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Mla Essay Format Quotes From A Book

MLA General Format

Summary:

MLA (Modern Language Association) style is most commonly used to write papers and cite sources within the liberal arts and humanities. This resource, updated to reflect the MLA Handbook (8th ed.), offers examples for the general format of MLA research papers, in-text citations, endnotes/footnotes, and the Works Cited page.

Contributors: Tony Russell, Allen Brizee, Elizabeth Angeli, Russell Keck, Joshua M. Paiz, Michelle Campbell, Rodrigo Rodríguez-Fuentes, Daniel P. Kenzie, Susan Wegener, Maryam Ghafoor, Purdue OWL Staff
Last Edited: 2016-08-11 04:27:59

MLA style specifies guidelines for formatting manuscripts and using the English language in writing. MLA style also provides writers with a system for referencing their sources through parenthetical citation in their essays and Works Cited pages.

Writers who properly use MLA also build their credibility by demonstrating accountability to their source material. Most importantly, the use of MLA style can protect writers from accusations of plagiarism, which is the purposeful or accidental uncredited use of source material by other writers.

If you are asked to use MLA format, be sure to consult the MLA Handbook (8th edition). Publishing scholars and graduate students should also consult the MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing (3rd edition). The MLA Handbook is available in most writing centers and reference libraries; it is also widely available in bookstores, libraries, and at the MLA web site. See the Additional Resources section of this handout for a list of helpful books and sites about using MLA style.

Paper Format

The preparation of papers and manuscripts in MLA style is covered in chapter four of the MLA Handbook, and chapter four of the MLA Style Manual. Below are some basic guidelines for formatting a paper in MLA style.

General Guidelines

  • Type your paper on a computer and print it out on standard, white 8.5 x 11-inch paper.
  • Double-space the text of your paper, and use a legible font (e.g. Times New Roman). Whatever font you choose, MLA recommends that the regular and italics type styles contrast enough that they are recognizable one from another. The font size should be 12 pt.
  • Leave only one space after periods or other punctuation marks (unless otherwise instructed by your instructor).
  • Set the margins of your document to 1 inch on all sides.
  • Indent the first line of paragraphs one half-inch from the left margin. MLA recommends that you use the Tab key as opposed to pushing the Space Bar five times.
  • Create a header that numbers all pages consecutively in the upper right-hand corner, one-half inch from the top and flush with the right margin. (Note: Your instructor may ask that you omit the number on your first page. Always follow your instructor's guidelines.)
  • Use italics throughout your essay for the titles of longer works and, only when absolutely necessary, providing emphasis.
  • If you have any endnotes, include them on a separate page before your Works Cited page. Entitle the section Notes (centered, unformatted).

Formatting the First Page of Your Paper

  • Do not make a title page for your paper unless specifically requested.
  • In the upper left-hand corner of the first page, list your name, your instructor's name, the course, and the date. Again, be sure to use double-spaced text.
  • Double space again and center the title. Do not underline, italicize, or place your title in quotation marks; write the title in Title Case (standard capitalization), not in all capital letters.
  • Use quotation marks and/or italics when referring to other works in your title, just as you would in your text: Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas as Morality Play; Human Weariness in "After Apple Picking"
  • Double space between the title and the first line of the text.
  • Create a header in the upper right-hand corner that includes your last name, followed by a space with a page number; number all pages consecutively with Arabic numerals (1, 2, 3, 4, etc.), one-half inch from the top and flush with the right margin. (Note: Your instructor or other readers may ask that you omit last name/page number header on your first page. Always follow instructor guidelines.)

Here is a sample of the first page of a paper in MLA style:

Image Caption: The First Page of an MLA Paper

Section Headings

Writers sometimes use Section Headings to improve a document’s readability. These sections may include individual chapters or other named parts of a book or essay.

Essays

MLA recommends that when you divide an essay into sections that you number those sections with an arabic number and a period followed by a space and the section name.

1. Early Writings

2. The London Years

3. Traveling the Continent

4. Final Years

Books

MLA does not have a prescribed system of headings for books (for more information on headings, please see page 146 in the MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing, 3rd edition). If you are only using one level of headings, meaning that all of the sections are distinct and parallel and have no additional sections that fit within them, MLA recommends that these sections resemble one another grammatically. For instance, if your headings are typically short phrases, make all of the headings short phrases (and not, for example, full sentences). Otherwise, the formatting is up to you. It should, however, be consistent throughout the document.

If you employ multiple levels of headings (some of your sections have sections within sections), you may want to provide a key of your chosen level headings and their formatting to your instructor or editor.

Sample Section Headings

The following sample headings are meant to be used only as a reference. You may employ whatever system of formatting that works best for you so long as it remains consistent throughout the document.

Numbered:

1. Soil Conservation

1.1 Erosion

1.2 Terracing

2. Water Conservation

3. Energy Conservation

Formatted, unnumbered:

Level 1 Heading: bold, flush left

Level 2 Heading: italics, flush left

     Level 3 Heading: centered, bold

     Level 4 Heading: centered, italics

Level 5 Heading: underlined, flush left

Why we use parenthetical / in-text citations

Researchers place brief parenthetical descriptions to acknowledge which parts of their paper reference particular sources. Generally, you want to provide the last name of the author and the specific page numbers of the source. If such information is already given in the body of the sentence, then exclude it from the parenthetical citation.

Place the parenthetical citation where there is a pause in the sentence – normally before the end of a sentence or a comma. The in-text citation will differ depending on how much information you provide within the sentence.

Example with author’s name in text:

Johnson argues this point (12-13).

or

This point had already been argued (Johnson 12-13).


Citing sources with more than one author

If you use sources with the same author surnames, then include a first name initial. If the two sources have authors with the same initials, then include their full names:[su_spacer]

Example:

(J. Johnson 12-13).

or

(John Johnson 12-13).

If there are two or three authors of the source, include their last names in the order they appear on the source:

Example:

(Smith, Wollensky, and Johnson 45).

If there are more than three authors, you can cite all the authors with their last name, or you can cite the first author followed by “et al.” Follow what is shown the works cited list.

Example:

(Smith et al. 45).


Citing sources without an author

Some sources do not have authors or contributors – for instance, when you cite some websites. Instead, refer to the name of the source in your parenthetical citation in place of the author. Shorten / abbreviate the name of the source but ensure that your reader can easily identify it in your works cited (abbreviate the title starting with the same word in which it is alphabetized). Punctuate with quotations or italicize as you would in its works cited form (a book is italicized; an article is in quotes).

Examples:

Double agents are still widely in use (Spies 12-15, 17).

With prices of energy at new highs, bikes have been increasingly used (“Alternative Transportation” 89).


Citing part of a work

When citing a specific part of a work, provide the relevant page or section identifier. This can include specific pages, sections, paragraphs or volumes. When the identifier is preceded by an abbreviation or word, place a comma between the identifier and the source reference.


Part of a multivolume work

Example:

It is arguably the most innovative period in history (Webster, vol 4).


Chapter within a book (if no specific numbers can be referenced)

Example:

The electoral college undermines democracy (Sanders, “Government Injustices”).


Article in a periodical

Example:

Allen claims there is an inverse correlation between higher taxes and patriotic feelings worldwide (B2).

When citing a specific page(s) of a multivolume work, precede the page number by the volume number and a colon. Do not separate by a comma.

It was arguably the most innovative period in history (Webster 4:12-15).

Use “par.” or “pars.” when referring to specific paragraphs.

The marketing dollars of big studio films has overshadowed good indie movies (Anderson, pars. 12-34).


Citing group or corporate authors

In your parenthetical citation, cite a corporate author like you would a normal author. Preferably, incorporate the corporate author in your text instead of the parenthetical citation.

Example:

Facial transplants pose significant risk to the autoimmune system (American Medical Association 12-43).

As noted by the American Medical Association, facial transplants pose significant risk to the autoimmune system (12-43).


Citing an entire source

When citing an entire work, there are no specific page numbers to refer to. Therefore it is preferable to refer to the source within the text itself with either the author or the title of the source.

Example:

Hartford suggests the Internet provides more distractions than it does information.


Citing multiple works by the same author

If you reference more than one source by the same author, distinguish the parenthetical citations by including the name of the source. Use a comma to separate the author from the source.

Example:

Wars can be economic catalysts (Friedman, World 77-80).

Industrialized nations are better equipped to rebound from recessions (Friedman, “High Tides” 56).


Citing indirect sources

When an original source is unavailable, then cite the secondhand source – for instance, a lecture in a conference proceedings. When quoting or paraphrasing a quote, write “qtd. in” before the author and pages.

Example:

John Murray calls Tim Smith “interesting but egotistical” (qtd. in Jesrani 34).


Citing literary / classic and religious works

For works such as novels, plays and other classic works, it’s helpful to provide further identifying information along with the page information. Do this by adding a semicolon and then the identifying information following the page number.

Example:

(Tolstoy 5; pt. 2, ch. 3).

When citing classic poems and plays, replace page numbers with division numbers (part, book, scene, act). The below refers to book 10 line 5. Bear in mind the divisions and the way they are written can vary by source.

Example:

Fear plays a role in Homer’s Odyssey (10.5).

The title of books in the Bible and other famous literary works should be abbreviated.

(New Jerusalem Bible, Gen. 2.6-9).


Placing parenthetical citations in direct quotations

When directly quoting a source, place the parenthetical citation after the quote.

Example:

Sanders explains that economic woes are due to “the mortgage crisis and poor risk assessment” (20).

Place the parenthetical citation at the end of an indented quotation. There should be no period after the parenthetical citation. The last sentence of the indented quote should look like:

Example:

It’s unclear whether multilateral tariffs are disruptive to bilateral talks. (Evert 30-31)


Citing online sources

Generally, follow the same principals of parenthetical citations to cite online sources. Refer to the author, and if possible, a permanent identifier that would be the same for any reader.

Examples:

The economy will rebound with the new monetary policies (Smith).

Solar power will become the primary source of energy (Williams 2).


Citing online sources with no author

If there is no author, use the title that begins the citation, either the article or website title. Be sure it also takes the same formatting, i.e. articles are in quotes and website titles are italicized. Shorten / abbreviate the name of the source but ensure that your reader can easily identify it in your works cited (abbreviate the title starting with the same word in which it is alphabetized).

Examples:

Elephants are thought to be one of the smartest mammals (“Smart Elephants”).

Nineteen men and women were convicted (Salem Witchcraft Trials).

Note: Ideally, when citing online sources, try to reference the source within your sentence, with either the author or the title to avoid writing a parenthetical citation.


Where to put the parenthetical citations:

  • Place parenthetical citations at the end of the sentence you are paraphrasing and quoting. For example: The destruction of the argentine is due to many socioeconomic factors (Taylor 33).
  • Even when quoting, place the parenthetical citations after the quotations.

Example:

“Mamma always said stupid is as stupid does” (Gump 89).


Long quotes:

When quoting four lines or more, indent every line you are quoting by one inch (or 10 spaces) and do not use quotes.

Example:

The use of nuclear weapons in today’s society is strikingly alarming. Though the United States is the only country to employ it in the past, they are at the same time the country that condemns its use the most. While this may seem hypocritical, is it the most proper action for the United States to make as the global leader. (Taparia 9)


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