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MLA Style Guide

Research Paper Guide (PDF)

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MLA Bibliographic Style: Print Sources

MLA Bibliographic Style: Web and other Non-Print Sources


The following sources are intended to help a student begin research on issues such those which are often studied in English 1010 or 2010. The list is not complete. A student wishing a greater understanding of the library should enroll in Lib 1010, an introductory class in the use of the library.

I. Printed Sources:

A. DSC'S BROWNING LIBRARY ONLINE COMPUTER CATALOG: Books, periodicals, reference works, and audio-visual materials

B. OTHER RESOURCES 1. 10,000 Ideas for Term Papers, Projects, and Reports (at Reference desk in Library) 2. Facts on File 3. Library of Congress Subject Headings 4. Opposing Viewpoints and Taking Sides series 5. General and subject encyclopedias

II. Online Sources

A. EBSCOhost--a collection of some 30+ databases under one search engine

B. LexisNexis

C. ProQuest Newspapers--a computer-accessed guide to magazine and newspaper articles

D. CQResearcher


F.  Global Search--This search engine searches many of DSC's subscription databases all at once.

G. Other Internet resources such as Google (especially Google Scholar and Google Books), and Wikipedia

H.  Digital books are also accessed through ebrary

IV. Human Resources

While our library has a fair selection of books, periodicals, CD-ROM, and online resources, the strength of our library is the group of professional, user-friendly reference librarians who can tell you (or remind you) how to make your searches effective and can suggest a variety of other potential resources. Ask them for help; they will give it.

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"Parenthetical documentation"lets your reader know in the text where borrowed information came from. It replaces the older methods of using endnotes or footnotes. (However, footnotes can still be used to refer your reader to supplementary information.) Simply, you refer to your source by putting essential bibliographic information in parentheses. The simplest, standard method of documentation is to use information which you have used on your note cards: you list the author's last name and the page(s) from which you took information. This is done effectively by introducing the author's name in the introductory tag before the data and then putting the page(s) in parentheses. It can also be done by including both the author's name and the page(s) in parentheses at the end of the paraphrased or quoted data, e.g. (Smith 211). The following pages give more detail on how that is done and variations that may be desired or needed.

1. The purpose of a parenthetical reference is to document a source briefly, clearly, and accurately. Brevity can be accomplished in three ways.

A. Cite the author's last name and the page number(s) of the source in parentheses.

One historian argues that the telephone (and certainly the advertising that lauded its innovations) created "a new habit of mind--a habit of tenseness and alertness, of demanding and expecting immediate results" (Brooks 117-18).

B. Use the author's last name in your sentence and place only the page number(s) of the source in parentheses.

Brooks points out that the telephone (and certainly the advertising that lauded its innovations) created "a new habit of mind--a habit of tenseness and alertness, of demanding and expecting immediate results" (117-18).

C. Give the author's last name in your sentence when you are citing the entire work rather than a specific section or passage and omit any parenthetical references.

Brooks argues that the history of the telephone is characterized by innovations that have changed public attitudes toward technology.

2. When the reference documents a long quotation set off from the text, place it at the end of the passage but after the final period. Long (fifty words or more) indented quotations need no quotation marks; a double-indentation on the left margin denotes a quote. (Note:  instructors may vary on asking for such long quotes to be double-spaced or not.)

Elizabeth Hardwick's memory of the '50's serves as an apt summary of the curiously familiar attitudes of the placid decade: Right after the war, the therapy for all our moral discomforts was the daily recital of the sins of Communism and the Soviet Union, and the subsequent healthy enjoyment of our own virtues, or at least our absent sins. Nothing much was asked of us beyond reminding ourselves how good we were as a people and a system and that we did not need to suffer the infection of despairing self-criticism. (126)

3. Citing a work by an author of two or more works in your Works Cited.

A. If your list of works cited contains two or more titles by the same author, place a comma after the author's last name, add a shortened version of the title of the work, and then supply the relevant page numbers.

Once society reaches a certain stage of industrial growth, it will shift its energies to the production of services (Toffler, Future 221).

B. Another solution is to cite the author's last name and title in your sentence and then add the page numbers in a parenthetical reference.

Toffler argues in The Third Wave that society has gone through two eras (agricultural and industrial) and is now entering another--the information age (26).

4. Citing a work by an author who has the same last name as another author in your Works Cited. When your list contains sources by two or more authors with the same last name, avoid confusion by supplying the author's first name in the parenthetical reference or in your sentence. In the list of works cited, the two authors should be alphabetized according to first name.

Critics have often debated the usefulness of the psychological approach to literary interpretation (Frederick Hoffman 317).

Daniel Hoffman argues that folklore and myth provide valuable insights for the literary critic (9-15).

5. Multiple authors

 A)  If you are citing a book by two authors or three authors, you have the option of naming each author's name in the text or supplying their names in a parenthetical reference to sustain the readability of your sentence.

Boller and Story interpret the Declaration of Independence as Thomas Jefferson's attempt to list America's grievances against England (58).

It is difficult to find clocks with winding chains in small towns in the Southwest (Hickory, Dickory, and Dock 329).

B) When citing a work by four or more authors, list the last name of the first author, followed by et al. ["et al." means "and others"]

Midgley et al. argue that "moral isolationism" is, in fact, an extremely rare phenomenon (29).

6. Citing an indirect source:

If your source quotes or paraphrases another source, let the reader know from whom the data comes originally as well as your own source, as follows:

Einstein said he did not believe in human free will ( Knoebel 537).

7.  Citing a source with no author:

If your source has no author, put a shortened version of the title (in quotes or underlined, as in the Works Cited) in parentheses. Include pages if the original source is paginated; eliminate them if there are none.

The newest cars combine speed with safety ("Breakthrough Speed")

7.    Citing electronic sources:

Most Web sites do not give exact page numbers, and you should not cite the page number shown on your printout. If your electronic source is  not paginated, ordinarily you will cite the work in its entirety. [Some DSC instructors ask that you put (online) at the end of such sources when you identify the source in a signal phrase.]

Joanne Merrian reported on a parody of Shakespeare performed by the Muppets.

[or] Joanne Merrian reported on a parody of Shakespeare performed by the Muppets (online).

It is difficult to harmonize the political successes with the moral lapses of many political leader in the twentieth century ("The Moral Fabric"). [no author]

The article "Just Deserts" [no author] points out that the main punishment for bigamy is having two mothers-in-law.

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Copyright (C)2010 by Ed Reber (email: All rights reserved. This document may be distributed as long as it is done entirely with all attributions to organizations and authors. Commercial distribution is strictly prohibited. Portions of this document may be copyrighted by other organizations.


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