The Research Process

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.

Documenting Sources by Diana Hacker

The booklet, Documenting Sources, is published as a supplement to accompany handbooks by Diana Hacker. The models in the booklet follow the guidelines set forth in the MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing (Ref PN147 .G444 2008). In the booklet you will find models for both in-text citations and works cited entries beginning on page 3 and a model research essay on pages 46–55.

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.

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).

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

Citation Generators

This ranking of bibliography and citation applications was taken directly from the Instructify website.

5. Word 2007: Number five on our list really isn’t an application at all, as it’s part of Microsoft Word 2007. While not everybody has a copy of Word 2007, the folks that do don’t even have to leave their word processor to generate a professional-looking bibliography. If you don’t use Word, check out the next four apps.

4. OttoBib: OttoBib is like Saran Wrap — its best feature is its worst. If you know a book’s ISBN number, that’s all you need for OttoBib to build a citation for you in the format you need. If you don’t, or if you’re citing something that’s not a book, you’ll need to find another application. However, OttoBib’s simplicity is useful enough for you and your students to bookmark come term-paper time.

3. EasyBib: EasyBib goes far beyond the usual assortment of sources. It lets you easily cite federal testimony, photographs, emails, patents, paintings, executive orders, and literally dozens more types of documents. Unless you’re trying to cite something scrawled on the back of a napkin at Chili’s, Easybib has you covered. It too lets you search by ISBN. EasyBib loses points, however, for only citing MLA format for free — if you’re writing in APA or Chicago style, you’ll have to pay up nine bucks per year, which isn’t a lot, but you can find other apps to cite those formats for free.

2. Citation Machine: Though you can’t search by ISBN, that’s about the only thing Citation Machine doesn’t do. Just enter basic info like the title, author, publisher, type of work, all that stuff, and Citation Machine will give you your citation in whatever format you require. It’s simple, straightforward, free, and as a bonus, its name tells you exactly what it does (something that’s always worth a few points in my book).

1. BibMe: There can be only one number one, and BibMe is it. BibMe is the easiest citation app out there, incorporating many of the best features of its competitors. It lets you search by ISBN, title, or author. You can format your citation for books, journals, newspapers, periodicals, the web, whatever you need. It has an autofill function to save time. BibMe will format your bibliography for MLA, APA, Chicago or Turabian, then export it all to Microsoft Word for easy insertion into a research paper. If there’s a better bibliography application out there, it probably does your taxes or something, too.