A Research Guide for Students by I Lee

Chapter 9. How to Write Parenthetical Documentation
in MLA Style 6th Edition

How to Write Parenthetical References in MLA Style 7th Edition
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Links to related pages:
1. How to Format a Research Paper in MLA Style, 7th ed
2. How to Format a Research Paper in MLA Style, 6th ed
3. Quoting Passages Using MLA Style, 7th ed.
4. Quoting Passages Using MLA Style, 6th ed.
5. Content Notes and Bibliographic Notes in MLA Style, 7th ed
6. How to Write Footnotes and Endnotes in MLA Style, 6th ed.
7. Footnotes and Endnotes - Examples in MLA Style, 6th ed.
8. Footnotes in MLA Style, 6th ed. - Sample Page
9. Endnotes in MLA Style, 6th ed. - Sample Page
10. How to Write Parenthetical Documentation in MLA Style, 7th ed.
11. How to Write Parenthetical Documentation in MLA Style, 6th ed.
12. Parenthetical Documentation in MLA Style, 7th ed. Sample Page
13. Parenthetical Documentation in MLA Style, 6th ed. Sample Page
14. Works Cited, References, and Bibliography: What's the Difference? MLA Style, 7th ed.
15. Works Cited, References, and Bibliography: What's the Difference? MLA Style, 6th ed.
16. Guidelines on Writing a Bibliography or Works Cited Page in MLA Style, 7th ed
17. Guidelines on Writing a Bibliography or Works Cited Page in MLA Style, 6th ed.
18. How to Write a Bibliography or Works Cited Page - Examples in MLA Style, 7th ed.
19. How to Write a Bibliography or Works Cited Page - Examples in MLA Style, 6th ed.
20. Works Cited in MLA Style, 7th ed. - Sample Page
21. Works Cited in MLA Style, 6th ed. - Sample Page
22. Research, Writing, and Style Guides (MLA, APA, Chicago/Turabian, Harvard, CGOS, CBE)


For an excellent source and greater details on how to write parenthetical references or parenthetical documentation using MLA style 6th ed., please see the official MLA Handbook 6th ed.:

MLA Handbook 6th ed.

To Parenthetical References - Sample Page



The simplest way to cite sources is to use Parenthetical references or Parenthetical documentation.

The author's last name and page number(s) are placed in parentheses in the text to give credit to sources.

For example, in your paper you write:

            In their Preface, the authors point out that "Learning Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) and Extensible Hypertext Markup Language (XHTML) is like learning any new language, computer or human" (Musciano and Kennedy xi).

In your Bibliography, or on your Works Cited page, you list:

Musciano, Chuck, and Bill Kennedy. HTML and XHTML: The Definitive Guide.
                 4th ed. Sebastopol, CA: O'Reilly, 2000.

If you cite another paragraph from the same work, or if the author or authors are clearly indicated in your text, common sense dictates that you only need to add page number(s) for the citation. For example:

            Musciano and Kennedy suggest that we should avoid breaking tags across lines in our source document whenever possible to promote readability and reduce potential errors in HTML documents (41).

If you are citing two or more articles by the same author, distinguish the articles by adding a date after the author's last name, e.g. (Roche 2008 45), (Roche 2009 62-64); or by adding the short title after the last name, e.g. (Mayberry Business Leaders 21), (Mayberry LeadersWho Changed 35-40).

If you are citing two or more authors with the same last name, add first names or initials to distinguish them, e.g. (John Smith 52), (Jane Smith 90), (M. Smith 115).

To indicate a work with more than three authors or editors, use et al. (Latin meaning "and others") e.g. (Carmichael et al. 25).

If you are quoting from a Web site, your citation for a parenthetical reference follows the same format as any regular citations for author, editor, title, etc. with one exception. Where no page reference is available on a Web page, indicate the author's last name, or the short title if no author is stated, without any page reference, e.g. (Meyer) or (Patron Saints Index). A corresponding entry must be made in your Bibliography.

To cite information obtained from the Internet, in your text you write, e.g.:

          Beginning on January 1, 2009, the Chinese table tennis coach Li Chao will begin his new job as the full-time national coach for Table Tennis Scotland. It is hoped that Li Chao will take Scotland into the top eight in the Commonwealth Table Tennis Tournaments ("Li Chao").

In your Bibliography (Works Cited), your entry for this parenthetical reference would read:

"Li Chao Named National Coach." Table Tennis News. In the Winning Zone.
            12 Jan. 2009 <http://www.inthewinningzone.com/wz/News/Table-Tennis/
            Li-Chao-Named-National-Coach/5688/>.

If your citation refers to a Web site or Web page (eBook) by four or more authors, e.g. Stephen Phillips, Laurence Binyon, Manmohan Ghose, and Arthur Shearly, entitled: Primavera: Poems by Four Authors found at <http://infomotions.com/etexts/gutenberg/dirs/1/9/1/7/19170/19170.htm>, in your essay you write:

          Manmohan Ghose was one of the poets who had his work published in Primavera: Poems by Four Authors (Phillips et al.) in 1890.

On your Works Cited (or Bibliography) page, you will list the following in alphabetical order by first word along with your other citations:

Phillips, Stephen, et al. Primavera: Poems by Four Authors. 4 Sept. 2006. Project Gutenberg.
          12 Jan. 2009 <http://infomotions.com/etexts/gutenberg/dirs/1/9/1/7/19170/19170.htm>.

Meaning of dates: Web site or Web page was created, released or last updated on September 4, 2006 by Project Gutenberg. The site or page was accessed on January 12, 2009 by you.

For further details on Internet citations, see Item #23. Internet in Chapter 12. Bibliography - Examples in MLA Style.

Unless the paragraphs or screens are clearly numbered on the Web page by the author or Webmaster (as in a PDF), paragraphs or screen numbers should not be arbitrarily assigned when citing sources.

The reason for not citing, for example, (screen 12) is that it may be quite inaccurate to indicate such a screen number for a document printed from the Internet. A screen of displayed text is not equivalent to a printed page from a book or a magazine. Unlike printed material where page numbers are clearly indicated, page and screen numbers on a Web page may vary considerably from one user to another depending on numerous variables such as the size of the monitor used, the user's choice of font size and font type, setting of pixels, printing using portrait or horizontal or landscape format, choice of paper size, user's option to suppress graphics or images, selection of number of lines per page, setting of top and bottom as well as left and right margins, the particular browser used as well as the version of the browser used, and other variables, may all have an impact on the outcome of the printout.

Unless Web pages come with electronic reference markers, such as a file in PDF, where pages are clearly numbered and cannot be altered, it may be wise not to arbitrarily assign paragraph, page or screen numbers to your citations based on your own printouts or screen views.

Instead of adding a paragraph, page or screen number to an HTML file, it may be more practical to add a meaningful section or heading in your parenthetical reference, e.g. (Phillips et al. A Lament). This may help your readers to easily locate the source of your citation regardless of what browser or font size they have chosen to use.

The Web has drastically changed many of the traditional ways to which we have become accustomed in documenting sources. Once in a while, we need to remind ourselves that common sense, logic, and consistency are the main ingredients for writing a good citation. Never lose sight of the real purpose for documenting sources, which is to communicate to the reader, in a standardized manner, the sources that you have used in sufficient detail to be identified and found.

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