Quick tip about citing sources in MLA style

When citing sources using MLA style (the preferred style in the Core but by no means the only style that people use at Champlain), keep in mind this central principle: A reader should be able to connect specific ideas in your essay with specific sources. What this means in terms of citations is this:

— When you cite an idea parenthetically, the word(s) that you put in the parentheses should link to the first word(s) in the corresponding Works Cited entry. Don’t try to put too much information into the parenthetical citation; the author’s last name (if there is an author) and page number (if there is a page number) will suffice. (What to do with author-less sources is addressed briefly below.) All of the other bibliographic information a reader can find in the Works Cited entry.

                     If a writer writes this sentence…

To remember him as an exemplar of “clear-eyed heroism” (McCarthy 10) is to overlook certain questionable events from his past.

                …then the Works Cited entry might look like this (although the second line should be indented five spaces):

McCarthy, A. “’Of All The Gin Joints.’” Commonweal 119.11 (1992): 10. Academic Search Complete. Web. 6 Nov. 2015.

By the way, the same link between a citation and its corresponding entry on the Works Cited page is there when a source is cited in-text versus parenthetically. Here’s a version of the above reference to the same source but with the source cited in-text.

To remember him as an exemplar, as McCarthy writes, of “clear-eyed heroism” (10) is to overlook certain questionable events from his past.

Or…

According to McCarthy, to remember him as an exemplar of “clear-eyed heroism” (10) is to overlook certain questionable events from his past.

                     On the other hand, a sentence with an author-less source being cited might look like this:

            Casablanca was inducted into the National Film Registry in 1989, one year following the registry’s founding as an arm of the Library of Congress, to showcase and preserve American film diversity and heritage (“Complete National Film Registry Listing”).

                     The corresponding Works Cited entry would look like this (although the second line should be indented five spaces):

“Complete National Film Registry Listing.” National Film Preservation Board. Library of Congress. n.d. n.p. Web. 13 Nov. 2015.

— Notice how the citations in the essay sentences link to the first word in the corresponding Works Cited entries. Notice, too, how the parenthetical citations include a minimum of bibliographic information—only what’s needed to make the connection with the Works Cited entry.

— The sources on the Works Cited page are listed alphabetically by the first letter of the first word in the entry (usually the author’s last name or, if there’s no author, then the first word in the title).

This MLA sample essay from the Purdue University Online Writing Lab (OWL) can serve as a model for how to cite sources and punctuate citations in MLA style. The Works Cited page is also a good model. By the way, OWL also offres an MLA citation generator at the top of this page:  https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/research_and_citation/mla_style/mla_formatting_and_style_guide/mla_sample_paper.html

More Academic Essays
Documenting Sources and Avoiding Plagiarism
Paragraph Focus: Patterns
Your Writing “Voice”