MLA MATTERS—7th edition

MLA (Modern Language Association) uses an author-page citation format. You will cite the following information as you write:

  1. direct quotation (short vs. block—4+ typed lines of text)
  2. statistical data
  3. charts, graphs, tables
  4. any information taken from a source not considered common knowledge—theories, judgments, opinions, personal explanations; ‘facts’ open to dispute; information gathered by (small) number of researchers.

#4 is the potentially confusing item; paraphrased information generally comes under this heading.  If you have to refer to your source or your source notes as you write information in your own words, you will most likely need to cite this source in your paper or project.

Parenthetical citation points the reader to the full reference in the ‘Works Cited’ page.  Within the text they need to be both clear and concise; the reader should never have to guess which source is referred to or how to locate the source on the ‘Works Cited’ list.

Sample Citations

Author identified textually

Abrams distinguishes between the formal and the informal essay, stating that in the latter the author “writes in a relaxed, self-revelatory, and sometimes whimsical fashion” (82).

Author not identified textually

The author of the formal essay “writes as an authority, … and expounds the subject in an orderly way (Abrams 82).

Both of the above citations will lead me to the ‘Works Cited’ page and the full reference

Abrams, M. H. A Glossary of Literary Terms.  7th ed.  Boston:  Heinle, 1999.  Print.

[Notes about entries.  If the entry goes onto a second line, indent five spaces (tab once) for the rest of the entry.  Keep the same spacing for entries that you have used in the rest of your paper, and do not place an extra space between entries.

The publisher is Heinle & Heinle; condense publisher names whenever possible (See pp. 248-9 for common abbreviated forms).

In typewriter days the convention was to leave one space after a comma or semi-colon and two spaces after a period, colon, question mark, or exclamation. The word-processing era has relaxed that convention.  The MLA—7th Edition encourages the continued use of a double space after ending punctuation marks “unless an instructor requests that you do otherwise” (78) and a single space after internal punctuation—comma, semi-colon, colon.

The current edition also insists that the writer indicate whether the source is print, web, or other media (e.g.. television).

*    *    *

Chapter 6 focuses on in-text citation and offers a format for citing works without an identified author—using a key word from the title which will lead easily to the ‘Works Cited’ pages is the usual way. The author-page format is used for both print and electronic sources.  For material that is not paginated—websites, e-mail, lectures, television programs, personal interviews—your text needs to include the relevant information that will direct readers to your source.


In a recent interview, John George, Director of Operations for Tydfil Corporation, highlighted the continuing troubles with “difficult employees.”

Tydfil Corporation has suffered in recent years because of the actions of “difficult employees” (George).

The CBS Reports broadcast of “Harvest of Shame” brought to light the desperate plight of migrant farm workers in the United States.