MLA MATTERS鈥7th edition

MLA (Modern Language Association) uses an author-page citation format. You will cite the following information as you write:

  1. direct quotation (short vs. block鈥4+ typed lines of text)
  2. statistical data
  3. charts, graphs, tables
  4. any information taken from a source not considered common knowledge鈥攖heories, judgments, opinions, personal explanations; 鈥榝acts鈥 open to dispute; information gathered by (small) number of researchers.

#4 is the potentially confusing item; paraphrased information generally comes under this heading.  If you have to refer to your source or your source notes as you write information in your own words, you will most likely need to cite this source in your paper or project.

Parenthetical citation points the reader to the full reference in the 鈥榃orks Cited鈥 page.  Within the text they need to be both clear and concise; the reader should never have to guess which source is referred to or how to locate the source on the 鈥榃orks Cited鈥 list.

Sample Citations

Author identified textually

Abrams distinguishes between the formal and the informal essay, stating that in the latter the author 鈥渨rites in a relaxed, self-revelatory, and sometimes whimsical fashion鈥 (82).

Author not identified textually

The author of the formal essay 鈥渨rites as an authority, 鈥 and expounds the subject in an orderly way (Abrams 82).

Both of the above citations will lead me to the 鈥榃orks Cited鈥 page and the full reference

Abrams, M. H. A Glossary of Literary Terms.  7th ed.  Boston:  Heinle, 1999.  Print.

[Notes about entries.  If the entry goes onto a second line, indent five spaces (tab once) for the rest of the entry.  Keep the same spacing for entries that you have used in the rest of your paper, and do not place an extra space between entries.

The publisher is Heinle & Heinle; condense publisher names whenever possible (See pp. 248-9 for common abbreviated forms).

In typewriter days the convention was to leave one space after a comma or semi-colon and two spaces after a period, colon, question mark, or exclamation. The word-processing era has relaxed that convention.  The MLA鈥7th Edition encourages the continued use of a double space after ending punctuation marks 鈥渦nless an instructor requests that you do otherwise鈥 (78) and a single space after internal punctuation鈥攃omma, semi-colon, colon.

The current edition also insists that the writer indicate whether the source is print, web, or other media (e.g.. television).

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Chapter 6 focuses on in-text citation and offers a format for citing works without an identified author鈥攗sing a key word from the title which will lead easily to the 鈥榃orks Cited鈥 pages is the usual way. The author-page format is used for both print and electronic sources.  For material that is not paginated鈥攚ebsites, e-mail, lectures, television programs, personal interviews鈥攜our text needs to include the relevant information that will direct readers to your source.


In a recent interview, John George, Director of Operations for Tydfil Corporation, highlighted the continuing troubles with 鈥渄ifficult employees.鈥

Tydfil Corporation has suffered in recent years because of the actions of 鈥渄ifficult employees鈥 (George).

The CBS Reports broadcast of 鈥淗arvest of Shame鈥 brought to light the desperate plight of migrant farm workers in the United States.