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Cite Sources

Cite Sources

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MLA 8 - In-Text Citations

An in-text citation should point to a specific work in your list of works cited. There are a couple of ways you can handle this basic format:

Elsie B. Michie notes that in Mansfield Park, Austen seeks "to make the rich woman an attractive figure" (31).

It has been argued that in Mansfield Park, Austen seeks "to make the rich woman an attractive figure" (Michie 31).

Both of these sentences are quoting the same passage, but the first acknowledges the author in the sentence itself and the second includes the author's name in the parentheses at the end instead.

Use your judgment to decide which of these in-text citation styles works better at a given point in your writing. If you plan to argue with or discuss a source at length, the first might be better. If you're just briefly quoting an opinion or a fact in passing, the second might be better.

If you're quoting a source that has no page numbers, you can't include page numbers - instead, list the author's name in parentheses.

If you're quoting a web source or a reference book, keep an eye out for the author's name. In many reference books, a chapter or an entry will include an attribution at the very end - see this Credo Reference article for an example. If I were citing this article, my in-text citation would be (Munford) and I would include a citation for this article in my Works Cited.

MLA 8 - Books

To cite a book in MLA format, follow this basic pattern:

Author's last name, author's first name. Title of Book. [City of publication if the book was published before 1900 or if it's relevant to the edition], Publisher, Year.

All of this information should be available from the book itself. Check the title page and the copyright page if you're not sure when or where it was published.

Be sure to cite the edition you're actually looking at. For example:

Austen, Jane. Sense and Sensibility. Bantam Classics, 2006. [The book was originally published in London in 1811, but the edition we're looking at was published in 2006.]

Cite as much information about your copy of the book as possible. For example:

Milton, John. Paradise Lost. Ed. Alistair Fowler. 2nd ed. Longman, 1998. [This is an edition of Milton's Paradise Lost that was edited by Fowler.]

If a book has two authors, cite it this way:

Gilbert, Sandra M., and Susan Gubar. The Madwoman in the Attic: the Woman Writer and the Nineteenth-Century Literary Imagination. Yale University Press, 1979.

If a book has three authors or more, cite it this way:

Croft, W. Bruce, et al. Search Engines: Information Retrieval in Practice. Addison-Wesley, 2010.

If  a book is a translation, cite it this way:

Flaubert, Gustave. Madame Bovary: Provincial Ways. Translated by Lydia Davis. Viking, 2010.

If a book has an editor, cite it this way:

Widmer, Ted, ed. American Speeches: Political Oratory from the Revolution to the Civil War. Library of America, 2006.

A signed entry in a reference book:

Mendelson, Wallace. "Separation of Powers." The Oxford Companion to the Supreme Court of the United States. Edited by Kermit L. Hall. Oxford University Press, 1992.

An unsigned entry in a reference book:

"United States of America." The Statesman’s Yearbook 2013. Edited by Barry Turner. Palgrave Macmillan, 2012.

Corporate authorship (publications by a group or organization, where an author is not named):

World Bank and United Nations. Natural Hazards, UnNatural Disasters: The Economics of Effective Prevention. E-book, World Bank Publications, 2010. [Here I'm including the publication information for this book because the online text is a straight reprint of the print edition.]

MLA 8 - Articles & Book Chapters

To cite a journal article in MLA format, follow this basic pattern:

Author's last name, author's first name. "Title of Article." Title of Journal volume #, issue #, year, pages, URL. Date of access [if you read it online].

Here's an example of an article cited from a print journal:

Coviello, Peter. "Whitman's Children." PMLA vol. 128, no. 1, 2013, pp. 73-86.

Here's an example of an article cited from a database:

May, Charles E. "The Short Story's Way of Meaning: Alice Munro's 'Passion.'" Narrative vol. 20, no. 2, 2012, pp. 172-182, Accessed 6 May 2013.

Some articles that you read online may not have pagination - in cases like this, you obviously won't be able to list the pages it appeared on, so it's okay just to list the URL. For example:

Joneson, Devan. "Mythic Mentor Figures and Liminal Sacred Spaces in Doctor Who and Battlestar Galactica." Inquire: Journal of Comparative Literature vol. 3, no. 1, 2013, Accessed 6 May 2013.

To cite a chapter in an edited book, follow this format:

Author's last name, author's first name. "Title of Chapter." Title of Book, edited by Editor(s). Publisher, Year, pages.

Norris, Margot. "Modernist Eruptions." The Columbia History of the American Novel, edited by Emory Elliott, Columbia University Press, 1991, pp. 311-330.

Follow a similar format for an item in an anthology:

Rich, Adrienne. "Women and Honor: Some Notes on Lying." Adrienne Rich's Poetry and Prose, edited by Barbara Charlesworth Gelpi and Albert Gelpi, Norton, 1993, pp. 195-203.

MLA 8 - Web Sites

When citing a website, the idea is to provide as much information as is available about the site. Here's the basic format to follow:

Author's last name, author's first name. Title of the work. Title of the website. Publisher or sponsor, if there is one, date of publication, URL. Access date.

Here's how we would cite this blog post, for example:

Cohen, Micah. "Uncertainty Still Clouds Health Care Law." FiveThirtyEight, 1 May 2013, Accessed 6 May 2013.

Most reputable web sites will have at least some information along these lines. If you can't find any of the crucial information like author, publisher/sponsor, or date of publication, you might want to think about whether this is a source you should be using for your research in the first place.

MLA 8 - Other Sources

A movie:

Title. Directed by (director), performances by (performers), release studio, original year it came out.

Two-Lane Blacktop. Directed by Monte Hellman, performances by James Taylor, Warren Oates, Laurie Bird, and Dennis Wilson, Universal Pictures, 1971. 

A YouTube video:

MLA doesn't provide specific guidance on how to cite YouTube. Follow the example above for how to cite a website.

University of Arkansas - Fort Smith. "Quarters." YouTube, 9 Oct. 2012, Accessed 7 May 2013.

If we were citing an anonymous video, we might include the username of the account that uploaded it instead.

An interview:

McPhee, John. "John McPhee, The Art of Nonfiction No. 3." Interview by Peter Hessler. Paris Review no. 192, 2010, Accessed 13 May 2013. (Use this format if you read the interview somewhere.)

Doe, Jane. Personal interview. 13 May 2013. (Use this format if you conducted the interview yourself.)