Search the Library Website

MLA Documentation

Download printable version

Try our animated tutorial that explains the why and how of MLA documentation in a visual way.

Note: This has the MLA rules from the 7th edition of the MLA Handbook, 2009.

When you use the words or original ideas of another person in your writing, you need to document, or give credit to, the sources of those words or ideas. These are called citations.

If exact words from the original are used, quotation marks are necessary. If you paraphrase, or restate the idea in your own words, quotation marks are not required, but a citation of the source is still required. There are several different formats for documentation. This page explains the MLA format (named for the Modern Language Association, which developed it). In this format, you briefly identify your sources in the text of your paper, then give the full information in the "works cited" list at the end of the paper. This handout is based on MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers. 7th ed. New York: MLA, 2009. Print.

How to document quotations and paraphrasing is explained first, then how to do the "works cited" list is explained.

Parenthetical Documentation

In the MLA format, "parenthetical documentation" is used to briefly identify the sources of information you have borrowed in writing your paper. Parenthetical documentation should be integrated smoothly into the text of your paper, rather than listed separately.

  • The general rule is to cite the source right in the text of your paper. If the reader wants to get more information, they go to the Works Cited list at the end of your paper.

    If the author's name is mentioned in your writing (this is called a "signal phrase"), you only need to put the page number in parentheses at the end of the sentence. The reader can then consult the list of Works Cited (explained below) at the end of the paper to get the complete citation.

    NOTE: Some sources, especially those on the Web, do not give page numbers. The general rule is to use a section number if it is given; otherwise just use the author name or, if no author is given, the first words of the title.
    Ross Parke notes that "natural fathers aren't the only ones raising children on their own. As more families split up, social workers note that stepfathers increasingly are being called on to bring up other people's kids" (52).

    According to Bernard Farber in Encyclopedia Americana, there is a trend toward waiting to marry and toward postponing the birth of the first child (6).

    According to the web site Our Fathers, "Almost 20 percent of fathers ask for child custody after divorce."
  • You may decide not to highlight the source of some of your derived information. In such cases, at the end of the sentence enclose in parantheses both the author's last name and the page referred to. The reader can then consult the list of Works Cited at the end of the paper to get the complete citation.
    At the turn of the century many men worked long hours, which "entailed their absence from the family for most of the day: that was not a rejection of fatherhood but a necessary element of it" (McKee and O'Brien 54).

    Child support payments can be withheld from wages in 45 states (Schorr 33).
  • For publications with no author given, you should include the first 2-3 key words from the title and the page number in parentheses.
    "Fathers today no longer know who they are or what their wives and children expect from them" ("Fathers Confused" 5), and this increases the likelihood they will abandon their families.
  • If possible, you should quote or paraphrase material from the original source, but if you do use material that is within someone else's work, include the abbreviation qtd. in ("quoted in") and then refer to the source where you got the information. Use qtd. in even if it's a paraphrase and not a quote.
    Dr. Ann Rudolph contends that fathers who bond with their infant children are more likely to maintain lifelong contact (qtd. in Parke 112).


DO I HAVE TO CITE EVERYTHING?

One of the hardest parts of documentation is deciding how far to go in citing sources. If you mention that Los Angeles suffered an earthquake in January 1994, do you have to show where that information came from? No. This is considered "common knowledge," even if you didn't know on your own. This can get tricky. When in doubt it is probably a good idea to include the a citation. Ask a librarian or your instructor for advice on specific situations.

Works Cited

A list of works cited has all the sources that contributed ideas and information to your paper. (It is the same as a "bibliography.") It is arranged in alphabetical order by the authors' last names or, if the source doesn't list an author, by the first word of the title (ignore "A," "An," and "The"). The following sample works cited list is in correct order.

If you have a type of source not covered in the examples below, ask the librarian to show you the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, 7th edition, or go to the MLA's web site (although not many details are given there).


SAMPLE - All sources are integrated into one list, arrange alphabetically.
Typing should be double-spaced, with the second line of an entry indented 5 spaces.

Works Cited

Box, Scott. "One Father's Unique Perspective." Newsweek 5 Mar. 2009: 38. MasterFILE Premier. Web. 12
         Feb. 2013.
"Parent." Encyclopaedia Britannica Online. Encyclopaedia Britannica, 2015. Web. 13 Mar. 2015.
Parke, Ross. Fathers. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2000. Print.
Schorr, Burt, Jr. "States Cracking Down on Fathers Dodging Child-Support Payments." Wall Street Journal
         26 Jan. 2015, eastern ed.: 33. Print.
Sheppard, Lisa. "Father Involvement Shows Positive Outcomes." Urban Programs Resource Network.
         University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Apr. 2014. Web. 29 May 2015.

How to format the works cited page

Two ways to do "hanging indent" for entries in Microsoft Word:



When the ruler is visible, select the text you want indented, then drag lower margin marker to right a half inch , OR...

In the "Paragraph" menu, select "Hanging indent."


Top of page and sides have 1" margins
The most BASIC RULES for works cited entries are:

BOOKS

Last name, First name of author. Title of book. City where published: Name of Publisher, year published. Print.

PRINT MAGAZINES

Last name, First name of author (if given). "Title of Article." Name of Magazine Date of issue: page numbers. Print.

MAGAZINE ARTICLE FROM LIBRARY ONLINE DATABASE

Last name, First name of author (if given). "Title of Article." Name of Magazine Date of issue: page numbers. Name of Database.

Web. Date of Access.

WEB PAGES

These have several factors that can affect the citations; see section below for examples.

Other Rules

For other than "public" web pages, when required information is not given: In the spot where the information should be, put the following abbreviations:
  • No date of publication - n.d.
  • No place of publication or no publisher - n.p.
  • No page number - n.pag.
A second work by the same author: Instead of repeating the author's name in the works cited list for the second entry, put 3 hyphens and a period (---.) and alphabetize as if the name were spelled out.


There are many variations for Works Cited entries. Look at the examples for print, video, and web sources below.

Remember, the following examples are not in the order you will list sources.
Your list will be one alphabetical list.


The Work Cited List Examples

A works cited list has all the sources mentioned in your paper, arranged in alphabetical order by the authors' last names or, if a source doesn't list an author, by the first word of the title (ignore a, an, and the). If you have a type of source not covered in the examples below, ask the librarian to show you the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers. 7th ed. New York: MLA, 2009.

Reference List Examples by Type of Source

  • When two dates are listed in a citation for an online source, the first one is the publication date; the second is when you accessed it.

ENCYCLOPEDIA ARTICLES

Type of Source:Citation Example:
Print General Encyclopedia, signed article Farber, Bernard. "Family." Encyclopedia Americana. 2007 ed. Print.
Online Encyclopedia, no author given "Parent." Encyclopaedia Britannica Online. Encyclopaedia Britannica,
         2015. Web. 13 May 2015.
Print Specialized Encyclopedia, no author given "Fatherhood." Encyclopedia of Sociology. Ed. T.E. Chen.
         Vol 2. New York: Putnam, 2014. Print.

Return to Top

BOOKS

Type of Source: Citation Example:
Print Book Parke, Ross. Fathers.Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2000. Print.
Print Book with two editors, not the first edition McKee, Lorna, and Margaret O'Brien, eds. The Father Figure. 3rd ed.
         New York: Tavistock, 1982. Print.
E-book from online database to which the library subscribes Coltrane, Scott. Family Man: Fatherhood, Housework, and Gender Equity.
         New York: Oxford, 2014. eBooks on EBSCOhost. Web. 7 Feb. 2015.
E-book NOT from library database. At end, put specific e-reader name if known (Kindle file, Nook file, etc.) If not known, put Digital file. Chang, Vivian. Men and Marriage: Evolving Attitudes. Austin:
         University of Texas, 2012. Digital file.
Print Chapter within a larger work Valsiner, Jaan. "The Father's Role in the Social Network of a Soviet Child."
         Role of the Father in Child Development. Ed. Michael E. Lamb.
          New York: Wiley, 1981. 187-201. Print.

PERIODICAL ARTICLES

Type of Source: Citation Example:
Print Magazine Article with an authorGold, Jeannye. "When Fathers Raise Children Alone." U.S. News and
          World Report 12 Apr. 1999: 51-52. Print.
Print Magazine Article, no author given"Fathers Confused by Changing Family Roles." Family Monthly
         Oct. 1980: 5. Print.
Online Magazine Article from library database (First date is date of publication; second date is day you accessed it.)Box, Scott. "One Father's Unique Perspective." Newsweek 5 Mar.
          2009: 38. MasterFILE Premier. Web. 12 Feb. 2013.
Print Newspaper Article with authorSchorr, Burt, Jr. "States Cracking Down on Fathers Dodging
         Child-Support Payments." Wall Street Journal
         26 Jan. 2015, eastern ed.: 33. Print.
Online Newspaper Article from a library databaseGriest, Stephanie. "Program Offers Help for Young Fathers." Boston
           Globe 27 Apr. 2012: E4. Newspaper Source.
           Web. 21 Apr. 2014.
Online Newspaper Article with author (name of publisher follows title of source, so Washington Post repeats)Willison, Marilyn Murray. "Family Issues." Washington Post.
         Washington Post, 1 May 2009. Web. 6 May 2009.
Print Scholarly Journal Article(volume & issue numbers go after journal name; if no issue number, just put volume)Larson, Eric. "Cross-Cultural Studies of Fatherhood." Journal of
         Marriage and the Family 11.4 (1998):212-18. Print.
Online Scholarly Journal Article from a library database (volume & issue numbers go after journal name)Gerry, Judy O. "Balancing Employment and Fatherhood." Journal
          of Family Issues 18.6 (1997): 386-402. Academic Search
          Complete. Web. 21 July 2008.
Print. Previously Published Journal Article reprinted in a collectionWornen, Henry. "The Father and His Sons." Modern Literature 27.3
          (1995): 179-85. Rpt. in Twentieth Century Literary Criticism.
           Ed. Michael Stewart. Vol. 89. Detroit: Gale, 1999. 404-10. Print.

 

VIDEOS

Reference Type: List Example:
DVD When Fathers Desert Families. Prod. Project Hope. Maxwell, 2008. DVD.
Streaming Online Video Barack Obama Podcast: On Fatherhood. barackobama.com. 17 June 2007.
          YouTube. Web. 5 May 2013.
Streaming Video from library source The Pill. Films Media Group. 2003. Films on Demand. Web. 18 Apr. 2013.

 

WEBSITES

Reference Type: List Example:
Website (Give the specific page's title in quotation marks, then general title of web site in italics. Give publisher after that.) Sheppard, Lisa. "Father Involvement Shows Positive Outcomes."
         Urban Programs Resource Network. University of Illinois
         at Urbana-Champaign, Apr. 2014. Web. 29 May 2015.
Website with "missing" information (Often all the information asked for in the above example isn't there. Here there was no author or overall web site name or publisher or publication date.) Why Fathers Are Getting Child Custody More. N.p., n.d. Web. 30
          June 2014.
Online Government Document United States. Dept. of Education. Choices for Parents. 9 Oct. 2008.
          Web. 11 Nov. 2011.
Twitter (Use real name followed by Twitter name in parentheses. Next, place the tweet in its entirety in quotations, inserting a period (a question mark in this example) after the tweet within the quotations. Include the date and time of posting, using the reader's time zone). Kim, Sally (WorkingMom). "Why are men who help take care of kids
         called special but for women it's expected?" 22 Jan. 2012,
         3:06 a.m. Tweet.

 

INTERVIEWS AND IMAGES

Type of Source: Citation Example:
Interviews (in-person and from an outside source) Vargas, Carmen. Personal interview. 8 Nov. 2014.
Jensen, Alfred. Interview by Jiyai Shin. Nightline. ABC. KVUE, Austin, TX.
         24 May 2013. Television.
Online Image (Prado Museum listed once as the location and again as the publisher.) Goya, Francisco. The Family of Charles IV. 1800. Museo Nacional del Prado,
          Madrid. Museo National del Prado. Web. 22 May 2015.

Return to Top

Format Of The Research Paper

This sample research paper shows the MLA rules on how a paper should look:
Title, page numbers, works cited list, etc.

Get Help from a Human

You can get help from a librarian by e-mailing redwass@austincc.edu or by calling, during weekday business hours, 512 223-3074. Or get help from any ACC librarian.

Last update 2-8-16 rw