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Research papers generally build on the work of previous writers and researchers. Whenever you write a paper and use the material of another author, you must document that source.
Documentation credits the author and publisher of the original work and provides the necessary information for readers to consult the same sources. Documentation is generally in the form of a bibliography that is a list of works cited at the end of the paper.
MLA citation style does not use footnotes or endnotes, so all in text citation is parenthetical. MLA in text citations must include the author’s last name and the page references from where the information was acquired, even if the information is paraphrased. There are several ways that this information can be stated, as in these examples taken from the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers (6th edition).
Not all quotations require quotation marks. “If a quotation runs to more than four lines in your paper, set it off from your text by beginning a new line, indenting…from the left margin, and typing it double-spaced, without adding quotation marks” (Gibaldi 110).
In the MLA Handbook, Gibaldi notes that quotations that are longer than four lines are generally offset from the rest of the text by writing it as a block quotation. To do this one would begin the quotation on a new line and indent the entire quotation one inch. No quotation marks are required (110).
If a quotation runs to more than four lines in your paper, set it off from your text by beginning a new line, indenting one inch… from the left margin, and typing it…without adding quotation marks. A colon generally introduces a quotation displayed in this way, though sometimes the context may require a different mark of punctuation or none at all. If you quote only a single paragraph or part of one, do not indent the first line more than the rest. (110-11)
Important to Note!
- If anything is omitted in the quotation that was part of the original text use an ellipsis in place of the missing text, as in Quotations 1 and 3.
- If you are citing an online source that does not indicate page numbers, first look to see whether the paragraphs are numbered. If so, use them in citing the text (i.e., “Bergman pars. 2-5). If not, use the section or heading name (i.e., “Introduction” or “Conclusion”) instead of page numbers in the in-text citation. The corresponding entry in the works cited list should also reflect the paragraph or section name.
- If the quoted source has more than one author, include both authors’ last names or for three or more authors, include the principle author’s last name with the phrase “et al.”
- Do not change misspelled or misused words from the original text in your quotation. Indicate these with a parenthetical (sic) immediately following the words. If italics are added to the quotation, indicate the addition with a parenthetical (emphasis added).
- When citing poetry, use a slash with a space on either side ( / ) to indicate a new line. If the quotation is longer than a few lines, set it off as a block quotation, typing the lines as they appear in the original form.
- Since many applications can now produce italic type, you may wish to substitute italics for underlining. Check with your instructor before making this change to ensure proper use.
How to Format a Bibliography
Bibliographies formatted in APA Style require specific spacing,
indentation, underlining and punctuation. Please click on the link
below to download a sample Bibliography with examples for all kinds of sources.