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Purdue University Writing Lab Using MLA Format

Purdue University Writing Lab Using MLA Format Purdue University Writing Lab Why Use MLA Format? Allows readers to cross-reference your sources easily.

Jan 12, 2016



Chloe Cannon
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  • Using MLA Format

  • Why Use MLA Format?Allows readers to cross-reference your sources easilyProvides consistent format within a disciplineGives you credibility as a writerProtects yourself from plagiarism

  • Cross-Referencing Your SourcesCross-referencing allows readers to locate the publication information of source material. This is of great value for researchers who may want to locate your sources for their own research projects.

  • Using a Consistent FormatUsing a consistent format helps your reader understand your arguments and the sources theyre built on. It also helps you keep track of your sources as you build arguments.

  • Establishing CredibilityThe proper use of MLA style shows the credibility of you as a writer; MLA documentation gives credit to your source material.

  • Avoiding PlagiarismProper citation of your sources in MLA style can help you avoid plagiarism, which is a serious offense. It may result in anything from failure of the assignment to expulsion from school.

  • Where Do I Find MLA Format Guidelines?MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, 5th ed. (On Bb)Composition textbookswww.mla.orgMarkels Technical Communication textUMBC Writing Center

  • MLA Style: Two PartsWorks Cited Page Parenthetical Citations

  • Works Cited PageA complete list of every source that you make reference to in your essayProvides the information necessary for a reader to locate and retrieve any sources cited in your essay.

  • A Sample Works Cited PageSmith 12Works Cited

    Dickens, Charles. Bleak House. 1852-1853. New York: Penguin,


    ---. David Copperfield. 1849-1850. New York: Houghton Mifflin

    Company, 1958.

    Miller, J. Hillis. Charles Dickens: The World and His Novels.

    Bloomington: U of Indiana P, 1958.

    Zwerdling, Alex. Esther Summerson Rehabilitated. PMLA 88 (May

    1973): 429-439.

  • Works CitedMost citations should contain the following basic information:Authors nameTitle of workPublication information

  • Works Cited: Some ExamplesBookByatt, Alan. Babel Tower. New York: Random House, 1996.Article in a MagazineKlein, Joe. Dizzy Days. The New Yorker 5 Oct. 1998: 40-45.Web pagePoland, Dave. The Hot Button. Roughcut. 26 Oct. 1998. Turner Network Television. 28 Oct. 1998 .

  • Works Cited ListA newspaper articleTommasini, Anthony. Master Teachers Whose Artistry Glows in Private. New York Times 27 Oct. 1998: B2.

    A source with no known authorCigarette Sales Fall 30% as California Tax Rises. New York Times 14 Sept. 1999: A17.

  • Works Cited ListA TV interviewMcGwire, Mark. Interview with Matt Lauer. The Today Show. NBC. WTHR, Indianapolis. 22 Oct. 1998.

    A personal interviewMellencamp, John. Personal interview. 27 Oct. 1998.

  • Works CitedWhat other types of sources might you need to list on your Works Cited page?

    Study the basics of MLA citation format. When something odd comes up, look it up.

  • When Should You Use Parenthetical Citations?When quoting any words that are not your ownQuoting means to repeat another source word for word, using quotation marks

  • When Should You Use Parenthetical Citations?When summarizing facts and ideas from a sourceSummarizing means to take ideas from a large passage of another source and condense them, using your own wordsWhen paraphrasing a sourceParaphrasing means to use the ideas from another source but change the phrasing into your own words

  • When Should You Use Parenthetical Citations?When making claims about groups, including what a person supposedly believesAmericans today dont care about family values.Men are more aggressive than women.People are more liberal now than they were twenty years ago.Women dont typically play violent video games.When you mention a study or researchResearch has shown, Studies prove, etc.When mentioning information that is not common knowledge Fifty-two weeks are in a year. The U.S. entered World War II after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.The state bird of Louisiana is the brown pelican. Ask yourself: Is this information an indisputable fact that can be found in at least five separate reference sources?When listing statistics, including most numbers, dates, figures, etc.Alaska has more gun owners than any other state.Twenty percent of Marylanders receive government aid.

  • Keys to Parenthetical CitationsReadabilityKeep references brief Give only information needed to identify the source on your Works Cited pageDo not repeat unnecessary information

  • Handling Quotes in Your TextAuthors last name and page number(s) of quote must appear in the textRomantic poetry is characterized by the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings (Wordsworth 263).Wordsworth stated that Romantic poetry was marked by a spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings (263).

  • Handling Parenthetical CitationsSometimes more information is necessaryMore than one author with the same last name(W. Wordsworth 23); (D. Wordsworth 224)More than one work by the same author(Joyce, Portrait 121); (Joyce, Ulysses 556)Citing indirect sources (Johnson qtd. in Boswell 2:450)

  • Handling Parenthetical CitationsIf the source has no known author, then use an abbreviated version of the title:Full Title: California Cigarette Tax Deters SmokersCitation: (California A14)If the source is only one page in length or is a web page with no apparent pagination:Source: Dave Polands Hot Button web columnCitation: (Poland)

  • Handling Long QuotationsDavid becomes identified and defined by James Steerforth, a young man with whom David is acquainted from his days at Salem House. Before meeting Steerforth, David accepts Steerforths name as an authoritative power:There was an old door in this playground, on which the boys had a custom of carving their names. . . . In my dread of the end of the vacation and their coming back, I could not read a boys name, without inquiring in what tone and with what emphasis he would read, Take care of him. He bites. There was one boya certain J. Steerforthwho cut his name very deep and very often, who I conceived, would read it in a rather strong voice, and afterwards pull my hair. (Dickens 68)For Steerforth, naming becomes an act of possession, as well as exploitation. Steerforth names David for his fresh look and innocence, but also uses the name Daisy to exploit David's romantic tendencies (Dyson 122).

  • Potential problemsFreestanding (naked) quotesYou must introduce the quotation with some of your own words!!Parenthetical words that do not match a Works Cited entryThe word/words in the parentheses must match perfectly with the left side of a works cited entry

  • Potential problems:Freestanding quotesIncorrectSixty percent of Americans watch more than ten hours of TV per week (Smith 2).CorrectAs Smith writes, Sixty percent of Americans watch more than ten hours of TV per week(2).

  • Smith 12Works Cited

    Cigarette Sales Fall 30% as California Tax Rises. New York Times 14

    Sept. 1999: A17.

    Dickens, Charles. Bleak House. 1852-1853. New York: Penguin,


    ---. David Copperfield. 1849-1850. New York: Houghton Mifflin

    Company, 1958.

    Miller, J. Hillis. Charles Dickens: The World and His Novels.

    Bloomington: U of Indiana P, 1958.

    Poland, Dave. The Hot Button. Roughcut. 26 Oct. 1998. Turner Network

    Television. 28 Oct. 1998 .

  • Potential problems:Matching parenthetical information to a Works Cited entrySample Works Cited entry: Cigarette Sales Fall 30% as California Tax Rises. New York Times 14 Sept. 1999: A17.What information should the parenthetical citation include?In one study, researchers determined that higher taxes brought a decrease in cigarette sales (Cigarette A17).

  • Where can you go for additional help with MLA documentation?UMBC Writing CenterAsk meKnight CitationsMLA HandbookYour Technical Communication book

    Purdue University Writing Lab

    Rationale: Welcome to Cross-referencing: Using MLA Format. This presentation is designed to introduce your students to the purposes of documentation, as well as methods for effectively using parenthetical citations and a Works Cited page. The twenty-two slides presented here are designed to aid the facilitator in an interactive presentation of strategies for using MLA style. This presentation is ideal for the beginning of a research unit in a humanities course or any assignment that requires MLA documentation.This presentation may be supplemented with OWL handouts, including Using MLA Format. (, Paraphrase: Write It in Your Own Words (, Quoting, Paraphrasing, and Summarizing (, and Avoiding Plagiarism (

    Directions: Each slide is activated by a single mouse click, unless otherwise noted in bold at the bottom of each notes page.

    Writer and Designer: Jennifer Liethen KunkaContributors: Muriel Harris, Karen Bishop, Bryan Kopp, Matthew Mooney, David Neyhart, and Andrew KunkaDeveloped with resources courtesy of the Purdue University Writing LabGrant funding courtesy of the Multimedia Instructional Development Center at Purdue University Copyright Purdue University, 2000.Key Concepts: This slide allows the facilitator to explain the purposes for using MLA documentation. MLA format provides writers with a system for cross-referencing their sourcesfrom their parenthetical references to their works cited page. This cross-referencing system allows readers to locate the publication information of source material. This is of great value for researchers who may want to locate your sources for their own research projects. The proper use of MLA style also shows the credibility of writers; such writers show accountability to their source material. Most importantly, the use of MLA style can protect writers from accusations of plagiarismthe purposeful or accidental use of source material by other writers without giving appropriate credit. The next slide provides additional information on plagiarism.

    Click to reveal each item.This slide explains the importance of cross-reference your sources.

    It may be helpful to discuss this in terms of a community. Writers of research papers enter a community of reseachers by sharing the sources theyve found.Using APA properly will allow you to communicate more effectively with other researchers who also use APA. When a style is used consistently, others can easily find where youve listed your resources.This slide explains how using APA can establish your credibility as a researcher.Key Concepts: Plagiarism is a serious offense in the university system, and may result in punishments ranging from failure of the assignment, failure of the course, or expulsion from school.

    There is a handout on OWL about plagiarism and can be found at

    Click to reveal each item.

    Key Concepts: There are many rules for following MLA format, and the facilitator should stress that it is nearly impossible to memorize them all. Students best course of action is to utilize the official MLA handbook or the MLA section in an updated composition textbook as guides for properly using the documentation format. Since the Modern Language Association, a professional group of English and Foreign Language professors and instructors, periodically updates the guide, students should be certain that they are using the most current information possible. The most recent edition of the MLA guide was published in 1999. The MLA web site at also provides some limited information on recent changes to the guide. There are other resources for finding current information on MLA format. The Purdue University Writing Lab has a printable handout on MLA style at its web site: The web site also provides other links for MLA style information on the web. For quick questions on MLA format, students can also call the Writing Lab Grammar Hotline at 494-3723.

    Click to reveal each item.Rationale: This slide establishes the two areas of MLA documentation, the Works Cited page and parenthetical citations.Key Concepts: This slide explains the purpose of a works cited page. Students may also understand this to be called the bibliography page. The facilitator may stress that each source referenced within the paper should also appear on the works cited page. The works cited page appears at the end of the paper.Key Concepts: This slide offers students a sample of what a Works Cited page looks like.* For this particular paper, four sources were used. The first and second sources are reprints of earlier published novels, hence the use of the two dates. The second source has three dashed lines in place of the author, Charles Dickens. This is to indicate that the same author wrote both concurrently listed works. The third source is a book published in 1958. Note the abbreviations for University and Press. The fourth source is an article from a continually paginated journal.The facilitator may choose to explain the form of this page. Note that Works Cited is centered at the top. All sources are double spaced and alphabetized according to author. All lines after the first line of an entry should be indented five spaces. The facilitator may also choose to reference students to the final pages on the Writing Lab MLA handout, which also offers a sample Works Cited.

    * From I am Born: The Birth of Identity in David Copperfield and Bleak House by Jennifer L. Kunka, Purdue University (unpublished manuscript).Rationale: This slide shows the basic information needed for entries on the works cited page.Examples: This slide provides examples of a few commonly used citation formats. The web page example will prove to be the most confusing for students (particularly because MLA just released information on citing web pages). The web page example lists the authors name (if available), the title of the article in quotation marks, the title of the web site underlined or italicized, the date of publication, the publisher, the date information was accessed by the user, and the web address in brackets. Students may not find all of this information when they look at a web page, particularly the authors name, the date, and the publisher. The facilitator should remind students that they should list in order the information that they do have.

    Click to reveal each example.Examples: This slide offers examples of citations for a newspaper article and for a source (in this case, a newspaper article) with no author. The facilitator might ask students how to alphabetize a source with no author within a Works Cited page. They should alphabetize according to their next best piece of information--here, the first word of the article, Cigarette.

    Click to reveal each example.Examples: Interviews can be tricky to cite on a Works Cited page. The facilitator may wish to remind students to list the name of the person being interviewed first. For the TV interview example, Mark McGuire was interviewed by news anchor Matt Lauer on The Today Show. In the second example, John Mellencamp was interviewed in person by the writer of the paper.

    Click to reveal each example.Activity: This slide allows participants a moment to ask questions of the facilitator. If students are working on a research assignment, they may have specific questions that pertain to their own papers. The facilitator may answer questions using the MLA Handbook or the MLA handout from the Writing Lab. Key Concepts: The next two slides explain the occasions in which MLA citations will be necessary, as well as explains the differences between quoting, summarizing, and paraphrasing. Students will be most familiar with the need to site for quotations, but the facilitator should stress that if the idea comes from someone else, the source material should be cited.Key Concepts: This slide explains explains the differences between summarizing and paraphrasing. The facilitator may stress that if the idea comes from someone else, the source material should be cited.

    Click to reveal each item.How can you tell if something is common knowledge? Common knowledge is information that the majority of people either know or can find in a number of sources. Common knowledge is factual information that is beyond dispute. Sure, you might not remember (or ever have known) what Georgia's state bird is, but you can easily look it up in an almanac, encyclopedia, the state's Web site, or other resource. Key Concepts: This slide emphasizes the need to keep parenthetical citations within a paper brief. The information provided in the body of the paper should be just enough so that a reader could easily cross-reference the citation with its matching entry on the Works Cited page. The following slides give examples of how to use parenthetical references.

    Click to reveal each item.Examples: The two examples in this slide illustrate methods for including parenthetical citations in the text. If the authors name is listed in the preceding sentence, only the page number of the quotation should appear in the parenthetical citation following the sentence. If the authors name does not appear within the sentence, the parenthetical citation should include the authors last name and the page number. In either case, a reader should be able to cross-reference back to the Works Cited page and locate all of the publication information needed to find Wordsworths work, in this case an excerpt in an anthology:

    Wordsworth, William. Preface to Lyrical Ballads. 1802. Romanticism: An Anthology. Ed. Duncan Wu. Cambridge, MA: Basil Blackwell Ltd., 1995. 250-69.

    The facilitator may also note that the parenthetical reference is located before the period.Examples: This slide demonstrates variations on the parenthetical reference. The first example distinguishes a work by William Wordsworth from a book by Dorothy Wordsworth by including the first initial. The second example distinguishes passages from James Joyces Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man from his later book, Ulysses. If a work has more than one volume, as in the third example, the citation should include a volume number followed by a colon and the page number. Finally, if the quotation used is quoted within another authors work, both writers need to be listed in the citation. In the fourth example, the writer used a quote by Samuel Johnson from Boswells book (the second volume). Johnson was quoted (qtd.) in Boswell in Volume 2, page 450.

    Click to reveal each item.Examples: This slide provides information about additional variations on the parenthetical reference. The first example demonstrates how to handle sources with no author. In this case, the newspaper article title is listed in quotation marks. If this was the title of a book, however, California would be italicized within the parenthetical reference. The second example illustrates a citation for a one-page article or a web page. Because the size and number of printed web pages varies greatly from computer to computer, a page number is not a stable reference. Therefore, page numbers are omitted from the reference. The facilitator may also wish to note that the URL/web address should NOT be listed within the body of the paper--only on the Works Cited page.

    Click to reveal each item.Example: This slide illustrates the handling of a long quotation in a paper about Dickens David Copperfield, A long quotation is defined by MLA as being longer than four typed lines in the paper. A long quotation requires a special format; it should be indented ten spaces on the left, and the parenthetical citation should go after the period. There are no quotation marks around a long quote because the indention already indicates it as such. Note, however, the quotation marks around Take care of him. He bites. These appear just as they do in the book. If this section was reduced to a short quote and placed within the regular body of the paper, those quotation marks should be changed to single quotes. The facilitator should note that everything should be double spaced consistently. The final sentence of the passage is an idea paraphrased from Dyson and is cited with name and page number.

    * From I am Born: The Birth of Identity in David Copperfield and Bleak House by Jennifer L. Kunka, Purdue University (unpublished manuscript).

    Rationale: As the presentation concludes, the facilitator can remind students that they can come to the Writing Lab for extra help with MLA style.

    Click mouse after the title question.