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GIVING CREDIT TO YOUR SOURCES
Part One: Citing Hard Copy Sources

[This document was created by combining two documents--the Modern Language Association's (MLA) Guidelines and an online document distributed by the Purdue University Writing Lab.]

When you use the words or ideas of another person in your writing, you need to document(give credit to) the source of the words or ideas. If exact words are used, quotation marks indicating those words are necessary. If you paraphrase (i.e. restate the idea in your own words) quotation marks are not required, but documentation of the source still is.

The "Works Cited" List
At the end of your paper there should be a "Works Cited" list where you list the sources you used to write your paper. There are many variations on the style for such a list. Dr. Write prefers the example below whic provides the Author's Last name, First Name, Title of the source, the Publisher, and the date. [The usual format is for the first line to be OUTDENTED five spaces--an outdent is the opposite of an indent.]

    Works Cited

    Farber, Bernard. "Family." Encyclopedia Americana, 1984 ed.

    Fatherhood." Encyclopedia of Sociology. Ed. T.E. Chen. 2 vols. New York: Putnam, 1990.

    Gold, Jeannye. "When Fathers Raise Children Alone." U.S. News and World Report,
          Apr. 12 1982: 51-52.

    Larson, Eric. "Cross-Cultural Studies of Fatherhood." Journal of Marriage and the
          Family, 11 (Aug. 1988): 212-18.

    McKee, Loma and Margaret O'Brien, eds. The Father Figure. 3rd ed. New York:
          Tavistock, 1982.

    Parke, Ross. Fathers. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1981.

    Schorr, Burt. "States Cracking Down on Fathers Dodging Child-Support Payments." New
          York Times 26 Jan. 1983, natl. ed.: A1.

    United States. Dept. of Justice. Child Support Payment Laws. Washington: GPO, 1991.

    Valsiner, Jan. "The Father's Role in the Social Network of the Soviet Child." The Role
          of the Father in Child Development. Ed. Michael E. Lamb. New York: Wiley, 1981.
          187-201.

    When Fathers Desert Families. Prod. Project Hope. Videocassette. Maxwell, 1994.

    Wooster, Bernard. "Child Support Laws Should Be Tougher." Family Values: Opposing
          viewpoints. San Diego: Greenhaven, 1993. 10-14. Rpt. of "Deadbeat Dads." Reader's
          Digest Jan. 1992: 29-34.

    Zamorra, Carlos. "Stepfathers Have Rights, Too." 2 Feb. 1995. Online posting.
          Newsgroup soc.parents. Usenet. May 15, 1995.

Here's an explanation of the sources used in the above example.

  • McKee, Loma and Margaret O'Brien, eds. The Father Figure. 3rd ed. New York: Tavistock, 1982. is a book with editors, and is NOT the first edition.

  • Parke, Ross. Fathers. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1981 is a book or pamphlet.

  • Schorr, Burt. States Cracking Down on Fathers Dodging Child-Support Payments New York Times 26 Jan. 1983, natl. ed.: is a newspaper article with author.

  • United States. Dept. of Justice. Child Support Payment Laws. Washington: GPO, 1991 is a government document.

  • Valsiner, Jan. "The Father's Role in the Social Network of the Soviet Child." The Role of the Father in Child Development. Ed. Michael E. Lamb. New York: Wiley, 1981. 187-201 is a work or chapter within a larger work.

  • When Fathers Desert Families. Prod. Project Hope. Videocassette, Maxwell, 1994 is an audiovisual source.

  • Wooster, Bernard. "Child Support Laws Should Be Tougher." Family Values: Opposing viewpoints. San Diego: Greenhaven, 1993. 10-14. Rpt. of "Deadbeat Dads." Reader's Digest Jan. 1992: 29-34 is a work reprinted in a collection.

  • Zamorra, Carlos. Stepfathers Have Rights, Too. Feb. 2, 1995. Online posting. Newsgroup soc.parents. is an online computer source (see chapter 4.10 in the MLA handbook for more on electronic texts.)

    When to Give Credit
    The rules are fairly simple. You must give credit to a source IN THE BODY OF YOUR PAPER whenever you...

    ...don't give the author's name in your sentence:

      One researcher has found that dreams move backward in time as the night progresses (Dement 71).

    ...mention the author's name in your sentence:

      Freud states that "a dream is the fulfillment of a wish" (154).

    ...cite more than one work by the same author:

      One current theory emphasizes the principle that dreams express "profound aspects of personality" (Foulkes, Sleep 184). But investigation shows that young children's dreams are "rather simple and unemotional" (Foulkes, "Dreams" 78).

    ...use a work that has two or three authors:

      Psychologists hold that no two children are alike (Gesell and Ilg 68).

    ...you use a work that has no author. (Begin with the word by which the title is alphabetized in the Works Cited:)

      Random testing for use of steroids by athletes is facing strong opposition by owners of several of these teams ("Steroids" 22).

    For more rare cases, see Parenthetical Citations, MLA Handbook 155-60.]

    In the MLA format, parenthetical documentation is used to briefly identify the sources of information you have borrowed in writing your paper. This serves the same purpose as footnotes.

    Citations in the Body of Your Paper
    In the format developed by the Modern Language Association (MLA), you briefly identify your sources within the text of your paper. (The full information is provided in the "Works Cited" list at the end of the paper.)

    The general rule is to cite the source where it's used in the text of your paper. The author's name and the page number are placed in parentheses at the end of the sentence, as in the following examples. As shown, the parenthetical documentation should be integrated smoothly into the text of your paper, rather than listed separately..

      Jeannye Gold notes that "natural fathers aren't the only ones raising children on their own. As more families split up, social workers note that stepfathers increasingly are being called on to bring up other people's kids" (Gold 52).

      According to Bernard Barber in Encyclopedia Americana there is a trend toward waiting to marry and toward postponing the birth of the first child (Barber 6).

      At the turn of the century many men worked long hours, which "entailed their absence from the family for most of the day: that was not a rejection of fatherhood but a necessary element of it" (McKee and O'Brien 54).

      Child support payments can be withheld from wages in 45 states (Schorr 33).

    The reader can then consult the Works Cited list at the end of the paper to get the complete information.

    For publications where no author is given, you should include the first 1-3 key words from the title and then the page number, in parentheses, like this:

      Fathers today no longer know who they are or what their wives and children expect from them" ("Fatherhood" 5), and this increases the likelihood they will abandon their families.

    More About the Works Cited List
    The Works Cited list should have all of the sources that contributed ideas and information to your paper arranged in alphabetical order by the authors' last names or, if a source doesn't list an author, by the first word of the title (ignore "A," "An," and "The").

    The following examples explain how to cite each of type of source. If you have a type of source not covered in the examples below, ask a librarian to show you the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers..

      Books

      Doublespace all entries and list in alphabetical order by author's last name. Generally, an entry has three main divisions--author, title, and publication information--each followed by a period and two spaces.

      Books with one author:

        Frye, Northrup. Anatomy of Criticism: Four Essays. Princeton: Princeton UP, 1957.

      Books with two or three authors:

        Gesell, Arnold, and Frances L. Ilg. Child Development: An Introduction to the Study of Human Growth. New York: Macmillan, 1960.

      Books with four or more authors:

        Spiller, Robert, et al. Literary History of the United States. New York: Macmillan, 1960.

      Books with a corporate author:

        United States Capitol Society. We, the People: The Story of the United States Capitol. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic Soc.,1964.

      Books where no author is named:

        Encyclopedia of Photography. New York: Crown, 1984.

      Books with more than one volume:

        Smith, Page. A New Age Now Begins. 2 vols. New York: McGraw, 1976.

      Books with an editor:

        Dreiser, Theodore. Sister Carrie. Ed. Kenneth S. Lynn. New York: Rinehart, 1959.

      The second or later edition of a book:

        Ornstein, Robert. The Psychology of Consciousness. 2nd ed. New York: Harcourt, 1977.

      A Reprinted Book:

        Weston, Jessie L. From Ritual to Romance. 1920 Garden City, NJ: Anchor-Doubleday, 1957.

      Two or more books by the same person:

        Boroff, Marie, trans. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. New York: Norton, 1967.

      An essay in a book that is a collection of essays:

        Krutch, Joseph Wood. "What the Year 2000 Won't Be Like." Finding a Voice. Ed. Jim W. Corder. Glenview, IL: Scott Foresman, 1973. 21-36.

      Two or more articles from the same collection:

        Atkin, Charles. "Changing Male and Female Roles." Schwartz 66-70.

        Kilborne, Jean. "Sex Roles in Advertising." Schwartz 211-15.

      Newspapers, Magazines, Journals, and Other Sources

      A journal or magazine whose page numbers continue into the next issue:

        Deluch, Max. "Mind from Matter." American Scholar 47 (1978): 339-53.

      A journal whose pages start anew with each issue:

        Barthe, Frederick, and Joseph Murphy. "Alcoholism in Fiction." Kansas Quarterly, 7.2 (1981): 30-37.

      A weekly, biweekly, or monthly magazine:

        Miller, Tyler. "The Vietnam War: The Executioner." Newsweek 13 Nov 1978: 70.

      An article in a newspaper:

        Strout, Richard L. "Another Bicentennial." Christian Science Monitor 10 Nov. 1978: 27.

      An anonymous article:

        "Drunkproofing Automobiles." Time 6 Apr. 1987: 37.

      An article from a reference book:

        "Mandarin." Encyclopedia Americana. 1980 ed.

      A government publication:

        United States Dept. of Labor. Bureau of Statistics. Dictionary of Occupational Titles. 4th ed. Washington: GPO, 1977.

      A radio or television program:

        The First American. Narr. Hugh Downs. Writer and Producer Craig Fisher. NBC News Special. KNBC, Los Angeles. 21 Mar. 1968.

      A source from MicroFische:

        McCullough, Peggy. "Juvenile Drug Use Prompts Test Push." (Memphis, TN) The Commercial Appeal. 15 Jan. 1987. NEWSBANK, Health, 1987, Fiche 3, Grid G2.

      An interview that you conducted:

        Franklin, Anna. Personal Interview. 15 Nov. 1988.

    Other Rules

  • If you use a second work by the same author--instead of repeating the author's name in the Works Cited list, put 3 hyphens and a period (---.) and alphabetize as if the name were spelled out.

  • When required information is not given--In the spot where the information should be, put the following abbreviations: No date of publication = n.d. / No place of publication or no publisher = n.p.. No page number = n.pag.

  • For text from CD-ROM, diskette, etc. do the same as for print sources, except add the medium after the name of the source. For example, Austin American-Statesman CD-ROM.


  • To find out how to document sources from the World Wide Web, go to
    Part Two: Citing Web Sources
    or return to
    The Research Page | The Home Page |


    If you have any questions, send an e-mail to Dr. Write.



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