A Project of
|Guidelines||Rants||Patterns||Poems||Services||Classes||Press||Blog||Resources||About Us||Site Map|
MLA style for citing research on literature and language
The Modern Language Association (MLA) has developed guidelines for research in literature, criticism, and biography of authors, in contemporary languages.
The MLA calls for references to be double-spaced, which looks weird online, but, hey, with an organization that goes back almost a century, like this one, you have to concede to some eccentricity.
The MLA also calls for hanging indents, but recognizes that some HTML editors don't let you easily indent the second line of a Works Cited entry. In this case, the MLA tells you to bullet the first line of an entry as we show it here.
When you document sources from the Web, the MLA suggests that your Works Cited entries contain as much information as you find relevant and available. This is a great approach, because sites don't always list authors or dates of publication.
Here are the nuggets of information the MLA would like, but recognizes may not be available:
depending on what you find, you may have Web citations that have as little
as the site's title, URL, and date you accessed the site.
No great advance has ever been made in science, politics, or religion, without controversy.
When a thing ceases to be a subject of controversy, it ceases to be a subject of interest.
Web Site—No author, nor title or work
If you want to reference a specific page at a site, follow this example:
Articles or a Specific Document from a Web Site—Here are examples of how the MLA treats an announcement, an article with an identified author and an article without an author. The first date is the date of the article and the second date is the retrieval date.
An announcement or article from a news service:
An article with an identified author:
An article with no author identified:
Online Databases—The MLA style's guideline for citing information retrieved from an online database follows the same format as other citations. Use the list at the beginning of this section to put as much information as possible into the citation.
E-mail—E-mail from individuals should be documented like any other reference.
Discussion Group—Discussion group information is cited by listing the author, the title of the posting, the phrase “online posting,” the date of the posting, the forum, date of retrieval and the URL in angle brackets.
Newsgroup—To document information posted in a newsgroup discussion, provide the author's name, subject line in quotation marks, the phrase “online posting,” the date of the posting, the date of retrieval and the name of the newsgroup with the prefix “news” in angle brackets.
Chat Sessions—References to a chat session follows the same format as that of a discussion group.
List messages—References to an e-mail from a list serv follows the same format as that of a discussion group.
FTP site—To document a file available for downloading via a site give the author's name (if known), the title of the document, the size of document, if relevant, in brackets, any print publication information, italicized or underline, date of online publication, if available, date of access, and complete FTP address in angle brackets.
Telnet Site—Start with the author’s name or alias. Follow it with the title of the work in quotation marks. Then insert the date of the publication, date of access and the telnet address in angle brackets with any directions for accessing the document.
GOPHER Sites—List the author's name, the title of the document in quotation marks, any print publication information, italicized or underlined, the date of the online publication, the retrieval date and the address in angle brackets with any directions for accessing the document. In our example, we don't have an author, so we start with the title of the article.
Achtert, W., and J. Gibaldi. 1985. The MLA Style Manual. New York: The Modern Language Association of America.
Harnack, A., and E. Kleppinger. 1997. Online! New York: St. Martin's Press.
Munger, D., D. Anderson, B. Benjamin, C. Busiel, and B. Paredes-Holt. 2000. Researching Online, Third Edition. New York: Longman.
Walker, J., and J. Ruszkiewicz. 2000. Writing@online.edu. New York: Addison-Wesley Educational.
Thanks to our co-citationologist, Joyce Daza, for her many contributions to these articles.
Writing that Works!