You cite the source you consult—not the indirect source.
Let’s say you read the following passage from an article by Eric Pfanner in The New York Times, where the author draws on information from other sources:
Simon Jackman, a Stanford University professor whose work is published by The Huffington Post, and Drew Linzer, a professor at Emory University who runs a Web site called Votamatic.com, predicted the exact number of electoral college votes that Mr. Obama received—332. . . .
The following examples paraphrase information presented by Pfanner and cite his article as the source of the information, giving more or less detail and variously citing him in prose or parenthetically:
Paraphrasing an Indirect Quotation
You can even paraphrase a quotation from a source. Consider the following passage, from the same article:
If you want to summarize what Silver says rather than quote him directly, you could write the following:
Pfanner, Eric. “The Rise of the Quants in Political Prognostication.” The New York Times, 8 Nov. 2012, rendezvous.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/11/08/the-rise-of-the-quants-in-political-prognostication/.
As explained in a previous post, to distinguish between works with the same author and title, you need to include additional information in your parenthetical citation—usually the first unique piece of information in your works-cited-list entry. This principle applies if you are citing two versions of a poem from the same anthology.
For example, the anthology Poetry: An Introduction includes two versions of Emily Dickinson’s poem “Safe in their Alabaster Chambers—,” a version published in 1859 and an unpublished version from 1861 that Dickinson sent to Thomas W. Higginson. Your works-cited-list entries would look as follows:
Distinguish between the two versions in your in-text citation by including the version information in brackets:
If it is important to your discussion, indicate in your prose or in a note that the 1861 version is an unpublished version that Dickinson sent to Higginson.
In MLA style, if each part of the name of an ethnic or national group is an independent term, no hyphen is used, regardless of whether the name appears as a noun or an adjective:
If the name includes a combining form, however, a hyphen is needed:
The book traces the history of Anglo-Americans in the United States.
When you refer to the names of headers or titled sections in a work, you may style them with or without quotation marks as long as you are consistent:
No, but you could indicate in a note that the song was originally a poem.
To distinguish between different dictionary entries for the same term, follow the principle in our previous post on distinguishing between works with the same title: provide additional details in your parenthetical citation, usually the first unique piece of information in your works-cited-list entries.
For example, in the following works-cited-list entries for emoticon, the information in the “Title of source” slot—the headword—is identical:
To distinguish between these entries in your parenthetical citation, include a short form of the title and the name of the dictionary in brackets:
Note, however, that the first unique piece of information might not be the dictionary title. The headword itself—and thus the “Title of source” element—might contain information that helps disambiguate entries. In the example below, for emoticon as the term appears in the online version of Merriam-Webster’s Unabridged, the headword spells out rather than abbreviates the part of speech:
To distinguish this entry from the above entry in Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, include the full titles in your parenthetical citation:
Many Icelandic names consist of a first name and a matronymic or patronymic, not a family name:
Björk Guðmundsdóttir (that is, Björk, Guðmund’s daughter)
Gunnar Karlsson (or Gunnar, son of Karl)
In a nonspecialist context, reverse the names in the works-cited-list entry:
Karlsson, Gunnar. The History of Iceland. U of Minnesota P, 2000.
The corresponding works-cited-list entry would thus use the matronymic or patronymic to key the in-text citation to the entry:
Another practice, followed by the Scandinavian Studies journal and suitable for book-length specialist works like those in Icelandic studies, is to begin the entry with the first name:
Gunnar Karlsson. The History of Iceland. U of Minnesota P, 2000.
Note that no comma is used between the first name and the patronymic because the elements of the name are not inverted.
The in-text reference thus uses the first name as the key to the entry:
To cite a biographical note, mention it in your prose and then include the work in your works-cited list:
According to a biographical note in Edith Wharton’s The Age of Innocence, the author “was born . . . into such wealth and privilege that her family inspired the phrase ‘keeping up with the Joneses.’”
Wharton, Edith. The Age of Innocence. Barnes and Noble Classics, 2004.
List the name of the first contributor followed by et al. in the “Author” slot. Then provide the title of the anthology and the date of publication. If the contributions are anonymous, as might be the case for an anthology of Middle English poems, begin the entry with the title.
The spelling of a title should almost never be corrected, especially by students, even when the title seems to include an error. Sometimes the “error” is intended, as for the Stephen King novel and movie Pet Sematary, or may be otherwise purposefully made, however ill advised, as for the movie Two Weeks Notice.
But sometimes an incorrect spelling appears to be the result of a typo, as for the 2011 manual published with the title The Senate Office of Education and Traiing. (The manual included information about a proofreading course and was soon republished with the missing letter n added to the title.) Another example is a New York Times article about the American Folk Art Museum originally published online with “Fork Art” in the title. (The title was eventually corrected, albeit silently):
Reproducing the error, of course, risks having your reader believe that you made it and is also likely to be distractingly pedantic (no one needs to see a mistake like Traiing repeated throughout a text). But you also don’t want to distort the record, especially for print (which version did you consult?). (Since typographical errors in online works are often quickly corrected, you can usually update the entry once the publisher does without correction or comment if you subsequently fact-check the title.)
Whether you silently correct such titles (Training), correct them using brackets for the interpolation (Trai[n]ing), or use “[sic]” (Traiing [sic]), a note explaining that the error appears in the original or that the title has been emended is needed when you first refer to the work in your prose or cite it in parentheses or notes.