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Literary Research

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MLA Bibliography

This guide is intended to assist students who are conducting research on literature in English.

MLA In-Text Citations: Basic Rules

Basic Rules for In-Text Citations:

  • Use the author's last name and page number(s) when available.
  • The author's name may be placed within the text of the sentence, in which case only the page number is put in parentheses.
  • If the source has no page numbers, indicate the lack of a page number with "N. Pag."
  • If the source is not attributed to an individual author, use a "corporate" (or group) author, such as "U.S. Government Printing Office," or "American Library Association."
  • If there is no author (not even a corporate author), use an abbreviated form of the work's title in the parenthetical citation.
  • In all cases, create a citation that is brief and that unambiguously and clearly directs the reader to the right entry on your Works Cited page.

MLA In-Text Citations: Direct Quoting


When you directly quote an author, include the author's name and the page number of the quotation.

Examples*:

1. (Author's name in text)

It may be true, as Robertson maintains, that "in the appreciation of medieval art the attitude of the observer is of primary importance..." (136).

2. (Author's name in reference)

It may be true that "in the appreciation of medieval art the attitude of the observer is of primary importance..." (Robertson 136).


Remember to provide a full bibliographic entry of the author's work on your works cited page.

*Examples excerpted from: Modern Language Association. MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers. 7th ed. New York: Modern Language Assoc. of America, 2009. Print.

MLA In-Text Citations: Paraphrasing

Paraphrasing or summarizing an author's ideas in your own words is perfectly acceptable as long as you acknowledge the original author, and clearly define the boundary between that author's ideas and your own ideas.

Examples*:

1. (Single author)

In his Autobiography, Benjamin Franklin states that he prepared a list of thirteen virtues (135-37).

2. (Two authors)

Others, like Jakobson and Waugh (210-15), hold the opposite point of view.


Remember to provide a full bibliographic entry of the author's work on your works cited page.

*Examples excerpted from: Modern Language Association. MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers. 7th ed. New York: Modern Language Assoc. of America, 2009. Print.

MLA In-Text Citations: Citing a Source Cited in Your Source

Sometimes you may need to use information cited in another source. For example, a text by Boswell that you found quotes something written by Johnson. There are two possible ways of handling it. You can:

  1. Find the original item by Johnson and cite directly from that author (preferred).
  2. Name Johnson as a source in your paraphrase, but only cite Boswell in the references page (acceptable if the original item is unavailable).

Example*:

Samuel Johnson admitted that Edmund Burke was an "extraordinary man" (qtd. in Boswell 2: 450).

You would only need to list the work by Boswell, not Johnson, in your references page, since this is the author you have read.

*Example excerpted from: Modern Language Association. MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers. 7th ed. New York: Modern Language Assoc. of America, 2009. Print.

MLA In-Text Citations: Citing a Web Page

Citing a web-based source within text can be tricky because a website may provide neither a page number nor an author. In this scenario, you can do the following:

  • If there is no author listed, look for other authorship information, such as the creator or editor, or performer of the item or organization responsible for the site. If there is neither, use the title of the item in quotation marks in place of the author's name.
  • Page numbers are not common on websites; MLA does not require a page number (or "N. Pag.") for web-based items.

Example:

Though 2500 scientists were signatories to the IPCC, and the report, released in 2007, was heralded widely as a document that would change U.S. climate policy ("The Scientists Speak"), policy has not developed since then.

The entry on the Works Cited page would be alphabetized by its title:

"The Scientists Speak." Editorial. New York Times. New York Times, 20 Nov. 2007. Web. 3 January 2013.

MLA Works Cited Page: Basic Rules

Basic Rules for In-Text Citations:

  • Use the author's last name and page number(s) when available.
  • The author's name may be placed within the text of the sentence, in which case only the page number is put in parentheses.
  • If the source has no page numbers, indicate the lack of a page number with "N. Pag."
  • If the source is not attributed to an individual author, use a "corporate" (or group) author, such as "U.S. Government Printing Office," or "American Library Association."
  • If there is no author (not even a corporate author), use an abbreviated form of the work's title in the parenthetical citation.
  • In all cases, create a citation that is brief and that unambiguously and clearly directs the reader to the right entry on your Works Cited page.

MLA Works Cited Page: Books

A book with one author:

Lastname, Firstname. Title of Book. City of Publication: Publisher, Year of Publication. Medium of Publication.

Example:

Gregory, Philippa. The Lady of the Rivers. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2011. Print.

A chapter in an edited book:

Lastname, Firstname. "Title of Essay." Title of Collection. Ed. Editor's Name(s). City of Publication: Publisher, Year. Page range of entry. Medium of Publication.

Example:

Irizarry, Ylce. "Making it Home: A New Ethics of Immigration in Junot Díaz's Drown." Hispanic Caribbean Literature of Migration : Narratives of Displacement. Ed. Vanessa Pérez Rosario. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010. Print.

MLA Works Cited Page: Journal Articles

A basic journal article:

Author(s). "Title of Article." Title of Journal volume.issue (year): pages. Medium of publication.

Example:

Beach, Christopher. "Poetic Positionings: Stephen Dobyns and Lyn Hejinian in Cultural Context." Contemporary Literature 38.1 (1997): 44-77. Print.

An electronic journal from a database

Author(s). "Title of Article." Title of Journal volume.issue (year): pages. Database Name. Web. Date Accessed.

Example:

Javadizadeh, Kamran. "Elizabeth Bishop's Closet Drama." Arizona Quarterly: A Journal of American Literature, Culture, and Theory 67.3 (2011): n. pag. Project Muse. Web. 19 Dec. 2012.

Websites

 

Note that MLA has retired the requirement for including the url of the website in a works cited entry. Only include the url if it is a course requirement or if it would be very hard to find the site in a search using the information you provide in the bibliographic entry.

Website with Authors Identified

Author, A. A., & Author, B. B. "Title of Work." Title of Website, if Different Version/edition (if used). Publisher or Sponsor; if not available, N.p, Date of publication; if not available, n.d. Web. Date of access.

Example:

Antin, David. Interview by Charles Bernstein. Dalkey Archive Press. Dalkey Archive P, n.d. Web. 21 Aug. 2007.

Website with No Authors

When there is no author for a web page, the title moves to the first position of the reference entry.

Example of a website without an author:

"Stress-Resilience/Susceptibility Traced to Neurons in Reward Circuit." National Institute of Mental Health. NIMH, 12 Dec. 2012. Web. 21 Dec. 2012.

MLA Works Cited Page: Newspaper Articles

Print newspaper article:

Author, A. "Title of Article." Newspaper Title Date of publication, edition: Pages. Print.

Example:

Jeromack, Paul. "This Once, a David of the Art World Does Goliath a Favor." New York Times 13 July 2002, New England ed.: A13+. Print.

Online newspaper article:

Author, A.A. "Title of article." Newspaper Title (Date of publication): n. pag. Web. Date accessed.

Example:

Cushman, John H. "N.R.A. Calls for Armed Guards in Schools to Deter Violence." New York Times (21 Dec. 2012): n. pag. Web. 21 Dec. 2012.

MLA Works Cited Page: Sacred Works and Commentaries

Sacred Texts

Give the title of the edition of the sacred text (taken from the title page), italicized; the editor’s or translator’s name (if any); publication information; and the medium. Add the name of the version, if there is one:

The Oxford Annotated Bible with the Apocrypha. Ed. Herbert G. May and Bruce M. Metzger. New York: Oxford UP, 1965. Print. Rev. Standard Vers.

The Qur’an: Translation. Trans. Abdullah Yusuf Ali. Elmhurst: Tahrike, 2000. Print.

(Examples above from hackerhandbooks.com.)

Commentary

  • For articles from reference works (e.g. Dictionary of the Bible), follow the example for An Article in a Reference Book:

Gamble, Harry Y. "Canon." The Anchor Bible Dictionary, Vol. 1. Ed. David Noel Freedman. New York: Doubleday, 1992. Print.

  • For book-length Commentaries (e.g. from the Anchor series), follow the example for A Book in a Series, using the series name and number.

If your citations are mostly to the translator's notes and commentary, begin the entry with the translator's name:

Neyrey, Jerome H., trans. 2 Peter, Jude: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary. New York: Doubleday, 1993. Print. Anchor Bible Series, Vol. 37C.

If your citations are mostly to the biblical text, begin the entry with the title, and include the translator's name after the title:

2 Peter, Jude: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary. Trans. Jerome H. Neyrey. New York: Doubleday, 1993. Print. Anchor Bible Series, Vol. 37C.

  • For articles in Journals, follow instructions for Journal Articles in the box above.