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Referencing and assignment writing: General principles

General principles

MLA style is a referencing method developed by the Modern Language Association. It consists of two parts: a brief in-text citation in the body of your essay and a detailed list of the “Works Cited” at the end of the work.

The following guidelines apply to any type of source, in any format.

 

In-text citations

Use the first element from the Works Cited entry - usually the author’s surname - and page number/s in parenthesis, e.g. (Smith 173). If the author’s name appears in the body of your essay itself, use just the relevant page number/s in the parenthesis, e.g. Smith claims that....applies. (173). There is no punctuation between the author's name and the page number/s.

Works Cited

Works Cited is a list of sources from which you have borrowed information or ideas. You need to acknowledge – or cite – all your sources.

​Arrange the works in alphabetical order by the first element, usually the author’s surname. The elements of each entry, including the formatting and punctuation, are as follows. Omit any element which is not relevant. Format the second and subsequent lines of each entry with a hanging indent.

NB The alphabetical arrangement is letter-by-letter, i.e. Mac comes before Mc. Ignore any diacritical marks (e.g. é is treated the same as e) or special characters (e.g. for @smith use smith).

Author. Title of sourceTitle of container, Other contributors, Version, Number, Publisher, Publication date, Location.

Author:  Surname, Other names as per work; see specific examples for multiple authors

Title of source:  as per work; see specific examples for capitalisation, formatting and punctuation

Title of container:  e.g. collection of essays, journal, newspaper, television series, web site

Other contributors:  e.g. editor, director, performer, illustrator, translator

Version:  e.g. edition, director’s cut, metric version, unabridged

Number:  e.g. volume, issue, episode

Publisher:  primarily responsible for publication or distribution of work; not needed for periodicals

Publication date:  the one used

Location:  location in container, e.g. page number/s in anthology, disc # in set, URL/DOI, artefact in archive

 

Other resources:

Works Cited: A Quick Guide
by MLA Style Center

Style Manual

If you cannot find an example for what you are looking for then use the MLA Handbook [8th edition]

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