Students often use terms such as reference, citation and bibliography interchangeably, but there are differences in these terms. A bibliography (or reference list) is the list of all the sources you used to create your paper. The citation is actually the combination of your in-text source, which then refers the reader to the full entry listed at the end of your paper. This list, titled a Bibliography, Works Cited or Reference List, provides the location of the source so the reader can find it if s/he wants to do so. MLA uses a Works Cited list.
Writing Your Research Paper
As you gather your sources together to start writing your paper, you will want to create a preliminary bibliography. This will help you stay organized and not feel so frustrated at the end of your paper when you need to finalize it by pulling together your in-text citations with your Works Cited list.
As you know, every time you quote or paraphrase a book or other source, you need to make sure you give proper credit to the creator of the source. Throughout your school research paper, you will include information about the source consulted. You don’t want to distract your reader from the flow of information so you’ll need to place the in-text citation properly.
MLA In-Text Citation
In MLA, your in-text citation includes the first core element, and the page number. If the first core element is an author, (typically it is), you will place the author (s) last name inside parentheses along with the page number.
Note: Do not place a comma between the name and page number. Also, do not include p. or pp to indicate the page number(s).
The corresponding citation entry in the Works Cited list will look like this:
Citing Sources With No Authors
If the source you’re referring to does not have an author listed as the first core element, use the title instead plus the page number if available.
The corresponding entry in the Works Cited List will look like this:
Citing Sources With No Page Numbers
As you gather your sources, you may notice some of them do not have page numbers but instead are divided by chapters or sections. Or some web sources may be numbered by paragraph instead of page numbers. In these cases, you will indicate the location of your source using those indicators. You will need to add a comma after the author.
Sections: sec. or secs.
Paragraphs: par. or pars.
Chapters: ch. or chs.
MLA provides an easy way to create in-text citations. When writing a school paper, always keep your reader in mind. Provide a clear pathway from your in-text citations to your final entry in your Works Cited list so your sources can be found quickly and easily by your instructor and your reader.