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Making Sense of MLA
Transcript of Making Sense of MLA
Most of you, at some point in your educational careers, will have to - or already have had to - use MLA format for an essay or other written project.
For any in-text citation,
all you need is
the author's last name
and the page number.
You can introduce the author as part of your sentence, like this:
According to Wormsley, "Culture shock is one of the staples of anthropology" (5).
Or, you can put everything together in parentheses at the end of the sentence:
"Culture shock is one of the staples of anthropology" (Wormsley 5).
Note that the punctuation comes AFTER the parentheses.
If there's no page number - for instance, if you're quoting from an online source - you can just skip that part.
Nominees in the last category "are still being decided based on pilot episodes of upcoming shows" (Block).
That's about it for in-text citations. Now let's talk about the Works Cited page.
First we'll see what it should look like, and then we'll go over how to actually list your sources.
But what does "MLA" actually mean?
MLA is a documentation style developed by the Modern Language Association.
"Documentation style" just means it's a way for students to show where they found the information presented in their work.
Today we'll be focusing on how to cite your sources using MLA format,
let's look at the basic paper layout.
Remember that ALL outside information should be documented. This includes:
someone else's written words
someone else's spoken words
someone else's ideas
if it didn't come from you,
you should cite it.
Why do you think it's so important for students to document their sources?
According to MLA guidelines,
your paper should have:
One-inch margins on all sides
Times New Roman or Arial font, sized 10-12
Half-inch indentations at the beginning of each paragraph
Your last name and the page number in the upper right corner of every page, half an inch from the edge of the page
As well as guidelines on how to cite your sources, MLA has guidelines for how your paper should look.
First let's go over the rules, and then we'll take a look at an example.
Now let's see what all of that actually looks like.
Additionally, your very first page should include
your teacher's name,
the course name and number,
and the due date,
as well as the title of your paper.
That's all you need to know about the layout.
Now let's learn how to cite your sources.
Remember that even if you write outside information in your own words, you're still using someone else's idea.
This is called paraphrasing, and you should still cite it.
This is called a signal phrase.
This is called a parenthetical citation.
Wordsworth extensively explored the role of emotion in the creative process (263).
If the source has two or three authors, list all of them.
The authors state, "Tighter gun control in the United States erodes Second Amendment rights" (Smith, Yang, and Moore 76).
Don't forget the "and" before the last author!
If the source has more than three authors, you can either
list every author
or name only the first author followed by "et al."
Jones et al. counter the argument by noting that the current spike in gun violence in America compels law makers to adjust gun laws (4).
Jones, Driscoll, Ackerson, and Bell counter the argument by noting that the current spike in gun violence in America compels law makers to adjust gun laws (4).
Sometimes, you'll find that you need to edit a quote.
Or, if a quote is very long, but you really only need the first and last parts, you might want to get rid of everything in between.
Here's an example of a long quote:
For instance, if you're trying to fit a quote into your sentence, you might need to change a word or two so that everything makes sense.
You can do this as long as you put brackets around the word you've changed.
He claimed he could provide "hundreds of examples [of court decisions] to illustrate the historical tension between church and state."
There are two places where you'll need to cite your sources.
First, you'll name your sources in your essay. Every piece of outside information will appear next to a source; this is called an in-text citation.
Then, at the very end of your essay, you'll compile a list of ALL the sources you used. This is called a Works Cited page.
Wormsley suggests, "Unlike a Western court, with its litigants, lawyers, jurors and judges, Yombi operates with only the disputants and himself" (85).
Wormsley suggests, "Unlike a Western court, [...] Yombi operates with only the disputants and himself" (85).
To shorten it, replace the deleted section with an ellipses inside brackets, like this:
OR you can write this:
So you can write this:
Block quotes have the following characteristics:
They're usually introduced with a colon.
They don't use quotation marks.
They're indented one full inch to the right.
The parenthetical citation at the end comes AFTER the punctuation.
Now let's take a look at an example.
The entire quote is pushed one full inch to the right of the rest of the text.
There are no quotation marks.
The sentence before it introduces the quote with a colon, rather than a period or comma.
There parenthetical citation is AFTER the period.
The Works Cited page, as mentioned earlier, is a page at the very end of your paper where you list the sources you used in the paper itself. It should:
begin on a new page with its own page number,
have the words "Works Cited" centered at the top,
and include ALL sources in alphabetical order.
It's on its own page, with its own page number.
Note that this page usually does NOT count as part of your total, so if your teacher asks for a four-to-six-page paper, that's four to six pages PLUS your Works Cited.
The words "Works Cited" are centered at the top of the page.
The text is all double-spaced, just like the rest of the paper.
The entries are all in alphabetical order by the author's last name.
Notice that that first line of each entry is close to the edge of the page, and every line after that is indented half an inch - the reverse of a normal paragraph.
This is called "hanging," and it's required of all entries on your Works Cited page.
You can do this in Microsoft Word by right-clicking and selecting Paragraph; then, under Indentation, select Hanging.
Now let's talk about how to set up your Works Cited entries.
Most entries will consist of the following information, in this order:
Place of publication
Type of text
But, of course, there are lots of tiny rules to follow. Let's figure them out by looking at some examples.
Here's an example of an entry for a book with one author. Pay close attention to all the punctuation!
Notice that the names are reversed: last name, then first name.
Because it's a book, the title is in italics.
The word "Print" shows that it was a physically printed source.
Here's an example of a book with multiple authors. Everything is the same except for the names.
Notice that the first name is in reverse order, but the name(s) after that are written regularly.
Here's an example of an entry for a magazine.
This is the title of the specific article you're referencing. It should be in quotation marks.
This is the title of the magazine the article came from. This should be italicized.
These are the pages the article appeared on.
There's no punctuation between the magazine title and the date. Also notice that "March" is abbreviated.
There's a colon between the date and the pages.
Here's an example of an entry for an academic journal.
Here's the title of the article in quotes.
Here's the italicized title of the journal.
The date of publication appears after the volume and issue numbers, and should be in parentheses.
The numbers here represent the volume and issue of the journal you're referencing.
Here's an example of an entry for a personal interview.
It's pretty straightforward; just include the name of the person you interviewed, the words "Personal Interview," and the date the interview was given.
Here's an example of an entry for an online source.
This is the title of the individual page you're referencing.
This is the title of the actual website that page came from.
Instead of "Print," put "Web."
This is the date of publication - the day the information actually went online.
This is the date of access - the day you found the ifnormation.
The title of this entire website is "San Joaquin Delta College."
But the title of this individual page is "About Delta."
If there IS other information missing...
If there's no author listed, just skip to the title.
If there's no date of publication, put "n.d."
Unless there are page numbers, put "n.pag."
MLA also requires that you document the total number of pages referenced for an online entry, but most websites won't list that information. You can just skip this part unless there's other information missing.
If you run into a problem we haven't discussed here, or if you have to cite a type of source we haven't gone over, you can visit Purdue University's Online Writing Lab for an extensive guide on MLA documetation.
Today we've gone over basic MLA guidelines for
and common Works Cited formats.
MLA can seem daunting, but as long as you understand the basics and know where to find the rest, you'll do just fine.
There's an extra line of blank space between each line of text.
The author's last name and the page number appear in the top right corner.
Notice that this is only
HALF an inch from the
upper edge of the page!
The first line of each paragraph is indented half an inch from the rest of the text.
One-inch margins: there's one whole inch of blank space between the text and the edge of the page.
If you can't find a way to shorten the quote, and it takes up four lines or more, you'll need to turn it into a block quote.
your full name
your teacher's name
the due date
Notice that the date is written as
day month year
month day year
which is what we're used to.
The title of the essay should be centered on the page.
Notice that it's only one line below the heading and only one line above the first paragraph - no more than that!
The title should be capitalized but NOT underlined, italicized, bolded, or in quotes.
If there's no author listed, that's okay. Just use the title of the work instead.
North America has "more readily accessible climatic data and more comprehensive programs" ("Impact of Global Warming" 6).
If you've only used one source, this should say "Work Cited" instead.
Let's get some practice.
Look at the sample information on your handout and put it together in the correct order with all the correct punctuation.