What is MLA?
MLA is shorthand for the documentation style developed by the Modern Language Association of America. This was the preferred citation style adopted by Lancaster Theological Seminary for all course work until the end of the 2015-2016 academic year. In short, brief references to works appear in parentheses at the end of a sentence or quote with a full citation appearing in a works cited list at the end of the document.

The definitive resource for MLA Style is the  MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, 7th edition, call number LB 2369 .G53 2009, available in Reference and circulating stacks. This handbook contains models and examples for citing numerous types of sources, as well as tips and tools for research, writing, and formatting papers.

The Online Writing Lab at Purdue University offers an MLA Formatting and Style Guide, a freely available and very helpful resource. Additional resources on MLA Style available in our collection are:
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Printable MLA Style Handout
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    Why Cite?
    Acknowledging your sources is a crucial part of creating your own work, whether you are writing a paper for class or preaching a sermon in a church. Whenever you use someone else’s words, are inspired by someone else’s ideas, or mention someone else’s work, it is important to note that in your own work. This is called citing your sources.

    When you do not cite your sources at all, or cite your sources incorrectly, it is called plagiarism. Plagiarism is a violation of academic integrity that could result in admonishment, suspension, or dismissal from the seminary. In a professional setting, plagiarism is an act of fraud and is legally actionable as such.

    To learn more about plagiarism, what it is and how to prevent it, please visit Plagiarism.org.
    What is Plagiarism?
    You are plagiarizing when you:
    • Use someone else's words and ideas without giving them credit
    • Do not put quotation marks around a direct quotation
    • Cite a source with incorrect or insufficient information
    • Claim someone else's work as your own
    • Use a photo, image, video, or music without crediting the source
    • Change someone's words to make them your own without giving credit
    • Copy material you wrote for one assignment to put into another assignment without checking with the instructors first
    • Share notes and research with another person without indicating that your work
    Preventing Plagiarism
    Effective time management and planning are the best strategies for preventing plagiarism. You are more likely to cite your sources completely and correctly if you are not rushing to complete your assignment at the last minute. 

    Paraphrasing is an important writing skill when you put someone else's words and thoughts into your own words. Visit the Purdue OWL site to brush up on your paraphrasing skills.

    If you are in any doubt about whether something should be cited, DO CITE! Your instructors would much rather see unnecessary citations than missing or incomplete citations. 

    Double check your citations with similar examples from the Purdue OWL site. Even if you have used a citation builder or citation generator provided by the source, DO double-check because even these tools can make mistakes. If a similar example is not available, ask a friend to try finding your source using the information in your citation. If someone can't find the source you've used, then your citation is incomplete. 

    Giving credit to your sources is just as important in oral works as it is in written works. Whenever you preach a sermon, give a speech, or present at a workshop, you must orally give credit to the works that inform your work. For workshops or other educational settings, provide your audience with a printed bibliography or a link to a bibliography that is posted online.
    Plagiarism Quiz
    Do you know what plagiarism is? WriteCheck offers a 10-question quiz to help you find out:

    START QUIZ
    Originality Matters: Don't Plagiarize poster by Madeline Ocampo
    Know What You Are Citing
    Before you begin, identify these things about your source:
    • Who wrote it - Be clear who actually wrote the words you are citing. This is particularly important when you are citing a work in an anthology, editor's notes on a work in an anthology, Bible verses, and annotations found in a particular edition of the Bible.
    • Who published it - Identifying publishers, and in some cases editors, is just as important as identifying the author of a work. Publishers of webpages can be tricky and may require going to an "About" page elsewhere on the website to get enough information. If a publisher is not available, use N.p. (meaning no publisher).
    • What is it - The type of source is a major factor in the format of the citation. Websites are formatted differently from books.
    • When is it - A publication date is important in citing a source correctly. Multiple editions of a source may exist, or an author may have published an article and book with the same title but in different years. Dates on websites are important to find, too. If a date is not available, use n.d. (meaning no date) in your citation. When accessing online content, note the date you accessed it because this will be part of your citation.
    • Where is it - Where a source is located and how it is accessed is also a factor in the format of the citation. MLA requires that all citations include the publication medium (e.g., Print). If you are citing a webpage, a URL is not necessary for MLA style, but you will need to give enough information about the website (title and publisher) so that the page can be found again by your reader through a search engine.
    Parenthetical Documentation
    In any kind of written work, use parenthetical references to indicate your sources. These take on the form of (Author’s Last Name Page #). The reference does not contain a comma and always comes before the period, unless it follows a block quote. If the author’s last name is mentioned in the sentence, then only the page number is needed.
    List of Works Cited
    All sources referenced are compiled at the end of the document in a works cited list. This list is arranged alphabetically by the authors’ last names, and each entry is formatted with a hanging indent.
    Citing a Book
    Author’s Last Name, First Name. Title of Book. Place of Publication: Publisher, Year. Print.
    Citing a Journal Article
    Author’s Last Name, First Name. “Title of the article.” Journal Title Volume.Issue (Year): page-page. Print.
    Citing a Work in an Anthology
    Author's Last Name, First Name. "Title of the work." Trans. First Name Last Name. Title of the Anthology. Ed. First Name Last Name. Place of Publication: Publisher, Year. Page-Page. Print.

     Handout for Citing Anthologies pdf 
    Works by More Than One Author
    For works with two or more authors, list them in the same order as they appear on the title page. The first author’s name is listed with last name first and subsequent authors are listed with first name first. Separate the authors’ names with commas. If they are editors, include “eds.” at the end of the string of names.
    Citing a Website
    Author’s Last Name, First Name. “Title of the work.” Title of the Website. Publisher, Day Month Year of Publication. Web. Day Month Year of Access.
    Citing the Bible
    Title of the Edition. Place of Publication: Publisher, Year. Print. Version or Translation.

    In a parenthetical reference for the Bible, the first reference must include the following: (Title of the Edition, Book Chapter.Verse). If the same edition is used throughout, then subsequent references will only need (Book Chapter.Verse). A list of abbreviations for biblical books is in section 7.7.1 of the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, 7th Edition.
    Citing an Interview
    Interviewee’s Last Name, First Name. Type of Interview. Day Month Year of Interview.

    Types of interviews can be listed as “Personal interview” or “Telephone interview.”
    Purdue OWL
    One of the best resources on the Internet for MLA Formatting and Style!

    Click here for Purdue University's Online Writing Lab
     
    Citation Tip
    EBSCO includes a citation builder within all the databases they provide. Click the gold square to the right of the full-text article viewer or from the record detail screen, then scroll down to MLA style in the yellow window that appears above the record. Copy and paste this into your Works Cited list.
    Online Citation Builders
    These free sites can help you build an MLA-styled citation that you can then copy and paste into your works cited list