How to Cite In MLA

The Modern Language Association Guide has several strict rules regarding citing sources. It is therefore mandatory to follow this guide if you are looking to write any papers or theses using the MLA style. Read on for some tips on how this can be done.

The MLA Style of Writing

The MLA format, short for the Modern Language Association is one of the most popular formats that have been introduced in essay writing today. It is also one of the easiest, resulting in many students opting for it if they had a choice. This format was adopted by the association to give English speaking students a simple yet relevant format which can be used in all forms of writing. This then became one of the correct guidelines given to students who are to prepare essays. It is used for students who write essays in classes like the Humanities, Arts, English Composition, English Literature, Religious studies and History and Anthropology. In order to create a good enough standard for correct grading, this format was adapted for used in several high schools and universities all over.

A person may ask why it is necessary to adopt a particular writing style for academic essays. The answer is simple. Having a writing sequence helps students to structure their essay effectively, and gives the professor an easy way to read and mark the work. The format has been guided for several years using various MLA handbooks. Currently, the eighth edition of the handbook is the one dictating. These formats are given so that students would also know how make citations, make use of end notes and make all references in the final work using a bibliography page ’.

The Accepted MLA Outline of Writing

When writing, there are certain guidelines that any writer should take note of:

  •  Paper: 8.5x11 inches
  •  The content has to have double spaces between each line
  •  Use a font that can easily be read by all.
  •  Margins should be an inch away from all the paper’s edges
  •  An indentation must be made at the opening of paragraphs by half of an inch after margin situated on the left
  •  Add a space at the end of every period and punctuation
  •  The number of pages should be written in the space where the header is, specifically the top right corner of the paper
  •  Italics should be applied when writing titles within the paper especially to emphasize them
  •  Endnotes should be written on a separate sheet before your works cited part of the paper.

Citing In MLA Format

Different sources are cited in different ways, each is unique, so writers need to study these guidelines and incorporate them when putting together a literary work.

When citing works, citations and quotes are made using this rule: Whenever a writer adds a quote or paraphrases a piece of writing based on a source, according to MLA, they are required to give the relevant data that can be used to pinpoint the relevant source in parenthesis along the very line or sentence. What people do is they put in all the data found on the source of the quotation just when the particular sentence ends, in brackets before the full-stop. Sometimes when writing, a situation can crop up whereby it becomes important to write this data at another part of the paper instead of right there after the sentence has ended.

The Works Cited page is also referred to as the bibliography. There, full references of quotes and texts are made and matched with the citations that were made inside your piece of writing. When deciding if to put your source that you are quoting in bracket after the sentence has ended, you should take certain things into consideration, like

  1.  The form of documentation the source is recorded in – whether it is in print form, DVD or web form.
  2.  Whether to put the source one more time in the reference page, and how to have it identified.
  3.  The sources interspersed within the writing correspond to the data set as a reference at that bibliography page. The quote has to be identified using a specific word to serve as your key, or a phrase.

There is the most widely accepted style of citing works within a text. This style requires that any writer citing the work place the original writer’s surname and the very number referencing the page where the quote that was cited is located. After all that, your reference page will carry the information needed for another writer to find that source. You can either paraphrase mentioning the writer’s name in your sentence and then finish off with just the page’s number of reference in brackets, or place the writer’s surname and the number reference of the page side by side in the bracket.

Eg: ‘In his book, Wordsworth mentioned fact that poetic romance in writing had been known for an unrestrained outpouring of emotion. (263)’- paraphrased

“Romantic poetry is characterized by the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings” (Wordsworth 263)- quoted

‘ Wordsworth examined the part of feelings and emotions in creative writing’ (263)- reported

The main idea lies with the writer telling readers that William Wordsworth wrote a book and once you turn to the page 263, a mention has been made of emotions and the effect it has on when writing poetically. Your page carrying all the cited quotes and their references will have full data being:

‘Wordsworth, William. Lyrical Ballads. Oxford UP, 1967’

If the original writer is a prodigy, and the source used has been printed, for instance magazine, an article, a newspaper, or journal, use original writer’s name to match the citation made inside the text to the page where your referenced works are.

If you have an original writer who was corporate, you could opt for the corporations name, then the number of the page, just like how you would used it in the event that the original writer was single. Take care to make use of shortened forms and words for these types of names especially In the event that you have a corporation name that happens to be too long. This then avoids causing breaks in reading making your reader tired and also uncomfortable.

In the event that the writer of the literary work is unknown, feel free to then place an abbreviated or shortened form of the name of the writing using the space where the writer’s actual name would have been. Feel free to quote the name of the writing if the work is short example, an article, or place the name italicized if the work is long, example, a play. Put down the number of the page as well if you are privy to that information. The abbreviated version of the writing’s name is placed in parenthesis just like how you would have done for the author’s name. The quoted writing is what that would be matched to your reference on your bibliography page.

In reference page, what is seen to be done is people can then write everything gathered on the source, stating the date it was written and providing a link if one exists. It is also expedient to add the date the source was accessed.

This usage of parenthesis helps readers to locate which exactly of their sources are found on the page carrying all the cited quotes and works, and their information, and gives them an easy way to find them.

Citing quotes from classic or literary papers which have several editions or sources

When it comes to those classical pieces of writing that have changed over the years, it can be seen that certain quotes might not be available in some editions due to constant changing of that one literary piece. Firstly, it is always important to add the number of the page, although this could be different in other editions. Here lies the quandary. Take care to write down your edition on your bibliography or reference page, together with the page’s number, and add the volume, chapter, and the right paragraph. abbreviations that are used in portraying certain words, especially once the sentence ends are a good way to shorten all that you need to write. Eg: bk. meaning book, vol. in place of volume, pt for part and ch in place of chapter. Further descriptions enable people who own different editions find the very material you were quoting.

If the article you are citing turns out to be a part of a series or group of works, take care to acknowledge the original writer of a source of the specific work found inside the series. This single source ends up therefore, being your main paper where you got the quote from. Then you insert on the page with the bibliography that this source is part of a collection.

How to Go Around Writers Possessing Similar Surnames or Multiple Authors of One Work

When you have a case like this, when the line ends, in brackets, it would be necessary to add far more information to cite a source. If two of the original writers bear a particular surname, in the parentheses, be careful to write down both of their initials when citing them. For instance: (S. Milestone 14) and (T. Milestone 58) speaking for works that have been cited from these writers in one line.

If there happens to be multiple writers, just write them both in the brackets like (Bonnie and Clyde 7). If the original writers are more than two, feel free to put down the leading writer’s surname, then replace all others using ‘et al’.

If your essay requires the quoting of two different works but by one single original writer, you may very well make use of the shorter title of the essay you have chosen to quote. No need to place the writer’s name in both brackets although you might want to state that it was said by said writer as you paraphrase. If you choose not to write the name of the original writer as you paraphrase, and you have begun directly quoting, don’t hesitate to write down the name of the real writer, then your comma, the shortened title name, finishing off with the number of the page where the quote can be found.

The format is as follows:

(Name, Short name of work 76)

This is what is done for the two quotes. Remember, titles of shorter writings are written in quote marks, and the names of bigger works must be italicized.

If you are citing work that has multiple volumes, add the number characterizing the volume you have chosen, a colon, and then add the number reference of the specific page of your quote. It will look like this:

Institutio Oratoria (1: 14-27)

Quoting the Bible and sources that Have Been Quoted Elsewhere

In quoting the Bible, since several translated versions exist, you should state the version chosen , underlined or italicized, then follow up with book in shorter form, the chapter, a period, finally the verse.

Eg ....

(New International Version, Jn. 16.3-4)

If you are using an indirect source, which is the term used to describe sources that are actually placed in another essay or writing, indicate using ‘qtd. in’ before stating the original writer and the number of the page. The abbreviation stands for ‘quoted in’ and can be used for all indirect quotes and sources. However, it is much better to get the origins, source rather than quoting the indirect source, as it speaks more of due diligence. Therefore, when you intend to write, take some time off to find out the different sources quoted and do research on them if you plan to add them to your work.

What to do with Plays, Transcripts and Screenplays

What if your source was an audio, or a transcript and you are not quite sure how to cite it, or it was part of a dialogue witnessed in a play. There are a different set of guidelines catering for such types of works. If it is a dialogue, you would want to start the dialogue with the name of the speaker in capital letters and then indent it like you would a paragraph. Follow the writer’s name with a period after which you will then put down the dialogue. If the dialogue is with several other people, indent each line following the first line for the same writer, then begin a fresh line for each writer. It would be expedient to give spaces between the lines. Feel free to add any stage directions if that’s how the original text was written. You can easily put down the reference in parentheses before the dialogue starts, or rather after. If you choose after, you will put down the act, together with the scene reference as seen in plays.

When preparing an essay, it is entirely based on your prerogative in deciding whether a source must be cited or left out, however, having a writing full of quotes in every second line does not speak well of the ethics, judgment and prudence of the writer. The sources you cite are also mainly dependent on your target audience. Sometimes based on your audience, your source might end up being common knowledge among the people you are writing to. You might need to carefully examine your audience and ask yourself whether quoting this source is of utmost importance to the success of your writing.

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