MLA Documentation Style
There are many types of style for quoting sources used in academic writing. One of the most important functions of a style guide is to instruct you as to the proper form for such documentation. Many academic organizations each have different systems for documenting sources: footnotes, endnotes, internal citation, and so forth.
This chapter will give an overview of one of the most common documentation styles, the one developed by the Modern Language Association, or MLA.
The MLA documentation style uses internal or parenthetical citation, which means when you cite a quote or an idea from someone else, you immediately begin a set of parentheses, inside of which you place the author's name and the number of the page from where you pulled the information:
There are those who claim that comic books were destroyed by the advent of censorship from the Comics Code Authority, but others claim the Comics Code Authority actually was a long-term benefactor to the comic book industry (Nyberg, x–xi).
At the end of a paper written in MLA format, you must place a list of all the works you cited within the paper. List cited works by the name of the author, the title of the article (if there is an article title), followed by the name of the publication, all separated by periods. Lastly come the details of publication, including the page numbers of the article, the city where it was published, the publishing company, and the year of publication. Here's an example using the book referred to in the previous example:
Nyberg, Amy Kiste. Seal of Approval: The History of the Comics Code. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1998.
Some professors don't care which documentation style you use, as long as it's done properly. However, it is important that you check with your professor or target publication when there is any question as to whether or not there is a preferred style.
Magazine or serial articles may also require that you include the issue and volume number of the publication. The punctuation in both the internal citation and the works cited list is important for proper use of the documentation and should be observed closely. In addition, the second and following lines of the works cited entries are indented while the first line of such entries are not. These are important for clarity of the information.
Obviously, not all of the works you cite in an academic paper will be from a book or even from a printed source. With the advent of the Internet, CD-ROMs, and even broadcast media (like TV or radio), there are many possible sources of information. A listing for how to cite all of these possible sources would take many pages. However, the
For more details, you can look at the style guide published by the MLA, which is currently in its second edition and widely available for purchase at university bookstores. (Refer to Appendix A for further information on these suggested titles.)