MLA citation is really all about one thing…giving credit to the original author of a text or an idea. People’s intellectual property is legally theirs; it belongs to them. Therefore, it is our responsibility as writers to give credit for ideas that are not our own.
Also, there are consequences for using others’ ideas without proper citation…or plagiarizing. Plagiarizing can be many things from copying an essay from the internet, down to not fully paraphrasing a sentence from a source. Each level of plagiarism has different consequences, but all plagiarism can be avoided with proper citation. If you are interested in YC’s definition of plagiarism, check out our syllabus, or the Student Code of Conduct. The library also has a couple of videos on plagiarism and citation called “Diagnosis: Plagiarism” which we will watch later in the semester.
In-text citations are like the key to a map while the works cited page is the map. You want your reader to be able to easily match the two up. That is why the first thing that appears in the citation on the works cited page is the thing goes in the parenthetical citation. More often than not that thing is the author’s last name. Sometimes it is the title of the book or article if the author is unknown.
You also want your reader to be able to find the specific information in the book that you cited, so we also include the page number in the parenthetical citation, only if it is available.
The Works Cited page is where the reader of your paper can find all the information he or she would need to go and find your source on the shelves in the library, or on the World Wide Web. Incidentally, works cited pages in articles you read are great places to find other articles and books on your subject.
Websites aren’t so different from databases. Most of the information for citing a website can be found by scrolling down to the bottom of a page.
“ Clean Energy.” Union of Concerned Scientists. Union of Concerned Scientists, 5 Feb. 2010. Web. 11 Mar 2010.
I used this example from the LBE, because it doesn’t have an author or page numbers. So, when you cite it in text, default to the first word that appears in the end citation and the abbreviation n.p.: (Clean n.p.)
Feel free to use a citation generator, like www.citationmachine.net , to help you with citation. However, you always want to check to see that you’ve done it right. To do that, you can use a style guide (like the Little, Brown Handbook) or a website like the OWL at Purdue ( http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/section/2/11/ ). There are links to these sites on Blackboard under “Resources for Students.”
You need to cite anytime you use material from the text. If it isn’t your idea…cite it.
Paraphrases must be cited and they also must completely change the wording and the sentence structure of the original material. Paraphrases are a sticky wicket and they are a place where many people get in trouble with plagiarism.
MLA formatting also has requirements for page numbers and headings.
MLA headings appear in the upper left hand corner of your paper and contain: Your name, your assignment and class, your teacher’s last name, and the date, each on a separate line. Your heading should be double spaced.
Page numbers go on the upper right hand side of the page and should have your last name along with the page number (Darrow 1, Darrow 2, etc.).