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MLA Format

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  1. MLA Format Portland State Writing Center 2002

  2. Important! • This handout is intended to help students understand more about citing sources in the MLA style. It is not intended to substitute for firsthand acquaintance with the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, 4th ed.

  3. Table of Contents • Section One: MLA Manuscript Guidelines • Section Two: How, When, & Why to Quote • Section Three: Citation • In-text Parenthetical Citation • Reference Page Criteria • Section Four: MLA Links

  4. Type or print on one side only of white, unruled paper Double-space the entire paper--text, notes, works cited and block quotations. Left justify text only; no right flush text. Leave a minimum one inch margin on all sides of each page. Number all pages consecutively in the upper right-hand corner, one half inch from the top. MLA Manuscript Guidelines

  5. Type your last name before the page number. Your name and page number together are referred to as the running head. A separate title page is not required. Beginning one inch from the top and flush with the left margin, type name,instructor's name, course number, and date. Center the title. Double-space between the lines of the title and the first line of the text. MLA Manuscript Guidelines

  6. MLA Manuscript Guidelines • Indent the beginning of each paragraph 5 spaces. • Your final paper should appear similar to the front page shown at left.

  7. Remember to document all quotations and paraphrased information. When using a long quotation, indent ten spaces and omit quotation marks. Clarissa absolves her parents and creates alternate enemies: I beg your excuse for not writing sooner. Alas my dear, I have sad prospects before me! My brother and sister have succeeded in all their views. They have found out another love for me; a hideous one [ . . . ] . (Richardson 58) MLA Manuscript Guidelines

  8. Two kinds of notes can be used with parenthetical documentation Content: reader comment, explanation. Bibliographic: publication information. Graphs, charts, figures, and tables should be placed near the paragraph to which they relate. Some instructors may prefer to have illustrations in an appendix. MLA Manuscript Guidelines

  9. MLA Manuscript Guidelines • The Works Cited list is alphabetized according to the author’s last name--or title if no author is given--and includes information about publication.

  10. Your own words should clearly dominate. You are in control, not your sources. If you rely heavily on other people’s words, then you are not writing the paper; they are. Use a variety of sources. If you rely too much on one source, your reader may as well go directly to that source instead of reading your paper. How, When, & Why of Quotes

  11. How, When, & Why of Quotes • Choose your quotations carefully and for specific reasons. • Later reference. • Memorable language. • Authority • Accuracy • Brevity

  12. Cite a source and page number for each quotation and paraphrase. Unless the information is common knowledge, you must cite a source. Avoid plagiarism by paraphrasing carefully. Paraphrasing is more than substituting noun or verb synonyms; it involves changes in sentence structure. Paraphrasing is complex and requires practice; everyone finds it difficult at first. How, When, & Why of Quotes

  13. Always use your own words between quotations. Never use quotations back to back without your own words. Make sure that your reader knows where your words end and another person’s ideas or words begin. How, When, & Why of Quotes

  14. How, When, & Why of Quotes • According to Annie Dillard in An American Childhood, adolescence made her realize how adults had died to themselves through self-consciousness and caused her to question whether she too would lose forever the “passion peculiar to children” (225). • Dillard’s adolescent turmoil caused her to question whether she must lose the “passion peculiar to children” as she matured (225). • One writer focuses on the “passion peculiar to children” in her exploration of adolescence (Dillard 225). • Notice that the author’s name appears in the text when the author is central to your paper. When the author is not central to your paper (e.g., the author is one of many writing on the subject), the author’s name appears in parentheses.

  15. How, When, & Why of Quotes • Avoid wordiness in introducing quotations. • Select right verb and tense.Don’t overuse “says” or “states.” Here are some alternatives: • adds, admits, agrees, alleges, argues, asserts, claims, compares, concludes, contends, contrasts, declares, deduces, defines, demonstrates, disagrees, establishes, explains, finds, grants, holds, implies, includes, infers, juxtaposes, maintains, mentions, notes, observes, points out, posits, proposes, provides, reports, reveals, shows, speculates, stresses, suggests, supposes, thinks, views, volunteers.

  16. How, When, & Why of Quotes • Put prose quotations in running text when they are four lines or fewer. • When they are more than four lines, indent and block them one inch from the left margin. • Block quotations should be double-spaced but not enclosed in quotation marks.

  17. Put poetry quotations in running text when they are three lines or fewer. Use a slash mark with one space on each side of the slash to indicate line breaks. When poetry lines are more than three lines, indent and block them ten spaces from the left margin. Block quotations should reproduce the format of the original poem and should not be enclosed in quotation marks. How, When, & Why of Quotes

  18. How, When, & Why of Quotes • At times, change position of your quotations to provide variety in your sentences. • At the beginning: • “What is known can seldom be immediately told, and when it might be told it is no longer known,” says Johnson on the subject of biography (116). • At the end: • In the Life of Addison, Johnson further acknowledges the biographer’s difficulties: “What is known can seldom be immediately told, and when it might be told it is no longer known” (116).

  19. How, When, & Why of Quotes • In the middle: • About biography, Johnson says that “what is known can seldom be immediately told, and when it might be told it is no longer known” (116), thus expressing both his discretion and his desire for intimate knowledge which led to interviews with the servants of his subjects. • Split up: • “What is known,” says Johnson about biography, “can seldom be immediately told, and when it might be told it is no longer known” (116).

  20. How, When, & Why of Quotes • After you’ve finished your first complete draft, scan the entire paper to make sure that you’re not quoting too much. If necessary, revise the paper to quote less and paraphrase more. • If you notice long chunks of indented quotations, then you need to revise. • If within the text your voice seems to have been drowned by the voices of your sources, consider working harder to paraphrase your sources. Remember: it’s your paper.

  21. In-text Citation • Sentence including quotation, wherein author is introduced • In Clarissa, Richardson writes, “I beg your excuse for not writing sooner” (58). • Quotation without introduction, including author’s name. • Clarissa’s regret is clearly stated: “I beg your excuse for not writing sooner” (Riichardson 58).

  22. In-text Citation • Paraphrase citation • In the early eighteenth century, our present day concept of the integrity of the individual began to exert a prominence in cultural consciousness just as capitalism replaced agrarianism resulting in our modern day economy (Hof 78). • Long quotation • Richardson’s heroine absolves her parents and creates alternate enemies: I beg your excuse for not writing sooner. Alas, my dear, I have sad prospects before me! My brother and sister have succeeded in all their views. They have found out another lover for me; a hideous one!--yet he is encouraged by everybody [ . . . ] . (146-147)

  23. In-text Citation • Short poetry quotation • God, however, is not diverted from Adam’s own guilt within the affair and charges, “Was she thy God, that thou didst obey/ Before his [God’s] voice [. . . ] .” (146-147). • Long poetry quotation • Despite knowing he should protect his wife, he damns her and her maker: This woman whom thou madst to be my help, And gavist me as they perfet gift, so good, So fit, so acceptable, so Divine, That from her hand I could suspect no ill [ . . . ] She gave me the of the Tree, and I did eate. (137-141)

  24. Reference Citation: Books • Book Author’s name. Title. Location of Publication: Publisher, date. • Book with two authors Jacobs, Allan and Diana Peach. Title. Location of Publication: Publisher, date. • Book with an editor Author’s Name. Title. Ed. Name. Location of Publication: Publisher, date. Or Lazy, Larry, ed. A Whole Bunch of Stuff. New York: Woowoo Press, 2001.

  25. Reference Citation: Articles • Article in a scholarly journal, issue paginated Author’s name. “Title of Article.” Title of Journal 13.3-4 (date): page number(s). • Article in a Scholarly Journal, volume paginated Author’s name. “Title of Article.” Title of Journal 49 (date): page #s. • If a book or article has no author, alphabetize by the title.

  26. Reference Citation: Articles • Article in a Newspaper Lala, May. “Title of Article.” Title of Newspaper 6 Apr. 2002, late ed: A1+. • Film or Video Recording It’s a Wonderful Life. Dir. Frank Capra. Perf. James Stewart, Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymmore, and Thomas Mitchell. RKO, 1946. • Sound Recording Bartolli, Cecilia. Chant d’amour. London, 1996.

  27. MLA Links • MLA Website • Portland State Writing Center • Purdue Writing Center/MLA Page