Dr Abel Scribe PhD

MLA Style Lite

MLA Lite is a concise guide to crafting college research papers in the style of the Modern Language Association (MLA). It conforms to the highly recommended MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, 7th ed., (2009), with additional features drawn from the pages of the MLA's own journal, PMLA (Publications of the Modern Language Association). MLA Lite is an introduction to the essential features of the style. (The PDF version is useful for printing). © Copyright 2009 by Dr. Abel Scribe PhD.

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Table of Contents

Uncle Sam
FBI Warning?  You are welcome to print, link, or distribute MLA Lite for not-for-profit educational purposes. Instructors are encouraged to use the guide in their classrooms. No additional permission is required. MLA Lite is revised on a regular basis; you are invited to link directly to the document rather than post it to another site.

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Official Websites:   AMA Style (Oxford UP)   APA Style Site   Chicago Manual of Style   MLA Handbook

1.0 MLA Handbook & Style

MLA Handbook at Amazon.com

The Modern Language Association (MLA) has developed a contemporary research style to meet the needs of scholars of modern literature and the humanities. The style is documented in two volumes, the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers for those crafting college research papers, and the MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing for journal editors and authors writing for publication. It is an easy style to use and well documented. The MLA Handbook is an essential reference for any serious student in the humanities.

The MLA Handbook is affordable with a price under $20. With the print edition you also get a secret scratch code that allows you access to the MLA website at www.mlahandbook.org. "The Web site [sic] includes the full text of the print volume (with over 200 additional examples), several research project narratives, sample papers, and additional resources" (MLA rear cover).  MLA Handbook at Amazon.com $19.00.

MLA style in general. The defining characteristic of a research style is its form of documentation, its style of references and text citations. The Modern Language Association uses a hybrid, author-page style of parenthetical (in parentheses) text citation combined with a Chicago style bibliography format for references. Other styles using parenthetical citations follow an author-date format (e.g., the American Psychological Association). The MLA style of documentation is very easy to use and becomes nearly intuitive with a little practice.

The English language lacks conventions for a variety of things. For example, when do you write numbers as words and when as numerals? Do you write "twenty-one" or "21." Do you write the "twentieth century," or "Twentieth Century," or "20th century," or "20th Century?" MLA would have you write "twentieth century" (MLA 84). Only the more essential rules are featured in MLA Lite. Any guide to standard usage will generally serve for the rest. Note, petty details are important only to the most pedantic professor. With these nuances use the form comfortable to you, with one over-riding principal, be slavishly consistent on with whatever form or usage you choose. If you elect to use US style dates (an option in MLA style, MLA 83), for example "April 1, 2009," use that format throughout your text including references. It you opt for the universal format preferred in MLA style, "1 April 2009," that format must be used exclusively in your text. Be consistent!

MLA foibles & silliness. The MLA Handbook is prone to excess through changing editions. An earlier edition (5th) presented an elaborate scheme for presenting quotations. This was rescinded in the (6th) edition, but a comparably excessive scheme for referencing electronic sources was introduced. This in turn is gone with current edition, but with more silliness (adding the medium of publication to all references). The Handbook also has a passion for abbreviations (it even devotes a chapter to the subject), a passion that most journals using the style happily ignore. It serves no useful purpose and can have some unpleasant phrasing, such as "U Chicago P" (You Chicago Pee) for University of Chicago Press. Consider these as charming eccentricities. More seriously, the Handbook omits the state where a book is published in its references. This is unacceptable. While New York is globally known, what about Springfield (there are many) or Redmond, or Englewood Cliffs?

Dictionaries. "A good dictionary is an essential tool for all writers. Your instructor will probably [?] recommend a standard American dictionary such as The American Heritage College Dictionary, Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, or Random House Webster's Collegiate Dictionary. Because dictionaries vary in matters like word division and spelling preference, you should, to maintain consistency, use the same one throughout your paper" (Gibaldi 61).

1.1 PMLA Enhancements (TOP)

symbol Dumbing down the style. The MLA Handbook leaves out a number of features found in every style manual for research papers, most notably, the use of headings, subheadings, and lists. What is even worse, the MLA uses these features in their own flagship publication, PMLA (Publications of the Modern Language Association). Apparently they have determined that these features are appropriate when used by advanced scholars, but too sophisticated for mere students. Doc Scribe holds that a style is first and foremost what is printed in research publications, not what is described in a style manual or handbook.

Pedantic professors may disagree. This creates a dilemma for students. Do you use the true style, or the dumbed-down version in the MLA Handbook? Both are featured in MLA Lite. The best advice is to stick to the limitations of the Handbook when the style itself is the content of the exercise; use the PMLA enhancements when the content of the paper is the focus, not the style. If you are writing a serious paper is it not appropriate to use the same style that serious scholars use when publishing articles in PMLA?

1.2 Common Rules (TOP)

symbol There are a few basic features that recur throughout MLA style that might be missed if mentioned only in one section of MLA Lite.

Capitalization. There are two styles of capitalization used with headings and titles of articles and books.

  • Sentence capitalization capitalizes a title as you would a sentence, capitalizing the first word and proper nouns.
  • Heading capitalization capitalizes all words except articles (e.g., a, an, the, etc.), prepositions (e.g., as, in, of, to, etc.), and conjunctions (e.g., and, but, for, or, etc.). The term is not found in the MLA Handbook—it is an adaptation of the term headline capitalization for its use in newspaper headlines (see, Chicago Manual of Style 366-367).
Space after punctuation. Previously the MLA Handbooks would have you space once after punctuation at the end of a sentence. Now you may space once or twice unless your grade-giver objects (MLA 78, 116). Be consistent!

Version of record. When citing the work of others—referencing sources—serious scholars prefer to cite the version of record, typically the print version of an article or book. The MLA Handbook gives the impression that all sources are equal and equivalent. That is simply not true. Printed books and articles are typically subjected to peer review, favorably evaluated by experts of specialists in the field before they are allowed to be published. Everything else is of an uncertain quality, something to keep in mind when drawing on casual sources from the Internet.

2.0 Format of the Research Paper (TOP)

Easy to Read? The goal of any research style is clarity of communication. "Effective writing depends as much on clarity and readability as on content" (MLA 49).

  • Page numbers are required on every page. The page header is the author's last name. These go inside the margin space, one-half inch from the top of the page, next to the right margin.
  • Margins. One inch margins are required on all four sides of a page. This applies to all pages, and the contents of all pages, but excludes the page number/header.
  • Justification? "Do not justify the lines of text at the right margin; turn off your word processor's automatic hyphenation feature" (MLA 116). Hyphens introduced to break words and wrap lines can confuse a reader.
  • Typeface (fonts). The MLA Handbook expresses no clear preference, though sample pages feature a sans serif typeface (e.g., Arial, Helvetica). A 10- or 12-point type mirrors traditional typewriter typefaces, and are acceptable. The Handbook no longer prefers underlining wherever you might use italics.
  • Double-space lines throughout the text! Space twice after punctuation at the ends of sentences; space once after colons.
  • Dates may follow US format (e.g., April 1, 2009) or universal format (1 April 2009). The Handbook gives you the choice, but be consistent, including references. The preference is for the universal format.
  • Title. The title is centered on the page and formatted in heading caps (see Section 3.5 for the rule).
  • Indents. Indent paragraphs one-half inch, except block quotes. Indent block quotes one inch. There are special rules for indenting block quotes that run beyond a single paragraph (see Section 3.4).
  • Block quotes are required when a quote exceeds four lines in your paper. Indent the quote one inch, paragraphs in block quotes a quarter-inch more.
  • Endnotes are preferred, place before the works-cited list. Footnotes go inside the margins with the text.
  • Title page ID block. This is an essential feature of MLA style—do not improvise!

2.1 Title & Text Pages (TOP)

bullet The research paper in MLA style begins with a distinctive title page, an MLA trademark. Text pages follow the same general form.

Fig 1. Basic Style
2.0 Margins 2.0 Page Header 2.0 Spacing 2.0 ID Block 2.0 Justification 3.5 Heading caps 2.0 Indents 3.4 Quotations 4.0 Citations 3.4 Block Quotes 3.5 Titles 3.2 Italics 3.3 Numbers 2.2 Lists 3.2 Emphasis 3.4 Quotations 2.4 Endnotes 3.1 Abbreviations 2.4 Footnotes 2.0 Margins
Fig. 1. Basic format and features of MLA style. The numbers indicate the section in MLA Lite where more information can be found. Click on a number to go to that section. pointer The ID Block--name, instructor, course, date--must be presented exactly as shown.

2.2 PMLA Style Headings & Lists (TOP)

bullet No headings? The MLA Handbook has no instructions for using headings or subheadings in a research paper other than for the title and works cited. However, the MLA's own journal, PMLA (Publications of the Modern Language Association), publishes about half its articles with headings in one of two style. The first is shown in Figure 2. This should be acceptable to most instructors (except the pedantic kind—you be the judge).

Figure 2. Austere Headings
Fig. 2. PMLA austere style (sub)headings. Headings are roman numerals set inside square brackets. There is just a single level with this heading style. These look better in a serif typeface (eg, Times Roman).

Figure 3. PMLA style conventional (sub)headings
Fig. 3. PMLA style conventional headings/subheadings, with the bold font added for emphasis. There are three levels with this heading style used in the order shown. This style is widely shared with other popular styles, such as that of the American Psychological Association.

bullet Lists (seriation). Seriation is a technique to itemize or enumerate the parts to a series or an argument. This can be helpful when the parts are complex, elaborate, or disparate. It is particularly useful in constructing a transition paragraph to introduce a series of topics. Chicago style refers to this as a process of enumeration.

Sentence seriation. A series or list of terms or phrases can be introduced following a colon: (1) marked by numbers in parentheses; (2) to enumerate a series of topics; (3) especially when the topics differentiated are complex, lengthy, or disparate. The MLA Handbook is silent on this practice, but recent papers in PMLA also use numbers.

Paragraph seriation. If each element in the series requires a separate paragraph, these are set flush with the left margin with each paragraph indented and numbered appropriately. An introductory clause or sentence ending with a colon typically introduces the series:

Tab1. This form of seriation is useful in detailing and summarizing an argument, or perhaps the results of a research study in the conclusion.

Tab2. Each element in the series may contribute to the general topic with extensive commentary.

Tab3. But as a practical matter, this form of seriation is not particularly common in research papers. When the elements require this form of elaboration it is more common to set them under their own subheadings in the text, perhaps following sentence seriation in a transition paragraph under a major heading.

pointer  No Bullets! Chicago advises "the use of bullets (heavy dots) in place of enumeration is sometimes resorted to, but these may be considered cumbersome, especially in scholarly work" (314).

2.3 Tables, Figures, & Exhibits (TOP)

bullet Tables and illustrations are rare in MLA publications. The MLA Handbook has very little to say about tables and illustrations, devoting just two and a half pages to the topic. The APA (American Psychological Association) Publications Manual addresses the subject in fifty-five pages; the Chicago Manual of Style has fifty pages on tables and illustrations. If you are crafting a large complex table refer to the APA Manual or Chicago Manual; tables in these styles are virtually identical to MLA style. Illustrations, figures and exhibits, require just a caption. There is no guidance in the Handbook for graphs. The APA Manual has much to say on the subject if you need help.

Fig 4. Tables. The source is formatted with a hanging indent, table notes are formatted as indented paragraphs (MLA 119).

Number tables consecutively as they appear in your text.

  • Each table must have a label beginning with the table number and describing the contents. The label needs to inform the reader what the table presents (coefficients, means, percentages, rates, etc.), the time frame, and the coverage (e.g., United States, Illinois, Cook County, Chicago, South Side).
  • Each row and column must have a heading. Subheadings may be used to expand or clarify headings. MLA tables may use symbols in column headings, e.g., % or $.
  • A general note is the first note below the table. If the contents of a table are drawn or adapted from a published source, note that as a source note as shown in figure 5. Sources are referenced using the endnote-footnote (see Sec. 7.0), not the works cited bibliography format.
  • Add footnotes to explain specific features of the table contents, such as units of measure (e.g., population in 1000s). These are labeled with superscript letters, e.g., a, b, c, etc., to avoid confusion with numbered text endnotes (if any), and placed below the source note or general table note.
pointer  The more information that is put in a table the harder it is to read. Readers rarely study tables. "An informative table supplements—it does not duplicate—the text" (APA, 2003 84).

Figures & Exhibits
Fig 5. Illustrations: figures & exhibits.

Number figures and exhibits consecutively throughout your text, independently from tables (each has their own number sequence). Musical scores are presented as "exhibits," captioned Ex. 1, Ex. 2, etc., numbered independently of figures.

Attribution. When tables and illustrations are borrowed a reference to that source is required. The table or illustration may be mentioned in the text in cited in the same manner as any other source and referenced in the works-cited list at the end of the paper. When this is not the case, a source note must be added as a table note or appended to the caption. A special format is required, although this is not documented in the Handbook, merely shown in examples. The format was featured in an appendix to the previous edition.

Book (Musical Score)

Source: John Francis Wade, "O Come All Ye Faithful," arg. by John Cacavas, Christmas Songs the World Over: A Song Book for Individual or Group Singing, rev ed. (New York: Remick Music, 1968) 7. Print.

Source: Ludwig van Beethoven, Symphony No. 8 in F. Op. 93 (New York: Dover, 1989). Print.


Source: Juan Campo, "Shrines and Talismans: Domestic Islam in the Pilgrimage Paintings of Egypt," Journal of the American Academy of Religion 55 (1987): 285–305. Print.

2.4 Endnotes & Footnotes (TOP)

bullet Historically, MLA style frowned on the use of notes, though many journals using the style employ endnotes. The previous edition of the MLA Handbook even had an appendix featuring a special format for references in notes (and for sources referenced in table or figure notes). This is gone. The MLA Handbook now explains the use of two types of endnotes or footnotes: bibliographic notes and content notes (MLA 230-232).1,2

Tab1Bibliographic notes enable an author to refer readers to sources not directly cite in the text for additional information. For example, the MLA Handbook is a popular style guide for research papers as are the APA Publication Manual, the Chicago Manual of Style, and Kate Turabian's venerable Manual for Writers of Research Papers. Each of these sources must be listed in the works-cited list. However, a parenthetical citation in the text is also acceptable: There are several popular style guides (e.g., APA Publication Manual, Chicago Manual of Style, Turabian's Manual for Writers). This is illustrated in the MLA Handbook (216).

Tab2Content notes let an author present a useful digression that might otherwise disrupt the main theme of the text. Journals using notes appear to favor endnotes. Whether as endnotes or footnotes the format is that of an indented paragraph, marked with a superscript number in the text and note, with each numbered note starting a new paragraph. Notes are numbered consecutively through the text. Footnotes are placed within the margins, that is, sharing the text space (not the margin space). Endnotes go before the list of works cited.

3.0 Mechanics of Writing (TOP)

A long chapter in the MLA Handbook, coincidentally chapter 3, bears the title "Mechanics of Writing." This includes common English usage for punctuation and spelling as well as rules unique to MLA style. Only the essential text rules are featured and abridged in MLA Lite.

3.1 Abbreviations (TOP)

bullet "Abbreviations are used regularly in the list of works cited and in tables but rarely in the text of a research paper (except within parentheses). In choosing abbreviations, keep your audience in mind. While economy of space is important, clarity is more so. Spell out a term if the abbreviation may puzzle your readers" (Gibaldi 262).

  • Never begin a sentence with a lowercase abbreviation. Avoid beginning a sentence with an acronym.
  • Common abbreviations such as etc., e.g., and i.e. may be used only in parentheses. In the text write for example (e.g.); and so forth (etc.); that is (i.e.).
  • Spell out the names of countries, states, counties, provinces, territories, bodies of water, mountains, in the text.
  • Most prefixes to places, such as Fort, North, Port, South, are spelled out in the text; as are suffixes such as Peak or Fork. Write: North Platte, Fort Collins, Port Huron, South Bend, Long's Peak.
  • When writing initials, the traditional format is still preferred—put a period and a single space after each. For example, write: J. S. Bach, E. E. Cummings, C. S. Lewis.

Acronyms. "The trend in abbreviation is to use neither periods after letters nor spaces between letters, especially for abbreviations made up of all capital letters" (Gibaldi 262). For example, write: CA, PhD, MLA, CD-ROM, US, UK.

  • If an acronym is commonly used as a word, it does not require explanation (IQ, LSD, FBI, ESP).
  • A term must be fully written the first time it is used, thereafter just the acronym is used.
  • If an acronym is not familiar to your readers use an expanded abbreviation. For MLA write Mod. Lang. Assn.
  • Use two-letter postal codes for U.S. states and Canadian provinces in references only (GA, PQ, etc.).
  • Write the plural form of an acronym without an apostrophe (e.g. some MBAs command high salaries).
NB> It is common practice in research writing to spell out the name or phrase to be abbreviated followed by the acronym in parentheses. Thereafter, just the acronym is used. For example, the Modern Language Association (MLA) publishes a journal. The MLA also publishes the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers.

3.2 Italics (Underlining) & Quotation Marks (TOP)

bullet Italics. The MLA Handbook not longer recommends underlining where italics might be used. Add italics to a word or phrase only the first time it is used, thereafter use plain text.

  • Emphasize a keyword or phrase in your text by placing it in italics. The next time the term or phrase is used it should be in plain text.
  • Use italics for the titles of books and the names of periodicals in your text and references.
  • Use italics for "words and letters that are referred to as words or letters" (Gibaldi 95). For example, write "The term American Indian is inclusive of over 500 Federally recognized ethnic communities."
  • Use italics for non-English words or terms used in your text. For example, "Ya-te-hay is a form of greeting in the Diné (Navajo) language." This practice excludes those words that have become incorporated in the English language, such as laissez-faire, or arroyo.

Within quotations. Emphasis may be added to a word or phrase in a quotation by placing it in italics. When this is done the note [emphasis added] or [italics added] must be inserted in brackets at the end of the quotation (within the quotation marks), or if the emphasis comes at the end of the sentence, in parentheses outside the quotation marks.

"Place quotation marks around a word or phrase given in a special sense or purposefully misused" (emphasis added, MLA 75).

Quotation marks. Use quotation marks for other than direct quotes only in the following circumstances:

  • "Place quotation marks around a word or phrase given in a special sense or purposefully misused" (Gibaldi 91). For example, The Population Council criticized the "outrageous" position of the Church on birth control.
  • Use quotation marks to enclose a translation of a non-English term in your text. Addis Ababa, the name of the capital of Ethiopia, is literally translated "new flower."

NB> Add italics to a word or phrase only the first time it is used, thereafter use plain text.

3.3 Numbers & Dates (TOP)

bullet Numbers. If your topic makes little use of numbers, "you may spell out numbers written one or two words" (Gibaldi 98). Otherwise, use arabic numerals. Write: one, five, twenty-one, one hundred, eighteen hundred, but write 5½, 101, 3,810. If your writing contains the recurrent use of numeric statistical or scientific data, use numerals for those numbers but write out other numbers in the text if you can do so in one or two words. Please note the following rules:

  • Hyphenate compound numbers from twenty-one to ninety-nine, compounds with a number as the first element (e.g., three-way lightbulb), and the written form of fractions.
  • When numbers or a date are required to open a sentence, write them out. For example: "Five girls and 125 boys tried out for the varsity soccer team." If you can, rewrite the sentence.
  • Do not mix numbers that are spelled out with symbols, write out the term for the symbols as well. For example, write: 45%, or forty-five percent; $20 or twenty dollars.
  • Do not mix numerals with written numbers when they refer to similar things. For example, "Only 10 of the 150 people on the tour (not ten of the 150 tourists) were willing to visit the city after the riot." But also write: "The President got 1.3 trillion of the 1.6 trillion dollar tax cut he proposed."
  • Use numerals with symbols and abbreviations (e.g., %, $, ¢, ft., lbs., p.m., ed. vol.) when these appear frequently in your text or are used in references. For example, write: 25%, $25, 50 lbs., 3rd ed., vol 5. Otherwise write out numbers with measures in your text (but not in references) when you can do so in three words or less, twenty-five percent, twenty-five dollars, fifty pounds.
Ordinal numbers follow the general rules for numbers. For example, "The window for applications was the third to twenty-third of August." But use numerals if more than two words are needed to write the number. For example, write "Haile Sellassie I was the 225th Emperor of Ethiopia." However, MLA style uses numerals exclusively in references (e.g., 2nd ed., 3rd ed.).

Inclusive range of numbers. MLA style drops digits in numbers above 99 according to specific rules. This is the process of eliding a range of inclusive numbers.

  • When writing numbers through 99 give the full digits. For example, write 42-48 not 42-8.
  • Page numbers above 99 require only the last two digits of the second number as long as the result is unambiguous. Leading zeros are not dropped in MLA practice. Write pages 1123–24 not 1123–1124; write pages 2000–04 not 2000–4 nor 2000-2004. Write pages 112–35 and pages 102–21, but write pages 102–08 not 102–8 or 102–108.
  • Write pages 1,584–621 not pages 1,582–1,621, and certainly not pages 1,584–21.
  • Elide dates only when they fall within the same century. Write the years 1865-1917 not 1865-917.
NB> When expressing a range of numerals in text do not use a dash unless the numbers reflect an inclusive range of dates, write "to" instead. For example, "The IQ range of the first group was 86 to 112." But also write "The years of the Great Depression, 1930–40, tested America severely."

Full dates, when written in the text, may be in US format: month day, year (e.g., August 21, 2001); or in universal or European format, day month year (e.g., 21 August 2001). Whatever format you select be consistent throughout the text.

NB> References typically use the day-month-year format; sample references in the MLA Handbook and MLA Lite use this format.

3.4 Quotations (TOP)

bullet Quotations must be placed in quotes or indented as a block quote. All quotations must include a citation referring the reader to the source document. As a matter of form, quotations should flow with your text, and may be edited to do so. But note that MLA style, like Chicago style, has complex rules for editing quotations, especially for deleting material from a quote.

  • "The accuracy of quotations in research writing is extremely important" (Gibaldi 109). "Direct quotations must reproduce exactly not only the wording but the spelling, capitalization, and internal punctuation of the original" (CMS 357–358).
  • "If you quote material in a foreign [sic] language, you must reproduce all accents and other marks exactly as they appear in the original (école, pietà, tête, leçon, Fähre, año)" (Gibaldi 80).
  • If you quote material that contains a citation to another work, include this citation in your quotation. The work cited does not have to be included in the list of works cited if it is cited only in the quotation.

pointer  "Quotations are effective in research papers when used selectively. Quote only words, phrases, lines, and passages that are particularly interesting, vivid, unusual, or apt, and keep all quotations as brief as possible. Overquotation can bore your readers and might lead them to conclude that you are neither an original thinker nor a skillful writer" (Gibaldi 109).

Fig. 6. Short and long quotations. The style uses three indents: (1) a standard half-inch indent to start paragraphs in the main text, (2) a full one-inch indent for block quotes, and (3) a one and one-quarter inch indent beginning some paragraphs inside block quotations.

Quotations in Running Text. Shorter quotations, most quotes in research writing, are embedded directly in the text. Place quotes in running text inside quotation marks.

  • When the author is introduced in the text the page number follows the quotation. Smith reported that "the creature walked like a duck and quacked like a duck" (23). Do not use the abbreviation "p." or "P." for "page" (nor "pp." or "Pp." for "pages").
  • Without an introductory phrase, the author and page are placed together. For example—It was reported that "the creature walked like a duck and quacked like a duck" (Smith 23). When citing a quote drawn from several pages in the source, separate page numbers in the citation with commas. For example, write (Thoreau, Walden 23, 129-31, 144).

Block quotes are required with longer quotations, "more than four lines in your paper" (emphasis added) (Gibaldi 110). Block quotes are continuously indented from the left margin one inch (most styles indent only one-half inch). Double space within, before, and after a block quote, as with the rest of the text. Do not place the quote inside quotation marks.

  • "If you quote only a single paragraph or part of one, do not indent the first line more than the rest" (Gibaldi 110-111).
  • "If you need to quote two or more paragraphs, indent the first line of each paragraph an additional quarter inch. . . . If the first sentence quoted does not begin a paragraph in the source, however, do not indent it the additional amount. Indent only the first line of successive paragraphs" (Gibaldi 111).

What the MLA Handbook is trying to say is that the first paragraph of a block quote—whether it was indented in the original or not—is not indented if only one paragraph is quoted. But if two or more paragraphs are quoted, then all paragraphs begin with an indent—in addition to the one inch block quote indent—if they were indented in the original.

NB> Paragraph indents in block quotes are one-quarter inch, half the standard indent.

Editing quotations. MLA style has restored it traditional rules for editing quotations after expanding them in the last (5th) edition of the Handbook. Capitalization and punctuation may be freely changed to merge a quote into the text. Examples are drawn from the paragraph below.

Effective writing seeks to merge a quotation into the flow of the text. It is not necessary to indicate the minor changes needed to do so. The reader should not stumble over a quote. Edit a quotation according to the following rules.

  • If a quote begins in what is mid-sentence in the original, the first letter of the first word may be uppercased to open a sentence. "Merge quotations into the flow of the text." Do not write "[M]erge quotations . . . ."
  • An introductory phrase may lead into a quote that starts with an uppercased letter in the original. This should be changed to a lowercased letter to match the syntax. It is not necessary to indicate this change. For example, the effective writer understands that "the reader should not stumble over a quote."
  • The punctuation mark at the end of a quotation may be changed to fit the syntax without indicating the change in the text. For example, good writers caution that a "reader should not stumble over a quote!" But, "if the [original] quotation ends with a question mark or an exclamation point . . . the original punctuation is retained" (Gibaldi 120).
  • Double quotation marks may be changed to single quotation marks, and the reverse, without indicating the change.

NB> "A quotation should never be presented in a way that could cause a reader to misunderstand the sentence structure of the original source" (Gibaldi 114). Don't quote someone out of context. Leave that to politicians and journalists.

Add text to a quotation. It may be helpful to add text to merge a quote with the flow and tense of your text, to add emphasis, or to clarify the original. Brackets are required to indicate material or emphasis added to a quote. For example: "They [the Irish Republican Army] initiated a cease fire."

Emphasis may be added to a word or phrase in a quotation by placing it in italics. When this is done the note (emphasis added) or (italics added) must be added after the quotation marks (see Gibaldi 118).

Correct errors. Obvious typographical errors in a quotation may be corrected without making a special notation. But for an unusual word choice, concept, term, or spelling it may be appropriate to emphasize that the original is being quoted faithfully. This is done by inserting the Latin term sic (thus), in italics or underlined, in brackets within the quotation (but in parentheses at the end of a quote), immediately following the term. For example, "The ship struck an iceberg and floundered [sic], with the loss of all on board." Or write "The ship struck an iceberg and floundered" (sic). (Note, to flounder is to thrash about wildly. To founder is to fill with water and sink.)

Delete parts of quotes. Ellipsis points are used to indicate text omitted from a quotation. Three ellipsis points (periods with a single space before, between, and after each period) indicate material has been omitted within a sentence or at the end of a sentence. Unless clarity demands it, do not use ellipsis points to begin a quotation. For example, Henry David Thoreau asserts:

"To be a philosopher is not merely to have subtle thoughts, nor even to found a school, but to so love wisdom as to live according to its dictates, a life of simplicity, independence, magnanimity, and trust" (15, ch. 1).

An omission within the quote is edited:

"To be a philosopher is not merely to have subtle thoughts,  .  .  .  but to so love wisdom as to live according to its dictates, a life of simplicity, independence, magnanimity, and trust" (Thoreau 15; ch. 1).

An omission at the end of a sentence is edited:

"To be a philosopher is not merely to have subtle thoughts, nor even to found a school, but to so love wisdom as to live according to its dictates  .  .  . " (Thoreau 15; ch. 1).

Delete entire sentences. If the original text reads:

This is a delicious evening, when the whole body is one sense, and imbibes delight through every pore. I go and come with a strange liberty in Nature, a part of herself. As I walk along the stony shore of the pond in my shirt-sleeves, though it is cool as well as windy, and I see nothing special to attract me, all the elements are unusually congenial to me (Thoreau, Walden, 90; ch. 5).

Omitting a full sentence:

"This is a delicious evening, when the whole body is one sense, and imbibes delight through every pore.  .  .  .  As I walk along the stony shore of the pond in my shirt-sleeves, though it is cool as well as windy, and I see nothing special to attract me, all the elements are unusually congenial to me" (Thoreau 90).

Omitting the end of one sentence, and the next:

"This is a delicious evening, when the whole body is one sense.  .  .  .   As I walk along the stony shore of the pond in my shirt-sleeves, though it is cool as well as windy, and I see nothing special to attract me, all the elements are unusually congenial to me" (Thoreau 90).

Omitting text from the middle of one sentence to the middle of another:

"This is a delicious evening, when the whole body is one sense,  .  .  .  though it is cool as well as windy, and I see nothing special to attract me, all the elements are unusually congenial to me" (Thoreau 90).

Delete the beginning a sentence. General convention allows the leading portion of a sentence opening a quotation to be omitted from the quotation without indicating an omission as long as the original meaning is not marred.

3.5 Titles of Works & Headings (Capitalization) (TOP)

bullet Capitalization in MLA style is mostly conventional, with the exceptions noted below. There is considerable ambiguity on whether some terms are capitalized or not. Generally, specific designations may be capitalized: the American West. But more general designations--or designations used as adjectives--are lowercased: The western United States, eastern Europe.

  • The names of ethnic or racial groups are capitalized if they represent a geographical region or language group. For example, Hispanic, Asian, African American, Appalachian.
  • Designations based only on color, direction, size, habitat, customs, or local usage are often lower cased.
NB> When in doubt, and when a good guide to grammar and usage is no help, follow whatever practice appeals to you but be consistent throughout your text!

Heading caps. "The rules for capitalizing are strict. In a title or subtitle, capitalize the first word, the last word, and all principal words, including those that follow hyphens in compound terms" (Gibaldi 103). These are commonly referred to as heading caps. Do not capitalize the following unless they begin a title or follow a colon:

  • Articles: a, an, the.
  • Prepositions: against, between, in, of , to.
  • Conjunctions: and, but, for, nor, or, so, yet.
  • Infinitive: to.

Sentence caps capitalize just the first word, the first word after a colon, and any proper nouns in a heading or title.

  • Use heading caps for the titles of books and articles used in the text and in references.
  • Use heading caps for major headings in your paper (except run-in headings).
  • Use sentence caps for titles of most non-English works.
  • Use sentence caps for lower level run-in or paragraph subheadings.

NB> MLA style uses heading caps for the titles of sources—books, chapters, or articles— both in references and in text. However, the MLA Handbook also includes a section on capitalizing the titles in other languages. As a rule, titles in French, German, Italian, Spanish, or Latin are more conventionally rendered in sentence caps (capitalize just the first word, all proper nouns [according to the convention of the language], and the first word after a colon).

Character spacing. Conventional spacing after punctuation is practiced by MLA style, with the exception of putting a single space after most colons. Concluding punctuation (a question mark, exclamation point, or period) may be followed by one or two spaces as long as you are consistent throughout your text.

4.0 MLA Text Citations (TOP)

MLA style use a parenthetical form of text citation. Unlike the author-date format used in the social sciences and psychology, MLA style place only the author's name—and the page number when citing a direct quote—in the citation. The MLA Handbook notes two basic rules to follow when citing sources:

  1. "References in the text must clearly point to specific sources in the list of works cited." (Gibaldi 238).
  2. "Identify the location of the borrowed information as specifically as possible." (Gibaldi, 239) Cite the specific chapter, act and scene, or section of a work when appropriate.

What to cite? Cite all direct quotations as well as significant ideas, concepts, or findings borrowed or adapted from others. The MLA Handbook warns that "forms of plagiarism include the failure to give appropriate acknowledgment when repeating or paraphrasing another's wording, . . . another's argument, or when presenting another's line of thinking" (Gibaldi 71).

What not to cite. It is generally not necessary to cite: (1) dictionary definitions of words unless the specific dictionary is relevant to the context; (2) well documented historical facts; (3) conventional knowledge or knowledge broadly shared in a discipline.

4.1 Basic Citation Format (TOP)

bullet Each separate referent to a source must be cited however many times this may occur in a paper. "To avoid interrupting the flow of your writing, place the parenthetical reference where a pause would naturally occur (preferably at the end of a sentence), as near as possible to the material documented" (Gibaldi 241). A page number is usually cited only with a direct quotation unless the reader needs to be referred to an unusual concept or idea for possible verification.

An introductory phrase leads into a direct quotation by placing the author's name in the text. The page citation in parentheses then follows the quotation. For example: Smith stated "now is the time to run for the gold" (123). As a matter of style it is helpful to the reader to integrate citations into the flow of your text. This is an important consideration in MLA style.

If there is no introductory phrase cite both the author and page in parentheses. For example: One expert observed that "the creature quacks like a duck" (Smith 123).

MLA text citations
Fig. 7. Parenthetical text citations.

  1. No Author? Substitute the title of the work (title of an article or book) for the author in both the reference list and text citation. The first word in the citation must be the first significant word (ignore a, and, the) in the title as used to alphabetize the reference in the list of works cited. If the title is long use a short form or just the first word.
  2. Two or Three Authors. Cite both authors' names: (Smith and Jones 123). When there are two or more authors with the same surname repeat the surname for each author. For example, write (Smithe, Smithe, and Smithe 123).
  3. Four or More Authors. You may cite the lead author plus et al. in all text citations (see Gibaldi 239). Be consistent in whatever practice you adopt, and consistent in matching the text citation with the entry in the reference list.
  4. Multiple sources are cited enclosed in a single set of parentheses. List sources alphabetically in the order they appear in the reference list. Each citation is separated by a semicolon. For example, write (Alt 12; Brown 23; Car 123; Dean 123–46; Smith 99).
  5. Multiple works by one author require the short title of the specific work be added to the citation (See Gibaldi 251). For example, write (Thoreau, Walden 123) to contrast the source of a quote from another work by Thoreau (Thoreau, "Life Without Principle" 23).
  6. Corporate Author. To cite a corporate author use the full name of the group or institution as given in the reference list entry.

NB> The MLA Handbook offers no examples of acronyms used in references or citations.

4.2 Literary Citations (TOP)

bullet MLA style makes special provision for the repeated citation of literary works. "In a reference to a classic prose work, such as a novel or play, that is available in several editions, it is helpful to provide more information than just the page number [. . .]" (Gibaldi 253). The objective is to help a reader with an edition different from the author's to find the same passage. MLA style draws a distinction between prose books and plays and verse books, plays, and poems.

Prose works. MLA style wants writers to identify a source as specifically as may be reasonable. The style for doing this takes two forms, one for prose works, another for verse. Prose works cite the page followed by a semicolon, then additional identifying information.

  • Chapter. Cite the page followed by a semicolon, then additional identifying information. For example, in Walden Henry David Thoreau claimed "the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation" (111; ch. 1). This same passage is found on different pages in other editions, but always in the first chapter (Thoreau 111; ch. 1).
  • Volume. Anthologies and other longer works often come in several volumes. "When citing a volume number as well as a page reference for a multivolume work, separate the two by a colon and a space: '(Wellek 2: 1–10)'" (Gibaldi 247).
  • When citing a specific page, the page number is understood to come after the volume. For example: "Few Moslems contemplate for the first time the Ka'abah [sic], without fear and awe: there is a popular jest against new comers, that they generally inquire the direction of prayer" (Burton 2: 161).
  • When citing an entire volume, add the abbreviation "vol." to the citation. For example, in his Personal Narrative of a Pilgrimage to Al-Madinah and Meccah, he includes a detailed account of a clandestine visit to Mecca in 1853 (Burton, vol. 2).
  • When citing an entire volume with the reference in the text, spell out volume. For example, "Burton provides an exacting account of his clandestine visit to Mecca in volume 2 of Personal Narrative of a Pilgrimage to Al-Madinah and Meccah" (159–258).

Verse works are cited in a manner many will find unconventional. MLA style advises use of a decimal notation system.

  • The following passage is from the Bible: "For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved." This is found in the book of Romans, Chapter 10, verse 13. MLA style cites this (Rom. 10.13). Conventional notation cites this (Rom. 10:13).
  • The following passage is from the Merchant of Venice (MV). Shylock is speaking: "I'll have my bond; speak not against my bond; I have sworn an oath that I will have my bond. . . ." MLA cites this (MV 3.3). Conventional notation might cite this (Merchant of Venice, act III, sc. iii).

NB> The MLA Handbook cautions that "some instructors prefer roman numerals, . . . but if your instructor does not require this practice, use arabic numerals (King Lear 4.1), [rather than (King Lear IV.i) or (King Lear act IV, sc. 1)]" (Gibaldi 254).

5.0 Works Cited (TOP)

Place references on a new page under the centered heading "Works Cited" (in heading caps one inch below the top of the page just inside the top margin). Continue the page numbering from the previous page. The list of works cited comes after the text and endnotes (if any); it is the last part of your paper.

NB>  Reference only what you cite in the text and cite in your text every entry in the reference list.

The MLA Handbook instructs students to double space everything, including references. When formatting a paper for presentation (or other than class use), the more compact block paragraph spacing is appropriate: single space within references, double space between them (see Appendix A).

  • Arrange references alphabetically by author, if there is no author by title (ignore A, An, The, and non-English equivalents). "The alphabetical order of names is determined by the letters before the commas that separate last name and first names. Spaces and other punctuation marks [and case] are ignored" (Gibaldi 146).
  • Use a hanging indent, with the indent one-half inch from the left margin.
  • Give authors' full names as indicated in the publication (do not abbreviate names to intials). Fill in full names for initials or a pseudonym [in square brackets] if the information is useful.
  • List up to three authors to a work; with four or more authors, note the first plus "et al." if you wish (you may reference all authors, but you must cite them all in the text as well).
  • Multiple works by the same author list alphabetically by title, not by date. MLA style approximates a three-em dash with three hyphens followed by a period. Use this "three-em dash" in place of the author's name in subsequent works by the same exact author(s).
  • All titles are set in heading caps (in languages other than English use sentence caps as customary in that language). Titles of articles, reports, and chapters in edited books are placed in quotes. Titles of books and volumes, and the names of journals, are underlined or placed in italics.

pointer   Your text and the reference list must agree.

Works Cited
Fig. 8. Works cited. References are double-spaced. Only sources cited in the text are referenced.

5.1 Basic Rules for References (TOP)

  • Titles of works that stand alone, (e.g., books, films, monographs, reports, webpages) are usually underlined (or placed in italics). The titles of works that are parts of something (e.g., books, journals, encyclopedias) are usually placed in quotation marks. For an uncommon sources, such as a personal interview, see the Handbook.
  • The MLA Handbook makes an obsession of using abbreviations in references (see Gibaldi 261–82). Many authors and journal editors dispense with the more esoteric of these in print.
  • Use decimal notation to indicate number in a volume of a journal paged by issue, that is, write volume four, number two "4.2" not the more conventional format "4(2)."
  • Reprinted works require the original publication date as well as the date the reprint was published. The original publication date comes after the title.
  • The day-month-year format, 1 April 2010, is preferred.
  • The MLA Handbook offers no examples of acronyms used in references or citations.
  • Line wrap URLs by breaking them after a slash (or before a period). Do not insert a hyphen!

pointer   The medium of publication must be noted in all references (e.g., CD, PDF file, Print, Web).

5.2 Articles in Journals, Magazines, & Newspapers (TOP)

square Research journals are typically paged consecutively from issue to issue—if the previous issue ended at page 101 the next would start at page 102. This makes it superfluous to reference the number of an issue in a volume, a volume typically being a year. Nonetheless, MLA style asks that you note the volume and issue number in all references using the decimal format unique to the style, volume.issue.

  • Double space references.
  • Article titles are in heading caps inside quotation marks. Languages not English use native capitalization.
  • The name of the periodical is in italics.
  • Cite the volume and issue for journals, just the date for newspapers and magazines.
  • Elide page number ranges, that is, drop digits when feasible. For example, write 1134-56 rather than 1134-1156.

Journal Articles

Dietler, Michael. "'Our Ancestors the Gauls': Archaeology, Ethnic Nationalism, and the Manipulation of
Celtic Identity in Modern Europe." American Anthropologist 96 (1994): 584–605.

Dumper, Michael. "Israeli Settlement in the Old City of Jerusalem." Journal of Palestine Studies 21.4
(1992): 32-53. Print.

Solé, Yolanda. "Valores aspectuales en español." Hispanic Linguistics 4.1 (1990): 57-85. Print.

Citations: (Dietler 123); (Dumper 123); (Solé 123); (Dietler 123; Dumper 123; Solé 123)

NB> If there are quotation marks in a title these are changed to single quotes. The article by Solé is in Spanish
and is capitalized according to the conventions of that language. Several sources can be noted in a single citation,
each separated by a semicolon.

Two Authors - Paged by Issue

Kelley, Klara, and Harris Francis. "Traditional Navajo Maps and Wayfinding." American Indian Culture and
Research Journal 29.2 (2005): 85-111. Print.

Citation: (Kelley and Francis 123)

Three Authors

Thwaites, Guy, Mark Taviner, and Vanya Grant. "The English Sweating Sickness 1485 to 1551." New England
Journal of Medicine 336.8 (1997): 1341-52. Print.

Citation: (Thwaites, Taviner, and Grant 123)

Four or More Authors - Annual Review

Rivara, Frederick P., et al. "Prevention of Bicycle-Related Injuries: Helmets, Education, and Legislation."
Annual Review of Public Health 19 (1998): 293-318. Print.

Citation: (Rivara et al. 123)

NB> When there are four or more authors you may list all authors or just the lead author, and others (et al.).

Corporate/Group Author (Magazine)

Editorial Staff of the Smithsonian. "28 Places to See Before You Die." Smithsonian Jan. 2008: 78-93. Print.

Citation: (Editorial Staff of the Smithsonian 123)

No Author - Review

Rev. of Anthology of Danish Literature, by F. J. Billeskov Jansen and P. M. Mitchell. Times Literary Supplement
7 July 1972: 785. Print.

Citation (no author): (Rev. of Anthology of Danish Literature 123)

Newspaper & Magazine Articles

Curry, Andrew. "Trekking Hadrian's Wall." Smithsonian Oct. 2009: 40-47. Print.

"Feds Close Vail Logging Road." Colorado Daily [Boulder] 27–29 July 1999: 2. Print.

Hall, Trish. "IQ Scores Are Up, and Psychologists Wonder Why." New York Times 24 Feb. 1998, late ed.: F1+. Print.

NB> If the locale of a publication is not evident from its name and likely to be unfamiliar to readers add that information in brackets.


Camhi, Leslie. "Art of the City." Rev. of New York Modern: The Arts and the City, by William B. Scott, and
Peter M. Rutkoff. Village Voice 15 June 1999: 154. Print.

NB> A review may have a title different from the work being reviewed. That title goes in quotes.

5.3 Books & Compilations (TOP)

square Compilations combine features of references to articles and to books. When referencing a part of a compilation the title of the part goes in quotes, the title of the compilation is in italics. Both titles are in heading caps: page numbers are required.

Anthology/Compilation - Reprint/Translation

Hemingway, Ernest. "The Big Two-Hearted River." The Nick Adams Stories. Ed. Philip Young. New York:
Bantam Books, 1973. 159-180.

Jung, Carl G. "On the Relation of Analytical Psychology to Poetry." The Portable Jung. Ed. Joseph Campbell.
Trans., R. F. C. Hull. New York: Viking-Penguin Books, 1971.

Whitman, Walt. Complete Poetry and Selected Prose. 1891-1892. Ed. James E. Miller, Jr. Boston:
Houghton, 1959.
One Author: Translation-Initials/Editor

Eco, Umberto. The Name of the Rose. Trans. William Weaver. New York: Harcourt, 1983. Print.

Tolkien, J[ohn] R[onald] R[euel]. The Silmarillion. Ed. Christopher Tolkien. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1977. Print.

Citations: (Eco 123); (Tolkien 123)

NB> "You may spell out a name abbreviated [to initials] . . . if you think the additional information will be helpful to readers" (MLA 149).

Two Authors

Bourdieu, Pierre, and Jean-Claude Passeron. Reproduction in Education, Society and Culture. London:
Sage, 1977. Print.
Three Authors - Edition Other Than First

Booth, Wayne C., Gregory G. Colomb, and Joseph M. Williams. The Craft of Research. 2nd ed. Chicago:
U of Chicago P, 2003. Print.
Corporate Author: Government Publication-Edition Other Than First

Bureau of the Census. "Higher Education Price Indexes: 1965-1991." Statistical Abstract of the United States:
1993. 113th ed. Washington, DC: US GPO, 1993. Table 277. Print.
Multiple Works by One Author

Follett, Ken. Lie Down with Lions. New York: Signet, 1986. Print.

---. The Pillars of the Earth. New York: Signet, 1990. Print.

Citations (Follett, Lie Down 123); (Follett, Pillars 123)

NB> A 3-em dash is used to list multiple works by the same author after the first reference. The MLA Handbook

      instructs you use three dashes followed by a period, not the em dash of your word processor.
Title as Author (No Author)

The MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers. 7th ed. New York: Modern Language Association of America,
2009. Print.
Edited Book

Austen, Jane. Sense and Sensibility. Ed. Claudia Johnson. New York: Norton, 2001. Print.

Friedman, Howard S., ed. Personality and Disease. New York: Wiley, 1990. Print.

Foreword, Afterword, Introduction, Preface

Nicholls, David G. Preface. MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers. 7th ed. New York: Modern Language
Association of America, 2009. xvii-xix. Print.
Language Other Than English

Hadot, Pierre. Exercices Spirituels et Philosophie Antiques [Spiritual exercises and ancient pholosophies]. 3rd ed.
Paris: Institut d'Etudes Augustiniennes, 1993. Print.

Arendt, Hannah. The Human Condition. 1958. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1998. Print.

NB> The original publication date of a reprint usually goes immediately after the title.

Multivolume Work - Reprint

Burton, Richard F. Personal Narrative of a Pilgrimage to Al-Madinah & Meccah. 2 vols. 1855. New York:
Dover, 1964. Print.

Translator as Author

French, R. M., trans. The Way of a Pilgrim and The Pilgrim Continues His Way. New York: Ballantine-
Random House, 1974. Print.

5.4 Monographs & Reference Works (TOP)


American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language. 3rd ed. Boston, MA: Houghton, 1992.


Pfingstag, Benjamin Nelson. "Aspects of Form and Time in the Paintings of William Henry Mount." Ph.D
dissertation, Graduate School of the State U of NY at Binghamton, 1980.

Bergman, Peter G. "Relativity." Encyclopedia Britannica. Vol. 26. 15th ed. Chicago: Encyclopedia Britannica,
1998. 501–508.
Government Report

Taylor, Barry N. Guide for the Use of the International System of Units. NIST Special Publication 811. 1995 ed.
Gaithersburg, MD: National Institute of Standards and Technology, April 1995. PDF File.

5.5 Common Nonprint Sources (TOP)

square Articles in Journals, Magazines, & Newspapers. References to electronic sources follow the same format as those to print sources, with additional information. The MLA Handbook no longer asks that URLs be included in references to online sources (182). However, if the URL is included it should lead directly to the page. An access date is required with or without a URL in all references where the Web is designated the medium.

Online Journal

Barry, John M. "The Site of Origin of the 1918 Influenza Pandemic and Its Public Health Implications." Commentary.
Journal of Translational Medicine 2.3 (20 Jan. 2004): 1-4. Web. 18 Nov. 2005.

Barry, John M. "The Site of Origin of the 1918 Influenza Pandemic and Its Public Health Implications." Commentary.
Journal of Translational Medicine 2.3 (20 Jan. 2004): 1-4. Web. 18 Nov. 2005.

Bowers, Rick. "Comedy, Carnival, and Class: A Chaste Maid in Cheapside." Early Modern Literary Studies
8.3 (Jan. 2003): 22 pars. 27 Apr. 2003 <http://purl.oclc.org/emls/08-3/comebowe.htm>.

NB> References to these electronic journals follow MLA notation style in numbering the issue in the respective volumes, 2.3 (volume 2, issue 3) and 8.3. The second has numbered paragraphs in the original.

NB> Line wrap URLs by breaking them after a slash (or before a period). Do not insert a hyphen!

Online Facsimile of a Print Journal

Fine, Gail. "Descartes and Ancient Skepticism: Reheated Cabbage?" Philosophical Review 109 (2000):
195-235. Expanded Academic ASAP. InfoTrac Web. Boulder U Lib. 1 Apr. 2003.

Weber, Wendy, et al. "Hypericum perforatum (St. John's Wort) for Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder in
Children and Adolescents: A Randomized Controlled Trial." JAMA 299.22 (2008): 2633-41. PDF File.
Newspaper & Magazine Articles

Adams, Phoebe. Rev. of To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee. The Atlantic Monthly Aug. 1960. 27
Apr. 2003 <http://www.theatlantic.com/unbound/classrev/mocking.htm>.

Cordi, Margaret. "Weekly Review." Harpers Apr. 2003. 27 Apr. 2003 <http://www.harpers.org/ weekly-review/>.

"Don't Spoil the Sunset." Editorial. Washington Post 27 Apr. 2003. Web. 27 Apr. 2003 <http://www.washingtonpost.com/


Jonsson, Patrick. "A Bill of Rights, Looted Long Ago, is Stolen Back." The Christian Science Monitor 22 Apr.
2003. 27 Apr. 2003 <http://www.csmonitor.com/2003/0422/p01s01-usgn.htm>.

Sterritt, David. "Coppola, 'Apocalypse Now,' and the Ambivalent 70's." Rev. of Apocalypse Now, Francis
Ford Coppola, dir. The Chronicle of Higher Education 3 Aug. 2001. 27 Apr. 2003 <http://chronicle.com/ weekly/v47/i47/47b01801.htm>.
square Books & Compilations. There is a vast amount of classical literature no longer protected by copyright laws. The more familar works are readily available in print, but some works are quite rare. If these works are also available in a print edition it may be helpful to note that if the information is readily available. Some of the information shown in the sample references may not be readily. The objective of any reference is to lead the interested reader to the source. The title and URL may meet that basic need.

Book Online

Thoreau, Henry David. Walden. 1854. EServer.org: Accessible Writing. Ed. Richard Lenat. 2002. U of Washington,
Seattle. 30 Jan. 2003 <http://eserver.org/thoreau/walden00.htm>.
Part of a Compilation

Thoreau, Henry David. "Life Without Principle." The Thoreau Reader: The Works of Henry David Thoreau, 1817-1862.
Ed. Richard Lenat. EServer.org: Accessible Writing; University of Washington, Seattle, 2002. Web. 30 Jan. 2003 <http://eserver.org/thoreau/lifewout.htm>.

Citations: (Thoreau, Walden 123); (Thoreau, "Life" 123)

Web Source with Print Publication

Rolt, C[larence] E[dwin], and Pseudo-Dionysius. Dionysius the Areopagite: On the Divine Names and the
Mystical Theology. Whitefish, MT: Kessinger, 1997. Christian Classics Ethereal Library. Web. 7 Dec. 2007.

Rolt, C[larence] E[dwin], and Pseudo-Dionysius. Dionysius the Areopagite: On the Divine Names and the
Mystical Theology. Whitefish, MT: Kessinger, 1997. Christian Classics Ethereal Library. Grand Rapids, MI:
Calvin College, 5 May 2003. Web. 7 Dec. 2007. <http://www.ccel.org/r/rolt/dionysius>.

NB> "If the nonperiodical work you are citing also appeared in print, you may determine that it is important [or useful] to include the bibliographic data for the print publication" (MLA 187).

square Monographs, Reports, & Websites

Dr. Abel Scribe PhD. MLA (Style) Lite for Research Papers. Fall 2009. PDF file.

Dr. Abel Scribe PhD. MLA (Style) Lite for Research Papers. Fall 2009. Web. 20 Oct. 2009.


Dr. Abel Scribe PhD. "Research Writing Test." Dr. Abel Scribe's Guides to Research Style and Documentation.
Dr. Abel Scribe PhD, 2009. Web. 20 Oct. 2009. <http://www.docstyles.com/write.htm>.

"Using Modern Language Association (MLA) Format." OWL: Online Writing Lab. Ed. Jennifer Liethen Kunka,
Joe Barbato, and Erin Karper. Purdue U., Dec. 2000. Web. 25 Apr. 2003.

"Using Modern Language Association (MLA) Format." OWL: Online Writing Lab. Ed. Jennifer Liethen Kunka,
Joe Barbato, and Erin Karper. Purdue U., Dec. 2000. Web. 25 Apr. 2003. <http://owl.english.purdue.edu/ handouts/print/research/r mla.htm>.

Walt Whitman Hypertext Archive. Ed. Kenneth M. Price and Ed Folsom. 1997-1998. 27 Apr. 2003.

5.6 Works of Art & Performance (TOP)

square Performance/Recording

Beethoven, Ludwig van. "Symphony No. 7 in A Major, Op. 92." Perf. Boston Symphony Orch. Cond.
Leonard Bernstein. Bernstein: The Final Concert. Rec. 19 Aug. 1990. Deutsche Grammophon, 1992.

Boskovsky, Willi, cond. Neujahr in Wien [New Year in Vienna]: 1963-1979. Weiner Philharmoniker,
1963-1979. Deutsche Grammophon, 2004. DVD.

Strauss, Johann, II. "Freut euch des Lebens." Neujahrskonzet, 1974. Perf. Weiner Philharmoniker.
Cond. Willi Boskovsky. Philharmonic Hall, Vienna. 1 Jan. 1974. Performance.

Dances with Wolves. Dir. Kevin Costner. Perf. Kevin Costner, Mary McDonnell, Graham Greene,
Rodney A. Grant. Orion, 1990. Videocassette.

Graham Greene, perf. Dances with Wolves. Dir. Kevin Costner. Orion, 1990. Videocassette.

Pink Floyd. The Dark Side of the Moon. 1973. Capitol Records, 1986. Audiocassette.

Pink Floyd. "Any Colour You Like." The Dark Side of the Moon. 1973. Capitol Records, 1986. Audiocassette.

square Play/ Score

Beethoven, Ludwig van. Symphony No. 7 in A Major, Op. 92. New York: Dover, 1989. Print.

square Visua Art

Rembrandt van Rijn. Aristotle Contemplating the Bust of Homer. 1653. Oil on canvas. Metropolitan Museum
of Art, New York.

Works Cited (TOP)

American Psychological Association (APA). Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association. 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th eds.
Wasgington, DC: American Psychological Association, 1983/1994/2001/2009. Print.

The Chicago Manual of Style (CMS). See University of Chicago Press. Print.

Gibaldi, Joseph. The MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers. 6th ed. New York: MLA, 2003.

The MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers. 7th ed. New York: Modern Language Association of America, 2009. Print.

Thoreau, Henry David. 1854. Walden and "Civil Disobedience." New York: New American Library, 1979. Print.

University of Chicago Press. Chicago Manual of Style. 15th ed. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 2003. Print.


Appendix A: Block Format with Headings (TOP)

square MLA style confers a profoundly "rough draft" quality to research papers. Another popular style, that of the American Psychological Association (APA) forgoes that roughness when advising how to format college papers.

Block format
Fig. 9. PMLA headings with block paragraph spacing.

Headings. The headings in Figure 9 are shared by PMLA (Publications of the Modern Language Association) and the APA Publication Manual. In descending order, these start with a centered heading (in heading caps), a side head (in heading caps), and a run-in or paragraph heading (in sentence caps). A bold font is added to make the headings stand out on the page. Properly employed, headings provide an outline of the work.

Block spacing. Everything in MLA style is double-spaced. However, the APA Publication Manual notes:

Double-spacing is required throughout most of the manuscript. When single-spacing would improve readability, however, it is usually encouraged. Single-spacing can be used for table titles and headings, figure captions, references (but double-spacing is required between references), footnotes, and long quotations [this is sometimes referred to as block spacing]. (APA, 2003 326)

Pointer   There is no sanction for this combination of features in MLA style, although other styles are quite comfortable with them. These are features that might be used by advanced students, or by those writing for a broader community than an undergraduate classroom.

Appendix B: Copyright & Fair Use (TOP)

square You Cannot Copyright a Style. By law (17 U.S.C. 102(b)) "the original and creative word sequences in [a text] are protected by copyright, but a writing style itself is in the public domain, no matter how original it is" (The Copyright Handbook, 3rd. ed., by Stephen Fishman, 1998, Berkeley, CA: Nolo Press). You cannot copyright a research (or any) style, nor can you copyright a language, even a programming language. They belong to everyone.

The rationale for this is not hard to understand. If, for example, you wrote a book and stored it on your PC in Microsoft Word, would it then belong to Microsoft? After all, it's in their word processor format and style. How about copyrighting all the works in the style of William Shakespeare, the style of painting of Rembrandt, or even that of Rock'n Roll? If you could secure a copyright on a style, then you would own the copyright on everything published in that style. More recently the courts have denied copyright protection to programming languages, even those invented by Microsoft and IBM!

Fair Use. Copyright laws provide for the fair use of copyrighted material for educational purposes, reviews, and scholarship. The following is reproduced from the U.S. Copyright Office website:

One of the rights accorded to the owner of copyright is the right to reproduce or to authorize others to reproduce the work in copies or phonorecords. This right is subject to certain limitations found in sections 107 through 118 of the Copyright Act (title 17, U. S. Code). One of the more important limitations is the doctrine of "fair use." Although fair use was not mentioned in the previous copyright law, the doctrine has developed through a substantial number of court decisions over the years. This doctrine has been codified in section 107 of the copyright law.

Section 107 contains a list of the various purposes for which the reproduction of a particular work may be considered "fair," such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Section 107 also sets out four factors to be considered in determining whether or not a particular use is fair:

1. the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;

2. the nature of the copyrighted work;

3. the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and

4. the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

The distinction between "fair use" and infringement may be unclear and not easily defined. There is no specific number of words, lines, or notes that may safely be taken without permission. Acknowledging the source of the copyrighted material does not substitute for obtaining permission.

The 1961 Report of the Register of Copyrights on the General Revision of the U.S. Copyright Law cites examples of activities that courts have regarded as fair use:

"quotation of excerpts in a review or criticism for purposes of illustration or comment; quotation of short passages in a scholarly or technical work, for illustration or clarification of the author's observations; use in a parody of some of the content of the work parodied; summary of an address or article, with brief quotations, in a news report; reproduction by a library of a portion of a work to replace part of a damaged copy; reproduction by a teacher or student of a small part of a work to illustrate a lesson; reproduction of a work in legislative or judicial proceedings or reports; incidental and fortuitous reproduction, in a newsreel or broadcast, of a work located in the scene of an event being reported."

Copyright protects the particular way an author has expressed himself; it does not extend to any ideas, systems, or factual information conveyed in the work.

The safest course is always to get permission from the copyright owner before using copyrighted material. The Copyright Office cannot give this permission.

When it is impracticable to obtain permission, use of copyrighted material should be avoided unless the doctrine of "fair use" would clearly apply to the situation. The Copyright Office can neither determine if a certain use may be considered "fair" nor advise on possible copyright violations. If there is any doubt, it is advisable to consult an attorney.

Revised July 2006, U.S. Copyright Office, 101 Independence Avenue SE, Washington, DC 20559-6000, <http://www.copyright.gov/fls/fl102.htm>.

Fair Use Applied. The American Psychological Association (APA) has this definition of fair use:

"APA policy permits authors to use . . . a maximum of three figures or tables from a journal article or book chapter, single text extracts of fewer than 400 words, or a series of text extracts that total fewer than 800 words without requesting formal permission from APA" (APA, 2009 173).

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