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Humanities & Social Sciences
MLA Style Sheet for Term Paper Citations
Note: A PDF Version of this page is also available.
The Modern Language Association (MLA) provides citation guidelines for preparing research papers and scholarly manuscripts. These guidelines include parenthetical citation within a written work and a Works Cited page, both of which allow writers to accurately quote and paraphrase sources. MLA style is used in a range of disciplines, primarily in the humanities. Other prominent styles include those from the American Psychological Association (APA) and the University of Chicago. Some disciplines may use a modified or combined style, such as the American Anthropological Association.
Below are some examples of MLA-style citation entries for quick reference. For more detailed examples and guidelines, consult the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers. Scholars preparing manuscripts for publication will also want to use the MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing.
Papers written using MLA Style are ususally double-spaced, including the Works Cited Page.
*On a Works Cited page, always indent five spaces for each line after the first one:
A Handbook of Korea. 6th ed. Seoul International Pub. House, 1987.
Morrison, Toni. Sula. New York: Knopf, 1974.
Hyde, Margaret O., and Elizabeth Held Forsyth. Suicide: The Hidden Epidemic. Rev. ed. New York: Watts, 1986.
MORE THAN TWO AUTHORS
Quirk, Randolph, et. Al. A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language. London: Longman, 1985.
Perkins, Kathy A., ed. Black Female Playwrights: An Anthology of Plays Before 1950. Bloomington: Indiana U, 1989.
AUTHOR AND EDITOR
Shakespeare, William. The Comedy of Errors. Ed. By T.S. Dorsch. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1988.
ESSAY/CHAPTER IN A BOOK
Klawans, Stuart. "Colorization: Rose-Tinted Spectacles." Seeing Through Movies. Ed. Mark C. Miller. New York: Pantheon, 1990. 150-185.
Magazines and Newspapers
MAGAZINE ARTICLE SIGNED
Theroux, Paul. "China Passage by Rail." National Geographic March 1988: 296-329.
MAGAZINE ARTICLE UNSIGNED
"Time for Doubt." Time 26 Nov. 1990: 30-34.
JOURNAL WITH CONTINUOUS PAGING
Brook, Dan W. "The Value of Prolonging Human Life." Philosophical Studies 50 (1986): 401-26.
JOURNAL THAT PAGES EACH ISSUE SEPARATELY
Baum, Rosalie Murphy. "Alcoholism and Family Abuse in Maggie and The Bluest Eye." Mosaic 19.3 (1986): 91-105.
NEWSPAPER ARTICLE UNSIGNED
"The Elected Aristocracy: 12 is Enough." Wall Street Journal 6 Nov. 1990, sec. A: 22.
Hall, Lucia K.B. Rev. of God and the New Physics, by Paul Davies. Humanist Nov.-Dec. 1986: 39.
Sapir, Edward. "Communication." Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences. New York: Macmillan, 1930.
Douglass, Frederick. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave. Boston, 1845. 1 Aug. 1999
ONLINE MAGAZINE ARTICLE
Dunn, Marcia. "Astronauts Replace Hubble Power Unit." Salon 6 Mar. 2002. 7 Mar. 2002
ONLINE JOURNAL ARTICLE WITH PAGE NUMBERS
Washington, Gerald R. "The Writing Crisis in Urban Schools: A Culturally Different Hypothesis." Journal of Advanced Composition 16.3 (1996). 12 Aug. 1999
ARTICLE TEXT FROM SUBSCRIPTION DATABASE SERVICE
Pursell, Chris. "Xena Ratings Princess." Electronic Media 16 Jul. 2001: 6. ABI/INFORM Global. Proquest. University of California, Davis Library. 4 Mar. 1999
ONLINE NEWSPAPER ARTICLE
Cheng, Scarlet. "Fragile Work, Fragile Life." Latimes.com 17 Feb. 2002. 3 Mar. 2002
ORGANIZATION WEB SITE
Romance Languages and Literatures Page. 1 Jan. 1997. Dept. of Romance Languages and Literatures, U. of Chicago. 8 July 1998
INTERVIEW IN PERSON
Basso, Lilliam. Personal Interview. 4 Mar. 1991.
INTERVIEW IN PRINT
Ellison, Ralph. Interview. "Invisible Man." With Allen McPherson. Atlantic Dec. 1970: 45-60. 1990.
TELEVISION AND RADIO
"Belly of the Beast." 48 Hours. Host Dan Rather. Narr. Peter Van Sant. CBS. 10 Aug. 1999.
It's a Wonderful Life. Dir. Frank Capra. Perf. James Stewart, Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore, and Thomas Mitchell. 1946. DVD. Republic, 2001.
Parenthetical References In the Research Paper
The Modern Language Association uses parenthetical references instead of footnotes or endnotes in the body of the research paper to acknowledge the use of borrowed material. These references point to the Works Cited page (see examples of entries above) at the end to fully document this material with necessary author, title, and publishing information.
Placement and Punctuation Guidelines
- Keep the parenthetical references as brief as possible. Do this by inserting the author's last name and a page number in parentheses after the statement you are documenting:
"A large percentage of the suicides in this category are centered in the New York City area" (Hyde 126).
- If you include the author's name in a sentence, you need only put the page number of the reference in the parentheses:
Hyde notes that "a large percentage of the suicides in this category are centered in the New York City area" (126).
- If you are citing an entire work rather than a specific passage or section, omit any parenthetical reference and give the author's last name in your sentence:
Throughout her book, Hyde argues that suicide among the young constitutes a national epidemic.
Examples of Parenthetical References
- A work by an author of two or more works you are using
Use last name, comma, short title and relevant page numbers:
(Grossman, Aesthetics 5)
- A work by an author with the same last name as another author in your list of Works Cited
Supply first name:
(James Brown 317)
- A work by more than one author
(Hyde and Forsyth 47)
Three or more authors:
(Quirk et al 96)
- A multivolume work
Indicate volume used:
(Laszlo 2: 787)
- A work with no author
Use shortened version of title or whole title if it is short. If you shorten the title, begin with the word by which the source is alphabetized in the list of Works Cited:
(Americana 8: 63)
- Corporate author or government agency
You may include author and title, but it is often best to use information as part of a sentence since the citation may be long:
(IBM Annual Report 1990 6)
- Literary Works
Because of differences in editions, use more than the page number to locate the passage cited. After page number, add a semicolon and other appropriate information using abbreviations such as "ch.", "pt.":
(Conrad 15; ch. 3)
- More than one work in a single parenthetical reference
Use normal pattern but separate each citation with a semicolon:
(Kabotis 214; Perkins 58)
For More Information On MLA Style
- Gibaldi, Joseph. MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers.
- 6th ed. New York: MLA, 2003. HSSGIS Reference (Protected) LB2369 .G53 2003
- Gibaldi, Joseph. MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing.
- 2nd ed. New York: MLA, 1998. HSSGIS Reference PN147 .G444 1998
- Walker, Janice R. The Columbia Guide to Online Style.
- New York: Columbia UP, 1998. HSSGIS Reference (Protected) PN171.F56 W35 1998
- Online examples of MLA style
- MLA Style Most Frequently Asked Questions
- Citing Sources and Avoiding Plagiarism: Documentation Guidelines (Duke)
- SLATE Citation Machine