The English Critical Essay
4.1 General. All sourcesóprimary texts and secondary reference materialómust be acknowledged. Not to do so is to risk plagiarism and its serious consequences. Keep accurate notes when doing research so that you can easily separate your ideas from those of others. Summaries and paraphrases, as well as direct quotations, must be acknowledged as such.
4.2 Titles. Underline or italicize titles of books, periodicals (newspapers, magazines, journals), long works (plays, long poems in book form), films, television shows, audio media (radio programs, compact discs, etc.), musical pieces, and visual arts. Titles of short stories, articles, individual poems, book chapters, single episodes from radio or television, songs, and lectures, however, should only be enclosed in quotation marks.
4.3 Quotation. Quotations within your essay from any source must be introduced in such a way that both the logic and the grammar of your introducing sentence remain clear. Use a colon before most quotations. Enclose any additions to the quotation made by you in square brackets. Punctuation always follows all parentheses except in long block quotations. Indicate any omissions from the quotation with three ellipsis points (three periods with spaces between). When the ellipsis coincides with the end of your own sentence, use a fourth period. Use single quotation marks ('xxx') only for a quotation within a quotation. Only periods and commas are placed within quotation marks; all other punctuation goes outside them.
Verse quotations of up to three lines may be placed in the text within quotation marks, with the line divisions marked by a slash ( / ), and followed by the line numbers in parentheses. Longer quotations should be separated from the text and indented, but with no quotation marks unless they exist in the original. For indented quotations, indicate the line number(s) in parentheses after the terminal punctuation of the last quoted line.
Prose quotations of less than four lines should be incorporated as part of the text and placed within quotation marks. Longer ones should be double-spaced and set off as a block from the text by indenting. Do not use quotation marks unless they appear in the original. Indicate the author and page number(s) of quoted material in parentheses after the terminal punctuation of the last quoted line.
4.4 In-Text Citation. Use parenthetical citations in the text of the essay to credit sources. This is the format of the 6th edition of the MLA Handbook (2003). In general, place parentheses at the end of the sentence containing the material quoted or paraphrased. Include the authorís last name, a space, and the page number of the citation, like this: (Baker 50). Never use abbreviations like "pg." or "pp." There is no punctuation inside the parentheses unless more than one work by the same author is cited. In this case, use a comma and a shortened form of the title: (Baker, Blues 50).
4.5 Citation Style. If at the point of citation the authorís name is clear to your reader, you need only cite the page numberóthat is, (50) instead of (Baker 50). Note that parentheses go before the final period of the sentence.
When the author is not mentioned in the introducing sentence:
Nature poetry attempts to capture both physical landscapes and "maps of a state of mind" (Atwood 49).
When the author is mentioned in the introducing sentence:
According to Margaret Atwood, nature poetry allows readers to access "maps of a state of mind" (49).
4.6 Works Cited. The list of Works Cited (not Bibliography) should appear on a separate page at the end of your essay. List all sources you quoted from while preparing the paper. The title Works Cited (without quotation marks) should be centered. Entries are placed in alphabetical order according to the author's last name. Avoid numbering entries. Double space, as with the rest of the paper. Start each entry at the left margin, and indent any subsequent lines in the entry five spaces. For a single author book, give the authorís last name, first name, title of the text, place of publication, the publisher, and date of publication. Watch for changes in format for periodicals, edited works, anthology entries, anonymous texts, translations, reviews, online resources, introductions, and other print and non-print sources and documents.
Examples of Entries on a Works Cited Page:
Basic Book Format, Single Author:
Atwood, Margaret. Survival: A Thematic Guide to Canadian Literature. Toronto: Anansi, 1972.
A Book by Two or More Authors:
Ashcroft, Bill, Gareth Griffiths, and Helen Tiffin. The Empire Writes Back: Theory and Practice in Post-Colonial Literatures. London: Routledge, 1989.
A Work Compiled by an Editor:
Caruth, Cathy, ed. Trauma: Explorations in Memory. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins P, 1995.
Journal Article Paginated by Volume:
During, Simon. "Literary Subjectivity." ARIEL: A Review of International Literature 31 (2000): 33-50.
A Magazine Article (weekly publication):
Grossman, Lev. "The Quest For Cool." Time 8 Sept. 2003: 44-50.
A Work in an Anthology:
Hughes, Langston. "Harlem." The Norton Anthology of African American Literature. Ed. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and Nellie Y. McKay. New York: Norton, 1997. 1267.
FOR FURTHER REFERENCE, CONSULT: Gibaldi, Joseph. MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers. 6th ed. New York: MLA, 2003.
(c) Linda Hutcheon and Nancy Kang
Revised September 15, 2003
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