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Working with MLA


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An introduction to reading and writing research papers in MLA style, brought to you by the Daytona State College-University of Central Florida Writing Center

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Working with MLA

  1. 1. Working with MLA
  2. 2.  MLA = Modern Language Association  The MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing is for grad students, scholars, and professionals writing and publishing in the humanities.  The MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers is a style guideline used mostly by undergrads writing research papers in the humanities.  The humanities include English language and literature, foreign languages and literatures, and cultural studies. What is MLA?
  3. 3.  You must cite others’ ideas and work, especially direct quotations, to avoid plagiarizing.  As an author, you build your ethos (credibility) by citing your sources.  Citations direct your readers to the sources you consulted for your research.  MLA style is one of the simpler style guides that requires only enough information in the parenthetical citation to locate the source at the end of the paper in the Works Cited list. Why do we use MLA?
  4. 4. MLA Research Papers
  5. 5. Primary  Studying a subject firsthand: analyzing text, film, or performance; conducting survey or interview; performing an experiment.  Primary sources include statistical data, historical documents, and works of literature or art. Secondary  Studying what others researchers have said about a subject.  Secondary sources include articles and books about issues, events, debates, and works. Types of Research
  6. 6. Introduction  Catches readers’ attention  Provides context for the paper  Tells the readers why you are writing and why the topic is important Thesis  Often the last sentence of the first paragraph  Typically states a claim that you will support throughout the paper or provides a map of what you will be discussing Paper Outline
  7. 7. Body  Begin paragraphs with clear topic sentences  Use transitional words and phrases to connect or contrast ideas and paragraphs Conclusion  Do not repeat the thesis word-for-word  Wrap up what you have discussed  Leave the reader thinking about the topic Paper Outline
  8. 8. MLA In-Text Citations
  9. 9. Citing Sources  Directly Quote – copying and pasting, word for word, from another text: Use quotation marks and cite the source, either as part of the sentence or parenthetically.  Paraphrase – more than changing just one or two words: Put a sentence or chunk of text into your own words and cite, but do not use quotation marks.  Summarize – explain the main idea(s) of a text: Cite.  Synthesize – compare and contrast several sources: Cite more than one source in a sentence (sources are separated by semi- colons).
  10. 10. The best way to integrate sources into your writing is to introduce them in the sentence with signal phrases. A signal phrase is the name(s) of the author(s) and a present tense verb. You can also include a description of the author. For example: Integrating Sources  As Dr. Hank Jones, an English professor at Harvard, notes, “Students sometimes have difficulty using MLA style, especially when it is their first time” (199).  Jones finds that “students often had difficulty using MLA style their first time” (199); what does imply for teachers?  According to Jones, MLA style is a difficult citation format for first-time learners. argues asserts claims confirms contends emphasizes notes observes points out reports suggests writes
  11. 11. Readers will expect citations for statistics, facts, definitions, and phrases like “research shows” or “studies suggest.” These sentences are ideal for parenthetical citations at the end of the sentence, which include the last name of the author(s) and the page number, if available. Integrating Sources  “Approximately 78% of all statistics are made up” (Smith, O’Doole, and Jones 224).  MLA style is proven to increase your social skills and sharpen your wit (Browning et al.). For sources with more than 4 authors, list only the first author and then et al. Note that there is no comma or “p.” between the authors and the page number & that the period goes outside the parentheses
  12. 12. Author Unknown When a source does not have an author, use the title as the citation instead (the URL is never a citation!). According to the "Animal Care and Service Workers" job fact webpage, if I become a zoo keeper, I face the risk that "the work ... may be unpleasant and emotionally distressing." If I become a zoo keeper, I face the risk that "the work ... may be unpleasant and emotionally distressing" ("Animal Care"). service-workers.htm#tab-3 A shortened version of the title goes in parentheses, enough for the reader to find the source in the Works Cited.
  13. 13. Citing Poetry Be still, sad heart! And cease repining; Behind the clouds is the sun still shining; Thy fate is the common fate of all, Into each life some rain must fall, Some days must be dark and dreary. (5-8) it’s spring and the goat-footed balloonMan whistles far and wee (16-24) Cullen concludes, “Of all the things that happened there / That’s all I remember” (lines 11-12). Reproduce unusual spacing as much as possible. Use “lines” only for the first reference to the poem; thereafter, only use numbers. Separate 2-3 lines of poetry with a slash with space on either side ( / ) For more than 3 lines of poetry, type each line on a separate line and indent 1” from margin. Do not use quotation marks.
  14. 14. JULIET. If they see thee, they will murder thee. ROMEO. Alack there lies more peril in thine eye Than twenty of their swords! Look thou but sweet, And I am proof against their enmity. JULIET. I would not for the world they saw thee here. (2.2.70- 74) Citing Drama For two or more characters, indent the dialogue 1” and set the character names in all CAPS, followed by a period. All run-over lines for that character should be indented an additional ¼”. The citation goes after the period. If a quote from a play takes up <4 typed lines and is spoken by only 1 character, use quotation marks and include the act, scene, and line numbers in parentheses, if available. Romeo spies Juliet in the balcony and whispers, “But soft, what light through yonder window breaks? It is the east and Juliet is the sun!” (2.2.2-3).
  15. 15. MLA Format
  16. 16. MLA First Page • MLA does not require a title page. • Style: Times New Roman, 12 pt, double spaced, 1” margins • Top left corner: Name, Professor Name, Course, Date • Centered Title • Running head: ½” margin: Last name, page number
  17. 17. Page Headers 1. Right click in the top margin 2. Select Edit Header. 3. In the Header & Footer toolbar, click on the Page Number drop-down button  select Top of Page  Plain Number 3 (right aligned). 4. The cursor should be blinking in front of the page number. Type your last name and a space. 5. Make sure the font and size is Times New Roman 12. 6. Double click in the body of the text or click the red Close Header & Footer button to exit the header.
  18. 18. • Click on the corner of the Paragraph toolbar • Double spaced • Left aligned • ½” paragraph indents to begin paragraphs • 0 pt space before & after paragraphs Text
  19. 19. Works Cited  Go to Insert, Page Break.  The page should be double spaced—no extra space between entries.  Type “Works Cited” on the first line, and center  Select all of your citations, then open the Paragraph window and select Hanging under the “Special” drop-down option  List alphabetically (Use AZ Sort button)  List works by the same author chronologically from earliest to latest.
  20. 20. Sample MLA References
  21. 21. Wyman, Sarah. “Telling Identities: Sherman Alexie’s War Dances.” American Indian Quarterly 38.2 (2014): 237- 255. Literary Reference Center Plus. Web. 27 Mar. 2014. According to Sarah Wyman in her article on Sherman Alexie’s book, War Dances, Alexie is asking readers, “How do we attempt to know each other and to narrate experience?” (237). Journal Article From a Database Spell out full author name; use standard capitalization rules for article title; if article is from a database, include database name in italics, “Web” and date accessed. If not, follow page range with “Print.” Italicize book titles. Cite page number after the quote.
  22. 22. Alexie, Sherman. War Dances. New York: Grove Press, 2010. Print. In his short story, “Breaking and Entering,” Alexie writes, Now please forgive me if my tenses—my past, present, and future—blend, but one must understand that I happen to be one editor who is not afraid of jump cuts—of rapid flashbacks and flashforwards. In order to be terrified, one must lose all sense of time and place. (16) Book Block quotes are over 5 typed lines, indented 1”, and do not use quotation marks. Page citation goes after the period for block quotations.
  23. 23. Alexie, Sherman. “Evolution.” Exploring Literature. Ed. Frank Madden. (5th ed.) Boston: Pearson, 2012. 947. Print. Chapter in an Anthology In “Evolution,” Alexie begins with the lines, “Buffalo Bill opens a pawn shop on the reservation / right across the border from the liquor store” (lines 1-2).
  24. 24. Website: Organization as Author Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Occupational Therapist.” Occupational Outlook Handbook. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, January 8, 2014. Web. 22 Apr. 2014. < healthcare/occupational-therapists.htm> In May 2012, the average yearly income for occupational therapists was $75,400 (Bureau of Labor Statistics [BLS]). The job outlook for this career field is a projected growth of 29% (BLS). If an organization has an acronym, you can abbreviate it in parentheses after spelling it out the first time. If the first time you use it is in parentheses, use square brackets inside the parentheses. The name of the webpage follows the word “In” and the webpage title should be in italics.
  25. 25. “Frequently Asked Questions about Bipolar Disorder.” Brain & Behavior Research Foundation. Brain & Behavior Research Foundation, n.d. Web. 22 Apr. 2014. < questions-about-bipolar-disorder> Bipolar disorder is diagnosed based on reported symptoms, cycles, and family history; it cannot be identified through blood draws or brain scans (“Frequently Asked”). Website: No Author When there is no author, the article title appears first. The title of the article goes in quotation marks and is abbreviated to 1-2 words
  26. 26.  DSC-UCF Writing Center Resource:  Purdue Owl: 747/01/  Use Google! “MLA + ______” For More Info…