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Introduction

 
MLA 8th edtion cover
MLA Style

The MLA Handbook, 8th edition (often referred to as “MLA style”) is an editorial guide published by the Modern Language Association for the presentation of scholarly manuscripts and student research papers. MLA style is used primarily in the Humanities.

Availability: The MLA Handbook, 8th edition, is only available in print. Because the publisher has not created an institutional version, the library cannot provide a licensed copy for student use. You are free to purchase your own copy of the MLA guide directly from the Modern Language Association (MLA) or via online vendors. The MLA Style Center also provides information assistance.
 

 

APUS ePress MLA cover


 

This APUS ePress MLA Guide provides abbreviated information on MLA documentation style. Its content mirrors the MLA section in Writing@APUS.


The MLA Handbook, 8th edition provides a “universal set of guidelines that writers can apply to any source.” [MLA Style Center, “What’s New?”] The purpose of the new approach is to better explain the principles of documentation in a way that does not depend on the format of the source being used.

The List of Works Cited: The new MLA style uses a universal template that lists the required order and punctuation for the major information elements of a source. (If an element is not present, it is not included in the citation.) 

The template elements and order required:
 

MLA Practice Template


NOTE: Be aware of the punctuation noted for each element in this list. It is the correct punctuation you should use when building your citations entries.

For more information on the core elements and the template, see Works Cited: A Quick Guide on the MLA Style Center website.


KEY CHANGES IN THE 8TH EDITION

 


Abbreviations

  • Commonly used abbreviations such as words such “ed.” for “editor,” etc. should now be spelled out. See the MLA Handbook (8th ed.), Section 1.6.2 of  “Common Academic Abbreviations” (96) for the complete list.

Authors

  • Three or more authors: Only the first author noted in source is listed, followed by “et al.”
  • It is now permitted to use pseudonyms, online handles, and screen names as author names.


Books/Printed Works

  • City of publication not given (except in special circumstances; see MLA: “City of Publication,“ 51).
  • In the works-cited list (but not in-text citations) page numbers preceded by “p.” or “pp.“
  • Widely used reference works, such as encyclopedias:
    • Provide full publication information.
    • In reference works containing alphabetical article entries, use page-number ranges.
    • For other reference works, treat as regular source.
       

Dates

  • Date a webpage accessed is now optional.
    • MLA notes that date of access can be important, however, if the source does not have a date of publication listed.
    • If your instructor requires it use the following format: Accessed Date Month Year; e.g., Accessed 20 Mar. 2008.
  • Missing dates: “N.d.” (“no date”) no longer required (for online and print works). If a date is available from a trustworthy 3rd source, include date in square brackets. E.g., [1957].
     

In-Text Citations

  • The basic principles of the 7th edition have been retained. For additions/clarifications, see the section below titled IN-TEXT CITATIONS | FORMAT.
     

Journals

  • In the works-cited list page numbers should be preceded by “p.” or “pp.“
  • In the in-text citation, “p.” or “pp.” are not used.
  • Issues of scholarly journals should be identified using volume and issue number.
  • If issue of scholarly journal includes month or season, this must now be cited along with the year.

Example:

Schneider, Alexandria. "Home Movie-Making and Swiss Expatriate Identities in
               the 1920s and 1930s." Film History, vol. 15, no. 2, Jan. 2003, pp. 166-
               176.

 

Missing Info

  • Do not use placeholders for unknown information like “n.d.” (“no date”) or “n.p.” (“no place of publication”), etc. unless your instructor requires it.
     

Publication Medium or Type (such as “Web” or “Print”)

  • Source’s publication format is not considered unless needed for clarification. Do not include.
     

Publishers

  • Spell out the publisher name in full. Do not use business abbreviations or words such as “Company” or “Co.” Continue using “P” (for “Press”), “U” (for “University”), and “UP” (for “University Press”).
     
  • Copublisher names should be separated with a forward slash (/).  

    Example:  

         From title page: Published by The Countryman Press. A Division of W.W. Norton & Company,
         Inc.

     Cited as: Countryman P / W.W. Norton
 

  • If an organization is both author and publisher, no author is stated and organization is listed as the publisher.
     
  • Publisher names are not needed for:
    • Periodical (journal, magazine or newspaper)
    • Work published by its own author or editor
    • Website for which the title is the same as the name of its publisher
    • A website not connected with producing the works it provides. E.g., YouTube or ProQuest
       

URLs/DOIs

  • Do not include “http://” or “https://” for web sources.
  • Do not use angled brackets (< >) around URLs.
  • Include the URL or DOI for Web sources.
  • Use of DOIs is preferable to URLs.

 

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Reference List | Format


In MLA Style, the appropriate title for the bibliography section is Works Cited. [MLA: "Creating Your Documentation: List of Works Cited." p. 20. See also “Formatting a Research Paper” from the MLA Style Center.]

  • The works-cited section should begin on a new page with the words “Works Cited” centered an inch from the top of the page.
  • Include the same running head on this page as the main text, continuing the page numbering from the previous page.
  • Cite only the sources you have consulted directly.
  • Use the full first and middle names of authors unless only initials are present.
  • Use author’s name and the title as noted in the article itself (not from the journal cover or the table of contents).Usernames and online handles may be used as the author’s name.
  • Arrange the entries in alphabetical order according to the term that comes first in the entry. This is typically the author’s last name but may be the title of the source if no author name is available.


References Entry Elements

The MLA 8th edition has introduced a new approach to identifying and presenting the entries in the works-cited section. See the previous section—What’s New in the 8th edition?—for details.


References Formatting

  • Double-space between the “Works Cited” title and the first entry in the list.
     
  • Use the hanging indent format (i.e., the first line of each reference is set flush left with subsequent lines indented).
     
  • Double-space within each entry and between entries.
     

Hanging indent example
NOTE:  This example shows an APA-style entry. The hanging indent format is correct. Be sure to double-space all reference entries.

Note correct use of uppercase, lowercase, and italics in the citation examples provided in the Examples of Works Cited Entries in this section.


Indirect/Secondary Source Citation

The MLA editors state that “Whenever you can, take material from the original source, not a secondhand one.” [MLA: 3.4 Indirect Sources, p. 124] Indirect source citation should be used sparingly as it is always preferable to quote or paraphrase from the original source.

Sometimes, however, you may not have access to the original source. In this case, you may cite or quote the original source as found in another, secondary source. This secondary source is referred to as an indirect source.

Example: Frederick Jackson Turner, himself, noted it was “not an easy task to bring books to fruition...” (qtd. in Billington 207).

  • Turner’s comment is from a letter, but you don’t have the letter itself, which is the original source.
  • The words of Turner being quoting are included in a book by Billington. Billington’s book is the indirect or secondary source.


In the works-cited section you would include a reference to the indirect or secondary source and, if available, the original source information (which may be located in the notes or bibliography of the indirect source).


Example of Works Cited Entries

Billington, Ray A. Frederick Jackson Turner: Historian, Scholar, Teacher. New York: Oxford University Press, 1973.

Turner, Frederick Jackson. Letter to Max Farrand. 3 Jan. 1905. Frederick Jackson Turner Papers, TU Box 5. Henry E. Huntington
          Library and Art Gallery, San Marino, CA.

  • In this example, Billington is the indirect/secondary source. Because it is the source you actually used, it must be included in the Works Cited list.
     
  • Turner is the original source. It is not required that the original source be included in the works-cited section. MLA8 states “You may wish to clarify the relation between the original and secondhand sources in a note.” [MLA: 3.4 Indirect Sources, p. 124]

    It is not incorrect to include the original source info in the works-cited section. If you are doing an extensive paper and are able to locate the original source’s citation info in the indirect/secondary source, it can be included, as shown in the example above.


For in-text citation information on using indirect/secondary sources, see the next section below titled IN-TEXT CITATIONS | FORMAT.

 


Missing Information

As a general rule, you should provide as much information as necessary to uniquely identify the source and how your readers can access it. When this information is not available, such as an anonymously published source or a website without page numbers, simply leave out that element and move to the next item in the entry.

According to the editors of the MLA Style Center, “Do not use placeholders for unknown information like n.d. (“no date”) and n. pag. (“no pagination”) unless your teacher asks you to do so.”

The MLA editors also state, “If facts missing from a work are available in a reliable external resource, they can be cited in square brackets; see section 2.6.1 of the MLA Handbook for more information.”

 

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In-Text Citations | Format


In addition to documenting the sources used in the works-cited section, in-text (or parenthetical) citation should be included in your text. An in-text citation is a brief reference to the source consulted.

In this section:TOP



In-Text Citation Format

The correct format uses author-page in-text citation.

The author's last name and the page number(s) from which the quotation or paraphrase is taken must appear in the text (a complete reference for the source must be included in the works-cited page). The citation is included within parentheses.

Example: (Lewis 47)

If the author’s name is mentioned in the text of the sentence, only the page number appears in the citation: “(47).”

Example: Lewis, in his third Narnia book, notes that Eustace’s travelling companions are conflicted about his mysterious disappearance (47).

If more than one work by the author is in the list of works cited, a shortened version of the title is given.

Example: “(Lewis, Dawn Treader 47)”


NOTE: Page number(s) should always be positioned inside the parentheses, not in the text of your sentence.


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If there is no author name: Use the element that comes first in the source’s entry in the works -cited list. This is often a so-called corporate author (such as a government agency) or the title of the source.

Examples:

Works-cited entry (with title as first entry):

The MLA Handbook. 8th ed. New York: Modern Language Association of America, 2016.

 

In-text citation: (MLA Handbook 117)


Works -cited entry (with government agency as the corporate author):

United States, Department of Justice. Office of Justice Programs. The Coach’s Playbook
           Against Drugs. NCJ
173393. Washington, DC, 1998.


In-text citation: (United States, Dept. of Justice 16)
 

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If there are two authors: Include both past names in the in-text citation, connected by “and.”

            Example: (Lacher and Kolter 27)
 

If there are three or more authors: Include the first author’s surname followed by “et al.”

            Example: (Larkin et al. 59)


Using abbreviations:
As the goal of an in-text citation is to be short and clear, using abbreviations is permitted. Make sure the abbreviation is not too brief, and that it is clear to the reader what source is being cited.

Examples:

Works-cited entry (government publication):

United States, Department of Justice. Office of Justice Programs. The Coach’s Playbook
           Against Drugs. NCJ
173393. Washington, DC, 1998.

In-text citation: (United States, Dept. of Justice 16)


Works -cited entry (blog post; title abbreviated):

“Why a Nursing Degree Still Matters.” AdvisingForYourFuture. Osley College. 15 Sept.
            2014.

In-text citation (with titled abbreviated): (Why Nursing)

NOTE: There is no page number in this example as the source is a blog post without identifiable numbers or sections.
           

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Page numbers: Use the page number or page range only. (The use of “p.” and “pp.” is limited to the works-cited entry.) Do not use a comma.

            Example: (Pendergast 35) or (Pendergast 35-36)


No page numbers:

If a source uses paragraph numbers and not page numbers (which may happen with a Web publication), include the paragraph number(s) preceded by “par.” or “pars.” Insert a comma after the author or title element.

            Example: (Glavin, par. 17) or (Ice Bear, pars. 2-3)

If there are no page numbers or paragraph numbers, it is appropriate to use other kinds of part indicators such as “sec.” or “secs.” (for sections) or “ch.” or “chs.” (for chapters).
 

NOTE: If there are no page numbers or any kind of part number or indicator, do not create one. That is, do not count unnumbered paragraphs, or sections, or other parts. Simply note the author or title (or other first element) in the in-text citation.

Example (showing sentence with in-text citation):  “Planning one’s future may or may not impact that same future” (Goldberg), a concept the Type A personality can find difficult to accept.

A post on the MLA Style Center on citing e-books states “When citing an e-book in your text, avoid using device-specific numbering systems.” This is because pagination can change depending on the e-reading device used.

The MLA Handbook also notes If the work is divided into stable numbered sections like chapters, the numbers of those sections may be cited, with a label identifying the type of part that is numbered.” [MLA: 3.4 Other Citations Not Involving Page Numbers, p. 123] Do not count unnumbered sections. Only an identifiable, fixed part number may be used.

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Indirect/Secondary Source Citation

The MLA editors state that “Whenever you can, take material from the original source, not a secondhand one.” [MLA: 3.4 Indirect Sources, p. 124] Indirect source citation should be used sparingly as it is always preferable to quote or paraphrase from the original source.

Sometimes, however, you may not have access to the original source. In this case, you may cite or quote the original source as found in another, secondary source. This secondary source is referred to as an indirect source.

Example: Frederick Jackson Turner, himself, noted it was “not an easy task to bring books to fruition...” (qtd. in Billington 207).

  • Turner’s comment is from a letter, but you don’t have the letter itself, which is the original source.
  • The words of Turner being quoting are included in a book by Billington. Billington’s book is the indirect or secondary source.


To make sure you are not plagiarizing from either the original or secondary source, make sure that the parenthetical citation indicates:

  • You are quoting from an original source.
  • Which secondary source the quote is from.


How to indicate this in a parenthetical citation:

If the original text you are quoting is itself a quotation, use the abbreviation “qtd. in” (i.e., “quoted in”) before the indirect source you are citing in your parenthetical reference. In the example above “(qtd. in Billington 207)” is the correctly formatted indirect source parenthetical citation.

For information on how or whether to include an indirect/secondary source in the works-cited section, see the previous section, REFERENCE LIST | FORMAT.

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Notes on Multiple Authors

Notes on Multiple Authors (from MLA Handbook 21-23, 114, 116-117)


Parenthetical/In-Text Citations

  • Two authors: Include both last names in the in-text citation, connected by “and.”

            Example: (Lacher and Kolter 27)
 

  • Three or more authors: Include the first author’s surname followed by “et al.”

            Example: (Larkin et al. 59)



Works Cited

  • Two authors
     
    • Include both last names in the order they are noted in the source.
    • First author format: Last Name, First Name
    • Second author format: First Name Last Name.
    • Punctuation: Insert comma after first author name followed by “and.”

                       
Example:

                        Ingham, Rosemary, and Liz Covey. The Costume Designer's Handbook: A Complete Guide for Amateur

and Professional Costume Designers. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall, 1983.
 

  • Three or more authors
     
    • List the first author only, followed by “et al.”
    • First author format: Last Name, First Name
    • Punctuation: Insert comma after first author name followed by “et al.”
       

                        Example:

                        Simmerl, Elfriede, et al. "Structure and Regulation of a Gene Cluster for Male Accessory Gland Transcripts

                                     in Drosophila Melanogaster." Insect Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, vol 25, no.1, 1995, pp. 127-137.

                                

 

Using a DOI or URL


Guidelines for Using DOIs, URLs, and Permalinks


URLs

The MLA Handbook states: “We…recommend the inclusion of URLs in the works-cited list, but if your instructor prefers that you not include them, follow his or her directions.” (48)

Correct format for URLs:

  • Copy the complete URL from the Web browser.
  • Remove the “http://” or “https://“ from the URL when including it in a works-cited entry.

    Correct: www.google.com/intl/en/about/company/security.html
    Incorrect: https://www.google.com/intl/en/about/company/security.html

    NOTE: Do not use URLs from shortening Web services (such as bit.ly). These replacement URLs can stop working if the service goes out of business.

     
  • Do not use angled brackets (< >) around URLs.
  • Use of DOIs is preferable to URLs.
     

If a URL is too long:

The MLA editors suggest that a URL that runs “more than three lines is likely to interfere with the readability of the entry.” [MLA Style Center post] In this case one may truncate the URL. Specific instructions on truncating and breaking a URL are provided at the MLA Style Center post linked here.
 


DOIs

A DOI (Digital Object Identifier) is a standardized, unique number given to some articles, papers, and books, by some publishers, to identify a particular publication. Not all publications have a DOI. The MLA Handbook says: “When possible, citing a DOI is preferable to citing a URL.” (48) If you cannot locate a DOI for a source you want to cite it is correct to leave it out.

NOTE: If you have a reference and can't find the DOI number, or have a DOI number and are missing the reference, try the Crossref Free DOI Lookup.

DOI formatting


Sample DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11524-010-9437-5

Sample URL: http://search.proquest.com/docview/219811201?accountid=8289


Correct format for DOIs: Cite the DOI by (1) removing the “http://” and (2) including “doi:” in the string.

Correct: doi.org/10.1007/s11524-010-9437-5
Incorrect: http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11524-010-9437-5

 

Permalinks

A permalink is a hyperlink which will always direct a user to the same web resource (page, blog post, etc.) or any online digital media.

  • Not all digital sources have permalinks.
  • Some (though not all) databases provide permalinks for sources.
  • Some databases, such as EBSCO, will generate a link for you.
  • Other databases, such as ProQuest, will let you send the permalink via an email address.
  • FAQ: How can I create a permalink?

 

Quotations | Format


QUOTATIONS | FORMAT

The following information is for prose quotations. If quoting poetry, see the MLA Handbook Section 1.3.3; if drama, see Section 1.3.4. For detailed information on omitting words or phrases from within a quotation (using ellipses), see Section 1.3.5. For any other changes made to a quotation, see Section 1.3.1.


Less than 4 lines:

  • If a prose quotation is less than four lines of your text, incorporate it within the text.
  • Double quotation marks (“) are used to enclose a short quotation within the text.
  • Single quotation marks (‘) are used within a quotation to denote text that was quoted within the original source.
  • Periods and commas are placed within the closing single or double quotation marks.
     
  • Keep any punctuation from the original text in your quotation, except if double quotation marks are used within the quote. Change those to single quotation marks. (For more detailed information, see MLA: Section 1.3.7 Punctuation with Quotations, pp. 87-90.)
  • If a parenthetical reference is needed, position the sentence period after the reference.

    Example (be sure to double-space):

    “The archetype of the outsider was personified in the Star Trek character of Mr. Spock” (Roddenberry 36).


More than 4 lines:

  • Usually, though not always, a long quotation is preceded by a colon (:) at the end of the sentence that introduces the quotation. (Section 1.3.2)
  • Begin a new line, set off from text, indented 1 inch from the left margin.
  • Double-space the quotation.
  • Do not use quotation marks for block quotation itself.
     
  • Use double quotations (“) for any quoted material within the block quotation. Keep any punctuation from the original text in your quotation. (For more detailed information, see MLA: Section 1.3.7 Punctuation with Quotations, pp. 87-90.)
  • The parenthetical reference is included at the end of the quotation after the final period of the quoted material.
     
  • If a quotation includes the start of a new paragraph within the quotation, indent the first line of the new paragraph.


    Example (be sure to double-space):

    Le Guin does not shy away from the reality of the human condition. The physicist Shevek, when he describes suffering

    as a “misunderstanding,” is the voice of this cold reality among his friends:

                They talked about whether their childhoods had been happy. They talked

                  about what happiness was. . . .

                             “It exists,” Shevek said, spreading out his hands. “It’s real. I can call it a

                  misunderstanding, but I can’t pretend that it doesn’t exist, or will ever cease to

                  exist. Suffering is the condition on which we live. And when it comes, you know

                  it. You know it as truth. . . .  We can’t prevent suffering. This pain and that pain,
               
                yes, but not Pain. A society can only relieve social suffering, unnecessary  suffering. The rest remains ” (53).

     

Line spacing: Double-space between all lines of text, including quotations, notes, and works-cited section.

Incorporating quotations into your text: For some useful suggestions on how to “weave a quotation gracefully into your prose,” see this post from the MLA Style Center editors.

Images | Figures


MLA style provides limited information on citing images but their new universal template provides a framework for the range of images one might need to cite.

 

General Notes

The MLA editors note the following with regard to using images:

  • Images are referred to in the MLA guide as illustrations, examples, or tables.
     
  • Place any illustrations, examples, or tables within the body of your paper close to the text in which you discuss or refer to them.
     
  • Each image must include a label (Fig., Table, or Ex.), a number, a caption, and/or source information.
     
  • If source information included with your table or illustration is complete, the source does not need to be included on your the works-cited page.
     
  • Usernames and online handles may be used as the author’s name.


Notes on Website Images

If citing an image that you found by using Google Images, cite the original source of the image–not Google.

NOTE: For information on how to locate the original source, see “Image found via Google Images Search” in the section below on this page titled CITING IMAGES – PARTS OF AN IMAGE.The MLA editors also address this issue in this FAQ from their MLA Style Center: How do I cite an image found through an online search engine like Google Images?

  • If citing an image found only on the web, provide the name of the creator/author, the title of the work, and then follow the citation format for a website. If the work is posted via a username, use that username for the creator/author.
     
  • If an image does not have a name or title, create a short name or description to use in the title position.
     
  • If an image has no creator/author name, use the title/name/short description of the image as the title in place of the author in the in-text citation and the works-cited entry.


Copyright and Permissions

The use of copyrighted images in APUS student papers is permitted under Fair Use guidelines. Students do not need to obtain permissions from rights holders for images used in class papers or presentations. However, all images must be cited in MLA format.


Labeling of Illustrations/Photos/Graphs/Maps/Charts

  • Any type of image, except musical illustrations, should be labeled “Figure” (abbreviated as “Fig.” without quotation marks).
     
  • Musical illustrations should be labeled “Example” (abbreviated as “Ex.”without quotation marks).
     
  • Use arabic numerals to sequentially order figures (i.e, 1, 2, 3, etc. not I, II, III . . .).
     
  • Include a caption for the figure.
     
  • The figure label and caption should be positioned below the illustration (using the same 1-inch margin as the paper’s text). Double-space throughout.


Tables (When Creating Your Own)

  • A table should be labeled “Table” (without quotation marks).
     
  • Use arabic numerals to sequentially order tables (i.e, 1, 2, 3, etc. not I, II, III . . .).
     
  • Include a title for the table.
     
  • Label and title should be positioned above the table itself with Table number on one line followed by table title on the next line. Double-space throughout.
     
  • Table source and any notes should be positioned below the table in a caption.


CITATION EXAMPLES | In-Text Citations

In your text: provide the specific information for the image or table (i.e., image creator/author name, figure or table number, etc.).

  • The parenthetical citation following the imagine info should include the author and page number of the original source from which the image was obtained. (It may be that the image author/creator name is not the same of the source author. Use the source author!).
     
  • Usernames and online handles may be used as the author’s name.
     
  • In a parenthetical citation, do not capitalize the image label (example in boldface below).

Correct:
(Fowler and Hall 28, fig. 1) or (Tanaka, Zelenitsky, and Therrien 12, table 7)

Incorrect:
(Fowler and Hall 28, Fig. 1) or (Tanaka, Zelenitsky, and Therrien 12, Table 7)

  • If source information is included with your table or illustration, the source does not need to be included on the works-cited page. If you are including an entry in the works-cited page, however, you should cite the original source for the image.
     
  • If an image does not have a name or title, create a short name or description to use in the title position.
     
  • If an image has no creator/author name, use the title/name/short description of the image as the title in place of the author in the in-text citation and the works-cited entry.


Models & Examples back to toc


Image Creator Different from Image Source Author

This photograph by 3D Photoworks shows how detailed a three-dimensional painting can be made for the visually-impaired art lover (Hale 2016).

  • “3D Photoworks” is the image creator.
  • “Hale” is the image source author.


Original Source (web article):

Hale, Tom. “3D Printing Lets Blind People ‘See’ Paintings.” IFL Science, 6 Jan. 2016, www.iflscience.com/technology/ 3d-printing-
          brings-paintings-and-photography-blind-people.

 

Image Creator as the Image Source Author

The pencil sketch on the FAQ web page of Australian artist and writer Shaun Tan shows how an artist’s own work can serve as an effective component in a web site design (Tan).

  • “Shaun Tan” is the image creator.
  • “(Tan)” is the source author.
  • NOTE: In this instance, there is no date on the source. The MLA editors state “Do not use placeholders for unknown information like n.d. (“no date”) and n. pag. (“no pagination”) unless your teacher asks you to do so.” You may consider including the Date of Access in this case.


Original Source (website):

Tan, Shaun. Header sketch for FAQ section. Shaun Tan, www.shauntan.net/faq1.html.

NOTE: If creating your own description or name for the image, do not put it in quotation marks. Capitalize only the first word of the description and any proper nouns.

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Name of Image Author/Creator Included in Text

Gary Grassi’s photo of the left foot and leg of a juvenile Edmontosaurus has provided paleontologists with new insights into the young of this species (Gangloff 50, fig. 4.9).

  • “Gary Grassi” is the image creator.
  • “Gangloff” is the image source author.


Original Source Info (online/e-book):

Gangloff, Roland A. Dinosaurs Under the Aurora. Indiana UP, 2012, eBrary, site.ebrary.com/lib/apus/detail.action?docID=10571226.


Name of Image Author/Creator Not Included in Text

This example of the left foot and leg of a juvenile Edmontosaurus has provided paleontologists with new insights into the young of this species (Gangloff 50, fig. 4.9).

Original Source Info (online/e-book):

Gangloff, Roland A. Dinosaurs Under the Aurora. Indiana UP, 2012, eBrary, site.ebrary.com/lib/apus/detail.action?docID=10571226.

NOTE: This example and the one preceding are both correct. The first example could be used if the text is emphasizing the specific photographer. The second example is more typical in that it simply is citing an image used in a source.

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Image from an Online Journal Article

Original Source Info (online journal article):

Fowler, Denver W., and Lee E. Hall. “Scratch-Digging Sauropods, Revisited.” Historical Biology, vol. 23, no. 1, 2011, pp. 27-40,
          dx.doi.org/10.1080/08912963.2010.504852.

Author(s) mentioned in the citation:

The modern elephant foot, as seen in this image, “Manus of an Asian elephant (Elephas maximus),” is nothing like the sauropod foot (Fowler and Hall 28, fig. 1).

OR

Author(s) mentioned in the text of sentence:

Fowler and Hall’s image of the modern elephant foot--“Manus of an Asian elephant (Elephas maximus)”—shows how it is nothing like the sauropod foot (28, fig. 1).

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Citing a Table

Refer to the table along with its number designation in-text, typically using parentheses. The word “table” should not be capitalized in the parenthetical (in-text) citation. Always give page numbers for images when present.

Original Source (open web journal article):

Tanaka, Kohei, Darla K. Zelenitsky, and François Therrien. "Eggshell porosity provides insight on evolution of nesting in dinosaurs."
          PloS ONE, vol. 10, no. 11, e0142829, 2015, journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0142829.

 

  1. Source with Page Numbers | Author’s Name Mentioned in Text

    The rate of “covered nesters” versus “open nesters” was analyzed by Tanaka, Zelenitsky, and Therrien (12, table 7).

     
  2. Source with Page Numbers | Author’s Name Not Mentioned in Text

    The rate of “covered nesters” versus “open nesters” suggests that . . . [rest of sentence text] (Tanaka, Zelenitsky, and Therrien 12, table 7).

     
  3. Source Without Page Numbers | Author’s Name Mentioned in Text

    The issue of “covered nesters” versus “open nesters” was analyzed by Tanaka, Zelenitsky, and Therrien (table 7).

     
  4. Source Without Page Numbers | Author’s Name Not Mentioned in Text

    The rate of “covered nesters” versus “open nesters” suggests that . . . [rest of sentence text] (Tanaka, Zelenitsky, and Therrien, table 7).

NOTE: For more detailed information on citing a table, see this post from the MLA Style Center: How do I cite a data table?

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Citation Examples | Works-Cited List Entries

MLA style provides limited information on citing images but their new universal template provides a framework for the range of images one might need to cite.


General Notes

If source citation information is included with the illustration, example, or table, the source is typically not included in the works-cited section.

If creating a works-cited reference entry for an image cited in your text do not include the figure/example/table number in the entry.

When should the image author/creator be used as the first element of a works-cited entry?

If you are discussing the image substantively in your text (i.e., at length and in depth), you may want to consider making the image author/creator name the first element in your works-cited entry.

This is a judgment call that only you can make. Style guides are guides, not rules. So it is not incorrect if you decide to cite the image author/creator vs. the author of the source in which the image is located.


Image from Web Site

General Notes for Images from a Web Site or Web Page

·If citing an image that you found by using Google Images, cite the original source of the image (not Google).

NOTE: For information on how to locate the original source, see “Image found via Google Images Search” in the section below on this page titled CITING IMAGES – PARTS OF AN IMAGE. The MLA editors also address is issue in this FAQ from their MLA Style Center: How do I cite an image found through an online search engine like Google Images?

Usernames and online handles may be used as the author’s name.

If the author/creator name is not available, move the title of the image to the first position in the reference entry.

If the image does not have a name, create a brief description. This description should not be italicized or placed in quotation marks. Capitalize only the first word of the description and any proper nouns.

Example: Photograph of child using stove

Italicize the title of a formal art work.

Date of access is optional.

NOTE: The MLA editors note that date of access can be important if the source does not have a date of publication listed. If your instructor requires it use the following format: Accessed Date Month Year; e.g., Accessed 20 Mar. 2008.

Missing dates: “N.d.” (“no date”) are no longer required (for online and print works). If a date is available from a trustworthy 3rd source, include date in square brackets. E.g., [1957].


Image Author/Creator as First Element of Entry:

Image Author/Creator Last Name, First Name. “Title of Image.” or Description of image. Title of
            Web Site, Publisher or Sponsor of site, Date of Publication (if available), URL. Date of         Access (if applicable).

Gurney, James. “Takedown.” Gurney Journey. 10 Jan. 2017, gurneyjourney.blogspot.com/2017/01/using-maquettes-to-experiment-
          with.html.


Image with Username as Author/Creator

Image Author/Creator Username. “Title of Image.” or Description of image. Title of Web Site, Publisher or Sponsor of site, Date of
          Publication (if available), URL. Date of Access (if applicable).

Peter. “The Second Mona Lisa Meme New-Young.” Current News Memes, 29 Sept. 2012, cmemes.com/the-mona-lisa-memes/the-
          second-mona-lisa-painting-meme-new-young.


Image with Created Description (Because No Title Present)

If creating your own description or name for the image, do not put in quotation marks. Capitalize only the first word of the description and any proper nouns.

Image Author/Creator Last Name, First Name. Description of image. Title of Web Site, Publisher
            or Sponsor of site, Date of Publication (if available), URL. Date of access (if applicable).

Tan, Shaun. Header sketch for FAQ section. Shaun Tan, 15 May 2016,
          www.shauntan.net/faq1.html.


Image From a Specific Web Page or Web Article

Cite the original source page/article of the image.

If the article has a URL and a DOI, the DOI is preferred.

Web page or Article Author/Creator Last Name, First Name. “Tile of Web Page or Article.” Title
            of Web Site, Publisher or Sponsor of site, Date of Publication, URL, Date of Access (if
            applicable).

Hale, Tom. “3D Printing Lets Blind People ‘See’ Paintings.” IFL Science, 6 Jan. 2016, www.iflscience.com/technology/3d-printing-
          brings-paintings-and-photography-blind-people.


Image from Online Journal Article

Cite the original source of the image. Use the complete page range of the article, not just the pages you used/cited. (The individual page would be noted in the in-text citation.)

If the journal is in an exclusively online format (i.e. there is no corresponding print publication) and does not use page numbers, simply leave the page range element out of the entry.

If the image author/creator is not the same person as the author of the article, be sure to include the image author, figure/example/table number, and image name or description in the text with the article author in the parenthetical (in-text) citation.

NOTE: If citing the image author/creator, see this note in the General Notes section above for guidance.

If the article has a URL and a DOI, the DOI is preferred.


Author Last Name, Author First Name. "Title of Article: Subtitle of Article." Title of Periodical, volume number, issue number,
         Publication date, page numbers, URL. Date of Access (if applicable).


Gluckman, Thanh-Lan. "Pathways To Elaboration Of Sexual Dimorphism In Bird Plumage Patterns." Biological Journal of The
          Linnean Society
, vol. 111, no. 2, 2014, pp. 262-273, doi:10.1111/bij.12211.


Image from an eBook

Unless citing the image itself (see second note below), use the works-cited models and examples for BOOKS-ELECTRONIC/ONLINE on this page.

Cite the original source of the image. Unless the source is a book section or chapter, page numbers are not included.

NOTE: If citing the image author/creator, see this note in the General Notes section above for guidance.

If the book has a URL and a DOI, the DOI is preferred.

 

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Citing Images | A Glossary of Terms


The following terms are typically used when discussing visual materials or images that might be included in a student paper or thesis.  Except where noted, the definitions are from the Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary (MW) and the Online Dictionary for Library and Information Science (ODLIS).


Caption: A brief title, explanation, or description appearing immediately above, beneath, or adjacent to an illustration or photograph on a page, sometimes indicating the source of the image. ODLIS

Chart: Information in the form of a table, diagram, etc. MW

Cover art: The illustration or photograph printed on the outside of a publication, such as a book, magazine, comic book, DVD, VHS tape, video game, CD, or record album. ODLIS

Creator: The person responsible for producing an original work of visual art. ODLIS

Credit line (or Credit): A brief statement giving the name of the author, artist, agency, or publication that is the source of a picture, photograph, or quotation reproduced in an article or book, or on a Web page, usually displayed immediately below the illustration or portion of text or given at the end of the caption. Credit lines are sometimes printed together in a separate section in the front matter or back matter of a book or in a paragraph on another page in a periodical. ODLIS

Diagram: A figure, chart, or graphic design intended to illustrate or explain a principle, concept, or set of statistical data. Also, a drawing, sketch, or plan that shows the steps in a process or the relationship of the parts of an object or structure to the whole, usually simplified for the sake of clarity and utility. ODLIS

Figure:  Illustrative matter printed with the text, rather than separately in the form of plates. Figures are usually fairly simple line drawings, numbered consecutively in arabic numerals in order of appearance to facilitate reference. Figures not individually captioned may be listed with captions on a separate page, usually in the front matter of a book. (The number assigned to a plate is called a figure number.) ODLIS

Graph: A diagram that shows (1) quantity in relation to a whole (pie graph), (2) the distribution of separate values of a variable in relation to another (scatter graph), or (3) change in the value of a variable in relation to another (coordinate graph, histogram, etc.), for example, change in the average price of a journal subscription over time. ODLIS

Graphic:  Any two-dimensional nontextual, still representation. ODLIS

Illustration: A picture, plate, diagram, plan, chart, map, design, or other graphic image printed with or inserted in the text of a book or other publication as an embellishment or to complement or elucidate the text. ODLIS

Image: A visual representation of something: as (1) a likeness of an object produced on a photographic material or (2) a picture produced on an electronic display (as a television or computer screen) MW

Label: Descriptive terms that appear within an illustration.

List of Figures (or List of Illustrations): Ordered list of figures or illustrations included in a text (typically a book, dissertation, or thesis). The List of Figures is usually located in the front matter of the document.

List of Tables: Ordered list of tables included in a text (typically a book, dissertation, or thesis). The List of Tables is usually located in the front matter of the document.

Map: (1) A picture or chart that shows the rivers, mountains, streets, etc., in a particular area; (2) a picture or chart that shows the different parts of something. MW

Plate: Illustrative matter in a book or other publication, usually printed with or without explanatory text on a leaf of different quality paper than the main text, with the reverse side often blank or bearing a descriptive legend. Plates are usually inserted in the sections after gathering, either distributed throughout the text or in one or more groups. (The number assigned to a plate is called a plate number.) ODLIS

Stock photo: A still photograph taken in the past and kept on file for use when no current picture is available, as distinct from one taken specifically for the purpose at hand. Newspapers usually maintain a file of stock photographs, especially portraits of well-known individuals, pictures of landmarks, etc., for use as the occasion arises. ODLIS

Table: The compact arrangement of facts, figures, or other data in vertical rows and columns to facilitate comparison, usually with a title across the top or an explanatory caption or note written or printed underneath. ODLIS

CIting Images | Parts of an Image


Parts of an Image from a Scholarly Source
 

Citing image from scholarly article
 

Citing table from scholarly article


Above images from Tanaka, K., Zelenitsky, D. K., & Therrien, F. (2015). Eggshell porosity provides insight on evolution of nesting in dinosaurs. PLOS ONE, 10(11), e0142829. http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0142829 (Used with permission. Modified to include parts of images.)

 

Images from non-scholarly sources

While images in academic/scholarly resources have a relatively standardized presentation format, images found in trade or popular magazines or on websites have no such standard. Determining the name of the image, its creator, date, etc. may require some detective work on your part.

If the image has no name: Describe the image in your text.

Example: “This portrait of actor Claire Danes at last year’s award ceremony….”
Cite according to the instructions in the style guide you are using.

If you cannot determine who created the image: Cite this as you would a source with no author according the guidelines of your style guide.

If you cannot determine the date of the image: Use the date of the source and cite according to the guidelines of your style guide.


Image Found on a Website

NOTE: Always cite the image from the source in which you found it.

The following image was found on the “Publicity Photos” page of author Ursula K. Le Guin’s official website.
 

Citing image from website

 

All the information needed to cite this image:

    1. Name and URL of website: Ursula K. Le Guin’s Website, http://www.ursulakleguin.com/
    2. Name and  URL of web page it is located on: Publicity Photos, http://www.ursulakleguin.com/PublicityPhotos.html
    3. Name of image: Ursula K. Le Guin or Photo of Ursula K. Le Guin
    4. Creator of image: Jack Liu
    5. Date of image: 2014


Image Found via Google Images Search


NOTE: Always cite the image from the source in which you found it.

The same image (above) was found on a different website by searching Google Images for Ursula K. Le Guin.


Google image info parts


Click on the image to bring up the Google Images info box. Then click on the Visit page button. (To save image, click on the View image button, then right-click for Save image option.)


Visit page link on Google Images

Identify the information needed to cite the image. Use this information in your citation.


Webpage showing source info


All the information needed to cite this image:

1. Name and URL of website: YES! Magazine, http://www.yesmagazine.org/
2. Title of web article and URL of page: “Ursula K. Le Guin Calls on Fantasy and Sci Fi Writers to Envision
    Alternatives to Capitalism,” http://www.yesmagazine.org/happiness/ursula-k-le-guin-calls-on-sci-fi-and
    fantasy-writers-to-envision-alternatives-to-capitalism
3. Name of image: The image does not have a title or caption. In this instance, the name of the image
    would be listed as “Photo of Ursula K. Le Guin.”
4. Creator of image: Jack Liu
5. Date of article: 2015

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Citation Examples


Click on the tabs for models and examples of reference entries using MLA Style.

These are the most commonly requested examples of MLA citation/reference models. It is not a complete list. You are encouraged to acquire a copy of the complete guide to use throughout your program. See also the FAQs in the MLA Style Center's Ask the MLA section.


 


General Notes for Scholarly Journals


Page Numbers

In-text citations: Include the page number(s) within the parenthetical citation following element entry (usually the author’s name). Do not separate with a comma.

Example: (Schneider 166)

If the author’s name is mentioned in the text of the sentence, only the page number appears in the citation: “(166).” Position the page number inside the period.

Example: Schneider noted that many films made by expatriate families still exist (166).


Works-cited entries: If the source lists a page number or page range use the “p.” or “pp.” abbreviation before the number(s).

Example shown in BOLDFACE below:

Schneider, Alexandria. "Home Movie-Making and Swiss Expatriate Identities in the 920s and 1930s." Film History, vol. 15,
          no. 2,
2003, pp. 166-176, search.proquest.com.ezproxy1.apus.edu/docview/219811201?accountid=8289.


Volume and Issue Numbers

If journal/newspaper/magazine lists a volume and issue number, include both. Use “vol.” before the volume number and “no.” or “nos.” for the issue number.

Example shown in BOLDFACE below:

Schneider, Alexandria. “Home Movie-Making and Swiss Expatriate Identities in the 1920s and 1930s.” Film History, vol. 15,
          no. 2,
2003, pp. 166-176, search.proquest.com.ezproxy1.apus.edu/docview/219811201?accountid=8289.

NOTE: Sometimes a source can be retrieved from multiple resources. Only include the information from the source you cited. If the volume and issue number are not included from the source you’ve cited, do not include it in your entry.


Italics vs. Quotation Marks

The title of a journal, magazine, or newspaper (also referred to as periodicals) is set in italics. The title of the article itself should be in quotation marks.

Example shown in BOLDFACE below:

Schneider, Alexandria. “Home Movie-Making and Swiss Expatriate Identities in the 1920s and 1930s.” Film History,
          vol. 15, no. 2, 2003, pp. 166-176, search.proquest.com.ezproxy1.apus.edu/docview/219811201?accountid=8289.


Abbreviations: If a name of a month contains more than four letters, abbreviate them in the Works Cited list as follows. Be sure to end the abbreviation with a period.

Jan.      Feb.     Mar.    Apr.     Aug.     Sept.    Oct.     Nov.    Dec.


URLs/DOIs: The MLA Handbook states: “We . . . recommend the inclusion of URLs in the works-cited list, but if your instructor prefers that you not include them, follow his or her directions.” [MLA “Location” 48] DOIs are preferred if present.

Date of Access: The MLA editors state, “The date of access is especially crucial if the source provides no date specifying when it was produced or published.” [MLA “Date of Access” 53] Use this format if including: Accessed Day Month Year. Position at the end of the entry.

For additional information on using DOIs and URLs, see the section above: USING A DOI OR URL. [Webteam: Can this boldface type be hyperlinked to the W@A section?]



CITATION EXAMPLES


Journal Article Online (includes articles, reviews, editorials, and letters to the editor)


Author Last Name, Author First Name. "Title of Article: Subtitle of Article." Title of Periodical, volume number,
          issue number, publication date, page range (if included), DOI or URL.

Schneider, Alexandria. "Home Movie-Making and Swiss Expatriate Identities in the 1920s and 930s." Film History,
          vol. 15, no. 2, 2003, pp. 166-176,  search.proquest.com.ezproxy2.apus.edu/docview/219811201?accountid=8289.


NOTE: If a journal is located in a specific, named database, such as JSTOR or CINAHL, list the name of the database (in italics) after the page numbers. A named database refers to a single database not a database “suite” such as EBSCO Database Suite, ProQuest Database Suite, or ProQuest Central.

If you are unable to determine which specific database the article is from but have the other publication info that will allow the source to be found, it is permissible to leave out the name of the database.


Example with named database shown in BOLDFACE:

Author Last Name, Author First Name. "Title of Article: Subtitle of Article." Title of Periodical, volume number, issue number,
          publication date, page range (if included), Name of Database, DOI or URL.

 

Delany-Brumsey, Ayesha, et al. "Does Neighborhood Social Capital Buffer the Effects of  Maternal Depression on Adolescent
          Behavior Problems?" American Journal of Community Psychology, vol. 53, no. 3, 2014, pp. 275-285, CINAHL Complete,
     
    doi:10.1007/s10464-014-9640-8.


Journal Article Online with DOI (and multiple authors)

For guidelines on multiple authors, see the section above: NOTES ON MULTIPLE AUTHORS.

Two authors:

Author 1 Last Name, Author 1 First Name, and Author 2 First and Last Names. "Title of Article: Subtitle of Article." Title of
          Periodical,
volume number, issue number, publication date, page range (if included), DOI or URL.


Wallace, Davin J., and Alexandra E. Witus. "Integrating iPad Technology in Earth Science K-12 Outreach Courses: Field and
          Classroom Applications." Journal of Geoscience Education, vol. 61, no. 4, 2013, pp. 385-395,
          search.proquest.com.ezproxy2.apus.edu/ docview/1470780177?accountid=8289.


Three or more authors:

Author 1 Last Name, Author 1 First Name, et al. "Title of Article: Subtitle of Article." Title of Periodical, volume number, issue
          number, publication date, page range (if included), DOI or URL.


Wright, Mona A., et al. "Factors Affecting a Recently Purchased Handgun's Risk for Use in Crime Under Circumstances that
         Suggest http://apus.adobeconnect.com/askalibrarian/Gun Trafficking." Journal of Urban Health, vol. 87, no. 3, 2010,
          pp. 352-364, doi: 10.1007/s11524-010-9437-5.


BOOKS | ELECTRONIC - ONLINE

 

Which E-book Citation Model to Use

If the e-book requires an e-reader (such as Kindle or Nook) or special software to read it (such as Adobe Digital Editions or EPUB File Reader), cite it as noted below for an “E-book.”  

If the e-book has a URL, use the citation information below for an “Online Book/Book from a Commercial Database.”

NOTE: Sometimes a source can be retrieved from multiple resources. Only include the information from the source you cited.  


Abbreviations

Words in the works-cited list such as editor, edited by, translator, and review of are no longer abbreviated.

Missing Info

Do not use placeholders for unknown information like “n.d.” (“no date”) or “n.p.” (“no place of publication”), etc. unless your instructor requires it.

URLs/DOIs

The MLA Handbook states: “We . . . recommend the inclusion of URLs in the works-cited list, but if your instructor prefers that you not include them, follow his or her directions.” [MLA “Location” 48] DOIs are preferred if present. See the section above, USING A DOI OR URL for additional information.

 
CITATION EXAMPLES


Basic Citation Model for a Book

Author Last Name, First Name. Title of Book: Subtitle. Publisher, Publication Date.

E-book
(Kindle/Nook e-Book or e-book requiring special software to read it: PDF, EPUB, iBook, etc.)

Author Last Name, First Name. Title of Book: Subtitle. E-Book type, Publisher, Publication Date.


Walliman, Nicholas. Research Methods: The Basics. Kindle ed., Routledge, 2010.

Kingfisher, T. The Raven and the Reindeer. EPUB ed., Smashwords, 2016.

Gaffney, Patricia. The Goodbye Summer. PDF e-book, Harper Collins, 2009.


Online Book/Book from a Commercial Database

Author Last Name, First Name. Title of Book: Subtitle. Publisher, Publication Date, Title of Database, DOI or URL.


Online Book Example:

Trochim, William M.K. Research Methods Knowledge Base. SocialResearchMethods.net, 2006,
          www.socialresearchmethods.net/kb/.


Book from Database Example:

Barrett, Oliver Boyd, et al. Hollywood and the CIA: Cinema, Defense and Subversion. Routledge,
          2011, Taylor & Francis, search.ebscohost.com.ezproxy2.apus.edu/ login.aspx?direct=true&scope=site&db=nlebk&AN=358659


APUS eTextbook (with author plus editor)

If from library or online database:

Author Last Name, First Name. Title of Book: Subtitle. Editor, Publisher, Publication Date, Title of Database, DOI or URL.

Milton, John. Paradise Lost: The Biblically Annotated Edition. Edited by Matthew Stallard,Mercer UP, 2011, ebrary, site.ebrary.com/lib
          /apus/Doc?id=10539148.


If a digital file (Kindle, Nook, PDF, EPUB, iBook, etc.):

Author Last Name, First Name. Title of Book: Subtitle. Editor, E-Book type, Publisher, Publication Date.

Austen, Jane. The Annotated Emma. Edited by David M. Shapard, Kindle ed., Anchor Books, 2009.


APUS eTextbook (no author, editor only)

Editor Last Name, First Name, editor. Title of Book: Subtitle. Publisher, Publication Date.

Tavani, Herman T., editor. Ethics, Computing, and Genomics. Jones and Bartlett, 2006, Books24x7,
          library.books24x7.com.ezproxy2.apus.edu/toc.asp?bookid=11858.

          NOTE: This example is of an eTextbook located in a commercial database so "Books24x7" is in italics.


APUS eTextbook (edition number)

NOTE: Include the edition number only if item is not the first edition. Write the edition information as it appears in the source after the title of the work. Cite only the date of the edition you are using.

Author Last Name, First Name. Title of Book: Subtitle. Edition, Publisher, Publication Date.

Bevel, Tom, and Ross M. Gardner. Bloodstain Pattern Analysis with an Introduction to Crime Scene Reconstruction. 3rd ed., Taylor &
          Francis, 2008, ebrary, site.ebrary.com/lib/apus/detail.action?docID=10216670.

          NOTE: This example is of an eTextbook located in a commercial database so "ebrary" is in italics.


Chapter/Section from an Edited eBook

Author Last Name, First Name. "Title of Chapter." Title of Book: Subtitle, edited by Editor's First and Last Name, Publisher,
          Publication Date, page range of entry.

Example of Chapter:

Bukatman, Scott. "A Song of the Urban Superhero." The Superhero Reader, edited by Charles Hatfield et al., U of Minnesota P,
          2013, pp. 170-198.


Example of Other Book Section:

Marshall, Preston. “Appendix A: Internet Protocol Networking for Cognitive Radios.” Quantitative Analysis of Cognitive Radio and
          Network Performance
, Artech House Books, 2010, pp. 413-422, ebrary, site.ebrary.com/lib/apus/Doc?id=10430894.

          NOTE: This example is of an e-book located in a commercial database so "ebrary" is in italics.

 


Abbreviations

Words in the works-cited list such as editor, edited by, translator, and review of are no longer abbreviated.

Missing Info

Do not use placeholders for unknown information like “n.d.” (“no date”) or “n.p.” (“no place of publication”), etc. unless your instructor requires it.

 


CITATION EXAMPLES


Basic Citation Model for a Book

Author Last Name, First Name. Title of Book: Subtitle. Publisher, Publication Date.


Book with One Author

Author Last Name, First Name. Title of Book: Subtitle. Publisher, Publication date.

Harris, Mark. Pictures at a Revolution: Five Movies and the Birth of the New Hollywood. Penguin, 2009.


Book with Multiple Authors

For guidelines on multiple authors, see the section above: NOTES ON MULTIPLE AUTHORS

Two authors:

Author 1 Last Name, First Name, and Author 2 First and Last Name. Title of Book: Subtitle. Publisher, Publication date.

Ingham, Rosemary, and Liz Covey. The Costume Designer's Handbook: A Complete Guide for Amateur and Professional Costume
          Designers
. Prentice Hall, 1983.


Three or more authors:

Author 1 Last Name, First Name, et al. Title of Book: Subtitle. Publisher, Publication date.

Locke, Lawrence F., et al. Reading and Understanding Research. 3rd ed., SAGE, 2010.
 

Book with No Author

Title of Book: Subtitle. Publisher, Publication date.

The Chicago Manual of Style. 16th ed., U of Chicago P, 2010.


Chapter/Section from an Edited Book

Author Last Name, First Name. “Title of Chapter/Section.” Title of Edited Book: Subtitle, edited by Editor’s First Name and Last
          Name, Publisher, Publication date, page range of chapter/section.

Stow, Simon. “Worlds Apart: Ursula K. Le Guin and the Possibility of Method.” The New Utopian Politics of Ursula K. Le Guin’s "The
          Dispossessed,"
edited by Laurence Davis and Peter Stillman, Rowman & Littlefield, 2005, pp. 37-51.

 

General Notes

The MLA editors say “How to include information in projects other than the research paper is not yet a settled matter. . . . but the aims remain the same: providing the information that enables a curious reader, viewer, or other user to track down your sources and giving credit to those whose work influenced yours.” [MLA Section 4: Citations in Forms Other Than Print 128]


How to Cite a Source Being Used On a PowerPoint Slide

MLA only briefly addresses slide-based presentations. The MLA editors suggest “including brief citations on each slide that uses borrowed material (quotations, paraphrases, images, videos, and whatever else you copy or adapt) and adding a works-cited list on a slide at the end.” [MLA Section 4: Citations in Forms Other Than Print 128]

Be sure to avoid plagiarism in a PowerPoint (PPT) classroom presentation by citing the sources you use. Treat the presentation as if it is a research paper. Provide a citation (on the slide) and a works-cited entry for any source you use, including:

  • Direct quotations
    • Use in-text citation format.
  • Paraphrased text content and ideas
    • Use in-text citation format.
  • Tables or data
    • Table source and any notes should be positioned below the table in a caption.
  • Images or figures
    • Each image must include a label (Fig., Table, or Ex.), a number, a caption, and/or source information.
    • If source information is included with your table or illustration, the source does not need to be included in the works-cited slide.
  • Video and audio files
    • Use in-text citation format.


Citing a PowerPoint Presentation as a Source

The MLA guide does not specifically address PowerPoint presentations as a source. As this format is a digital file, use the following MLA model for digital files.

Author/Creator Last Name, First Name. "Title of Slideshow: Subtitle of Slideshow." Publisher (if
          applicable), publication date, presentation type (if applicable), Name of Presentation Software.

Craven, Thea, and Peter Vane. “Avian Descendents of the T-Rex.” Dinosaur National Monument, June 2015,
          Classroom Lecture, Microsoft PowerPoint.

 


Online and digital media may provide the same content but via a different presentation mode, such as a DVD, a YouTube video, or a streaming media site. Always cite the source actually used. I.e., if you are citing a show you saw on a DVD, cite the DVD version; if citing a show you saw via streaming media, cite that version.

Date of Access: The MLA editors note that “The date of access is especially crucial if the source provides no date specifying when it was produced or published.” [MLA “Date of Access” 53] In this instance, you may want to consider adding a date of access as the last element of the entry. Use the following format: “Accessed Date Month Year.”

Other Contributors: The MLA editors state that “If a source such as a film, television episode, or performance has many contributors, include the ones most relevant to your project.” [MLA “Other contributors” 38]


Video or Audio Recordings on a physical medium (such as DVD or CD)

There is no single way of citing a DVD or CD source. This is because what you are referring to will guide your approach. NOTE: The location of an episode or recording in a DVD or CD set should be indicated by the disc number.

Example of an episode in a TV series:

“Episode Title.” Name of TV Series, created by First Name Last Name, performance by First Name Last name (if applicable), episode
          number, Publisher/Producer, publication date, disc number.

“The Falls.” Rebus: The Ken Stott Collection, written by Daniel Boyle, et al., episode 1, Acorn, 2005, 2006, 2007, disc 1.


Example of an entire TV series:

Creator Name(s), creators. TV Series Title. Publisher/Producer, publication date.

Boyle, Daniel, et al., creators. Rebus: The Ken Stott Collection. Acorn, 2005, 2006, 2007.    


Video Recordings online (such as YouTube, Vimeo, etc.)

As the information for an online video source can vary, try to include as much descriptive information as is needed to help a readers identify and locate the source you are citing.

NOTE: If the creator/author’s name is the same as the person or group doing the upload, cite the creator/author once in the first element of the entry.

Example of video with known creator/author:

Creator/Author Last Name, First Name. “Title of Video.” Recording platform (such as YouTube or Vimeo), uploaded by user name,
          upload date (Date Month Year), URL.

Cresswell, John W. “What is Mixed Methods Research?” YouTube, 19 Feb. 2013, youtu.be/1OaNiTlpyX8.


Example of video with the same creator and producer:

“Title of Video.” Recording platform (such as YouTube or Vimeo), uploaded by user name, upload date (Date Month Year), URL.

“What are Research Methods?” YouTube, uploaded by SAGE Publications, 4 Feb. 2014, youtu.be/0NhTZESD-rc.    

NOTE: If you used the transcript of a video and did not watch the video itself, include the word “Transcript” at the end of the entry to show you did not view the video.

“Title of Video.” Recording platform (such as YouTube or Vimeo), uploaded by user name, upload date (Date Month Year). Transcript.

“GIS for Public Policy.” YouTube, uploaded by Trefry Library, 16 May 2015. Transcript.


Podcasts

As the information for a podcast source can vary, try to include as much descriptive information as is needed to help a readers identify and locate the source you are citing.

Example of podcast with known creator/author:

Creator/Author Last Name, First Name. “Title of Podcast Episode.” Name of Podcast Series or Program, episode number (if
          applicable), producer/publisher (if applicable), publication date, URL.

Tyson, Neil deGrasse.“NASA’s Vision for Space with Charles Bolden.” Star Talk Radio Show, season 6, episode 23, Curved Light
          Productions, 21 June 2015, www.startalkradio.net/show/nasas-vision-for-space-with-charles-bolden/.


Example of podcast with unknown known creator/author:

“Title of Podcast Episode.” Name of Podcast Series or Program, episode number (if applicable), producer/publisher (if applicable),
          publication date, URL.

 “The Golden Age of Dinosaur Discovery.” Palaeocast Palaeontology Podcasts, episode 60, 1 Oct. 2016,
          www.palaeocast.com/episode-70/.

NOTE: If you used the transcript of a podcast (or similar audio broadcast) and did not listen to the recording itself, include the word “Transcript” at the end of the entry to show you did not listen to the podcast/audio recording.


Streaming Media

According to the MLA Style Center editors, if accessing a work via an app, consider the app a version in the list of core elements.


TV or Online Media Program Single Episode:

“Title of Episode.” Name of Series or Program, season number (if applicable), episode number (if applicable), Name of app,
          Publisher, Publication date.

“The Inner Light.” Star Trek: The Next Generation, season 5, episode 25, Netflix app, Paramount Television, 1992.


Entire TV Series or Online Program:

Name of TV Series or Online Program. Name of app (if applicable), creator/director/producer First Name Last Name, Distributor or
          Production Company, publication date.


TV Series:

Firefly. Amazon Prime app, created and directed by Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy/20th Century Fox Television, 2002-2003.


Online Program:

A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Shakespeare’s Globe, directed by Emma Rice, Shakespeare Lives/The British Council, 2016.
          Accessed 12 Dec. 2016.

 


Guidelines on Use of URLs

The MLA Handbook states: “We…recommend the inclusion of URLs in the works-cited list, but if your instructor prefers that you not include them, follow his or her directions.” [MLA “Location” 48]

Correct format for URLs:

  • Copy the complete URL from the Web browser.
     
  • Remove the “http://” or “https://“ from the URL when including it in a works-cited entry.

    Correct: www.google.com/intl/en/about/company/security.html
    Incorrect: https://www.google.com/intl/en/about/company/security.html

    NOTE: Do not use URLs from shortening Web services (such as bit.ly). These replacement URLs can stop working if the service goes out of business.

    If a URL is too long:

    The MLA editors suggest that a URL that runs “more than three lines is likely to interfere with the readability of the entry.” [MLA Style Center post] In this case one may truncate the URL. Specific instructions on truncating and breaking a URL are provided at the MLA Style Center post linked here.

     
  • Do not use angled brackets (< >) around URLs.
     
  • Use of DOIs is preferable to URLs.


Date of Access

The MLA editors note that “The date of access is especially crucial if the source provides no date specifying when it was produced or published.” [MLA “Date of Access” 53] In this instance, you may want to consider adding a date of access as the last element of the entry. Use the following format: “Accessed Date Month Year.”


CITATION EXAMPLES


For complete website/blog with an author or editor    

Example of website:

If the website name and the publisher name are the same, list only the website name.

Author Last Name, First Name. Name of Website. Producer/Publisher/Sponsor Name (if available), publication date(s) (if available),
          URL. Date of Access (if applicable).


With an author

Trochim, William M.K. Research Methods Knowledge Base. Web Center for Social Research  Methods, 2006,
          www.socialresearchmethods.net/kb. Accessed 20 Mar. 2008.


With an editor

Editor Last Name, First Name, editor. Name of Website. Producer/Publisher/Sponsor Name (if available), publication date(s) (if
          available), URL. Date of Access (if applicable).

Polgreen, Lydia, editor. The Huffington Post. www.huffingtonpost.com. Accessed 30 May 2015.


Example of complete blog:

If the blog name and the publisher name are the same, list only the website name.

Author Last Name, First Name. Name of Blog. Producer/Publisher/Sponsor Name (if available), publication date(s) (if available),
          URL. Date of Access (if applicable).

Bowden, Peter. Gardening. Albany Times Union, 2010-2016, blog.timesunion.com/gardening.


For article/webpage on a website/blog with an author

Example of webpage:

If the website name and the publisher name are the same, list only the website name.

Author Last Name, First Name. "Title of Web Page or Article." Website Name, Producer/Publisher/Sponsor Name (if available),
          publication date(s) (if available), URL. Date of Access (if applicable).

Trochim, William M.K. "Statistical Terms in Sampling." Research Methods Knowledge Base, Web Center for Social Research
          Methods, 2006, www.socialresearchmethods.net/kb/sampstat.php. Accessed 14 Aug. 2015.


Example of individual blog post:

If the blog name and the publisher name are the same, list only the blog name. Usernames and online handles may be used as the author’s name.

Author Last Name, First Name. “Title of Blog Post.” Name of Blog, Producer/Publisher/Sponsor Name (if available), publication date
          of blog post, URL. Date of Access (if applicable).

Chris. “Vibrant Variegated Holly.” Backyard Gardening, 24 Sept. 2016, www.gardeningblog.net/2016/09/24/vibrant-variegated-holly.

NOTE: In the above example, "Chris" (with no surname) was the only name listed as the author of the post.


For complete website/blog with no author

Start the reference entry with the name of the website or blog. If the website/blog name and the publisher name are the same, list only the website/blog name.

Example of website:

Name of Website. Producer/Publisher/Sponsor Name (if available), publication date(s) (if available), URL. Date of Access (if
          applicable).

Aol. AOL, Inc., www.aol.com. Accessed 29 Feb. 2013.


Example of blog:

Name of Blog. Producer/Publisher/Sponsor Name (if available), publication date(s) (if available), URL. Date of Access (if applicable).


Bacon Sriracha Unicorn Diaries. Eat24 LLC, blog.eat24.com. Accessed 10 Apr. 2016.


For article/post/webpage on a website/blog with no author

If the website/blog name and the publisher name are the same, list only the website/blog name.

"Title of Page or Article." Name of Website or Blog, Producer/Publisher/Sponsor Name (if available), publication date(s) (if available),
          URL. Date of Access (if applicable).

 “The One Tool Startups Need to Brainstorm, Test, and Win.” First Round Review, First Round Capital, firstround.com/review/To-Go-
          Lean-Master-the-Business-Model-Canvas. Accessed 26 Dec. 2016.

 


While a thesis or a dissertation is, essentially, a book, it is written for a specific institution. The institution is used as the publisher in the citation entry.

Author Last Name, First Name. Title of Dissertation: Subtitle of Dissertation. Publication date. Name of Institution Granting the
          Degree, description of the work.

Doctoral dissertation:

Smith, Craig Vincent. Utopia and Necessity: The Crises of Nationalism in African Literature. 1993. U of Pennsylvania, PhD
          dissertation.

Master’s thesis:

Manderson, Ernest L. Utopian Tradition in the “Islandia” of Austin Tappan Wright. 1969. U of Maine, MA Thesis.


NOTE: The MLA editors state that if you “accessed the dissertation through an online repository, include this fact. . . .” Include the name of the repository and URL at the end of the entry.

Author Last Name, First Name. Title of Dissertation: Subtitle of Dissertation. Publication date. Name of Institution Granting the
          Degree, description of the work. Name of Repository, URL.

Hansen, Claire Gwendoline. Shakespeare and Complexity Theory. 2015. U of Sydney, PhD dissertation. Open Access Theses and
          Dissertations
, ses.library.usyd.edu.au/handle/2123/13667.

 


The MLA style guide does not specifically address white papers or reports (corporate or government).

In the case where a citation example is not offered or some of the source information is missing, or the source information does not look like a “traditional citation,” use MLA’s universal template to build the citation.

The models and examples in this section are based on the MLA template. Depending on the information in your source, you may need to add or remove an element.


White Paper/Report

The Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL) defines a white paper as "a certain type of report that is distinctive in terms of purpose, audience, and organization." The author of a white paper may be a government agency or a company. Use the name of the agency or company as the author in the citation.

Author Last Name, First Name (or Government Agency or Name of Company issuing report). Title of Report. Publisher, publication
          date. Series Number (if available).

Agrain, Suzanne, et al. Monitoring Young Associations and Open Clusters with Kepler in Two-Wheel Mode. Kepler Science
          Center/National Aeronautics and Space Administration, 2013.


Government Publication

With regard to government publications, the Purdue Online Writing Lab suggests if an author is not identified:

  • Start with the name of the national government.
  • Then follow with the name of the government agency (include any listed subdivisions or sub-agencies).

If the publication is a congressional document, include the number of the Congress and the session date for the hearing or when a resolution was passed. Also include the report number.

  • This U.S. Senate website lists the Dates of Sessions of the U.S. Congress from the present back to 1789.
  • The U.S. Government Publishing Office (GPO) provides PDFs of congressional hearings from 1985-present at this website.


Government Publication with an author or editor

Author:

Author Last Name, First Name. Title of Book: Subtitle. Publisher, publication date.

Jones, Virgil C., and Harold L. Peterson. U.S.S. Cairo: The Story of a Civil War Gunboat, Comprising a Narrative of Her Wartime
          Adventures and an Account of Her Raising in 1964
. Dept. of the Interior/National Park Service, 1985.


Editor:

Editor Last Name, First Name, editor. Title of Book: Subtitle. Publisher, publication date.

Felker, Craig C., and Marcus O. Jones. New Interpretation in Naval History: Selected Papers from the Sixteenth Naval History
          Symposium.
Dept. of the Navy/U.S. Naval War College, 2012.


Government Publication without an author

Congressional Publication:

National Government, Government Agency or Branch, Subdivision or Sub-agency or Committee Name. Title of Publication.
          Publisher, publication date. Number of Congress, session number, report number.

United States, Congress, House of Representatives, Committee on Small Business. Organizational Meeting and SBA Views and
          Estimates for the 114th Congress
. Government Printing Office, 2014. 114th Congress, 1st session, Small Business
          Committee Document Number 114-002.


Government Agency Publication:

National Government, Government Agency or Branch, Subdivision or Sub-agency or Committee Name. Title of Publication.
          Publisher, publication date. Number of Congress, session number, document number.

United States. Environmental Protection Agency. “Greenscaping” Your Lawn and Garden. Government Publication Office, 2003. ID:
          430.

 

The MLA Style guide does not specifically address course notes or online classroom material. The models and examples below are based on the MLA universal template.

Instructor’s PowerPoint file or Other Materials

Instructor/Speaker Last Name, First Name. "Title of Slideshow/Lecture: Subtitle of Slideshow/Lecture." Course Program Name and
          number, Course Name, date of class session (Date Month Year), College/University Name, Location. Description of
          presentation type or Slide number.


Classroom Lecture/Presentation:

Craven, Thea, and Peter Vane. “Avian Descendents of the T-Rex.” PAELO102: Introduction to Palaeontology, 20 Mar. 2016, Osley
          College, Minneapolis. Lecture.


Class Handout:

Craven, Thea, and Peter Vane. “Avian Descendents of the T-Rex.” PAELO102: Introduction to Palaeontology, 20 Mar. 2016, Osley
          College, Minneapolis. Lecture. Handout. JPEG file.


Classroom PowerPoint Presentation Slide:

Craven, Thea, and Peter Vane. “Avian Descendents of the T-Rex.” PAELO102: Introduction to Palaeontology, 20 Mar. 2016, Osley
          College, Minneapolis. Lecture. Slide 3.


Your Own Class Notes/Forum Comment/etc.

The MLA Handbook does not address class notes specifically and only cursorily mentions forum comments. The MLA editors do cover online comments to a blog or similar online source, however. The models and examples here are based on those above and the “online comments” information from the MLA Handbook. [“Comments posted on Web pages” 44]


Forum Post or Comment

NOTE: Usernames and online handles may be used as the author’s name. If confidentiality of student names is an issue, it is permissible to use only the first name of the commenter.

Commenter Last Name, First Name. Comment on Name of Forum or Name of Forum Thread.Course Program Name and number,
          Course Name, date of class session (Date Month Year), College/University Name, Location.

James. Comment (or Post) on Forum 3 Thread “Why Palaeontology Matters. “ PAELO102: Introduction to Palaeontology, 20 Mar.
          2016, Osley College, Minneapolis.


Class Notes

Notes from Instructor:

Instructor/Speaker Last Name, First Name. "Title of Slideshow/Lecture: Subtitle of Slideshow/Lecture." Course Program name and
          number, Course Name, date of class session (Date Month Year), College/University Name, Location. Class notes.

Craven, Thea, and Peter Vane. “Avian Descendents of the T-Rex.” PAELO102: Introduction to Palaeontology, 20 Mar. 2016, Osley
          College, Minneapolis. Class notes.


Notes from Fellow Student:

NOTE: Usernames and online handles may be used as the author’s name. If confidentiality of student names is an issue, it is permissible to use only the first name of the student.

Student Last Name, First Name. Course Program name and number, Course Name, date of class session (Date Month Year),
          College/University Name, Location. Student class notes.

Fergus, Lorraine. PAELO102: Introduction to Palaeontology, 20 Mar. 2016, Osley College, Minneapolis. Student class notes.

 

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Thesis Construction


Your thesis statement is the foundation of a quality paper. It identifies both what your paper is about (your topicwhat is thesis statement graphic) and what you plan to say about that topic (your point). A strong thesis will be:

  • an answer to a question or problem. More importantly, it is your answer—one that you have synthesized from what you know and what other people have said about the question or problem.
  • an argument. While your instructors may ask you to write assignments that primarily inform rather than persuade, you still need to make a clear statement in reply to a question or problem.
  • the focal point of your essay. Every main point and subpoint should contribute to supporting it. Directly relate opposing arguments to the thesis and address the points through refutation and rebuttal.
  • a statement for writing. In other words, your thesis statement is what you want to convey to your audience as your write—but as you research and write, you will encounter new information that may cause you to rethink your argument and revise the thesis. You want this process to happen—revision is about refining and reshaping your ideas to make them more accurate and effective.


Thesis statement as preview: In addition to your thesis statement, you can help your reader navigate your work by including a preview of the main points of your argument. In short assignments, the thesis statement often functions as a preview, but in longer papers include a paragraph to summarize the main points. This preview can function as a road map of your essay and how you plan to develop your ideas.

Things to consider:


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Why does audience matter?

If you understand your audience well, you will be able to adjust your language, organization, logical reasoning, and level of detail to increase the comprehension of your message for that specific person or group of people.

While writing a paper, it’s easy to forget you are writing to a real person. No matter what you are writing, you are always writing to an audience. This reader or readers may be a generalized group such as undergraduates. Or you may know who you are writing to, perhaps your fellow classmates in a discussion forum. Thinking about your audience will help you

  • make good decisions about what sources to include in your discussion;
  • how to organize your ideas; and
  • how best to support support the point(s) you are trying to make.


Who is my audience?

For most of your class papers your instructor the actual audience for your paper. Since she is the person who will read and grade your work you need to make sure you are writing the paper according to their instructions.

One thing to note: When you write with your instructor as your audience, it is easy to think that since she knows what you are writing about that you don't have to go into depth about your topic or present your discussion as clearly. The issue here is that you are expecting the instructor to know or decide what you mean and she may not, or she may have a different perspective than yours and not realize what you are saying. Don't assume your instructor knows what you are thinking! Take the time to explain your ideas carefully and with proper support from your sources.


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What is my purpose?

When you begin to write, you first questions should be "Why am I writing?" and "What is my goal or my purpose for writing?"

For most of your university courses, your primary purpose is to complete your assignment or forum post (and, of course, to get a good grade!). 

Your key goal, though, is to communicate your ideas clearly and effectively to your reader.  With this in mind, you can revise your work as you write to make sure that every point and piece of evidence works together to accomplish that purpose. Once you understand the purpose of your writing and your audience, you can begin to develop a thesis statement.


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What makes a good thesis statement?What does strongf thesis look like graphic

A strong thesis statement:

  • is a single, complex sentence that concentrates on one specific question or problem related to your topic. It should concentrate your entire argument into a brief form.
  • is arguable. Readers should be able to disagree with your conclusions.
  • encourages discussion.
  • often has two parts: an arguable claim or the specific position you take and a brief justification of that position.


A good thesis statement is clearly and simply written. Your goal should be to be as specific as possible by tailoring the statement to reflect the scope of your paper. It should be written as a declarative sentence, not as a question.

Ineffective Thesis Statement:

Graphic novels are a good way to explore alternative beliefs.

Why is it ineffective? Describing something as a "good way" is too vague. It is also not clear what is meant by alternative beliefs. Overall, the statement is very broad and open-ended, covering a too-wide range of ideas.

Effective Thesis Statement:

The animal protagonist of Ursula Vernon’s graphic novel, Digger, could be described as a pragmatist and agnostic (or even atheist), suggesting that a hero does not need to possess a formal morality to succeed as a hero.

Why is it effective? This thesis statement is good because rather than focus on all graphic novels, it focuses on a single example of this genre (Vernon's Digger). It also very clearly states the argument to be made (that a hero does not need to possess a formal morality to succeed as a hero), suggesting that an opposite argument is possible. 

Example of a thesis construction.Back to TOP

where do I put thesis statement graphic


Academic writing tends to be deductive in structure. This leans you must introduce the conclusions drawn from your research; and explains or justifies the conclusion using logical reasoning and evidence in the rest of the work.

In a short essay or paper, it helps to make your claim at the beginning. In this case you would position your thesis statement in the first paragraph.

In a longer paper (such as a thesis paper or dissertation), "making your claim" usually requires positioning the thesis in the larger context of  larger idea. In this case, you want to position your thesis statement in your introduction section, ideally in the opening paragraphs on the first page.


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Gathering Evidence

 

APUS Library


When gathering evidence, you want to locate the most reliable and informative material on the topic for your paper. Informative sources can be located in licensed databases (ak.a., Deep Web) or trustworthy Open Web sites. Before using any source, you will want to assess it for its reliability.

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A reliable source will be:reliable source graphic

Current: The best information is usually the most up-to-date information. Journal articles take less time to research and write than books; recent articles and books contain more relevant information than older materials. Check the publication dates of your sources, and rely on sources that are no more than two years old whenever possible. Check with your professor before you use sources published more than five years ago.

Consider the importance of utilizing current sources when writing a paper on astronomy. An astronomy article written in 2005 assumes that the solar system contains nine planets; however, current astronomy only includes eight planets. In 2006, the International Astronomical Union determined that Pluto does not fit the category as a planet. If you were to use outdated material in your research, your entire thesis could be flawed.

Accurate: As the previous example illustrates, sources must contain correct information. Citing a source that considers Pluto a planet shows that you do not know the fundamentals of planetary astronomy. Arguments based on inaccurate information will reach inaccurate conclusions. You may be able to spot inaccuracies based on your own knowledge; however, many sources have already been screened by people who know more on the topic than you do. 

Many publications included in library databases have gone through the peer review process. In other words, before the information was released by a journal or publisher, one or more experts in that field read the article and certified that it was accurate and well informed on its topic.  Note that peer reviewed materials can still be controversial—the process merely insures that the article is accurate in its discussion of the topic, not that its arguments are correct. Use these instructions to limit your searches to peer reviewed sources: How do I find peer-reviewed or scholarly articles?

Evidence-based: Reliable sources tell where they have found their information. While several musicians have written songs about Pluto’s demotion from planet to planetoid, they do not provide detailed information about their own sources.

A more reliable source on the topic will provide the same information about its research that you must provide in your own, such as scientific data, explanations and interpretation, and a list of references. Thus, a more reliable source on Pluto’s situation would be “A planet by any other name…” (Ferzan 2010) which not only appeared in a peer-reviewed journal (Michigan Law Review) but also provides in-text citations and footnotes of all of its sources.

Objective: Reliable sources strive to present unbiased information—the authors do not allow their personal preferences to skew their presentation. When authors are biased, they may have difficulty presenting alternative viewpoints fairly.

While the Facebook page for Make Pluto a Planet Again contains an argument, the preference evident in its name indicates that the organization may not have given proper consideration to the arguments that changed Pluto’s status. By contrast, the NASA education site reports that Pluto was once considered a planet and is now a dwarf plane. NASA does not care if Pluto is a planet or not, just that they provide accurate information about it. An objective source will present not only its own arguments, but opposing arguments as well, using neutral language for both rather than strongly emotional rhetoric. Thus, NASA objectively states Pluto’s status; Make Pluto a Planet Again draws an emotional comparison between Pluto to Israel.

See also this FAQ from our LibAnswers Knowledge Base: I'm looking for criteria to evaluate a website.


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A more efficient source of online research is the Deep Web open web vs deep web graphicUnlike the Open Web, most Deep Web sources do not appear in searches performed on Google and similar sites; if they do appear, you will find that you must log in or pay a fee to access the content. More often, these search engines will not locate these sources at all.

If Open Web sources are street corner proselytizers, Deep Web sources are scientists on the cutting edge of research, scholars who have devoted years of study to understanding their field, and other experts whose reliability has already been vetted by authorities in their areas of specialization. While you must still consider the suitability of Deep Web sources for your research, you can reasonably assume that the information they contain has met a minimum threshold for academic use.

How do you access the Deep Web if search engines cannot find these sources or charge you money to reach them? Do not despair! You can access Deep Web content by using the Richard G. Trefry Library. The library has already paid the subscriptions and fees for many of these sites, and your access is included in your APUS tuition. The library provides databases that connect you to articles and books related to almost any research topic you can imagine. Detailed instructions for using the Richard G. Trefry Library to access resources can be found in the Library Research Help Guide.

While gathering resources, keep track of the bibliographical information, including the author, title, place of publication, date of publication, page numbers, URL, and the date you accessed the information, for the reference page. This information is very important when citing within the paper and on the reference page. If the bibliographic information for the reference page is not saved, the resource becomes useless since it will not be a viable source without pertinent information.

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The World Wide Web contains much information of questionable reliability. open web vs deep web graphicWhile the open nature of the internet can provide a forum for alternative viewpoints, that forum is unregulated and has no quality control. Posting online is the modern equivalent of standing on a street corner wearing a sandwich board and passing out pamphlets—while anyone expressing his or her opinion in this way could present logical arguments based on solid research, that person could just as easily be recounting personal theories based on unfounded speculation, running for political office, or selling you today’s lunch special at the diner around the corner. 

These easily accessed online sources you find through search engines such as Google, Bing, and Yahoo, are known as the Open Web. This name refers to the open access to these materials, which can be viewed for free by anyone. While Open Web sources can be useful, you must be particularly cautious when evaluating their reliability before you include them in your research. This process can be tricky and may take a long time—time that you could better use reading solid sources and integrating them into your research paper. Sources of which you should be particularly wary are:

  • Wikipedia
  • Commercial websites (.com)
  • Social media (Facebook, Twitter)
  • Blogs

See also this FAQ from our LibAnswers Knowledge Base: I'm looking for criteria to evaluate a website.


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Researching Your Topic


A good topic is one that you can research successfully. topic graphic

If your topic is too general or too narrowly focused, it will be hard to research.

Too general usually means your search results will be equally broad and unfocused. A topic that is too narrow often means there will be little to no information available at all.

After you’ve selected a general topic, you will need to refine it as well. Your goal is to make it more specific and precise. This will help you focus your research work. A well-focused topic will also make it easier to write your paper’s thesis statement.


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refining your topic graphic

Consider this example.

  1. Ideally, you’ll have picked a topic that really interests you. The above example fits a student of military history.

    1. War in the twentieth century is our student’s first topic idea.

    2. To narrow it, she decides to focus on World War II, specifically the entry of the United States into the war effort.

  2. At this point, she would want to write down a few questions. This will help her refine her topic even further.

    1. Question 1: What did politicians do to prepare the U.S. for WWII?

    2. Question 2: Did any of FDR’s fireside chats help prepare Americans to participate in WWII?

    3. Question 3: How did FDR’s “Arsenal of Democracy” speech help prepare Americans for WWII?

  3. Question 2 (above) is more specific than Question 1. And the last question is the most specific of all.  Either Question 1 or Question 3 would be a good paper topic for this student.

  4. One final tip: Write out an answer to your final question. It will serve as your thesis statement and the basis for your research.  Example: While the President Roosevelt’s fireside chats helped prepare Americans to participate in WWII, his “Arsenal of Democracy” speech of December 29, 1940 marked the end of the U.S. government’s isolationist foreign policy.

Once you finalized your topic, it is a good idea to make sure it addresses your instructor’s assignment. If in doubt, be sure to ask your instructor. 


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What should I look for while researching?what to look for when researching graphic

To write effectively in an academic context, you need to be aware of:

  • The published research (also known as scholarly literature) that covers your subject.
    • Find out what other people already know about your research question or problem.
    • Try to find peer-reviewed publications. This means that other experts in the same subject area scrutinized the work before it was published. Those experts can identify problems with the design of the study, collection and interpretation of data, and the way new knowledge is communicated to others. Just as important, most scholarly works are reviewed blindly, meaning the peers who review the work do not know who wrote it, so their judgment is less likely to be influenced by their feelings about the author.
       
  • The methods of study used in your discipline.
    • A research method is basically a systematic approach to collecting and interpreting data. Some disciplines recognize very few methods; others recognize many. While the methods used in academic writing may seem foreign to you, they are not arbitrary rules. They are standards and processes based on trial, error, and learning, and they will continue to evolve as long as people seek to understand their world.
       
  • The specialized vocabulary, or jargon, used in your discipline.
    • The more specialized the topic, the more often you will find unfamiliar jargon. Learning the vocabulary will help you understand what you are reading.
       
  • The style guide manual that those in your discipline use to present their research to the public.
     

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Integrating Resources


using resources successfully graphic

After conducting research, you must integrate what you have learned into your writing. In other words, use outside sources to corroborate your argument.

The trick is to balance your own thoughts and arguments with your audience's need for evidence. Your personal thoughts, reasoning skills, experience, and ideas are valuable, and you should use your academic writing to explore them. However, they are also subjective, which means that others may not understand or agree with you.

Academic resources are often more objective and broader in scope, but can overlook the personal and subjective. Such resources demonstrate to your audience that your ideas have meaning and significance for others as well as yourself.

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Why do I need to use outside sources?

When you use strong, credible sources to support your arguments, you increase your credibility in the following ways:

  • You show the audience that you are a responsible researcher who understands the context of your argument and gives credit where credit is due.

  • You demonstrate that you are part of the group of people who speak, study, and write about the same topic; you’re part of the community with which you share the same knowledge base, vocabulary, and conventions.

  • You show that you understand the research in your field of study and what is relevant for your argument.

  • You reveal that you not only understand your opponents' arguments, but that you can overcome them.

While there are many ways to balance the use of personal thoughts and outside research in your academic writing, a good general practice is to support every assertion you make with explicit logic, evidence, or both.

Keep in mind, though, that what constitutes acceptable logic or evidence can vary. Some disciplines that use MLA style accept certain patterns of logical reasoning.

Some disciplines that use MLA style are strongly quantitative, relying on mathematical proof or statistical analysis, while others are strongly qualitative, relying on narratives, case studies, or observation. And some disciplines that use MLA style utilize both qualitative and quantitative evidence. One of your jobs as a student is to learn what discipline your study uses most often and how to use those techniques.


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How do I integrate source material into my own words?

No matter which type of evidence you use, you must find a way to synthesize it into your own writing so that it is coherent (it makes sense) and cohesive (every part of the work is related to the others and to the whole work).

The following guidelines are helpful for introducing material from outside sources:

  1. Provide the reader with some context before introducing the source material. Use your own words.

  2. Quote, paraphrase, or summarize the source material itself, and cite it appropriately.

  3. Explain the significance of the material in your own words.

While this pattern may not be appropriate in all situations, it helps the reader link your ideas and the evidence you use, and it gives you a chance to interpret the evidence for the reader.

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Quoting, Paraphrasing, and Summarizing


quote or paraphrase successfully graphicWhen you are writing a research paper, finding the right words can be tricky.  If you read a superb sentence or a perfect paragraph in one of your sources, you might be tempted to copy and paste it into your own paper.  Most of us understand that just copying and pasting someone else's work, without providing a citation, is plagiarism.   But what if:

  • You change a word or two in the sentence after you paste it into your paper, then provide a citation at the end of it.  Is that enough?

  • You rewrite the sentence or paragraph or sentence in your own words.  Do you still need a citation?

While the situations above may seem like grey areas, they can still constitute plagiarism.  If you keep in mind a very basic definition of plagiarism (representing someone else's words, data or ideas as your own), it can guide you in deciding what to do instead. 


For more info on plagiarism, see this FAQ from our LibAnswers Knowledge Base: How do I paraphrase or quote my sources correctly?

See also Citation/Reference Models & Examples on this page for more details about how to cite source material.


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What is a quotation?

When you quote someone, you use another person's exact words (including his or her errors).

Follow these guidelines when using quotations:

  • Be selective about what you quote. Brief quotations tend to be most effective since you can better integrate them using your own style, tone, and syntax.

  • Quote only what is necessary. You do not have to quote whole sentences. In fact, it is better to work quoted words and phrases into a grammatically correct, coherent sentence. You can leave out words as long as you maintain the meaning of the quotation and note omissions with an ellipsis ( . . . ).

  • Always cite quotations.

  • If the quotation is brief, enclose it between quotation marks.

  • If the quote is long, or if it is from a poem or play, format it as explained in section 3.7 of the MLA Handbook.

  • Avoid beginning a sentence or paragraph with a quotation; doing so rarely gives the reader enough context to make it understandable.


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What is a paraphrase?

When you paraphrase, you change both the wording and sentence structure of the original work. Put the writer's ideas into your own words, and keep roughly the same level of detail.

Follow these guidelines when paraphrasing someone else’s work:

  • Use no more than three of the original work's words in sequence, and reorganize the wording of the sentence. Simply replacing some of the words in an existing sentence with synonyms is not paraphrasing.

  • Use paraphrasing to interpret the source material for your reader.

  • Mix quotations and paraphrased passages, making sure to enclose quoted material in quotation marks.

  • Always cite paraphrased passages, no matter how brief, and include the page or paragraph number as appropriate.


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What is a summary?

When you summarize, you condense another person's ideas into a brief form using your own words.

Follow these guidelines to summarize someone else’s work:

  • Change both the wording and the sentence structure of the original work.

  • Include quoted material within the summary, if you wish.

  • Always cite summarized passages. Citations of summaries may omit page numbers when they condense large portions of an original work.

The table below provides examples of quoting, paraphrasing, and summarizing using MLA guidelines.
 

table on quoting sources


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Formatting | First Page & Running Head


When you format an assignment according to MLA standards, pay attention to how the document looks on the page. The design of the page affects how easily your audience can read the document and navigate within it.

Use the guidelines in the table below to format a paper in MLA style. For additional info on formatting, see the MLA Style Center's Formatting a Research Paper page.


MLA Format Chart


MLA First Page of Research Paper

For sample papers, see the MLA Style Center's page:
Sample Papers in MLA Style
 

MLA First Page of Research Paper

 

MLA Running Head of a Research Paper

MLA Running Head of a Research Paper

 

 

Formatting | Works Cited Example


For additional info on formatting, see the MLA Style Center's Formatting a Research Paper page.
 

Works Cited Sample Page MLA8