The Modern Language Association (MLA) style is widely used for identifying research sources. This style does not use footnotes to identify a source when it is quoted in your paper. Instead, you briefly identify sources in the text of your paper, and give the complete description of each source in your Bibliography. The bibliography is a list of all the sources you used in your paper, arranged alphabetically by author’s last name, or when there is no author, by the first word of the title.
In the text of your paper:
Large numbers of fish have been observed around artificial reefs near Oahu and Maui. However, according to studies by Hawaii’s marine biologists, sharks do not seem to be attracted by these artificial reefs (Tanji A1).
In your Bibliography:
Tanji, Edwin. “Big Sharks Eschewing Artificial Reefs.” Honolulu Advertiser. 1 Nov. 1993: A1-2.
The examples below are based on the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, Third Edition, by Joseph Gibaldi and Walter S. Achert. (Ref LB2369 .G53 1988)
Author. Title of Book. Place of Publication: Publisher, Date.
Reagan, Michael D. Curing the Crisis: Options for America’s Health Care. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1992.
Two or Three Authors
Cott, Nancy R., and Elizabeth H. Pleck, eds. A Heritage of Her Own: Toward a New Social History of American Women. New York: Simon
and Schuster, 1979.
Cite a book by corporate author when a group, rather than individual persons, is named as the author.
American Welding Society. Filler Metal Comparison Charts. Miami, FL:
Government Agency as Author
First, give the name of the government, then the name of the agency. Abbreviations may be used.
Hawaii. Dept. of Business and Economic Development. The State of Hawaii Data Book: A Statistical Abstract. Honolulu: Dept. of Business and Economic Development, 1992.
Encyclopedias and Reference Books
Author of Article. “Article Title.” Title of Book. Place of Publication: Publisher, Date.
Faron, Louis C. “Inca.” Encyclopedia Americana. International Edition. 1992.
Owen, Alan R. G. “Poltergeists.” Man, Myth and Magic: The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Mythology, Religion, and the Unknown. Ed. Richard Cavendish. 12 vols. New York: Marshall Cavendish, 1983.
Two or More Works by the Same Person(s)
In citing two or more sources by the same person, give the name in the first entry only. For the subsequent entries, type three hyphens, add a period, skip two spaces (—.__) then give the title.
Mead, Margaret. Coming of Age in Samoa: A Psychological Study of Primitive Youth for Western Civilisation. New York: Morrow, 1961.
—. People and Places. Cleveland: World, 1959.
Author. “Title of Article.” Name of Periodical Date: Page(s).
Bogert, Carroll. “Good News on Drugs from the Inner City.” Newsweek 14 Feb. 1994: 28+.
No Author Given
If no author’s name is given, begin with the title of the article.
“Computers in the Shop.” Motor Age Jan. 1994: 12-14.
Gross, Jane. “Quake Raises Fears on Safety of Universities in California.” New York Times 14 Feb. 1994, late ed: A10.
Waite, David. “City Council Moving Proposal to Ban Smoking in All Restaurants.” Honolulu Advertiser 5 Nov. 1993: A1.
Person Interviewed. Type of interview (in person or by telephone). Date. Use this format for interviews you have conducted, in-person or by telephone.
Mink, Patsy T. Telephone interview. 21 Jan. 1994.
ELECTRONIC INFORMATION SOURCES
Articles from CD-ROM and online sources should be cited in a special form because the information was originally published elsewhere.
Author’s Name. “Article Title.” Periodical Title Date: Page(s). Electronic Source, Category, Year, Media Nos.
InfoTrac with Magazine Collection Microcartridges
Use this format if the article was on microcartridge film. If the article was from a paper magazine, use the Format for Periodicals, above.
McCarthy, Paul. “UFO Update.” Omni Nov. 1993: 101. InfoTrac Magazine Collection, 1994, microcartridge 71A, frame 2066.
Torrance, Donald Cameron. “Deep Ecology: Rescuing Florida’s Coral Reefs.” Nature Conservancy July-Aug. 1991: 9-17. SIRS Combined Text and Index CD-ROM, Life Science, 1992, article 10.
Lipsher, Steve. “Youth Gun Bill Gets Fast Romer Signature.” Denver Post 14 Sep. 1993. NewsBank, Law, 1993, fiche 85, grid A3-4.
Title. Videocassette. Author. Director. Date.
Paul Cezanne: The Man and the Mountain. Videocassette. Writ. and narr. Edwin Mullins. Dir. Jochen Richter. Prod. Jakob Hausmann, 1985.
CITING ELECTRONIC MATERIALS WITH THE NEW MLA GUIDELINES
(c) Michael N. Salda, Dept. of English, Univ. of Southern Mississippi
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The new MLA rules (MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, 4th ed.) generally treat electronic materials as if they were printed texts that require additional information to be fully described. Thus when a printed source or analogue has served as the basis of an electronic text, the works-cited listing (1) begins with traditional bibliographic data (author, title, etc.) about the printed text and (2) concludes with data about the electronic version’s title, format, availability, and so on. Yet even when no printed source or analogue exists, MLA rules still treat the electronic material much as if it were printed, modifying guidelines developed for printed texts to the new digital environment in which the material is found.
Implicit in the new rules is a basic template for most electronic citations. The fullest possible bibliographic entry contains the following items:
- Author’s name.
- Print publication data, when such exist, based on usual MLA guidelines for complete works, parts of works, articles, abstracts, entries, etc. (If you need to consult the rules for citing printed texts, you can find a slightly dated version of them here .)
- Title of electronic material if this differs from the print publication title, using quotation marks for part of a work and underlining for the whole. This system includes:
- For material where a clear posting number and/or date of publication or posting exists–journals and listserv-type conferences are the most common–these data should be included. This type of citation should also include pagination (if the data are paginated) or a paragraph count.
- Title of database (underlined) if this differs from the title of the electronic material.
- Although the MLA does not specify the inclusion of an editor’s name for a database collecting diverse resources, for example, on a single CD-ROM or in an online archive, logic dictates that the editor’s name should follow the title of the database.
- Edition, release, or version number.
- Electronic medium. MLA offers several possibilites, with the option of using more than one for applications in multiple media: CD-ROM, Diskette, Magnetic tape, Videodisc, Videocassette, etc.
- Owner/repository/publication data (place, publisher, date) of electronic material and/or network/service-provider.
- Date of latest update (non-online sources) or date of access (online sources).
- Availability, which for the MLA means access mode (TELNET, FTP, GOPHER, E-MAIL, HTTP, etc.) and an address (for example, lib.dartmouth.edu). Although the MLA suggests this is optional, one would do well to include sufficient information to tell others how to obtain a copy of the material. Moreover, the availability statement should, when practicable and as nearly as current MLA guidelines permit, take the form of a uniform resource locator (URL) that identifies not only the access mode but also precisely where the material can be found. And despite what the MLA says, there should not be a period after an availability statement, because a period will be understood as part of the URL if it is included.
Few bibliographic entries in a works-cited list will actually contain all of these items. Citations for electronic materials based on printed sources or analogues will have more; those for electronic materials that exist only online will have fewer. Further, some items may simply not be readily available to a researcher. At colleges where electronic data are distributed through a campus network, users may well be “protected” from dealing directly with the data source by the network interface, and thus they will not know whether the information on the screen comes from a CD-ROM, magnetic tape, or an online service. Likewise the seamless interconnection of networks and the mirroring of data (making copies of the same files on several computers around the world) often make it difficult to determine where the “original document” is. In these cases, researchers should include as much electronic bibliographic data as can be gathered from the screen, a manual, or a helpful librarian.
Examples for different types of electronic material suggest how this template works in practice.
A. Work (or part of a work) with a printed source or analogue
Hardy, Thomas. Far from the Madding Crowd. Ed. Ronald Blythe. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1978. Online. Oxford Text Archive. Internet. 10 May 1995. Available FTP: ota.ox.ac.uk/pub/ota/public/english/Hardy/madcrowd.1802
Linton, W. J. “King Alfred.” Claribel and Other Poems. London: Simpkin, Marshall & Co., 1865. 53-60. English Poetry Full-Text Database. Rel. 1. CD-ROM. Cambridge, Eng.: Chadwyck-Healey, 1992.
Cinderella, or The Little Glass Slipper. New York: W. M. Mather, 1830s. The Cinderella Project [de Grummond Children’s Literature Research Collection, U of Southern Mississippi]. Ed. Michael N. Salda. Ver. 1.0. Feb. 1995. Online. Internet. 4 May 1995. Available HTTP: www.usm.edu/usmhburg/lib_arts/english/cinderella/cind6.html
William Faulkner in 1914, at age 17. William Faulkner, 1897-1962. Online. Internet. 17 May 1995. Available HTTP: www4.ncsu.edu/unity/users/s/sbcain/wfyoungpic.html
B. Work (or part of a work) without a printed source or analogue
Zakour, John M. The Doomsday Brunette. 1994. Online. Internet. 15 May 1995. Available HTTP: zeb.nysaes.cornell.edu/ddb.cgi/go/c1
Churchyard, H. “Pride and Prejudice–Notes on Education, Marriage, Status of Women, etc.” Jane Austen Information Page. 1994-95. Online. Internet. 28 May 1995. Available HTTP: uts.cc.utexas.edu/~churchh/pptopic2.html
The Hunt. Microsoft Dinosaurs. CD-ROM. Redmond, Wash.: Microsoft, 1993.
C. Journal/Newsletter/Newspaper with a printed source or analogue
Nichols, Stephen G. “Picture, Image, and Subjectivity in Medieval Culture.” MLN: Modern Language Notes 108:4 (1993): 617-37. Online. Internet. 11 Oct. 1994. Available HTTP: muse.mse.jhu.edu/tocs.journals/mln/108.4nichols.html
“How Green Are You?” Consumer Reports Nov. 1994: 2 pars. Online. Prodigy. 10 Mar. 1995.
“Training Opportunities Increase.” Academic Computing Newsletter June 1993. Acad Comp Newsletter 9306 (June 1993): 2 pars. Online. Internet. 26 Nov. 1994. Available GOPHER: darban.cc.usm.edu
Vranizan, Michelle. “World Library Turns Page.” Sun-Sentinel 16 Feb. 1995: 3D. Business Newsbank. CD-ROM. 10 April 1995.
Porteous, Sandra. “Why Bedford Just Doesn’t Want to Go.” The Daily News [Halifax, Nova Scotia] 30 May 1995: 11 pars. The Daily News On-line. Online. Internet. 30 May 1995. Available HTTP: www.cfn.cs.dal.ca/GreenPages/DailyNews.html
D. Journal/Newsletter/Newspaper/Conference (e.g., listserv) without a printed source or analogue
Fox, David L. “The Fiction of Reason.” Architronic: The Electronic Journal of Architecture 2:3 (1993): 24 pars. Online. Internet. 4 Apr. 1995. Available GOPHER: arcrs4.saed.kent.edu
“Let’s Go to the Movies.” American Heritage n. d.: n. pag. Online. Prodigy. 18 May 1995.
Shemeliuk, Rachael. “The ‘Hela-Capsol.'” Club KidSoft: Club Stories 3:1 (1995): 4 pp. CD-ROM. Los Gatos, Calif.: KidSoft, 1995.
“Fall 1995 Course Descriptions: English and Comparative Literature.” Humanities Newsletter [U of Calif., Irvine] 1995: n. pag. Online. Internet. 20 May 1995. Available HTTP: www.reg.uci.edu/HUMANITIES/ecl_f95.html
Wilkison, Brian. “Argentina Election.” Voice of America’s News and English Broadcasts no. 2-178417 (14 May 1995): 8 pars. Online. Internet. 15 May 1995. Available GOPHER: gopher.voa.gov
“Prez.: Shut Pa. Ave by White House.” Headline News 20 May 1995: 7 pp. Online. Prodigy. 20 May 1995.
Pinti, Daniel. “Re: Arthur in America.” Arthurnet 21 Jan. 1994: n. pag. Online. Internet. 30 Oct. 1995. Available HTTP (listserv archive): www.mun.ca/lists/arthurnet/
E. Dictionary/Encyclopedia/Database/Abstract collection with a printed source or analogue
“Mountain.” Random House Webster’s College Dictionary. N. d. Random House Webster’s Electronic Dictionary and Thesaurus. Ver. 1.0. Diskette. Reference Software International, 1992.
“Absurdity.” Roget’s Thesaurus of English Words and Phrases. 1911. Roget’s Thesaurus. Online. Internet. 26 Apr. 1995. Available HTTP: www.notredame.ac.jp/Roget/data/497.html
“Whitman, Walt.” Academic American Encyclopedia. N. d. Online. CompuServe. 14 June 1994.
Hill, John M. Chaucerian Belief: The Poetics of Reverence and Delight. New Haven: Yale UP, 1991. Abstract. Online Chaucer Bibliography. Online. Univ. of Texas, San Antonio Library. Internet. 3 March 1995. Available TELNET: utsaibm.utsa.edu [type “library”, “local”, “chau”]
Psaki, Francies Regina. “The Medieval Lyric-Narrative Hybrid: Formal Play and Narratorial Subjectivity.” DAI 50 (1989): 682. Cornell U, 1989. Dissertation Abstracts Ondisc. CD-ROM. ProQuest. Mar. 1995.
F. Dictionary/Encyclopedia/Database/Abstract collection without a printed source or analogue
“Skillet.” The Language Master Dictionary and Thesaurus. N. p.: Merriam-Webster, 1989. Microsoft Encarta. 1993 ed. CD-ROM. Redmond, Wash.: Microsoft, 1993.
“Phonetics.” Global Encyclopedia. Online. Internet. 1 June 1995. Available HTTP: www.halcyon.com/jensen/encyclopedia/
“Hattiesburg.” United States Geographic Name Server. Online. Internet. 2 Feb. 1995. Available GOPHER: gopher.stanford.edu
Mihos, J. Christopher. “Morphology of Galaxy Mergers at Intermediate Redshift.” Astrophysical Journal 438 (1995): L75-78. NASA Astrophysics Data System: ADS Abstract Service bibl. code 1995ApJ…438L…75M. Online. Internet. 18 May 1995. Available HTTP: adswww.harvard.edu/
G. Work in more than one medium
“Delphi, Treasury of the Athenians.” Perseus 1.0: Interactive Sources and Studies on Ancient Greece. Ed. Gregory Crane. CD-ROM, videodisc. New Haven: Yale UP, 1992.
Note: Online resources may draw text, pictures, and sound from a variety of media. Because the user will usually not be able to determine the media formats of online resources, online multimedia applications should be cited following the pattern for one of the items A-F above.
Exceptions to the template
Two kinds of electronic material have different citation rules: newsgroups and e-mail.
Newsgroups (e.g., Usenet and similar network newsfeeds), apparently because of their often nonacademic and ephemeral nature, hold a lower bibliographic status than their listserv conference counterparts. Consequently, a newsgroup citation has no underlining within it and is designated by the medium code “Online posting.” In these examples, the first date is that of the posting and the second is that on which the researcher accessed the material.
Smith, David. “Aliens took my kidneys.” 5 Jan. 1995. Online posting. Newsgroup alt.alien.visitors. Usenet. 14 Feb. 1995.
An equivalent citation for an online service such as CompuServe takes the following form:
Jones, Tonya. “Any good French software?” 7 Feb. 1995. Online posting. Foreign Language Education Forum. CompuServe. 20 Feb. 1995.
The MLA treats personal e-mail as a special form of unpublished correspondence. Two examples:
Sweet, Joelle. “Nabokov’s Poetry.” E-mail to Ralph Williams. 30 Nov. 1994.
Kreutzman, Mark. “Re: Death of King Arthur.” E-mail to author. 1 Dec. 1994.
Note, however, that e-mail received through a listserv-type conference should be treated as shown in item D above.
When the rules do not apply
If you encounter materials that do not correspond to these examples, return to the template. With it you should be able to construct a reasonably correct citation. It is difficult to make hard and fast rules to account for all the developments in today’s rapidly changing electronic environment. When the rules do not seem to cover the situation at hand, it is wise to keep in mind the reason for a consistent list of works cited: to allow a reader to find the materials you used in your research. If you can do this, you have succeeded.