The ultimate goal is to be concise and to cite what is most useful to the reader. For quotations from a poem in a print or online source, there are three common possibilities:
- If the poem is short (no longer than a page or its online equivalent), do not cite any number in the text. The page number or Web location that appears in the poem’s works-cited-list entry will be specific enough to identify a borrowing from such a short text.
- If the poem is longer than a page (or its online equivalent) and is published with explicit numbers marking lines or other parts (e.g., stanzas, cantos, books), cite the line numbers and other part numbers but not page numbers. If lines alone are numbered, use the form “line 57” or “lines 119–20” in the first citation, and cite the line numbers alone, without the label line or lines, in the later citations. If other parts are numbered as well as lines, combine the numbers without a label. For instance, if books and lines are numbered, “9.19” means book 9, line 19.
- If the poem is longer than a page and is not published with explicit numbers marking lines or other parts, cite page numbers (as you would for a work in prose) if the poem is in print. If no page numbers are present (as is often the case online), none can be cited.
No. News agencies distribute stories from a vast pool of journalists. The name of an agency is not a meaningful indicator of authorship. Moreover, local news editors may change stories that they receive from agencies, further muddying the authorship. If an article is credited only to a news agency, treat the article as anonymous and begin the entry with the article’s title.
The appropriateness of spaces before and after a dash depends on various considerations: the typeface used, the medium (print, online), and so on.
In the MLA Handbook, we show no space before and after dashes because that’s the standard format used by publishers in the United States. A student who follows that model will be sure of producing professional-looking work, at least as far as the dashes are concerned.
There is sometimes a good argument for spaces, however. In some typefaces, the dash is so short that it does not provide adequate separation by itself. The designers of such typefaces intend users to add spaces.
Online environments like e-mail and Web pages sometimes do not permit lines to break before or after dashes. In such a situation, when a long sequence like “perspective—considering” does not fit at the end of a line of text, it will be carried over to the start of the next line, leaving a hole at the end of the previous line. Typing spaces before and after dashes is a way to avoid this.
These comments refer to projects in which the decision on spacing is up to you. In a classroom, the teacher usually has the final say on the formatting of assignments.
The purpose of every parenthetical citation is to tell the reader to see a work, so the word see would almost always be redundant. See also can be useful when you want to follow a source citation with a reference to a supplementary work. For example, the citation “(Bruchac 9; see also Laurent 290)” means that Bruchac is the source of the preceding borrowed material and that Laurent—although not a direct source—offers a relevant additional discussion.
Run-in quotations and block quotations follow the same logic, although the differences in their formats call for differences in punctuation. First, let’s look at a run-in quotation:
Virginia Woolf describes the scene vividly: “Everything had come to a standstill. The throb of the motor engines sounded like a pulse irregularly drumming through an entire body” (14).
The writer’s sentence begins with “Virginia Woolf” and ends with the citation, “(14).” The citation refers to the quotation and thus belongs in the same sentence with it. A period is needed after the citation to indicate where the writer’s sentence ends. In the source work by Virginia Woolf, there is a period after “body,” but it’s omitted here because the following period makes a period after “body” redundant. Now let’s consider a block quotation:
Virginia Woolf describes the scene vividly:
Here, as above, the writer’s sentence begins with “Virginia Woolf” and ends with the citation. In the block-quotation format, however, no period after the citation is necessary: the reader knows that the writer’s thought ends at the citation because a block quotation is not normally inserted in the middle of a sentence. The period after “enquiry” is not the writer’s final period. It is Virginia Woolf’s period, found in the source work. It is retained in this format because there is no following period to make it redundant. The two examples present the same sentence (except for the contents of the quotations). But the examples have different formats, which call for different periods to be dropped.
We don’t require the use of Times New Roman or any other font. Our guidelines on formatting papers give this recommendation: “choose an easily readable typeface (e.g., Times New Roman) in which the regular type style contrasts clearly with the italic.” The abbreviation e.g. means “for example,” and so Times New Roman is just one example. Any other typeface that fits the description would be acceptable in a research paper.
No. The heading should be changed to the singular so that it matches the relevant material: Work Cited or Note.