How do I cite a technical form?
Note: This post relates to content in the eighth edition of the MLA Handbook. For up-to-date guidance, see the ninth edition of the MLA Handbook.
Many forms contain standard phrases, such as “Check all that apply,” that do not require documentation. If you are quoting from such a form or mentioning it in passing, you do not need a works-cited-list entry.
For instance, the form that allows a person to sign up to receive alerts about breaking news from The New York Times contains the command “Enter your email address.” If you quote this command or refer to the form generally, you need only supply a URL in the body of your essay (www.nytimes.com/ newsletters/breakingnewsalerts).
If, however, you quote unique and specific language from a form, you should create a works-cited-list entry:
In its “Legal Intake Form,” the American Civil Liberties Union asks potential clients if their case involves “significant civil liberties or civil rights issues.”
“Legal Intake Form.” American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut, ACLU, 2017, action.aclu.org/secure/ct-legal-intake.
Similarly, a form whose bibliographic information is extensive should be handled just like any other, more typical source in a research paper. Becker Nutrition’s online intake form, for example, contains an author, a title, and a publisher, and its pages are numbered, so you should create a works-cited-list entry for it:
The nutritionist Chris Becker doesn’t just ask his prospective clients about their diet. His intake form contains some surprising questions, such as “Do you consider yourself happy?” (1).
Becker, Chris. “Nutritional Intake Form.” Becker Nutrition, www.beckernutrition.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/01/Nutritional-Intake-Form.pdf.