Mla Citation Style And Formatting: All About Purpose And Audience


MLA Citation Style and Formatting: All about Purpose and Audience
First, why does it matter that Composition writers document their sources?
A. Providing strong, well thought out evidence to back up your argument will make your argument more effective.
B. Using your field’s particular strict citation style helps you appeal to your audience.
C. Citations create a trail that your readers could trace backward to fact-check your evidence or make sure that you are not
taking ideas out of context.
D. Formatting your papers and citing outside sources creates a standardized record of discourse (or scholarly discussion).
2. What is MLA? MLA stands for Modern Language Association. Here are some basic details about the organization
provided by the organization’s website:
Founded in 1883, the Modern Language Association of America provides opportunities for its members to
share their scholarly findings and teaching experiences with colleagues and to discuss trends in the academy.
MLA members host an annual convention and other meetings, work with related organizations, and sustain
one of the finest publishing programs in the humanities. For more than a century, members have worked to
strengthen the study and teaching of language and literature. (“About the MLA”)
MLA has “almost 25,000 members in 100 countries” and “an annual convention, with meetings on a wide variety of
subjects, and smaller seminars across the [United States]” (“About the MLA”).
MLA style refers to the formatting and citation standards that MLA requires. The standards have recently been updated:
“The MLA now recommends a universal set of guidelines that writers can apply to any source and gives writers in all
fields—from the sciences to the humanities—the tools to intuitively document sources” (“What’s New in the Eighth
3. Other Citation Styles: This Is Only the Beginning…
There are many other citation styles, including Chicago (or Turabian), APA (American Psychological Association), IEEE
(Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers), CSE (Council of Science Editors), etc.
4. MLA Essay Formatting (See also The Everyday Writer pages 410-419)
Page one: on the top right, list your name, your professor’s name, the course name, and the date. Center the title.
Every page: in the header on the right should appear your last name and the page number. All lines double-spaced. Times
New Roman 12, no underlining, and no bold.
Works Cited page: Center the words “Work Cited”—or “Works Cited,” if there is more than one entry. Alphabetize
entries, indent the 2
line of entries, and proofread everything several times!
5. MLA Citation Style (in brief)
5.a. Basic WC entry for a book: AuthorLastName, AuthorFirstName. Book Title. Publisher, YearOfPublication.
Kanno, Yasuko. Negotiating Bilingual and Bicultural Identities: Japanese Returnees Betwixt Two Worlds,
Lawrence Erlbaum, 2003.
***Note the order and the odd indention. Entries are arranged alphabetically.
5.b. Basic parenthetical or in-text citation for book or article: (Last name and page number).


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