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MLA referencing standard Guide

Modern Language Association style standards

The Modern Language Association style is used to write papers in the field of liberal arts and humanities. Also abbreviated as MLA formatting style, it is used by many universities throughout the world. In this article, we shall look at the general format and outline of MLA research papers along with information concerning in-text citations, footnotes and other characteristics of MLA formatting style. All information is presented according to the MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing, 3rd edition and
the MLA Handbook for Writers on Research Papers, 7th edition.

The MLA General Format

The MLA formatting style provides some general guidelines with regard to the format of manuscripts along, correct usage of the English language and a system of referencing using parenthetical citations and works cited in essays. Proper usage of MLA formatting style totally assures the author of credibility by protecting them against any accusations of plagiarism. Nonetheless, some things are more important in determining an author’s credibility than just providing accountability for the source of information.

Formatting guidelines for the MLA formatting style include:
• Print your academic work on a standard paper measuring(8.5 11 inches)
• Double-space the text with legible font (Usually, Times New Roman is highly recommended). In case you decide to use other fonts, the regular writing and italics should be easily differentiated. 12 is the recommended font size.
• Only one space should be left after punctuation marks unless the examiner or instructor directs otherwise.
• 1-inch margins should be left on all sides of the document.
• The first line in every paragraph should be indented by exactly half an inch. An easier way is to use the Tab Key rather than pressing the Space Bar up to five times.
• Insert a header with the page numbers on the upper-right corner of the document, half an inch from the top and correctly flushing with the paper’s right margin. But if the examiner insists that you should omit numbering on the first page, follow the instruction. The examiner’s instructions are superior to MLA’s guidelines in such a case.
• Italics should be used to write names of longer works on the paper. Emphasis should also be laid if it’s necessary.
• Endnotes should be included on an unformatted separate page just before the page of Cited Works. After entitling it as “Notes”, format it to have it at the centre of the page.

The First Page
These guidelines are applicable for the MLA formatting style for an essay:
• The title page should not be written unless expressly specified by the instructor.
• The name of the student, name of the instructor, the course and date should be written on the upper-left corner of the first page. The text should be double-spaced.
• Double space the text, add the title and then centre it. Avoid using italics, quotation marks and underlining. Capitalise all them main words in the title (Title Case).
• Italics and quotation marks are used when referring to another author’s works in the title; for instance, Literary Styles in “2013: King of the Jungle”; Theories of interpreting Literature applied in William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.
• Double space all the details between the title of the essay and the first paragraph.
• Page headers should be inserted on the upper-right corner with the page number and the writer’s last name in Arabic numerals. It should be set half an inch from the top before flushing it with the right margin. But if the instructor requires you to avoid this feature, do so please.

In-Text Citations

MLA formatting style requires parenthetical references to be set right before the concluding punctuation mark that ends the sentence containing the cited information. Examples:
o If you want to have the author’s name in the text: Jameson has undertaken several experiments which substantiate the theory mentioned above (343-349).
o If you want to include the name of the author in brackets: Several experiments have substantiated this theory (Jameson 343-349).
o If you are citing source volumes, the surname of the author should be written first, before the volume number and colon. Then the page range can be written down: (Lukasz 4: 31-34)
o Online sources should be cited in the same manner. If an online source does not have page numbers, it should be omitted from the parenthetical reference. For instance, this is an online source containing numbered paragraphs: (Goodman, pars. 26-29)

The MLA formatting style’s general guidelines for in-text citations include:
• References are placed in a sentence’s pauses. For example, before a comma, semicolon or period next to relevant material.
• The page number and name of the author from whom information has been extracted should be cited in brackets. Where multiple sources in one reference are being cited, they should be separated by a semicolon.
• Where page numbers are not mentioned, e.g. web pages, they can be omitted from the reference list.
• When noting down corporate authors such as the company or organisation behind the paper, just cite the name. When a name is too long, you may choose to include it in the sentence instead of using brackets e.g. there is evidence of innumerable facts that support this claim (National Research Council 122); The National Population Council has a different view (123).

Indirect Sources

As a general rule, information from secondhand or indirect sources should be avoided. It’s a good practice to add “qtd. in” when quoting or paraphrasing from indirect sources just before mentioning the source, in brackets: Jefferson does not subscribe to this “immoral practice” (qtd. in Jefferson 219). If you are quoting from classic literary works, you should the page number followed by a semicolon and other information for identification of the right sentence or passage: (Wesley 52; pt 3, ch. 2)

List of Cited Works

MLA Formatting Style recommends the use of a list of Cited Works which is included just after doing your paper, for helping your readers to locate the sources you have used for your paper. The list should contain the heading “Cited Works”.
Write the surname first before other names of the author. Where there are multiple editors or authors, it’s only the first author whose surname is written first e.g.: Michael, Daniel, and Chingkim Chengun. If the authors are too many, you can write the surname of the first author and then add “et al”. The titles should be italicized.

Book references should also contain all the details, when using the MLA formatting style, in this order: author’s name, complete book title, edition (where mentioned), place of publication, publisher’s name (shortened), date of publication and the medium of publication. The medium can be an audiotape, film, CD, web, television, radio, email, interview, oil on canvas or digital file. If a software program is mentioned, it should be italicized.

The basic format is: Last Name, First Name. Book Title. Place of Publication: The Publisher, Year when Published. Medium of Publication.
Example: Shakespeare, William. 1597. Heuer Publishing. Print.
For chapters or essays in anthologies and edited books, the details which need the MLA formatting style guidelines include: the chapter or essay, name of the author, title, book title, name of editors or compilers, place of publication, publisher’s name (also shortened), the date of publication, page range and the medium of publication.

Example:
Kuratko, Donald. “Initiating Entrepreneurial Ventures.” Entrepreneurship: Theory, Process, Practice. 9th edn. Kim Kellogg. Cengage Learning, 2008. 152-175. Print.

Citing Journal Articles, Newspapers and Magazines
When writing references for a periodical article, the following details are essential: author, title of the article, title of the journal newspaper or magazine where the article was published, volume number, date of publication, page range and the medium of publication. Issue numbers should be written as decimals to indicate volume number after the decimal point (for instance, 19.2 is volume 19, issue 2). When citing a newspaper, it is recommended that you specify the edition as the material could vary among different editions.

Examples:
For a journal article that has been written by two authors: Kevin Jones, Chris Edward. “The nature of man with respect to intelligence, love and desire” Critical and Creative Thinking 202 (Dec 2012): 18-38
Referencing a magazine article:
Kimberly, MN. “Sports Today: ABC Stars prepared to win the Champions League “The People 18 Nov. 2012: 22-24. Print

Citing Websites
Unless the instructor directs, MLA formatting style doesn’t require mentioning of web URLs in citations. But if you choose to include it then you ought to write it after the date of access to the website enclosed in brackets and a period at the end. Where pagination is not continuous or unavailable, you should write the phrase “n. pag.” when you are citing the web source.

Examples of Web Entries:
University of Hertfordshire Library. “Psychology BSc (Hons).” University of Hertfordshire Library, 2013. Web. 7 August 2013 < http://www.herts.ac.uk/courses/psychology >.

Articles in Online Periodicals
Kate, Gough. “International Development Planning Review.”, Liverpool University Press 13 Apr. 2013: n. pag. Web 7 Aug 2013.

Example of Encyclopaedia Entry
“Tesla, Nikola.” Encyclopaedia of Technology and Innovation Management Online. Encyclopedia of Technology and Innovation Management, 2010. Web. 7 Aug. 2013.

For more information the MLA formatting style, please visit www.library.uvic.ca and http://www.mla.org/

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