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Citing and Referencing

A Guide to Citing and Referencing at Keystone Academy.


MLA style is the referencing style developed by the Modern Language Association (MLA) in the USA. It is a major style of referencing. This libguide provides information to help you cite and reference in MLA correctly.

Frequently Asked Questions About MLA

What students find new or difficult about referencing and citation in MLA style

These are some common questions that students ask about using MLA.

Where do I put the URL in an MLA format entry?

It goes before the access date of each entry on the Works Cited list (or bibliography). IB rules (EE guide, Academic Honesty document) require that a student provide a URL together with the date when the student viewed the webpage.

Is a URL sufficient citation information?

No. A good website will have at least a title and usually an author and date of publication. You also need to add the date you consulted the website.

Who and what is an author?

An author can be an individual, several people and/or an organization (a company, NGO, government department, etc.).

Is footnoting/endnoting acceptable in MLA style?

No. Footnoting/endnoting is part of the Chicago style. MLA requires in-text citation.

What does in-text citation do?

It makes a link between the words quoted or paraphrased or an idea referred to in the text of the student’s work and the Works Cited section, which comes at the end of the piece of work.

Students do not always realize that the name they use in the in-text citation must match the first name/word they use for their Works Cited entry.

What does in-text citation look like in MLA 9?

Surname of author and page number within parentheses, e.g. (Thomas 77).

The in-text citation is always in parentheses and includes the surname or family name of the author or authors and a page number. There is no need for any punctuation marks. MLA is minimalist! A date of publication is not used in MLA for in-text citation purposes.

Where do I put the in-text citation?

Place the citation at the end of the sentence in which the quote or paraphrase is used. The whole parentheses should be inside the sentence before the ending punctuation. Here is an example:

Human beings have been described as "symbol-using animals" (Turner 3).

If you are explaining someone's idea, you are probably doing that in a paragraph, so put the in-text citaiton in the final sentence at the end of the paragraph. When you check your text, ask yourself: Is it clear to a reader/examiner that this quote/paraphrase if from x source?

What if I use the quote/idea several times in the essay?

Just use the in-text citation each time you refer to the quote or idea. You can use it as many times as necessary. In the Works Cited section, you only provide one entry with the full publication source details.

How do I do an in-text citation for an interview I carried out?

Put the name of the person you interviewed in parenthesis following a quote, paraphrase or reference to the person’s opinions/answers to your questions.

Are the words in an in-text citation included in the word count?

Any words or numbers in in-text citations are not included in the word count for the essay.

Do I separate websites from books, magazines, etc., in the Works Cited section?

No, it is all one alphabetical list ordered by author’s surname or family name. For example, Jones, Simon not Simon Jones.

What if there is more than one author for a book? Do I list them all?

Not always. If a book has two authors, order the authors in the same way they are presented in the book. Start by listing the first name that appears on the book in last name, first name format. Subsequent author names appear in normal order (first name last name format). 

If there are three or more authors, list only the first author followed by the phrase et al. This is Latin and means "and others." Et al. replaces any additional author names. Please note that there is a period after "al" in "et al." Also there is never a period after the "et" in "et al."

What does an entry for an interview I carried out look like in the Works Cited page?

The order is as follows:

Surname or family name of the person interviewed. Personal interview. Date of interview. 

Here is an example:

Wang, Cynthia. Personal interview. 14 August 2013.

Punctuation is as given in the example above.

Referencing Sources Not in the Language of Submission

Referencing Sources Not in the Language of Submission

An extended essay can use sources in languages other than that of submission where appropriate. In these situations, the IB advises that the sources be used as necessary, and that: 

  1. When referred to in the body of the extended essay as a quotation, the translation is given and the original quotation is placed as a footnote.
  2. When a source is acknowledged in the bibliography, it should be referenced in its original language. Where there is no official published translation, the student should write a brief summary alongside the source in the language of submission of a) the title, b) name of the author, c) the focus of the work and d) any other relevant details. This way, the examiner can assess the relevance and suitability of the source as required. 
  3. The translation of the text should be done by the student if there is no official translation. The supervisor should help ensure as best as possible that the translation is accurate and representative of the original text. In selecting sources, the nature of the subject in question needs to be considered -- for example, in a language acquisition essay, it is vital that students work mostly with authentic materials in the target language. 

Further information about MLA style

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