Imagine that you just had a fantastic meal at a new restaurant opened by a renowned chef. You tell your friends all about it, raving about the chef’s brilliance (he studied in France, you guys), and the atmosphere (you should see the chandelier in the foyer!), and the amazing food (those sauces, though!) …but you don’t tell them the name of the restaurant, the location, or the name of the chef.
Writing a research paper without providing appropriate citations is pretty similar, actually. Just as directions or an address would help your friends find the restaurant so that they can check it out, citations help your readers find the sources you consulted so that they can read them, too.
But citations serve one more important purpose, and that’s giving credit where credit is due. When you borrow an idea from someone else, you should always provide an appropriate citation to show that the idea is not your own.
There are lots of ways to cite sources, and how you handle it depends on your discipline — not your behavior, but your field of study. If you’re reading this post, your instructor has probably asked you to use the MLA citation format, and my crystal ball says that you’re probably writing a paper for English class — a literary analysis essay, perhaps? — or an essay for another course in the humanities.
Okay, okay, so I don’t have a crystal ball. But I do know that MLA, which stands for Modern Language Association, is the preferred citation format for papers related to language, literature, and related disciplines.
If you’ve never written MLA citations before, you’re probably feeling a little lost. Never fear! Like anything new, MLA citation format can be intimidating until you understand the system.
That’s why I’ve created this handy infographic to help you learn not only why MLA citation format matters, but also how to create MLA citations and where to put them. Best of all, it helps you knock out both parts of the citation — the Works Cited entry and the in-text citation — in just 4 quick steps.
Are you feeling ex-cited about MLA citation format? Well, probably not. But if you’re excited to cite your sources quickly and correctly so that you can get that paper off your plate and go hang out with your friends, then read on!