MLA Resources

If you're not familiar with MLA style, you'll want to brush up on it, since many of your classes will require papers to be written in this format. MLA style serves two purposes: 1) a simplified visual appearance and (more importantly), 2) proper attribution of sources.

In terms of style, you'll need to include an MLA header, which you'll format as follows (each break is one return in double-spaced document):

Your Name 
Class Name 
Professor's Name 
Then start the body of your paper — no fancy formatting, extra spacing, etc.

Additionally, each page aside from the first should have your name and the page number (i.e. Hennessey 9) in the top right-hand corner (you can access this through the "Headers and Footers" control in Word).

In regards to attributing sources, MLA format is built around two techniques: 1) in-text parenthetical citations and 2) a works cited list. As as student, the purpose of doing this is to avoid plagiarism by properly crediting any ideas (whether direct quotations, summaries or paraphrases) that you've borrowed. For scholars, in addition to that very important role, citations also direct readers to the specific location of that info, as well as the edition used. A short in-text citation (in parentheses at the end of the sentence, but before any closing punctuation) shorthands the source and page number for readers, and then the full works cited list at the end of the essay provides complete bibliographical info.

Each professor you'll work with at UC will likely have different interpretations of MLA format, and it's a good idea to get to know their "ground rules" so that you don't run the risk of getting in trouble. My ground rules include the following:
  • If you're using the same source, and only that source (i.e. text and page), over the course of several sentences, then you don't need a citation at the end of every sentence, just when you're finished with the source.
  • If the author and/or text is made clear, either by context or signal phrases, then you don't need to include that info in the citation, just the page number. For sources without pages (i.e. internet sources), just use a signal phrase and you're set.
  • Technically MLA requires you to cite the line(s) when quoting poetry, but as far as I'm concerned, the page number alone is more than sufficient.
Here are two online resources that will be helpful in navigating the ins and outs of MLA style:

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