Online Guide to Writing and Research

Chapter 5: Academic Integrity and Documentation

Types of Documentation

In-Text or Parenthetical Citations

MLA Style

The MLA style has been using the parenthetical documentation since 1983 (Winkler and McCuen, 1994, 126). In this style, Arabic numerals are used, the letter p. or pp. for page numbers is omitted, line or lines is used to note lines of text, and the bibliography is headed "Works Cited."

The MLA style permits a shorthand method for identifying in your paper the author and the page number of the work if you are using only one book by that author. Because in the field of humanities there is less concern for the currency of references, the date is usually omitted in the in-text citation. For example, to cite Lauter's book within the body of your paper, you might include a citation that looks like the example here.

Example of a Citation Using MLA Style

Many readers forget about Hawthorne's contemporary female writers who were laying the groundwork for our modern romance fiction. One authority states that, while Hawthorne, drawn to the literary allegories and symbols, wrote about the darker side of human experiences in his romances, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Alice Cary, and Elizabeth Drew Stoddard composed their "domestic" fiction—engaging narratives about marriage, love, jealousy, family, and social interactions (Lauter 2110).

When the readers of your paper go to your bibliography, they discover the full reference to Paul Lauter's essay. The entries here are in alphabetical order using the author's last name, are double-spaced, and have a flush and hanging or hanging indent in the second and subsequent lines. We've added three references to show you how the MLA bibliography style looks.

Example of Bibliographical Entries Using MLA Style

Works Cited

Gibaldi, Joseph. MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers. 5th ed. New York: The Modern Language Association, 1999.

Lauter, Paul. "The Flowering of Narrative." The Heath Anthology of American Literature. Ed. Paul Lauter, et al. 2nd ed. Vol. 1. Lexington: Heath, 1994, 2110–2112.

Turner, Arlin. Nathaniel Hawthorne: An Introduction and Interpretation. New York: Barnes, 1961.