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When you cite information found in a linguistics corpus—that is, a collection of texts used for linguistic analysis—follow the MLA format template. Usually the Web site associated with a corpus will give you the information necessary to construct a citation. For example, if you wanted to cite The Corpus of Contemporary American English, an online corpus compiled by Mark Davies, you might consult the page containing frequently asked questions, which has citation information for all the corpora he has compiled. The following provides an example of an in-text citation and a works-cited-list entry:
From The Corpus of Contemporary American English, which gathers usage information on American English from 1990 to 2017, we can determine that the word Anthropocene has a relatively recent origin, first appearing in 2005 (Davies).
Davies, Mark. The Corpus of Contemporary American English. 2008, www.english-corpora.org/coca/.
Whenever you cite a work that has appeared in more than one version, you should cite the version you’ve consulted. Thus, if you are citing an online article republished from a printed government report, provide the publication details for the online version only. As always, follow the MLA format template.
In the example below, for the online version of an article originally published in the print publication Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report and republished on the Web site MMWR Weekly, the entry begins with the title of the article, followed by the name of the Web site and its publisher, the date the article was posted online, and the URL:
“Outbreak of West Nile-Like Viral Encephalitis — New York, 1999.” MMWR Weekly, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 30 Sept. 1999, www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm4838a1.htm.
As always, cite the version of the work you are using.
Let’s say you wish to cite the libretto of the opera Dialogues des Carmélites, accessed as a PDF. The opera was composed by Francis Poulenc, and he adapted the libretto from a play by Georges Bernanos. The text of the libretto you are citing was translated and revised by Joseph Machlis.
To cite this source, follow the MLA format template. List Poulenc as the author and follow his name with the labels “composer” and “librettist.” Then list the name of the libretto, in whatever form it is given. In this case, though the opera is called Dialogues des Carmélites, the libretto is titled The Carmelites, so that is the title you should list in your entry. In the Contributor element, list Joseph Machlis as the translator and reviser. Then list the publication details given in the text, followed by the URL for the PDF:
Poulenc, Francis, composer and librettist. The Carmelites. Translated and revised by Joseph Machlis, Peter Moores Foundation, 30 July 2006, www.chandos.net/chanimages/Booklets/CH3134.pdf.
Note that Bernanos’s name does not appear in the entry. This entry is for the libretto, not for the play from which the libretto was derived. Since citations in MLA style avoid providing publication history, the works-cited-list entry provides information only for the source cited, not for an earlier version of the work.
A thread is a series of separately written but related tweets that are given a single URL. If you’re discussing the thread as a whole (rather than simply quoting an individual tweet in the thread), treat the thread as a collaborative work. As always, follow the MLA format template.
Follow the guidelines in the MLA Handbook: list the Twitter handles of the original tweet’s author and of any participants in the thread. Include real names, if known, in parentheses. If more than two people are involved, use “et al.”
@poniewozik (James Poniewozik) et al. “I’ve joked that ‘TV critic’ and ‘Netflix critic’ should maybe become separate jobs, but maybe it’s not a joke?” Twitter, 2 Mar. 2018, twitter.com/poniewozik/status/
Title of Source
Tweets lack formal titles. Most tweets begin with text and can be treated much like untitled poems, where the first line stands in for the title. Some tweets are composed only of images; as for any work in MLA style that lacks a title, you should thus substitute a description.
For Twitter threads, use the initial tweet in the thread as the basis for your title or description. Keep these three methods in mind as you determine what to list in the “Title of source” slot for a Twitter thread:
Short Tweets with Text
For a tweet under 140 characters, the MLA Handbook recommends listing the full text of the tweet as the title, as in the example above.
Long Tweets with Text
You can also truncate the titles of tweets—especially those that have over 140 characters or that include emojis—by using an ellipsis at the end:
@ClintSmithIII (Clint Smith) et al. “Today is Frederick Douglass’ 200th Birthday. . . .” Twitter, 14 Feb. 2018, twitter.com/ClintSmithIII/status/
Tweets with No Text
For a tweet composed exclusively of images or video, describe the tweet in your own words:
@pronounced_ing (Celeste Ng) et al. Photo of letter from Shirley Jackson. Twitter, 22 Jan. 2018, twitter.com/pronounced_ing/status/
Title of Container, Date, and Location
When you are citing a thread, list Twitter as the title of the container, the date of the thread (or a date range if the thread continues over more than one day), and the URL:
@colsonwhitehead (Colson Whitehead) et al. “Do I have to google the meaning of ‘neo-liberal,’ like I did ‘Ed Hardy’ and ‘One Direction,’ or can I just wait it out?” Twitter, 18 Dec. 2017, twitter.com/colsonwhitehead/
As always, key your in-text citation to the first element of your works-cited-list entry:
Responses to Colson Whitehead’s snark-laden tweet on the term neoliberal were, by turns, funny, informational, dismissive of the term, and insistent on the term’s importance (@colsonwhitehead et al.).
If you are citing multiple works by the same author from a collection that includes contributions by other authors, create a works-cited-list entry for each work you are citing:
Milton, John. Areopagitica. The Norton Anthology of English Literature, edited by E. Talbot Donaldson et al., 4th ed., vol. 1, W. W. Norton, 1979, pp. 1399-1409.
---. Samson Agonistes. The Norton Anthology of English Literature, edited by E. Talbot Donaldson et al., 4th ed., vol. 1, W. W. Norton, 1979, pp. 1540-83.
You may also provide a main entry for the collection and create cross-references to it:
Donaldson, E. Talbot, et al., editors. The Norton Anthology of English Literature, 4th ed., vol. 1, W. W. Norton, 1979.
Milton, John. Areopagitica. Donaldson et al., pp. 1399-1409.
---. Samson Agonistes. Donaldson et al., pp. 1540-83.
If you are citing multiple works by the same author and using a single collection of that author’s works—edited or not—then you may generally cite the collection as a whole in your works-cited list and refer to the individual works in your text:
Whereas in Areopagitica Milton praises those who would “advance the publick good” by publishing their thoughts (997), in Samson Agonistes he constructs a much more complicated portrait of a man whose worthy actions proceed from “intimate impulse” unknown to others (line 223).
Milton, John. The Riverside Milton. Edited by Roy Flanagan, Houghton Mifflin, 1998.
If, however, you cite just one work from the collection, you could create an entry for it in your works-cited list:
Milton’s Areopagitica is an eloquent plea for citizens to join in a common cause to “unite those dissever’d peeces which are yet wanting to the body of Truth” (1018).
Milton, John. Areopagitica. The Riverside Milton, edited by Roy Flanagan, Houghton Mifflin, 1998, pp. 987-1024.
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:
Dickinson, Emily. “Safe in their Alabaster Chambers—.” 1859. Poetry: An Introduction, edited by Michael Meyer, 2nd ed., Bedford Books, 1998, p. 261.
---. “Safe in their Alabaster Chambers—.” 1861. Poetry: An Introduction, edited by Michael Meyer, 2nd ed., Bedford Books, 1998, p. 262.
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.
No. In MLA style, italics in a quotation are assumed to be in the original unless otherwise indicated. See the MLA Handbook for more details on quoting sources exactly (75) and on italics added for emphasis (86).
MLA Handbook. 8th ed., Modern Language Association of America, 2016.
No. If the app is the work, as in the following examples, you do not need to indicate in your works-cited-list entry that you are citing an app:
Shakespeare, William. The Tragedy of Othello. Edited by Barbara Mowat and Paul Werstine, version 1.3.1, Luminary Digital Media, 2013.
Laudate. Version 2.36, Aycka Soft, 28 Feb. 2018.
There is also no need to indicate that you are citing an app if the app is simply the platform through which you accessed the work. For instance, if you watched the movie The Crown using the Netflix app, you could cite the work as follows:
The Crown. Left Bank Pictures / Sony Pictures Television Production UK, 2016.
If, however, the work exists in another medium and you know that the app version differs, you should indicate that you are citing an app. As explained in a previous post, an app is a version according to the MLA format template. Thus, if you know that the version of The Crown watched through the Netflix app differs from the version shown in theaters, list “Netflix app” in the “Version” slot:
The Crown. Netflix app, Left Bank Pictures / Sony Pictures Television Production UK, 2016.
Yes. Databases house digital copies of works and supply the publication information for the version of those works that have been digitized, usually in PDF or HTML. They generally are not considered a republished version of the work, and so it is insufficient to provide information only about the database version. Thus when you cite the HTML version of a print article from a database, provide the original publication information that the database supplies—including the page range, if given—in the first container of your works-cited-list entry. Then list the name of the database and the URL in the second container.
The following example shows a quotation from an HTML version of an article by James G. Frycek contained in the database Academic OneFile. The publication information supplied by the database includes the page range for the original print article, so the page range is given in the “Location” slot in the entry’s first container. But since the version quoted has no page numbers, no page number is given in the in-text citation:
James G. Frycek and colleagues argue that “[o]xygen delivery is an important factor in promoting the proliferation and growth of aerobic microorganisms when biologically degrading chemical contaminants such as petroleum hydrocarbons.”
Frycek, James G., et al. “Aerobic Bioremediation: Progresses to the Next Level.” Pollution Engineering, vol. 36, no. 6, June 2004, pp. 16+. Academic OneFile, link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/A118494258/AONE?u=nysl_li_jhsch&sid=
Read more on citing sources with no page numbers.
To cite the cover of a magazine, you can generally create a works-cited-list entry for the issue of the magazine and then key your in-text reference to the first element of the entry:
The most recent issue of The Nation features on its cover an image of a donkey with the top of the Capitol building on its back.
The Nation. 17-24 Dec. 2018, www.thenation.com/issue/december-17-24-2018-issue/.
If you discuss a cover image in detail and wish to credit the artist, you could provide the artist’s full name at first mention in your prose or the artist’s last name in parentheses and list the entry under the artist’s name.
The most recent issue of The Nation features on its cover an image, created by Doug Chayka, of a donkey with the top of the Capitol building on its back.
Chakya, Doug. Cover image. The Nation, 17-24 Dec. 2018, www.thenation.com/issue/december-17-24-2018-issue/.
The most recent issue of The Nation features on its cover an image of a donkey with the top of the Capitol building on its back (Chayka).
Chakya, Doug. Cover image. The Nation, 17-24 Dec. 2018, www.thenation.com/issue/december-17-24-2018-issue/.
Note that in the above example, since the cover image lacks a title, a description is provided in the “Title of source” slot.
The eighth edition of the MLA Handbook aims to make the style accessible to all instead of creating an insider’s code. Thus, it eliminates some of the abbreviations used in the seventh edition for works-cited-list entries but introduces commonly recognized ones, such as vol., no., p. and pp., where their use might be helpful to readers.
You should follow the edition you are using when you construct your citations. Some editions make the epilogue part of the last act of the play. Other editions make the epilogue its own section and give it separate line numbers. If the epilogue is presented as an extension of the last act, cite it as if you were citing the last act; if necessary, you can make it clear in your prose that you are quoting the epilogue. If the epilogue is presented as a separate section, your in-text citation should specify that you are quoting from the epilogue and should provide the line numbers of the quotation. The citations given below provide examples of both versions of epilogues.
Whereas Prospero has relied on magic to create his dramatic illusions throughout The Tempest, in the epilogue he casts the audience in the role of enchanter: “Let me not,” he says, “dwell / In this bare island by your spell” (5.1.323, 325–26).
At the end of Henry V, the chorus alludes to Henry VI, under whose reign the victories of his father will be undone and England will be thrown into civil war: “Whose state so many had the managing / That they lost France and made his England bleed” (Epilogue, lines 11–12).
Shakespeare, William. Henry V. Edited by Gary Taylor, Oxford UP, 1982. Oxford Scholarly Editions Online, doi:10.1093/actrade/9780198129127.book.1.
———. The Tempest. Edited by Stephen Orgel, Oxford UP, 1987. Oxford Scholarly Editions Online, doi:10.1093/actrade/9780198129172.book.1.
In general, the page numbers should be cited. Line numbers, if provided, are most helpful to readers for citations of “commonly studied poems and verse plays,” since the numbers can be used to locate text easily in various editions (MLA Handbook 121). Since short fiction is rarely published with line numbers, including them in the citation won’t benefit readers of other editions.
Instructors who prefer to have students cite the line numbers for pedagogical reasons should feel free to do so, while acknowledging the scholarly convention.
MLA Handbook. 8th ed., Modern Language Association of America, 2016.
Form the plural of family names ending in s by adding es. For example, below are the plural forms of the names Myers, Daniels, Forlines, and Collins:
Form the plural possessive of these names by adding an apostrophe after the final s:
the Myerses’ house
the Danielses’ cat
the Forlineses’ car
the Collinses’ boat
Read more about apostrophes.