice is permissible. For example, if you wish to emphasize the receiver of the action and minimize the importance of the actor, use passive voice. The control group was administered a placebo. – However, overuse of passive voice weakens your essay and leads to wordiness; use the active voice whenever possible.

37 Other places to find assistance UTSA Tomas Rivera Center (TRC) – UTSA Library – de.html Research & Documentation Website by Diana Hacker (includes sample paper) –

38 Thank You! Any questions?


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