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12.2: An Abbreviated Guide to MLA Style

  • Page ID
    6546
  • Parenthetical Citation

    MLA style uses “parenthetical citation” instead of footnotes or endnotes to indicate within the text the source of a quote or a paraphrase.  There should be enough information within the parenthetical citation to help your reader locate the complete bibliographic information on your “works cited” page.

    In MLA style, it’s best to weave parenthetical citations into the flow of the sentence—avoid merely “dropping” citations into the text that disrupt it.  Also, be sure that the parenthetical citation information clearly refers to the material you are citing.  See Chapter Three, “Quoting and Paraphrasing Your Research,” for suggestions on how to do this effectively.

    Author in a phrase

    Whenever possible, incorporate the name of the author into the sentence and note the page number in the parentheses.  Use the author’s full name on the first reference, and the author’s last name on each subsequent reference.

    Example \(\PageIndex{1}\):

    Sara Baase writes in A Gift of Fire “The desire for the advantages of small community life ... is prompting many professionals and knowledge workers to move to small towns” (296).

    Author in the citation

    When you don’t name the author in the sentence, you need to include it in the parenthetical citation.

    Example \(\PageIndex{2}\):

    Still, many people “prefer city life for its vibrancy and career and social opportunities” (Baase 296).

    Two or three authors

    Name all of the authors, preferably in the sentence, but if not, in the parenthetical citation. Use the authors’ full names on the first reference, and the authors’ last names on each subsequent reference.

    Example \(\PageIndex{3}\):

    As David D. McKenny, Werner M. Newhausser, and David Julius explain, while we know a lot about how people detect heat, “little is known about how we detect cold” (52).

    Group or corporate author

    If the text is the product of a group, a committee, a corporation, etc., use the group or corporate author as you would an author name.

    Example \(\PageIndex{4}\):

    According to the National Research Council’s report Inland Navigation System Planning, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers finds itself between those advocating for commerce and those wanting to protect the environment (ix).

    Unknown author

    Use the title of the work or a shortened version of it instead of the author’s name.  Generally speaking, you should avoid using phrases like “anonymous” or “unknown author.”

    Example \(\PageIndex{5}\):

    As reported in the article “TV Dropped from Medicare Bill,” ...

    Author of two or more pieces of evidence in your project

    It’s not uncommon to cite different works from the same author in an essay.  When this happens, you need to make it clear in your citation which work you are quoting.

    Example \(\PageIndex{6}\):

    The Financial Services Information Sharing and Analysis Center was designed to combat cybercrime (Markoff, “New Center,” C-2).

    Work in an anthology

    When you quote a work that is reprinted in an anthology, use the name of the author of the work (not the name of the editor) and the page numbers from the anthology.  In your Works Cited page, you will note the name of the editor and the anthology.

    Example \(\PageIndex{7}\):

    Lehan connects the character Gatsby with other myths of man-god figures, both as seen through his eyes and the eyes of other characters (80-1).

    Indirect source

    An indirect quote is when you quote from a piece of evidence where that writer is quoting someone else.  To properly cite indirect quotes, use the abbreviation “qtd.” in the parenthetical citation to explain the source of the indirect quote.

    Example \(\PageIndex{8}\):

    Steve Miller said “I have no financial incentive to kid you about anything” (qtd. in Naughton 24).

    A work without a page number (including Web sites)

    This would include quotations and paraphrases from a Web site or other Internet source, from a television show, a radio program, and so forth.  On the first reference to this sort of evidence, try to work an explanation of the source within the sentence itself to make it clear why you aren’t noting a page number.  

    Example \(\PageIndex{9}\):

    “The Term Hacker,” according to Susan Brenner’s web site Cybercrimes.net, “also tends to connote membership in the global community defined by the net.”

     

    The CNN web site reported about a recent international conference about Internet crime in the article “World cybercrime experts see need for laws, ties.”

    You should also use this approach when you are citing newspaper, journal, or other types of articles that originally appeared in a “traditional” print source but that you discovered through a Web site or a database that did not note page numbers.  This can make for some awkward phrasing, but it is important to indicate that the version of the text you are using is not paper-based but is Web-based.

    Example \(\PageIndex{10}\):

    According to Robert Pear in his 1999 article “Drug Companies Getting F.D.A. Reprimands for False or Misleading Advertising,” available through the New York Times Web Site, “The Federal Government has repeatedly reprimanded drug companies” for making false claims in their ads.

    On references after the first one to the evidence, refer to it by the last name of the author. 

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