Mla Style Bibliography Definition For Kids

Not to be confused with Wikipedia:Citing sources.

A citation or source citation is a reference to a published work (for example, a book, article, image, etc,) that is used when creating a written work. It shows readers where specific pieces of information came from and where readers can locate it for themselves. It acknowledges, or gives credit to the author who actually created the content being used in a paper. The opposite of a citation is plagiarism, or not giving credit to others for their ideas, concepts, or images. Plagiarism, especially in Academia, is considered taking the work of others and presenting it as one's own. The penalties for plagiarism can be severe. Source citations also give a work credibility. In other words, it shows the information is simply not made up.

What to cite

In general, different academic situations will have different rules for what to cite and how to cite it. Some use footnotes while others may require in-text (also called inline) source citations.(←This is an inline source citation) Some may require a bibliography which lists all works that were used. In some cases, it may only be necessary to provide a list of "works cited." It is important to know in advance what protocols must be used and what citation style (see below) is preferred.

  • Quotations Anything taken word-for-word from a source must be shown in quotation marks (" "). The quotation must have a source citation showing where the quoted text came from.
For example: "Quality or junk? How do you want your research described by others?"
  • Paraphrase To paraphrase is to take someone's words or ideas and put them in the words of the person writing the paper. Anything paraphrased should be source cited. A paraphrase is usually about the same number of words as the original but does not use quotation marks.
Example (original text): "And there is only one fault so obvious, so fundamental, that it instantly brands a piece of work as the product of an amateur or careless researcher: poor source citations". Paraphrased: Poor quality source citations usually indicate that a piece of work is either careless research or the work of an amateur.
  • Summarize A summary is a short version of another work in the writer's own words. A summary is usually shorter than the original. When summarizing someone else's work, a source citation is necessary.
Example (original text): "When you don’t know when to cite, you end up plagiarizing which is just a big word for stealing and that’s mean. And when you plagiarize, you also get an “F” and people think, “Dude, that kid is one dumb bunny.” Let’s avoid that, shall we?" Summarized: When you do not understand source citations, it is easy to plagiarize someone else's work. So you do not get an "F" for your work, the following are the basic rules.
  • Facts and ideas Using facts and information to support an argument generally requires a source citation. Facts do not always need to be source cited, especially if they are commonly known (e.g. water freezes at 32 degrees Fahrenheit). Ideas, however, should always be cited.

What is not necessary to cite

You do not need to cite anything that is common knowledge. These are things that would be known by nearly everyone. Examples of common knowledge are:

  • Common sayings. For example: To make a long story short...

But when in doubt, cite it.

What a source citation includes

A source citation typically includes several key pieces of information including:

  • The name of the author or authors.
  • The name of the book, article, or publication.
  • The date the work was published.
  • When it was accessed, if it was found online.
  • The URL, if it is an online webpage.
  • The place of publication.
  • The name of the publisher.
  • The page number or numbers. For example, p. 1, 21, 33 (means the information is on these pages) or pp. 55–60 (meaning the information is found on pages 55 through 60).

Citation styles

The main citation styles that are used include:

  • APA style (American Psychological Association) is the style is the most commonly used style in the social sciences. The guideline is found in the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, Sixth Edition.
Example (bibliographic style): <span style="color:
  • MLA Style (Modern Language Association) is the style used for writing and formatting research papers in the liberal arts and the humanities. One of the references for this style is the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, Eighth Edition.
Example (author-date style): Smith, William. The Last of the Inupiat Eskimos. Alaska Northwest Books, 1997. p 39. (note the use of periods separating parts of the citation)
Example (author-date style): William Smith, The Last of the Inupiat Eskimos (Portland, OR: Alaska Northwest Books, 1997), p. 39 (Chicago style allows author last name, first name or first name last name)

Regardless of the arena you are writing for, it is generally agreed upon in all academic and sciencific fields that when you borrow someone’s work in your own paper, you should credit the work properly to the original author.

MLA Format: Popular and Simple

The MLA format is one of the most popular and simplest forms used to attribute information. This particular style is the one most schools have adopted and accepted. It is also the acceptable format for writing research papers on literature. This format is used by nearly 1,100 scholarly journals, newsletters, and magazines as well.

General MLA Formatting: Page Setup

In order to adhere to MLA requirements, you will need to make several tweaks to your initial page setup.

Set the Margins

Set the top and bottom margins at one inch and the left and right margins at one inch.

Insert a Header

The MLA-formatted paper requires a header. Here's the format:

                                                                                LastName

                                                                               Blank Line

                                                                               Blank Line

                                                                           Page Number

Make sure that you know the specific requirements of your paper when setting page numbers because sometime a number is not required on the first page.

Line Spacing

Set line spacing to double space.

Other General Formatting Requirements

  • While MLA formatting is not as strict as some other citation styles, MLA does require that you use a legible font and keep the font a certain size.
  • Before you begin to write your paper, make sure you intend to use a uniform heading plan throughout the whole of your document.

Example:

If you decide to label the first part of your paper “Heading 1” each subsequent heading must be labeled accordingly in sequential order.

All subheadings must also adhere to the same rule. In other words if you want to sub-head heading one like 1.1 and 1.2 and so on, each subsequent heading and subheading must follow the same format.

In-Text Citations in MLA Format

Like all other style formatting guidelines, MLA requires the use of in text citations for work that is paraphrased or quoted within a paper in order to attribute the work.

Text citations, or paranthetical citations as they are better known, must be presented in a certain format depending on how the information is used.

To directly quote another author in your paper your parenthetical citation would appear in one of the following ways:

AuthorName stated the fact that "insert very interesting fact" (202).

My paper includes "this very interesting quote" (Author 202).

AuthorName extensively explored the concept of this very interesting idea (202).

As shown above, each in-text citation must include both the author's name as well as the page number where the information in the sentence can be located.

MLA Format Examples

Different rules apply for citing different resources under the MLA.

For example, look at some of these examples below to see how the citation and the Works Cited reference should change based on each unique situation.

Author Is Known

My paper is improved by Johnson's Name's description of the idea as "very interesting" (202)

My paper has been described as "very interesting" (Johnson 202)

My paper has been described by Johnson as "very interesting" (202)

Human beings have been described as "symbol-using animals" (Johnson 3)

The information in these examples will correspond to an entry in the Works Cited section at the end of the paper formatted as follows:

Johnson, FirstName. Name of Book. City: Publisher, Year. Print.

No Known Author (Cite the article name and page number)

I am making my paper more interesting by including this referenced idea that "the sky is blue..." ("Article on Blue Skys" 8)

The information in this example will correspond to an entry in the Works Cited section at the end of the paper formatted as follows:

"Article on Blue Skys." Name of Magazine. Month, Year. Print.

Authors with the Same Last Name (Use the first name initial)

Although some believe this interesting fact (A. Author 202), others note that something else may be true (B. Author, 203)

The information in this example will correspond to an entry in the Works Cited section at the end of the paper formatted as follows:

Author, A. Name of Book. City: Publisher, Year. Print.

Author, B. Name of Book. City: Publisher, Year. Print.

Works by Multiple Authors

If three or less authors, mention all three in the parenthetical citation.

If more that three authors, mention all the first time and for each subsequent appearance use the last name of the first listed author followed by the abbreviation et al.

For example:

Author, Writer, and Doe argue that this concept is quite interesting (202).

The authors state "this concept is quite interesting" (Author, writer, and Doe 76).

The information in these examples will correspond to an entry in the Works Cited section at the end of the paper formatted as follows:

Author Last Name, Author First Name. Name of Book. City: Publisher, Year. Print.

Writer Last Name, Writer First Name. Name of Book. City: Publisher, Year. Print.

Doe, Doe's First Name. Name of Book. City: Publisher, Year. Print.

Electronic Sources

The name of the author should be cited in-text if known. If not known, the name of the article can be cited.

For example:

The easiest way to prepare the ground for planting is to add a rich soil conditioner (AuthorLastName, "Name of Article").

The information in this example will correspond to an entry in the Works Cited section at the end of the paper formatted as follows:

AuthorLastName, AuthorFirstName. "Name of Article," Name of Website. URL. Website.

Works Cited

As the final page for your research paper, you will need to create a works cited page. This page should contain all the specific information regarding the whereabouts of the specific information that was cited in parenthetical citations throughout your paper. All citations should be left justified.

For instance, for the quote for Johnson in the "Author Is Known" section above, the entry on your Works Cited page would look like this:

Johnson, First name. Title. Country: Name of publisher, Date. Print

The Works Cited page must be listed in alphabetical order and double spaced just the same as the rest of the paper. 

Do you have a good example to share? Add your example here.

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MLA Format Examples

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Regardless of the arena you are writing for, it is generally agreed upon in all academic and sciencific fields that when you borrow someone’s work in your own paper, you should credit the work properly to the original author.

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