Using References

MLA Documentation Style

The Modern Language Association (MLA) establishes values for acknowledging sources used in a research paper. MLA citation style uses a simple two-part parenthetical documentation system for citing sources: Citations in the text of a paper point to the alphabetical Works Cited list that appears at the end of the paper. Together, these references identify and credit the sources used in the paper and allow others to access and retrieve this material.

In MLA style, writers place references to sources in the paper to briefly identify them and enable readers to find them in the Works Cited list. These parenthetical references should be kept as brief and as clear as possible.

  • Give only the information needed to identify a source. Usually the author’s last name and a page reference suffice.
  • Place the parenthetical reference as close as possible its source. Insert the parenthetical reference where a pause would naturally occur, preferably at the end of a sentence.
  • Information in the parenthesis should complement, not repeat, information given in the text. If you include an author’s name in a sentence, you do not need to repeat it in your parenthetical statement.
  • The parenthetical reference should precede the punctuation mark that concludes the sentence, clause, or phrase that contains the cited material.
  • Electronic and online sources are cited just like print resources in parenthetical references. If an online source lacks page numbers, omit numbers from the parenthetical references. If an online source includes fixed page numbers or section numbering, such as numbering of paragraphs, cite the relevant numbers.

Cf.  MLA Citation Style (Cornell University Library,, 10 July 2012).

Details can be found at:

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 Chicago Documentation Style

The Chicago Manual of Style presents two basic documentation systems: (1) notes and bibliography and (2) author-date. Choosing between the two often depends on subject matter and the nature of sources cited, as each system is favored by different groups of scholars.

The notes and bibliography style is preferred by many in the humanities, including those in literature, history, and the arts. This style presents bibliographic information in notes and, often, a bibliography. It accommodates a variety of sources, including esoteric ones less appropriate to the author-date system.

The author-date system has long been used by those in the physical, natural, and social sciences. In this system, sources are briefly cited in the text, usually in parentheses, by author’s last name and date of publication. The short citations are amplified in a list of references, where full bibliographic information is provided.

Cf. The Chicago Manual of Style Online (, 10 July 2012)

Details can be found at:

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