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Research Without Pain: 3d. Cite your Sources

Research can be fun if you follow these simple steps.

MLA Handbook

Published in March 2009, the 7th edition of the MLA Handbook has been expanded to cover more comprehensively the use and citing of electronic resources.

New Rules! Changes from the 6th Ed.

Below are some of the more noteworthy changes with the 7th ed.

  • Titles are italicized rather than underlined.
  • Citations include a medium of publication consulted (print, web, film, DVD, etc.)
  • For web publications, only include a URL if you think readers would not easily find the source.
  • All journal citations require a volume and issue number, regardless of pagination.
  • Use abbreviations for websites that do not include publisher or date of publication information -- N.p. and n.d., respectively.
  • For articles from online databases, the name/location of library used to access the database is no longer required.
  • If an online database does not preserve the pagination of the original print article, the abbreviate n. pag should be used where the inclusive pagination would be.

Annotated Bibliographies

An annotated bibliography is a list of citations followed by a descriptive summary and evaluation. Sometimes the annotation will reflect the applicability of the source to the needs of the researcher. The purpose of this type of bibliography is to inform the reader of the relevance, accuracy, and quality of the sources cited.

Gurko, Leo. Ernest Hemingway and the Pursuit of Heroism. New York: Crowell, 1968. This book is part of a series called "Twentieth Century American Writers": a Brief Introduction to the Man and his Work. After fifty pages of straight biography, Gurko discussed Hemingway's writing, novel by novel. There's an index and a short bibliography, but no notes. The biographical part is clear and easy to read, but it sounds too much like a summary.

Example borrowed from the Writing Center at UNC- Chapel Hill.

Save time with a Citation generator

The only people who really love the complexities of accurate citation format are (some) scholars and (some) librarians.  For the rest of us, citation generators can help keep track of sources and produce a correctly format bibliography in the appropriate style.

Try one of these excellent tools.


NoodleTools is a bibliographic citation and notes management tool.  It supports you in creating citations for various source types in the appropriate style, and also helps you keep those citations associated with the notes that you take on the sources you use.  It is simple to use and will save you time.

Formatting the Works Cited Page

The Works Cited list provides references including complete bibliographic information for the sources you used, thereby allowing your reader to identify and locate those materials. To format the page:

  • begin the list on a new page at the end of your paper
  • use 1" margins
  • continue the page numbers of the text (i.e., if your paper ends with page 15, the list should start at page 16) and place in the upper right-hand corner a 1/2" from the top and flush with the right margin
  • center the Works Cited title
  • double space within and between entries
  • if an entry is longer than one line, indent the subsequent line 1/2" (hanging indent)
  • arrange the list alphabetically

In-Text Citations

In-text citations in the body of your paper point the reader to specific sources listed on your Works Cited page. They usually include the author’s last name or title (if no author is given) and the relevant page numbers (if given). See examples below. For more information on in-text citations, see pages 213-232 of the MLA Handbook.

Author's name in text
has expressed this concern (118-21).

Author's name in parenthetical reference
This concern has been expressed (Author 118-21).