First, read the Documentation Guide: Introduction with
its Five Factors for Accurate Academic Documentation.
Scholarly Essays, Reports, and Other Verbal Compositions
Parenthetical In-Text Documentation
The Modern Language Association (MLA)
uses a system of parenthetical in-text documentation that eliminates
the need for documentation notes at the same time that it offers
full scholarly credit to sources. Use the textbook for your class,
a current college handbook, and your professor's instructions
as a guide for all formats. Always check with the professor about
which guidelines are preferred.
Footnotes and Endnotes
For many years the conventions of
scholarship required documentation notesfootnotes or endnotesas
well as a bibliography to provide full attribution of outside
sources. Now, however, some academic disciplines either permit
or require parenthetical in-text documentation as an alternative
to documentation notes. Always consult your professor for the
preferred documentation for each assignment.
Summaries, and Short Quotations
Note that paraphrases and summaries
must be documented as rigorously as quotations. Periods come
after the parenthetical documentation for short passages within
- Whether you are a novice or experienced at incorporating source
information using MLA standards, you must note
the importance of incorporating the reference into your own sentence, making
clear where the reference begins and ends, and making clear what
the source is.
- Here's an example of a quotation
- Betty Mattix Dietsch defines the purpose of argument
as "to persuade readers to accept a belief, adopt
a policy, or enact a decision, proposal, or law" (285).
- Here's an example of a paraphrase
- Betty Mattix Dietsch describes argument's purpose as
changing readers' attitudes and actions (285).
- Here's an example of a combination of paraphrase and
- Betty Mattix Dietsch describes argument's purpose to
change readers' attitudes and actions such as affecting "a
decision, proposal, or law" (285).
- In the following paragraph, Sammy
Smith is paraphrased and Shannon Williams is quoted. Then
the student writer comments on the implications of
the source information.
The interrelation between molecular biology
and plant life has gained the attention of scientists
and public officials concerned about the environment.
As a result, support for this academic discipline and
its research projects has been increasing over the past
several years. According to Sammy Smith, molecular biology
holds the key to understanding the origins of plant life
(72). Other research scientists have found similar importance
in their study of microbes, advising conservation of
resources in very specific ways. For example, microbiologist
Shannon Williams claims that "forces beyond the
control of conservationist groups must determine the
use of undeveloped land" (134). Smith and Williams
are two among several dozen scientists who have formed
an organization called Microbes for the Future of Planet
Earth, dedicated to raising funds for continued research.
Because this field of research has become so important
for the environment, the federal government should increase
its support for microbiological studies.
Incorporating Long Quotations
When you include long quotations (more
than four typed lines), your presentation varies.
- Use a formal introduction followed by a colon.
- Indent the quotation ten spaces
(one inch) from the left margin using the indent function of
your word processor,
not the space bar or tab key.
- Omit the quotation marks, and place the parenthetical
page citation after the period. Like everything else in an
MLA-style paper, the long quotation is double-spaced.
In the pioneering pamphlet on the influence
of the comma on modern thought processes, Chris Wise
The comma utilizes left brain functions
as a way of providing clear meanings for data in the
human consciousness. In many social and business situations,
such information is vital to an individual's sense of
self-esteem. In fact, the ability to determine whether
a modifier is restrictive or nonrestrictive--and thus
to determine whether or not to use a comma--is sometimes
considered a mark of intelligence. (543)
Works without Identifiable
Sometimes you do not know the name
of the author of a source, for example, an anonymous article
from a newspaper. In such cases, use a shortened form of the
first element from your Works Cited listing either in your text
or in your parenthetical citation. For periodicals, you must
include a shortened form of the article's title or headline. Note:
For Websites, absence of an identifiable author might mean an
unreliable source that you should not use.
An article in the New York Times advocates
the use of physical force to maintain discipline in America's
elementary schools ("School Discipline" B17).
Disputing the New York Times suggestion that force
be used to control elementary school students, Parents
Magazine endorses in-school suspension rather than
corporal punishment ("Suspensions" 23-34). Parents maintains, "Children
suffer from violence in all the media; they shouldn't have
to endure it at school" ("Suspensions" 25).
More than One Work by Same
If your paper uses more than one work
by the same author, you must provide sufficient information to
make that distinction, usually a short form of the title as listed
in your Works Cited.
Pat Jones advocates
the teaching of molecular biology to children as early
as age ten (Early Instruction 229-31). However,
Jones warns, "Teachers of sophisticated scientific
subjects must be sensitive to the short attention spans
of young students" (Teaching Science 15).
Works Cited (Bibliography)
At the end of your paper, you must
provide a Works Cited to list all the sources
mentioned within your paper.
- One reason to identify the sources
within your paper
is to provide a reference for readers to find full information
about your parenthetical in-text citations.
- Unless otherwise
instructed, head your bibliography page Works Cited and present
an alphabetized, double-spaced list of sources in standard
- Use a current reference manual to ensure that
you are using
the forms correctly. Some guidelines and models of typical
entries are presented at Works
Cited and Acknowledgments.
for educational purposes only
developed and copyright ©1998 by D. Reiss
modified and copyright ©25 March 2003 by D. Reiss