Now that we have finished our 3-part series on APA style formatting (the formatting used for papers written in science and social science disciplines), we are moving on to MLA style formatting. MLA—or Modern Language Association—is the style of formatting you will most likely be asked to use when writing papers for classes that fall under the broad heading of humanities. For instance, you will be asked to use MLA style formatting for papers written for english classes, or for comparative studies classes. Today, in part one of our three-part series on MLA style formatting; we will be talking about how to properly notate in-text citations.
An in-text citation is a quotation that you are quoting within the body of your paper. For instance, “Pema Chodron states, ‘Only to the extent we expose ourselves over and over to self-annihilation, can that which is indestructible in us be found,” (Chodron 51). The bit inside the quotation marks is the direct quote, and the bit inside the parentheses is the citation. Note how this citation is notated: the author’s last name is separated only by a space, not a comma, from the page number. It is important to make a mental note of the fact that this is different from APA style formatting, where the author’s name and page number have a comma separating them.
We’ll walk through an example together, using the quotation, “One fish two fish, red fish blue fish.” from Dr. Seuss.
- Take your quotation and replace the period with a comma within the quotation marks. In this example, your quotation changes from what is written above to “One fish two fish, red fish blue fish,” (Note where the comma is!)
- Now, find your page number and the author’s last name. In this case, your page number is page one and the author’s last name is Seuss.
- Put the author’s last name and the page number inside parentheses, like this: (Seuss 1)
- Put the quotation from step one and the citation from step three together. You should end up with: “One fish two fish, red fish blue fish,” (Seuss 1). Note where the comma is (before the end quotation mark) and the period (after the end parenthesis).
- You’ve done it! Good work!
Stay tuned, tomorrow in part two of our three part series on MLA style formatting, we’ll be talking about MLA style bibliographies.