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MLA Documentation Style

Different academic disciplines use different systems of documentation. The Modern Language

Association (MLA) style, presented in the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, is

widely used throughout the humanities.

A. Parenthetical References

B. Content and Bibliographical Notes

C. List of Works Cited

D. MLA-Style Sample Essay

A. Parenthetical References

In MLA style, a parenthetical reference identifies a source and refers readers to the full citation

of the source in the list of works cited. Following are some sample MLA-style parenthetical


Author and page (short quotation)

Prose quotations that run no more than four lines in your essay are integrated into the text and

enclosed in double quotation marks. The author's name need not appear in the parenthetical

reference if it is included in the signal or introductory phrase, as in the first example:

Mark Kingwell defines happiness as "the possession of virtuous character and the

performance of virtuous action" (327).

The search for J.D. Salinger, the New Hampshire recluse whom one reviewer called "the

Greta Garbo of American letters" (Swados 119), became something of a minor national

obsession in the early 1960s.

Author and page (long quotation)

Prose quotations that run more than four lines are set off from the text by indenting ten spaces

from the left margin. Block quotations are not enclosed in quotation marks.

Swift's ironic "A Modest Proposal" paints a devastating portrait of Ireland's poor:

Some persons of a desponding spirit are in great concern about that vast number of poor

people, who are aged, diseased, or maimed, and I have been desired to employ my

thoughts what course may be taken to ease the nation of so grievous an encumbrance. But

I am not in the least pain upon that matter, because it is very well known that...