Below are standard formats and examples for basic bibliographic information recommended by the Modern Language Association (MLA). For more information on the MLA format, see http://www.mla.org/style_faq.
Your list of works cited should begin at the end of the paper on a new page with the centered title, Works Cited. Alphabetize the entries in your list by the author's last name, using the letter-by-letter system (ignore spaces and other punctuation.) If the author's name is unknown, alphabetize by the title, ignoring any A, An, or The.
For dates, spell out the names of months in the text of your paper, but abbreviate them in the list of works cited, except for May, June, and July. Use either the day-month-year style (22 July 1999) or the month-day-year style (July 22, 1999) and be consistent. With the month-day-year style, be sure to add a comma after the year unless another punctuation mark goes there.
Underlining or Italics?
When reports were written on typewriters, the names of publications were underlined because most typewriters had no way to print italics. If you write a bibliography by hand, you should still underline the names of publications. But, if you use a computer, then publication names should be in italics as they are below. Always check with your instructor regarding their preference of using italics or underlining. Our examples use italics.
All MLA citations should use hanging indents, that is, the first line of an entry should be flush left, and the second and subsequent lines should be indented 1/2".
Capitalization, Abbreviation, and Punctuation
The MLA guidelines specify using title case capitalization - capitalize the first words, the last words, and all principal words, including those that follow hyphens in compound terms. Use lowercase abbreviations to identify the parts of a work (e.g., vol. for volume, ed. for editor) except when these designations follow a period. Whenever possible, use the appropriate abbreviated forms for the publisher's name (Random instead of Random House).
Separate author, title, and publication information with a period followed by one space. Use a colon and a space to separate a title from a subtitle. Include other kinds of punctuation only if it is part of the title. Use quotation marks to indicate the titles of short works appearing within larger works (e.g., "Memories of Childhood." American Short Stories). Also use quotation marks for titles of unpublished works and songs.
Author's last name, first name. Book title. Additional information. City of publication: Publishing company, publication date.
Allen, Thomas B. Vanishing Wildlife of North America. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic Society, 1974.
Boorstin, Daniel J. The Creators: A History of the Heroes of the Imagination. New York: Random, 1992.
Hall, Donald, ed. The Oxford Book of American Literacy Anecdotes. New York: Oxford UP, 1981.
Searles, Baird, and Martin Last. A Reader's Guide to Science Fiction. New York: Facts on File, Inc., 1979.
Toomer, Jean. Cane. Ed. Darwin T. Turner. New York: Norton, 1988.
Encyclopedia & DictionaryFormat:
Author's last name, first name. "Title of Article." Title of Encyclopedia. Date.
Note: If the dictionary or encyclopedia arranges articles alphabetically, you may omit volume and page numbers.
"Azimuthal Equidistant Projection." Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary. 10th ed. 1993.
Pettingill, Olin Sewall, Jr. "Falcon and Falconry." World Book Encyclopedia. 1980.
Tobias, Richard. "Thurber, James." Encyclopedia Americana. 1991 ed.
Levinson, David, and Melvin M. Ember, eds. Encyclopedia of Cultural Anthropology. 4 vols. New York: Henry Holt, 1996. Print.
Magazine & Newspaper ArticlesFormat:
Author's last name, first name. "Article title." Periodical title Volume # Date: inclusive pages.
Note: If an edition is named on the masthead, add a comma after the date and specify the edition.
Hall, Trish. "IQ Scores Are Up, and Psychologists Wonder Why." New York Times 24 Feb. 1998, late ed.: F1+.
Kalette, Denise. "California Town Counts Down to Big Quake." USA Today 9 21 July 1986: sec. A: 1.
Kanfer, Stefan. "Heard Any Good Books Lately?" Time 113 21 July 1986: 71-72.
Trillin, Calvin. "Culture Shopping." New Yorker 15 Feb. 1993: 48-51.
Website or WebpageFormat:
Author's last name, first name (if available). "Title of work within a project or database." Title of site, project, or database. Editor (if available). Electronic publication information (Date of publication or of the latest update, and name of any sponsoring institution or organization). Date of access and <full URL>.
Note: If you cannot find some of this information, cite what is available.
Devitt, Terry. "Lightning injures four at music festival." The Why? Files. 2 Aug. 2001. 23 Jan. 2002 <http://whyfiles.org /137lightning/index.html>.
Dove, Rita. "Lady Freedom among Us." The Electronic Text Center. Ed. David Seaman. 1998. Alderman Lib., U of Virginia. 19 June 1998 <http://etext.lib.virginia.edu /subjects/afam.html>.
Lancashire, Ian. Homepage. 28 Mar. 2002. 15 May 2002 <http://www.chass.utoronto.ca:8080 /~ian/>.
Levy, Steven. "Great Minds, Great Ideas." Newsweek 27 May 2002. 10 June 2002 <http://www.msnbc.com /news/754336.asp>.
SampleSample Bibliography: MLA Works Cited Format
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Choosing Reliable Sources
In order to write a research paper, you first need to find out information about your topic.
This is called doing research.You can't get around it!
Make sure sources that you cite in a research paper are reliable. To be reliable means that you can trust the information (duh). Books, magazines, and websites will be the primary places you will be looking for information; however, not all information on the internet is reliable. For instance, a project on Bat Boy is not recommended, even though there is a lot of information available in Weekly World News.
There are however many sites which are very reliable, one of which is Wikipedia. While information on Wikipedia is not guaranteed to be accurate, science articles are often written by experts in the field and are generally a good source of knowledge. Another positive about Wikipedia is that many articles also have sources listed at the bottom which will provide you other places to look for your topic. Look for a links section like the following example:
Here are some useful criteria for deciding if a website is reliable:
- Government addresses can generally be trusted (www.abcdefg.gov)
- College and university websites are usually accurate (www.abcdefs.edu)
- Websites from sceintific groups or non-government organizations are usually trustworthy. These websites will be run by people named “International Society of [something],” “Organization of American [something],” or “National [something] Association.”
Websites which appear to be run by a single person may be unreliable. Unless directed there by your teacher, you should be wary about using information from these sites. If you are worried that a site you found by a simple web search is inaccurate or unreliable, ask your teacher or librarian.
Writing a Citation
Whenever you do research, it is important to say where you got your information from. This way, you give credit to the people who wrote the book or website you looked at.
You also want to be sure you are not taking someone else's writing, from a book or website, and putting it in your report word for word.
This is called plagiarism.It is dishonest! (and possibly illegal...)
After using a source to write your paper, it is important to cite in on your works cited, or bibliography, page. However, each medium of information (books, journals, TV, internet ...) has a different method of citation. In addition to this, the writing experts in the world cannot decide on one way to cite work which is appropriate for everyone. The one group which seems to lead the rest is the Modern Language Association (MLA). Here's how to cite some material in the MLA format:
- Lastname, Firstname. Title of Book. Place of Publication: Publisher, Year of Publication.
- Magazine or newspaper
- Author(s). "Title of Article." Title of Periodical Day Month Year: pages.
- If you are using a fancy scholarly journal, like American Mathematical Society Monthly, there is a different format:
- Author(s). "Title of Article." Title of Journal Volume.Issue (Year): pages.
- Name of Site. Date of Posting/Revision. Name of institution/organization affiliated with the site (sometimes found in copyright statements). Date you accessed the site <electronic address (this is www.something.com)>.
More information on these formats can be found in the OWL labs.
The Science Buddies group provides a helpful guide to explain the format for a science fair research paper.