MLA Style: An Introduction

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MLA STYLE: AN INTRODUCTION Presented by the ULM Library Reference Department

Session Overview  

    

What is MLA style? General Guidelines Quotations/Paraphrasing In-text Citations Works Cited Resources Q & A Time

What Is MLA Style? 

a set of rules intended to encourage and maintain clear, concise writing



provides guidelines for formatting papers



used to create citations for resources

What Is MLA Style? Primarily used by the liberal arts and humanities, like Art and English, but sometimes used in disciplines like:  Communication

Studies

 Foreign

languages and literatures

 Cultural

Studies

 Media

Studies

What Is MLA Style, Continued 



Like any style format, it is intended to establish and maintain consistency and quality in research It also supports scholarly communication by facilitating documentation, i.e., it demonstrates a common way of citing sources so other scholars can consult the resources you used

So You Will Use It To… 

Format your paper, including…  Margins  Spacing

 Font

selection and size  Headers/footers 

Guide the style of your paper, including…  Quotations  In-text  Voice

citations

General Guidelines 

1-inch margins on all sides



Double-spaced



12 point font



Times New Roman or a similar font  i.e.,

something legible and professional  Examples: Arial, Century Gothic, or Garamond

General Guidelines 







Page headers  Includes page numbers and author’s name  May be omitted from first page Only one space following ending punctuation of sentences

Indent first sentence of paragraphs ½ inch from margin – MLA recommends simply using the Tab key (versus spacing over manually) Use an active voice whenever possible

Guidelines: First Page 



MLA papers don’t typically need cover pages – so unless your professor asks for one, it’s not necessary to create one MLA papers do need a heading in which you list your name, your professor’s name, the class, and the date – this is typically double-spaced

Guidelines: First Page

Guidelines: First Page 





After the heading, double space down and center the title of your paper The title of your paper should not be in quotation marks, underlined, italicized, or in all capital letters Titles within your title should have quotation marks or italics as needed

Guidelines: First Page

Guidelines: First Page Examples of titles within titles: 

The Function of Time in Woolf’s To the Lighthouse



Sexuality in Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily”



Race and Race Relations in Baraka’s “Dutchman”



“As kingfishers catch fire”: the Poetry of Gerard Manley Hopkins

Quotations/Paraphrasing When you’re writing a research paper, you’re going to have to work other people’s research into your own, in order to: 

Demonstrate the validity of your point of view



Inform your audience of what research has been done on the topic



Show your audience how your point of view fits into what’s been done

Quotations/Paraphrasing 





There are two ways of incorporating information into your paper – quoting and paraphrasing MLA has guidelines for how to use quotations and paraphrasing in your writing It’s important to understand how these two methods differ

Quotations 



Quotations are straight from the horse’s mouth – they are the actual words taken from the text, word for word, as they appear in the text itself Quotations can be high impact – the words of an expert that support your argument carry a lot of weight

Quotations & Quoting 





But including too many quotations is lazy; you’re letting the research do all of the work Sometimes too many quotations looks like plagiarism – you’re using someone else’s ideas as your arguments, rather than as support *You* are supposed to be doing the work; quotations are just tools with which to do the work

Quotations & Quoting 



There are two ways to quote Way #1: direct quotations - include the author’s or authors’ names in the actual text of the sentence: Zimbardo notes that “children are totally insensitive to their parents’ shyness” (62). Author’s name in the sentence

Quotations & Quoting 



Direction quotations do not allow for change – a direct quotation is, word for word, identical to the way it appears in the original text The original text MUST HAVE QUOTATION MARKS around it Zimbardo notes that “children are totally insensitive to their parents’ shyness” (62). The quotation marks show where the author’s words begin and end, distinguishing them from YOUR writing.

Indirect Quotations 



Way #2: indirect quotations - DO NOT include the author’s or authors’ names in the sentence But you still have to use quotation marks, and you can’t make changes to the text Not the author’s name

Some researchers note that "children are totally insensitive to their parents' shyness" (Zimbardo 62). So it’s got to be here

Paraphrasing 



A second way you can incorporate information into your writing is to paraphrase Paraphrasing is the act of taking information from a text and either  Summarizing it – taking a whole paragraph’s worth of information and boiling it down to a few sentences, or  Rewording it - demonstrating your understanding of the information by putting it into your own words, in such a way that is significantly different from the original text

Paraphrasing: Summary 







The paragraph you’re about to see is very long, too long to quote effectively One of your options is to summarize the paragraph in your own words, reducing and simplifying Remember, though, you’ll still have to do an in-text citation (more on that in a minute) Summaries do not require quotation marks

Paraphrasing: Summary ORIGINAL TEXT – TOO LONG TO QUOTE Children are totally insensitive to their parents' shyness; it is the ORIGINAL TEXT TO USE since rare childSUMMARY who labelsOF a parent shy [...] This– isEASIER understandable, parents are in positions of control and authority in their homes and parents are side authority figures in the home, children mayBecause not reveal their shy to their children. Also, since shyness is are as notundesirable immediatelybyaware their parents’ shyness; it viewed many of children, it may be threatening to be too in scary forterms. the children to thinkage, of their parentsis still thinkmay of parents these At this young the parent in negative terms. and all-powerful - - not dumb, ugly, or idealized as all-knowing weak. Zimbardo, Philip G. Shyness: What It Is, What to Do About It. Cambridge, Mass.: Perseus Books, 1977. Print.

Paraphrasing: Rewording 



If you aren’t concerned with the length of a section, or you feel you can’t boil the information down without losing something important, you have the option of putting the information in your own words Make sure the info really is in your own words – if it’s too close to the original text, it could be considered plagiarism

Paraphrasing: Rewording 



 

The result of paraphrasing a paragraph may produce a paragraph of equal length, and that’s okay What’s important is that the information is actually in your own words and That you give credit where credit is due Let’s take a look at an example of rewording paraphrasing, shall we?

Paraphrasing: Rewording  





We’ll start with the original text – look at it closely Then you’ll see a paraphrasing of the text – the ideas are retained (that’s a key element of paraphrasing), but notice how different the wording is The wording HAS to be significantly different, or it looks like plagiarism The more different the wording is, the more you demonstrate how well you understand the info and are able to relay it to the audience

Paraphrasing: Rewording ORIGINAL TEXT, AS IS REWORDED/PARAPHRASE





Children are totally to perceived their parents' it is rarely the rare A parent’s shynessinsensitive is not often by ashyness; child, and child whoalabels a parent ashy [...] This understandable, would child describe parent as is being shy. Because since parents parents are in positions of the control and authority theirnothomes and are authority figures in home, that shyness inmay manifest, may reveal their shy side tobashfully their children. since shyness is nornot may the parent behave in frontAlso, of the child. viewed as undesirable many children, it may befashion threatening Moreover, shyness is by often valued in a negative by to think of parents these At this young age,can the be parent is still children, so tointhink ofterms. a parent in this fashion unsettling idealized as all-knowing and all-powerful - not to the child. The child idolizes the parent- at thisdumb, stage ugly, of or weak. development. Zimbardo, Philip G. Shyness: What It Is, What to Do About It. Cambridge, Mass.: Perseus Books, 1977. Print.

Quoting vs. Paraphrasing: When? 





Both of these methods of using resources in your writing have many benefits – so how do you decide when to use which? Remember: quoting is usually high impact – it’s good for emphasis, when you think taking the words out of the horse’s mouth is the best means of persuasion Quoting is like a punch: your opponent CANNOT ignore it!

Quoting vs. Paraphrasing: When? 





Paraphrasing is better for condensing a lot of information into a more manageable amount (like we saw in the summary example) It’s also very useful when the information is very technical or the author’s style is very dry and inaccessible – you can make the info more easy to consume for your audience You can also combine authors’ ideas that are similar into one passage through paraphrasing Mmmm…info smoothie

Paraphrasing: More on Combining Ideas Let’s say you have two authors who say similar things on a topic. Zimbardo writes: Children are totally insensitive to their parents' shyness. Smith writes: Children are usually unaware when their parents are shy.

Paraphrasing: More on Combining Ideas These two passages of information can be blended together (mmmm….info smoothie) to keep your information concise and to prevent unnecessary repetition. So, a paraphrase of their information blended together would look like this: Some researchers note that children are often ignorant with regard to their parents’ shyness (Zimbardo 62; Smith 45).

Incorporating Info into Your Writing 





It’s NOT recommended that you just put quotations in your writing without some kind of preamble or introduction or explanation A good rule of thumb is that every sentence in your writing should contain something you wrote, no matter what Transitions are important, particularly between your writing and thoughts, and the quotations

Incorporating Info into Your Writing That Zimbardo quotation we’ve looked is a good example of an incorporated quotation, both in the direct and indirect style. Let’s look at them again. Zimbardo notes that “children are totally insensitive to their parents’ shyness” (62). Some researchers note that "children are totally insensitive to their parents' shyness" (Zimbardo 62). Preamble/introduction/transition: it’s simple, but it works. Things flow better!

Incorporating Quotations into Your Writing And it’s not necessary for every quotation to end the sentence – let’s look at the variants on the Zimbardo quotations again. Zimbardo notes that “children are totally insensitive to their parents’ shyness” (62), though some authors disagree. Some researchers note that "children are totally insensitive to their parents' shyness" (Zimbardo 62), but other authors disagree.

Incorporating Paraphrases into Your Writing Since paraphrases contain your words plus in-text citations, the presence of preambles, introductions, and/or presentations is assumed. Some researchers note that children are often ignorant with regard to their parents’ shyness (Zimbardo 62; Smith 45). Some researchers note that children are often ignorant with regard to their parents’ shyness (Zimbardo 62; Smith 45), but there are exceptions.

Authority & Introduction: People 

When using an author’s name in a report or research paper, it is recommended that you use the author’s full name, with titles, the first time s/he appears in the text.

Dr. Phillip Zimbardo notes that children are often unaware of their parents’ shyness (62). 

Subsequent references to the author utilize the author’s last name only.

Authority & Introduction: People 



By using the author’s full name with titles, you establish their authority and signal to the reader that this person has expertise It’s recommended that you briefly describe why the reader should care about the author’s expertise – you can mention the author’s affiliation(s), accomplishments, and/or area of expertise – think of it as an introduction

Authority & Introduction: Example Dr. Phillip Zimbardo, a professor emeritus of psychology at Stanford University, has studied shyness for several years. Zimbardo has observed that children are often unaware of their parents’ shyness (62).

Authority & Introduction: Example Dr. Katherine Ramsland, author of several books on crime and a forensic psychologist, has studied criminal behavior. Ramsland, writing on dissociative identity disorder (commonly called multiple personality disorder), has observed that “there is probably no greater divide in the professional world than that regarding the authenticity and diagnosis of this disorder” (“Multiple Personalities”).

Authority & Introduction: Things 



Details, facts, statistics – information in general – also need something to establish their authority – or, at least, their origin When incorporating information into your paper, the introduction functions both as a means of establishing authority (or origin) AND as a means of transition

Authority & Introduction: Examples One research study focusing on student research habits found that students tended to use Google more than the Library’s resources when conducting research (Lowe). While studying shyness, one researcher discovered that children are often “totally insensitive to their parents’ shyness” (Zimbardo 62).

Authority & Introduction: Examples One area where shyness may not have a significant impact in an adult’s life is in the family dynamic. Being in positions of authority, parents are not often perceived by their children as being bashful (Zimbardo). Students often utilize counterproductive research habits. They admit to consulting Google rather than library resources (Lowe).

In-Text Citations 



When using someone else’s work in your own – whether you’re quoting or paraphrasing – you’ll need to give credit where credit is due, or document what isn’t your work This is where in-text citations come in – you’ve seen a few already, but we’ll look at them more closely now

In-Text Citations  



These are used to cite resources within the text Every in-text citation should have a corresponding citation in the Works Cited section

If you quote something directly from a text, then the citation will include author’s or authors’ names and page number

In-Text Citations, Continued 





If a resource doesn’t have an author, then you’ll use an abbreviated version of the resource’s title, in quotation marks (we’ll see an example shortly) If you don’t have page numbers, then don’t worry about them In-text citations are also called parenthetical citations

In-Text Citations, Continued 



If you paraphrase something, the in-text citation will only have to contain the author’s name, but a page number is okay, too If you use the author’s name in the course of the sentence, that name will not appear in the in-text citation

In-Text Citations, Continued Direct quotation, author named in sentence According to Jones, "Students often had difficulty using APA style, especially when it was their first time" (199).

In-Text Citations, Continued Direct quotation, author not named in sentence

According to some researchers, "Students often had difficulty using

APA style, especially when it was their first time" (Jones 199).

Please note: the period doesn’t come until AFTER the in-text citation. The sentence isn’t complete until the citation is complete.

In-Text Citations, Continued Direct quotation, author unknown According to one website, “MLA format follows the author-page method of in-text citation” (“MLA In-Text Citations”). **The full title of this website is “MLA In-Text Citations: The Basics.”**

In-Text Citations, Continued 

Long quotations (more than four lines) should be set apart (that is, not within the text, but in a block quotation)



Omit quotation marks



Indent 1 inch (2 hits to the Tab key) from margin



Maintain double spacing



Same rules apply for in-text citation, EXCEPT that the quotation will end with its punctuation, then followed by the citation.

In-Text Citations, Continued Long direct quotation One study found the following:

Students often had difficulty using APA style, especially when it was their first time citing

sources. This difficulty could be attributed to the fact that many students failed to purchase a style manual or to ask their teacher for help. (Jones 199)

In-Text Citations, Continued 





Even if you’re paraphrasing something, you’ll still need to identify the original source In-text citations work for paraphrasing, too

The in-text citations will include the author’s name and page numbers, if available; remember, if the author is unknown, use an abbreviated version of the title

In-Text Citations, Continued Paraphrasing in-text citations According to Jones, APA style is a difficult citation format for first-time learners (199). APA style is a difficult citation format for first-time learners (Jones199). MLA uses an author-page format in in-text citations (“MLA In-Text Citations”).

Works Cited 





The Works Cited page lists the resources you used in your paper – this is where you document those sources Remember: if you have an in-text citation, you will have a corresponding bibliographic citation in your references

References are double-spaced, too

Works Cited, Continued 







On the Works Cited page: center the title “Works Cited” (without quotation marks) at the top of the page

All lines following the first line of the citation will be indented a one half-inch from the margin (also known as a hanging indent) Italicize titles of long works, like books or journal titles Put quotation marks around the titles of short works, like essays or articles

Works Cited, Continued 





Author names are inverted; that is, last name first In resources with more than one author, all other authors’ names are first name first, last name last If a source does not have an author, it will be alphabetized based on title

Works Cited, Continued 





MLA requires that citations include the format in which the resource appears – the most common are print and web MLA no longer requires the inclusion of URLs for websites, but some professors might require that you include them Sometimes you won’t be able to provide all the elements that usually compose a citation; don’t worry, just give what you’ve got

Works Cited: Book Zimbardo, Phillip. Shyness: What It Is, What to Do About It. Cambridge, Mass.: Perseus Books, 1977. Print. American Allergy Association. Allergies in Children. New York: Random, 1998. Print. Encyclopedia of Indiana. New York: Somerset, 1993. Print. ** Most of these examples were taken from the OWL at Purdue’s MLA website.**

Works Cited: Essay/Chapter in a Book Harris, Muriel. "Talk to Me: Engaging Reluctant Writers." A Tutor's Guide: Helping Writers One to One. Ed. Ben Rafoth. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 2000. 24-34. Electronic. Burns, Robert. "Red, Red Rose." 100 Best-Loved Poems. Ed. Philip Smith. New York: Dover, 1995. 26. Print. Kincaid, Jamaica. "Girl." The Vintage Book of Contemporary American Short Stories. Ed. Tobias Wolff. New York: Vintage, 1994. 306-07. Print. ** All of these examples were taken from the OWL at Purdue’s MLA website.**

Works Cited: Articles Bagchi, Alaknanda. "Conflicting Nationalisms: The Voice of the Subaltern in Mahasweta Devi's Bashai Tudu." Tulsa Studies in Women's Literature 15.1 (1996): 41-50. Print. Langhamer, Claire. “Love and Courtship in MidTwentieth-Century England.” Historical Journal 50.1 (2007): 173-96. ProQuest. Web. 27 May 2009. ** All of these examples were taken from the OWL at Purdue’s MLA website.**

Works Cited: Websites The Purdue OWL Family of Sites. The Writing Lab and OWL at Purdue and Purdue U, 2008. Web. 23 Apr. 2008. Felluga, Dino. Guide to Literary and Critical Theory. Purdue U, 28 Nov. 2003. Web. 10 May 2006. "How to Make Vegetarian Chili." eHow.com. eHow, n.d. Web. 24 Feb. 2009.

** All of these examples were taken from the OWL at Purdue’s MLA website.**

MLA Resources 

The Online Writing Lab (OWL) at Purdue: MLA

http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/747/01/ 



Son of Citation Machine: Citation Generator http://citationmachine.net/ EasyBib: Free Automatic Bibliography & Citation Maker http://www.easybib.com/

Q & A Time

Thanks for your attendance! Remember, if you need research help, all you have to do is ask the librarians. You can… Visit the Reference Desk, Library 1st floor  Email us at [email protected]  Call us at (318) 342-1071 

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MLA Style: An Introduction

MLA STYLE: AN INTRODUCTION Presented by the ULM Library Reference Department Session Overview        What is MLA style? General Guidelines ...

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