Quick MLA How-To
Our next paper (and a lot of other papers in college) requires you to cite your sources in MLA style. Here is a quick step-by-step.
Before you begin, look at "What's for Dinner? Personal Choices vs. Public Health" (A Writer's Reference, pages 427-432). Notice especially that the paper has a separate "Works Cited" page which gives complete information for each source referred to in the paper, and within the text only very brief "pointers" refer to author and page number where the information was found.
You must give a citation for every quotation and paraphrase of a source as well as for all other outside information which is not common knowledge.
Making the Citations
- Click this link to take you to the Noodletools page. (If somehow this doesn't work, go to www.noodletools.com and scroll all the way to the bottom. Click Free Tools in the lower left corner Then click NoodleTools Express.)
- Click the box that says MLA .
- Figure out what kind of resource you are citing (book, internet site, etc.) and click the drop-down menu that says Create a:.
- Choose the kind of resource that best matches what you are working on and click the blue Create Citation box.
- The program will walk you through all the choices to make a good Works Cited Page entry. Please note:
- Items with a red asterisk * are required. The program will complain if you try to make a citation without them.
- You probably will not have an entry for every blank. If you don't have one, don't invent something. In particular, if your source does not have an author specified, don't invent something like "NA" or "Author unknown." Just leave it blank and Noodletools with take care of things for you.
- Both the MLA Works Cited page and the APA References page are very particular about capitalization, and Noodletools will help you in that department. Follow their advice. If you foul something up, the program will underline it with a red squiggle.
- Most pieces do have authors! Author names do not look like this: www.something.com. (That is a web address, not an author name.) If you are citing a source which really does not have an author name, do not make up something like "N.A." or "Author unknown." Simply leave that field of the Noodletools site blank.
- After you have filled in all the blanks that apply to your source, click the blue Save button.
- Highlight, copy, and paste the Works Cited entry onto your Works Cited page, but DON'T CLOSE THE NOODLETOOLS PAGE YET!
- Now find the text which says, "Need help writing a parenthetical (in-text) reference for this entry?" and click the blue link. This will show you what to put in the body text of your paper where you quoted or referred to this resource. (There is more good advice below the sample citation. Read it!)
A few more things
- If you need to make an APA paper for another course, it works exactly the same way, but don't mix APA and MLA. Each paper must stick to only one style.
- Even if you refer to a resource several times in the paper, it only gets one Works Cited page citation.
- Items on the Works Cited page are alphabetized by the first thing that appears. They are not sorted according to type of resource; they are not presented in order of appearance. They are simply alphabetized.
- The citation from the Noodletools site will not be very pretty when you simply paste it. Your best way to fix this is to choose "Paste Special" and "Paste as plain text" in your word processor. You will lose the italics and you will still need to do some other format clean-up, but this is the way to get a really professional-looking product.