Understanding the Basics of MLA Citation Style
When citing sources in academic writing, it’s important to follow a citation style that provides consistency and clarity to your readers. MLA (Modern Language Association) is one of the most common citation styles used in the humanities and social sciences. Understanding the basics of MLA citation style is essential for properly citing sources, including websites.
In MLA style, citations are included both in-text and in a Works Cited list at the end of the paper. In-text citations typically include the author’s last name and page number(s) where the information was found. The Works Cited list provides full bibliographic information for each source cited in the paper.
MLA citation style has specific rules for citing different types of sources, including books, articles, and websites. When citing a website, it’s important to include as much information as possible, such as the author, title of the webpage, name of the website, date of publication or update, and URL. By following the basic guidelines of MLA citation style, you can accurately and effectively cite websites in your academic writing.
Finding the Necessary Information to Cite a Website
To properly cite a website in MLA format, it’s important to gather all the necessary information about the webpage. The basic information required for citing a website includes the author, title of the webpage, name of the website, date of publication or update, and URL. Here are some tips for finding this information:
Look for an author: If the webpage has an identifiable author, include their name in the citation. The author’s name is usually located at the top or bottom of the webpage or in an “About” section.
Check the title of the webpage: The title of the webpage should be at the top of the page or in the tab of your web browser. Make sure to capitalize the first letter of each major word in the title.
Identify the name of the website: The name of the website is typically located at the top or bottom of the webpage or in the URL. Make sure to capitalize the first letter of each major word in the website name.
Look for the date of publication or update: The date of publication or update can usually be found at the bottom of the webpage or in the article header.
Copy the URL: The URL of the webpage is located in the address bar at the top of your web browser. Make sure to include the full URL, starting with “http://” or “https://”.
By gathering all of the necessary information about a website, you can create a complete and accurate citation in MLA format.
Formatting In-Text Citations for Websites
In MLA style, in-text citations are used to give credit to sources within the body of the paper. When citing a website, the basic format for an in-text citation is (Author’s Last Name page number). Here’s an example:
According to Smith, “The importance of citing sources cannot be overstated” (42).
If the webpage doesn’t have an identifiable author, use the title of the webpage instead. Here’s an example:
(“Title of Webpage” page number)
Make sure to include the page number(s) where the information was found. If the webpage doesn’t have page numbers, you can use paragraph numbers (para. 1, para. 2, etc.) or section headings (sec. 1, sec. 2, etc.) to indicate the location of the information.
If you mention the author’s name in the text, you only need to include the page number(s) in the in-text citation. Here’s an example:
Smith argues that “The importance of citing sources cannot be overstated” (42).
By properly formatting in-text citations for websites, you can give credit to your sources and avoid plagiarism in your academic writing.
Creating a Works Cited Entry for a Website
In MLA style, a Works Cited list is used to provide full bibliographic information for each source cited in the paper. When citing a website, the basic format for a Works Cited entry is as follows:
Author’s Last Name, First Name. “Title of Webpage.” Name of Website, Publisher or Sponsor of Website, Date of Publication or Update, URL.
Here’s an example:
Smith, John. “The Importance of Citing Sources.” The Writing Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 15 May 2021, https://writingcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/citing-sources/.
If the website doesn’t have an identifiable author, start the citation with the title of the webpage. Here’s an example:
“MLA Works Cited: Electronic Sources.” Purdue Online Writing Lab, Purdue University, 10 Oct. 2019, https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/research_and_citation/mla_style/mla_formatting_and_style_guide/mla_works_cited_electronic_sources.html.
Make sure to italicize the name of the website and use title case for the title of the webpage. Include the full URL, starting with “http://” or “https://”. If the webpage doesn’t have a date of publication or update, use the date you accessed the webpage.
By properly creating a Works Cited entry for a website, you can provide your readers with the necessary information to locate and verify your sources.
Common Mistakes to Avoid When Citing Websites in MLA Format
Citing websites in MLA format can be tricky, and there are some common mistakes that students make. Here are some of the most common mistakes to avoid:
Missing information: Make sure to gather all the necessary information about the website before creating your citation. If you’re missing information, such as the date of publication or update, try to find it using other sources or estimate the date.
Incorrect capitalization: Make sure to use title case for the title of the webpage and the name of the website. This means capitalizing the first letter of each major word.
Improper formatting: Make sure to follow the proper formatting guidelines for in-text citations and Works Cited entries. In-text citations should be in parentheses with the author’s last name and page number(s), and Works Cited entries should be in alphabetical order and include all necessary information.
Using unreliable sources: Make sure to use reliable sources for your research. Avoid citing websites that lack credibility or authority, such as personal blogs or forums.
Plagiarism: Always give credit to your sources by properly citing them in your paper. Failure to cite sources properly can result in plagiarism, which can have serious consequences in academic and professional settings.
By avoiding these common mistakes, you can create accurate and effective citations for websites in MLA format.