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Why use MLA? (from Purdue University)
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Why use MLA? (from Purdue University)


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a look at why MLA is useful

a look at why MLA is useful

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  • Rationale: Welcome to “Cross-referencing: Using MLA Format.” This presentation is designed to introduce your students to the purposes of documentation, as well as methods for effectively using parenthetical citations and a Works Cited page. The twenty-two slides presented here are designed to aid the facilitator in an interactive presentation of strategies for using MLA style. This presentation is ideal for the beginning of a research unit in a humanities course or any assignment that requires MLA documentation. This presentation may be supplemented with OWL handouts, including “Using MLA Format.” (, “Paraphrase: Write It in Your Own Words” (, “Quoting, Paraphrasing, and Summarizing” (, and “Avoiding Plagiarism” ( Directions: Each slide is activated by a single mouse click, unless otherwise noted in bold at the bottom of each notes page. Writer and Designer: Jennifer Liethen Kunka Contributors: Muriel Harris, Karen Bishop, Bryan Kopp, Matthew Mooney, David Neyhart, and Andrew Kunka Developed with resources courtesy of the Purdue University Writing Lab Grant funding courtesy of the Multimedia Instructional Development Center at Purdue University © Copyright Purdue University, 2000.
  • Key Concepts: This slide allows the facilitator to explain the purposes for using MLA documentation. MLA format provides writers with a system for cross-referencing their sources—from their parenthetical references to their works cited page. This cross-referencing system allows readers to locate the publication information of source material. This is of great value for researchers who may want to locate your sources for their own research projects. The proper use of MLA style also shows the credibility of writers; such writers show accountability to their source material. Most importantly, the use of MLA style can protect writers from accusations of plagiarism—the purposeful or accidental use of source material by other writers without giving appropriate credit. The next slide provides additional information on plagiarism. Click to reveal each item.
  • This slide explains the importance of cross-reference your sources. It may be helpful to discuss this in terms of a community. Writers of research papers enter a community of reseachers by sharing the sources they’ve found.
  • Using APA properly will allow you to communicate more effectively with other researchers who also use APA. When a style is used consistently, others can easily find where you’ve listed your resources.
  • This slide explains how using APA can establish your credibility as a researcher.
  • Key Concepts: Plagiarism is a serious offense in the university system, and may result in punishments ranging from failure of the assignment, failure of the course, or expulsion from school. There is a handout on OWL about plagiarism and can be found at Click to reveal each item.
  • Key Concepts: There are many rules for following MLA format, and the facilitator should stress that it is nearly impossible to memorize them all. Students’ best course of action is to utilize the official MLA handbook or the MLA section in an updated composition textbook as guides for properly using the documentation format. Since the Modern Language Association, a professional group of English and Foreign Language professors and instructors, periodically updates the guide, students should be certain that they are using the most current information possible. The most recent edition of the MLA guide was published in 1999. The MLA web site at also provides some limited information on recent changes to the guide. There are other resources for finding current information on MLA format. The Purdue University Writing Lab has a printable handout on MLA style at its web site: The web site also provides other links for MLA style information on the web. For quick questions on MLA format, students can also call the Writing Lab Grammar Hotline at 494-3723. Click to reveal each item.
  • Rationale: This slide establishes the two areas of MLA documentation, the Works Cited page and parenthetical citations.
  • Key Concepts: This slide explains the purpose of a works cited page . Students may also understand this to be called the “bibliography” page. The facilitator may stress that each source referenced within the paper should also appear on the works cited page. The works cited page appears at the end of the paper.
  • Key Concepts: This slide offers students a sample of what a Works Cited page looks like.* For this particular paper, four sources were used. The first and second sources are reprints of earlier published novels, hence the use of the two dates. The second source has three dashed lines in place of the author, Charles Dickens. This is to indicate that the same author wrote both concurrently listed works. The third source is a book published in 1958. Note the abbreviations for “University” and “Press.” The fourth source is an article from a continually paginated journal. The facilitator may choose to explain the form of this page. Note that “Works Cited” is centered at the top. All sources are double spaced and alphabetized according to author. All lines after the first line of an entry should be indented five spaces. The facilitator may also choose to reference students to the final pages on the Writing Lab MLA handout, which also offers a sample Works Cited. * From “’I am Born:’ The Birth of Identity in David Copperfield and Bleak House ” by Jennifer L. Kunka, Purdue University (unpublished manuscript).
  • Rationale: This slide shows the basic information needed for entries on the works cited page.
  • Examples: This slide provides examples of a few commonly used citation formats. The web page example will prove to be the most confusing for students (particularly because MLA just released information on citing web pages). The web page example lists the author’s name (if available), the title of the article in quotation marks, the title of the web site underlined or italicized, the date of publication, the publisher, the date information was accessed by the user, and the web address in brackets. Students may not find all of this information when they look at a web page, particularly the author’s name, the date, and the publisher. The facilitator should remind students that they should list in order the information that they do have. Click to reveal each example.
  • Examples: This slide offers examples of citations for a newspaper article and for a source (in this case, a newspaper article) with no author. The facilitator might ask students how to alphabetize a source with no author within a Works Cited page. They should alphabetize according to their next best piece of information--here, the first word of the article, “Cigarette.” Click to reveal each example.
  • Examples: Interviews can be tricky to cite on a Works Cited page. The facilitator may wish to remind students to list the name of the person being interviewed first. For the TV interview example, Mark McGuire was interviewed by news anchor Matt Lauer on The Today Show . In the second example, John Mellencamp was interviewed in person by the writer of the paper. Click to reveal each example.
  • Activity: This slide allows participants a moment to ask questions of the facilitator. If students are working on a research assignment, they may have specific questions that pertain to their own papers. The facilitator may answer questions using the MLA Handbook or the MLA handout from the Writing Lab.
  • Key Concepts: The next two slides explain the occasions in which MLA citations will be necessary, as well as explains the differences between quoting, summarizing , and paraphrasing . Students will be most familiar with the need to site for quotations, but the facilitator should stress that if the idea comes from someone else, the source material should be cited.
  • Key Concepts: This slide explains explains the differences between summarizing and paraphrasing . The facilitator may stress that if the idea comes from someone else, the source material should be cited. Click to reveal each item.
  • Key Concepts: This slide emphasizes the need to keep parenthetical citations within a paper brief. The information provided in the body of the paper should be just enough so that a reader could easily cross-reference the citation with its matching entry on the Works Cited page. The following slides give examples of how to use parenthetical references. Click to reveal each item.
  • Examples: The two examples in this slide illustrate methods for including parenthetical citations in the text. If the author’s name is listed in the preceding sentence, only the page number of the quotation should appear in the parenthetical citation following the sentence. If the author’s name does not appear within the sentence, the parenthetical citation should include the author’s last name and the page number. In either case, a reader should be able to cross-reference back to the Works Cited page and locate all of the publication information needed to find Wordsworth’s work, in this case an excerpt in an anthology: Wordsworth, William. Preface to Lyrical Ballads . 1802. Romanticism: An Anthology . Ed. Duncan Wu. Cambridge, MA: Basil Blackwell Ltd., 1995. 250-69. The facilitator may also note that the parenthetical reference is located before the period.
  • Examples: This slide demonstrates variations on the parenthetical reference. The first example distinguishes a work by William Wordsworth from a book by Dorothy Wordsworth by including the first initial. The second example distinguishes passages from James Joyce’s Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man from his later book, Ulysses . If a work has more than one volume, as in the third example, the citation should include a volume number followed by a colon and the page number. Finally, if the quotation used is quoted within another author’s work, both writers need to be listed in the citation. In the fourth example, the writer used a quote by Samuel Johnson from Boswell’s book (the second volume). Johnson was quoted (qtd.) in Boswell in Volume 2, page 450. Click to reveal each item.
  • Examples: This slide provides information about additional variations on the parenthetical reference. The first example demonstrates how to handle sources with no author. In this case, the newspaper article title is listed in quotation marks. If this was the title of a book, however, California would be italicized within the parenthetical reference. The second example illustrates a citation for a one-page article or a web page. Because the size and number of printed web pages varies greatly from computer to computer, a page number is not a stable reference. Therefore, page numbers are omitted from the reference. The facilitator may also wish to note that the URL/web address should NOT be listed within the body of the paper--only on the Works Cited page. Click to reveal each item.
  • Example: This slide illustrates the handling of a long quotation in a paper about Dickens’ David Copperfield , A long quotation is defined by MLA as being longer than four typed lines in the paper. A long quotation requires a special format; it should be indented ten spaces on the left, and the parenthetical citation should go after the period. There are no quotation marks around a long quote because the indention already indicates it as such. Note, however, the quotation marks around “Take care of him. He bites.” These appear just as they do in the book. If this section was reduced to a short quote and placed within the regular body of the paper, those quotation marks should be changed to single quotes. The facilitator should note that everything should be double spaced consistently. The final sentence of the passage is an idea paraphrased from Dyson and is cited with name and page number. * From “’I am Born:’ The Birth of Identity in David Copperfield and Bleak House ” by Jennifer L. Kunka, Purdue University (unpublished manuscript).
  • Rationale: This slide reminds participants that MLA reference guides should be consulted to answer questions about parenthetical references or Works Cited page entries. At this point, the facilitator may choose to field questions regarding MLA documentation.
  • Rationale: As the presentation concludes, the facilitator can remind students that they can come to the Writing Lab for extra help with MLA style. Click mouse after the title question.
  • Transcript

    • 1. Purdue University Writing Lab Cross-referencing: Using MLA Format A workshop brought to you by the Purdue University Writing Lab
    • 2. Purdue University Writing Lab Why Use MLA Format?  Allows readers to cross-reference your sources easily  Provides consistent format within a discipline  Gives you credibility as a writer  Protects yourself from plagiarism
    • 3. Purdue University Writing Lab Cross-Referencing Your Sources Cross-referencing allows readers to locate the publication information of source material. This is of great value for researchers who may want to locate your sources for their own research projects.
    • 4. Purdue University Writing Lab Using a Consistent Format Using a consistent format helps your reader understand your arguments and the sources they’re built on. It also helps you keep track of your sources as you build arguments.
    • 5. Purdue University Writing Lab Establishing Credibility The proper use of MLA style shows the credibility of writers; such writers show accountability to their source material.
    • 6. Purdue University Writing Lab Avoiding Plagiarism Proper citation of your sources in MLA style can help you avoid plagiarism, which is a serious offense. It may result in anything from failure of the assignment to expulsion from school.
    • 7. Purdue University Writing Lab Where Do I Find MLA Format?  MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, 5th ed.  Composition textbooks   OWL website:  Writing Lab Grammar Hotline: 494-3723
    • 8. Purdue University Writing Lab MLA Style: Two Parts  Works Cited Page  Parenthetical Citations
    • 9. Purdue University Writing Lab Works Cited Page  A complete list of every source that you make reference to in your essay  Provides the information necessary for a reader to locate and retrieve any sources cited in your essay.
    • 10. Purdue University Writing Lab A Sample Works Cited Page Smith 12 Works Cited Dickens, Charles. Bleak House. 1852-1853. New York: Penguin, 1985. ---. David Copperfield. 1849-1850. New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1958. Miller, J. Hillis. Charles Dickens: The World and His Novels. Bloomington: U of Indiana P, 1958. Zwerdling, Alex. “Esther Summerson Rehabilitated.” PMLA 88 (May 1973): 429-439.
    • 11. Purdue University Writing Lab Most citations should contain the following basic information:  Author’s name  Title of work  Publication information Works Cited
    • 12. Purdue University Writing Lab  Book Byatt, A. S. Babel Tower. New York: Random House, 1996.  Article in a Magazine Klein, Joe. “Dizzy Days.” The New Yorker 5 Oct. 1998: 40-45.  Web page Poland, Dave. “The Hot Button.” Roughcut. 26 Oct. 1998. Turner Network Television. 28 Oct. 1998 <>. Works Cited: Some Examples
    • 13. Purdue University Writing Lab Works Cited List  A newspaper article Tommasini, Anthony. “Master Teachers Whose Artistry Glows in Private.” New York Times 27 Oct. 1998: B2.  A source with no known author “Cigarette Sales Fall 30% as California Tax Rises.” New York Times 14 Sept. 1999: A17.
    • 14. Purdue University Writing Lab Works Cited List  A TV interview McGwire, Mark. Interview with Matt Lauer. The Today Show. NBC. WTHR, Indianapolis. 22 Oct. 1998.  A personal interview Mellencamp, John. Personal interview. 27 Oct. 1998.
    • 15. Purdue University Writing Lab What other types of sources might you need to list on your Works Cited page? Study the basics of MLA citation format. When something odd comes up, look it up. Works Cited
    • 16. Purdue University Writing Lab When Should You Use Parenthetical Citations?  When quoting any words that are not your own Quoting means to repeat another source word for word, using quotation marks
    • 17. Purdue University Writing Lab When Should You Use Parenthetical Citations?  When summarizing facts and ideas from a source  Summarizing means to take ideas from a large passage of another source and condense them, using your own words  When paraphrasing a source  Paraphrasing means to use the ideas from another source but change the phrasing into your own words
    • 18. Purdue University Writing Lab Keys to Parenthetical Citations Readability  Keep references brief  Give only information needed to identify the source on your Works Cited page  Do not repeat unnecessary information
    • 19. Purdue University Writing Lab Handling Quotes in Your Text  Author’s last name and page number(s) of quote must appear in the text Romantic poetry is characterized by the “spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings” (Wordsworth 263). Wordsworth stated that Romantic poetry was marked by a “spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings” (263).
    • 20. Purdue University Writing Lab  Sometimes more information is necessary  More than one author with the same last name (W. Wordsworth 23); (D. Wordsworth 224)  More than one work by the same author (Joyce, Portrait 121); (Joyce, Ulysses 556)  Different volumes of a multivolume work (1: 336)  Citing indirect sources (Johnson qtd. in Boswell 2:450) Handling Parenthetical Citations
    • 21. Purdue University Writing Lab Handling Parenthetical Citations  If the source has no known author, then use an abbreviated version of the title: Full Title: “California Cigarette Tax Deters Smokers” Citation: (“California” A14)  If the source is only one page in length or is a web page with no apparent pagination: Source: Dave Poland’s “Hot Button” web column Citation: (Poland)
    • 22. Purdue University Writing Lab Handling Long Quotations David becomes identified and defined by James Steerforth, a young man with whom David is acquainted from his days at Salem House. Before meeting Steerforth, David accepts Steerforth’s name as an authoritative power: There was an old door in this playground, on which the boys had a custom of carving their names. . . . In my dread of the end of the vacation and their coming back, I could not read a boy’s name, without inquiring in what tone and with what emphasis he would read, “Take care of him. He bites.” There was one boy—a certain J. Steerforth—who cut his name very deep and very often, who I conceived, would read it in a rather strong voice, and afterwards pull my hair. (Dickens 68) For Steerforth, naming becomes an act of possession, as well as exploitation. Steerforth names David for his fresh look and innocence, but also uses the name Daisy to exploit David's romantic tendencies (Dyson 122).
    • 23. Purdue University Writing Lab There are many different combinations and variations within MLA citation format. If you run into something unusual, look it up! Handling Quotes in Your Text
    • 24. Purdue University Writing Lab Where can you go for additional help with MLA documentation?  Purdue University Writing Lab  Heavilon 226  Grammar Hotline: (765) 494-3723  Check our web site:  Email brief questions: Purdue University Writing Lab