Everyone knows that in writing a research paper, there is a need to document all the research that you have used in the paper. This is to ensure that you are able to lend credibility to your ideas as well as avoid being accused of plagiarism. However, the style used in documenting varies because each scholarly discipline has different needs. For the fields of humanities and liberal arts, the preferred choice is the MLA format. It is also the format often used in reports, journals, magazine articles, and newsletters because it is simpler and easier to use than other styles.
The bibliography MLA style is very easy to do and also easily recognizable. However, it must be noted first that bibliography is not the term used in this format. With MLA, works cited is the section’s name. While many believe that the terms are synonymous, they are actually not. In a bibliography, one will need to list down all the works you accessed in the course of your research regardless of whether they are cited within the paper or not. The MLA works cited, on the other hand, only contains the list of sources that were mentioned in the paper.
Now, like all other formats, documentation is accomplished by first getting all the pertinent details of each source including the author’s name, the title of the publication, the date of publication, and the title of the article. In the MLA format works cited page, the sources are listed in alphabetical order to make it easier for readers to look up the sources.
Every type of material used within the paper requires a specific kind of format. The MLA format for books is not the same as the MLA citation for websites. For books, the basic format is the author’s name, where the last name is followed by the first name, the title of the book, the city where it was published, the name of the publisher, the year of publication, and lastly the medium of publication. See the example below:
Sparks , Nicholas. The Lucky One. New York, NY: Grand Central Publishing , 2008. Print.
For electronic sources, more details are required including the editor’s name, the title of the article, the title of the website, the version number, the publishing information, the date you accessed the material, and for some, even the URL. With so many details to list down and rules to take note of, the MLA format can be a bit challenging to use for the first few times. Fortunately, there are plenty of resources online that details how to use the format as well as shows examples. In addition, there are also a number of online tools that can do the formatting for you. Any which way you choose to do it, it is important that you never forget to cite your sources. After all, lack of documentation can make a liar out of you.
The author of this article is an experienced researcher and writer. She believes that learning how to properly write the MLA Works Cited section is an important tool we should all learn.