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ENGLISH FOR ACADEMIC & PROFESSIONAL PURPOSES

MLA Citation Style

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Another common citation style is the one prescribed by the Modern Language Association of America (MLA), which is the preferred and prescribed citation style for Literature, Arts, and Humanities. As with the APA style, the MLA style prescribes alphabetizing the list of authors. However, it differs from the APA style in terms of the arrangement and mechanics of the information in the reference list. Whereas the APA style uses only the author’s initials, the MLA style insists on citing the author’s full name. For the list of references, the MLA style follows the who (author’s name), what (title of publication), where (place of publication), and when (date of publication) sequence for both print and non-printed sources. When you list down all the sources you have used in your paper—including diagrams, illustrations, borrowed, paraphrased quotations—you indicate Works Cited in your reference list.

Here are some basic rules for using the MLA format, as cited in the Purdue Online Writing Lab:

Mechanics Rule
Listing
Author's surnames appear first.
One author, several works.
Alphabetize the works and use three hyphens to signify the author's name for every work after the first.
Several authors, one publication.
Use the surname of the first author then continue listing the rest of the authors' names.
Works with no authors.
Use the title of the work and alphabetize. Titles of books, magazines, journals, films, newspapers should be italicized.
Spacing
Double-space the Works Cited list.
Capitalization
Each word except conjunctions (and, by) and articles (a, an, the) should be capitalized.
Indentation
Use the hanging indent where the first line of each entry is flush left; succeeding lines are indented one-half inch.

Guidelines governing the writing of bibliographies abound in the Internet and various printed sources. It would be good to consult a reliable manual regarding punctuation, mechanics, and other concerns pertaining to MLA documentation. For instance, how should you cite when the bibliographic entries have missing information such as the city of publication? What about publications with no known publisher, date and page numbers? Should you include the academic titles of authors? With the increasing number of resources offering to help researchers in need of expert advice on how to cite sources, you have a good chance of doing it correctly.

When you use the MLA style, you also include a parenthetical documentation or in-text citation in appropriate places within your paper. In-text citations using the MLA format follow the author’s name and page number format, but the word page may be omitted in the citation. In addition, a comma is not used to separate the information. Take note of the following examples:

Only 15 percent of the respondents prefer traditional books (Marquez 13).

According to Marquez, only 15 percent of the respondents prefer traditional books (13).

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