Yes, you can leave the heading (your name, instructor’s name, the course name, and the date) off the first page of your essay if you have a cover page. However, be sure to check with your instructor about his or her preferences.
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Do I introduce an author’s full name and the full title of a work in each chapter of a book or dissertation?Answer
It depends on the focus of your work. In a dissertation on a single author or title—say, Gabriel Marcel’s Being and Having: An Existentialist Diary—it would be overkill to introduce the author and full title of the work anew in each chapter. References to the author’s last name and a shortened title are sufficient.
But if your work focuses more broadly, use judgment. For example, in a book primarily discussing a few core texts—say, Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own, E. M. Forster’s A Passage to India, and James Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man—subsequent references to Woolf’s Room, Forster’s Passage, and Joyce’s Portrait are likely sufficient, even if, for clarity, the other, ancillary primary and secondary works you discuss are reintroduced in full when first mentioned in each chapter.
In a topical work—say, on the representations of funerals in dozens of works or on poets of the beat generation—you would likely want to reintroduce authors and texts in full when first mentioned in each chapter.
Clarity for readers is the ultimate goal, but so too is avoiding trying their patience.
When a publisher’s name appears as an acronym on the title page but is spelled out on the copyright page, which do I use?Answer
Page 41 of the MLA Handbook advises writers to first look for the publisher’s name on the title page, so in your works-cited-list entry, use the form found on the title page even if it varies from the form found on the copyright page. Thus, if you find NYU Press on the title page but New York University Press on the copyright page, use NYU Press.
In its publications, the MLA generally avoids using block quotations in notes. Exceptions would be made for quotations of more than one paragraph or for other extraordinarily long quotations. However, the MLA’s system of documentation discourages lengthy discussion in the notes and aims to keep the reader’s focus on the primary text.
Read our comprehensive guidelines on using notes in MLA style.
Cite a numbered footnote or endnote in a parenthetical citation thus:
Edward Wallis, the editor, notes that the poet used this technique for the first time in “New Poem” (77n5).
When citing multiple notes from a single page, this format is suggested:
The editors of the facsimile edition call the reader’s attention to three instances of this rhetorical device (56 [nn 1, 4, 5]).
It would be unusual to cite a note in the list of works cited, and writers are encouraged to build references into the main body of their work whenever possible.
When a work is published without an author’s name, begin the works-cited-list entry with the title of the work. Do not use Anonymous in place of an author’s name:
“English Language Arts Standards.” Common Core State Standards Initiative, 2017, www.corestandards.org/ELA-Literacy/.
“An Homily against Disobedience and Wylful Rebellion.” 1570. Divine Right and Democracy: An Anthology of Political Writing in Stuart England, edited by David Wootton, Penguin Books, 1986, pp. 94–98.
For works created by a corporate author—an institution, a government body, or another kind of organization—list that entity as the author:
Hart Research Associates. It Takes More Than a Major: Employer Priorities for College Learning and Student Success. Association of American Colleges and Universities, 2013, www.aacu.org/publications-research/periodicals/it-takes-more-major-employer-priorities-college-learning-and.
An exception: if a corporate author is also the work’s publisher, list that entity as the publisher and skip the “Author” slot:
Reading at Risk: A Survey of Literary Reading in America. National Endowment for the Arts, June 2004.
Cite these works in your text by title or by corporate author—that is, by the first item in the works-cited-list entry:
The homily argues that rebelling against the English monarch amounts to rebelling against God (“Homily” 97).
Eighty percent of employers believe that all college students “should acquire broad knowledge in the liberal arts and sciences” (Hart).
Review a source carefully before deciding that it has no author. It’s important to credit authors for their work.
When you are citing an image reproduced in a book, it is usually sufficient to refer to it in your text and create a works-cited-list entry for the book as whole. In the example below, the image, printed in a book on a page with no page number, is described in prose, and the figure number is given parenthetically:
One political cartoonist working during the 1919 Paris peace talks depicted Bolshevism as an aggressive, predatory hawk, and the peace treaty as an unknowing dove (MacMillan, fig. 6).
MacMillan, Margaret. Paris 1919. Random House Trade Paperbacks, 2001.
If a page number appears, include it:
In describing the influences of Byzantine and Levantine silks on Anglo-Saxon art, C. R. Dodwell includes an image from the Bayeux Tapestry depicting two beasts eating their own tales (fig. 45, p. 169).
Dodwell, C. R. Anglo-Saxon Art: A New Perspective. Cornell UP, 1982.
Another way to cite an image from a book is to treat the image as a work contained in another work. Using the MLA format template, list any relevant information about the image supplied by your source. Then list the publication information for your source:
Velázquez, Diego. An Old Woman Cooking Eggs. The Vanishing Velázquez: A Nineteenth-Century Bookseller’s Obsession with a Lost Masterpiece, by Laura Cumming, Scribner, 2016, p. 27.
If the image is transformed, distinctively presented, or informally published, characterize the work you are citing accurately in the entry:
Cat photographed with Diego Velázquez’s Old Woman Cooking with Eggs. Cat Photobombs of Famous Art, edited by Calliope Sanderson, Meow Publishers, 2017, plate 7.
Polaroid of Diego Velázquez’s Old Woman Cooking with Eggs. Polaroid Photos in the 1980s, edited by Dan Greenleaf, North Press, 2010, p. 24.
Photo of Diego Velázquez’s Old Woman Cooking with Eggs. Smith Family Travel Photos, 2017, www.smithblog.com/eggs.
There are different traditions for formatting stage directions, even in publications of the same play. When quoting stage directions, your aim should be consistency.
It is most common to find stage directions in italics, and you should replicate them:
After Levan states that Homais “faints,” the stage directions detail what happens next: “She sinks down in a Chair, he falls at her feet” (22).
If it’s not clear from context that you are quoting stage directions, indicate this in your in-text citation:
Manly’s scene concludes on a passionate image: “She sinks down in a Chair, he falls at her feet” (22 [stage direction])
To indicate that the quoted material is a stage direction, some scholars use the abbreviation sd after the line number: (120sd). But in an essay that is not specialized in theater history, it would be better to avoid mystifying your readers with that technical detail.
Stage directions typically appear in parentheses or square brackets. When quoting stage directions and dialogue together, follow your source’s use of parentheses or square brackets if you can:
“Her salt tears fell from her, and soft’ned the stones,
Lay by these—
[Singing.] “—willow, willow”—
Prithee hie thee; he’ll come anon—
“Sing all a green willow must be my garland.
Let nobody blame him, his scorn I approve.”
But if you quote from sources with variant practices, choose one method for enclosing stage directions and be consistent.
The names of the characters in stage directions are often given in different ways—roman and all capital letters, small capitals, or a combination—but in your manuscript simply make them italic, with the rest of the stage direction:
“Enter Nurse wringing her hands, . . .”
Treat CD, DVD, online, and other digital materials that accompany a print textbook as you would any other work in MLA style: follow the MLA format template and start your entry with the author and title of the materials or a description in place of a title.
You will need to determine whether to treat the digital material as a work contained in the textbook. If, for example, you listen to a CD of songs packaged with a print textbook, treat the CD as an independent work contained in the textbook:
Lessons, Readings, and Songs to Accompany An Introduction to Old Occitan. Lessons and readings by William D. Paden, songs performed by Elizabeth Aubrey. An Introduction to Old Occitan, by Paden, Modern Language Association of America, 1998. Audio CD.
(The example above includes the performers’ names in the optional-element slot after the title and the medium of publication in the final optional-element slot at the end of the entry. Read more about the use of optional elements in MLA style.)
If the material is published on a Web site, treat the Web site as the container:
“Lessons, Readings, and Songs to Accompany An Introduction to Old Occitan.” Lessons and readings by William D. Paden, songs performed by Elizabeth Aubrey. Modern Language Association, 1998, www.mla.org/Publications/Bookstore/Supporting-Materials/Lessons-Readings-and-Songs-to-Accompany-An-Introduction-to-Old-Occitan.
If the entry does not clearly indicate that the work is a companion to the textbook, you can use the optional-element slot at the end of the entry to specify this fact:
“Lesson 1.” Read by Gloria Santiago. Online Language Lab, Language Lab Publishers, 2017, www.oll.org/spanish1. Audio lesson accompanying Spanish for the Future textbook.
How do I cite descriptive copy or a quotation from a book cover or jacket in the text and in the works-cited list?Answer
If you are citing descriptive copy or a quotation printed on the cover of a book, it’s preferable to incorporate the necessary details (chiefly, the author of the copy or quotation you are citing, if known, and the source where the copy or quotation appears) into the body of your text and then create a standard entry for the book in your works-cited list:
On the cover, the publisher calls Viet Thanh Nguyen’s The Sympathizer “a sweeping epic of love and betrayal.”
Maxine Hong Kingston, in an endorsement on the back cover of Viet Thanh Nguyen’s The Sympathizer, calls the novel “[a] magnificent feat of storytelling. A novel of literary, historical, and political importance.”
Nguyen, Viet Thanh. The Sympathizer. Grove Press, 2015.
If you do not include all the necessary details in the body of your text, the in-text citations and works-cited-list entries might appear as follows:
The publisher calls Viet Thanh Nguyen’s The Sympathizer “a sweeping epic of love and betrayal” (Cover copy).
Cover copy. The Sympathizer, by Viet Thanh Nguyen, Grove Press, 2015.
Viet Thanh Nguyen’s The Sympathizer has been called “[a] magnificent feat of storytelling. A novel of literary, historical, and political importance” (Kingston).
Kingston, Maxine Hong. Cover endorsement. The Sympathizer, by Viet Thanh Nguyen, Grove Press, 2015.
If the quotation is from a review of the work, you should ideally obtain the review and cite the publication in which it appeared in your works-cited list, but if you need to cite it from the book cover, your entry might read as follows:
Caputo, Philip. Review excerpt on book cover. The Sympathizer, by Viet Thanh Nguyen, Grove Press, 2015.