Hege Library & Learning Technologies

Guilford College Writing Manual

This is the official Guilford College Writing Manual. A collaboration between the English Department and the Hege Library.

Documenting Your Sources

You are likely to encounter different styles of documentation from class to class. One teacher may require footnotes; another, endnotes. An English professor will ask for a list of "Works Cited" while a psychology professor will ask for a list of "References." Even the punctuation of the "Works Cited" and "Reference" lists will vary, as will that of the citations within the texts.

The reason for the variance is that each documentation style meets a different set of needs, and the needs vary from discipline to discipline.

Two styles you will encounter frequently at Guilford are the MLA (for Modern Language Association), generally used in the humanities, and the APA (for American Psychological Association), often used in the social and behavioral sciences.

Just to illustrate the differences, here is the same book being quoted and then end-listed in each of the two styles. Note how the APA style places greater emphasis on the date of a source's publication:

MLA style:

quotation with citation: "If scientific knowledge is at least as important as any other knowledge, then it must be communicated effectively, clearly, in words of certain meaning" (Day 5).

on Works Cited page:

Day, Robert A. How to Write and Publish a Scientific Paper. 5th ed. Phoenix: Oryx, 1998.

APA style:

quotation with citation: "If scientific knowledge is at least as important as any other knowledge, then it must be communicated effectively, clearly, in words of certain meaning" (Day, 1998, p. 5).

on References page:

Day, R. (1998) How to write and publish a scientific paper (5th ed.). Phoenix: Oryx.

You can find guidelines for the MLA and APA styles in the college handbook. This book also contains instructions for two other popular styles, the Chicago Style and the CBE (Council of Biology Editors) style.

Complete guidelines for MLA and APA styles appear, respectively, in the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers. 6th ed. New York: MLA, 2003, and

the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association. 5th ed. Washington, DC: APA, 2001.

When in doubt as to which style or manual to use . . . consult your instructor.

Documenting Electronic Sources

You can find information on how to document electronic sources in the college handbook.

Here is a basic guide to MLA style:

MLA: A Quick Guide

MLA (Modern Languages Association) style is the most used documentation style in the humanities.

For paper-writing purposes, it chiefly includes two main zones of activity:

1) In-text citations

2) Works Cited page

Note: one thing it does not include is footnotes. In 1985, MLA style eliminated footnotes as well as the old Latin abbreviations such as ibid. and op. cit. The new style is much simpler. Now, the bibliographic material that used to go in footnotes at the bottom of the page is more economically inserted into the body of your text (examples below).

It is still possible to use explanatory notes if you wish, but these should be put in endnotes, and listed on a page titled “Notes” at the end of your paper, just before the Works Cited page. See the MLA Handbook or a standard college handbook for information and examples. It is possible that another instructor will request footnotes. If so, use footnotes.

The goal of MLA style is to give the reader the information that s/he needs to research your topic further.

1) In-text citations

Each time that you cite an external source, either by quoting or paraphrasing, you should provide documentation (note: you do not need to cite easily accessible facts). Documenting means placing after the quote or paraphrase, usually at the end of the sentence, a parenthetical reference that includes the last name of the source and the page number of the citation. A couple of exceptions:

  • if you have already given the author’s name in introducing the quote or paraphrase, you only need to put the page number in parentheses. No need to repeat the information.
  • if you have already given the author’s name and the source’s name and the source is not paginated (if, for example, it is an electronic source with no page numbers), you do not need to put anything in parentheses at all.
  • if the work is anonymous, you should put the first word or two of the source’s title where you would otherwise put a name. The important thing is that what you put in parentheses should correspond to the first word or words of the relevant entry on the Works Cited page. If the item has an author, the first word of the Works Cited entry will be the author’s last name. If there is no author, the first word(s) will be the title of the source.

Examples of in-text documentation:

Citing both author and page number (book):

      The Art of Watching Films says, “Color has probably been used most often to signal

important changes” (Boggs 233).

            Note that there is no punctuation between author and page number.

Citing an anonymous online article with no page numbers

            Over thirty percent of the population lives in the poverty that the Camago family   exemplifies (“Brazil Economy”).

            On the Works Cited page, this entry would begin with “Brazil Economy,” followed by the source and the rest of the required bibliographic information.

Citing only the page number because you are including the author’s name in introducing the quote:

            According to Louis Giannetti, “The use of filters intensifies given qualities and suppresses others” (30).

Not putting anything in parentheses because you have already provided the author’s name and the online source name and the source is not paginated:

            The remake, according to the Village Voice’s Michael Atkinson, suggests a metaphoric

agenda as well: “Texas is the dark heart of Bush Country, a self-expanding territory where business eats the young, death rows teem with the helpless, and Christ-righteous gun law rules from Waco to Tikrit.”

IMPORTANT: Do not put quotations alone in sentences, as in the incorrect example that follows. These are called “orphan quotes.”Always introduce the quote or follow it with your commentary within the same sentence.

            INCORRECT: “A particular  self-image of Brazil . . . is a nation that does not like itself, with an inferiority complex . . . that spits at its own image” (Oricchio).

            CORRECT:   Luis Zanin Oricchio, a leading film critic in Brazil, explains, “A particular  self-image of Brazil . . . is a nation that does not like itself, with an inferiority complex . . . that spits at its own image.”

2) Works Cited page

The goal is to list all of the sources that you have actually cited in the paper. Note:

  • Do not include works that you consulted, even if they were helpful, unless you actually cite them in the paper with internal documentation.
  • Be sure to alphabetize the entries, putting them in order according to the first letters of the first words, whether they be authors’ last names or titles of anonymous sources.
  • Center the heading “Works Cited” (without the quotation marks) at the top of the page. Do not bold or underline it or put the words in a larger type.
  • Double-space the entries
  • Indent the second and any additional lines of all entries.

The key thing is to provide the correct information, in the right order, and using the right format. The MLA Handbook and other such guides provide lists of the many different possible types of entries. Use as models those or sample Works Cited pages given by your instructor.

Here are some sample Works Cited entries:

a book

Campbell, Joseph. The Hero With a Thousand Faces. 2nd ed. Princeton: Princeton UP,   



a book by two authors

Boggs, Joseph M., and Dennis W. Petrie. The Art of Watching Films. 7th ed. Boston,

            Mass.: McGraw-Hill, 2008.

an article in a scholarly journal (print)

Ohnuki-Tierney, Emiko. “The Ambivalent Self of the Contemporary Japanese.”

            Cultural Anthropology 5 (1990). 197-216.

an essay in a print anthology

Wood, Robin. "An Introduction to the American Horror Film." American Nightmare:

            Essays on the Horror Film. Ed. Andrew Britton, Richard Lippe, Tony Williams,

           and Robin Wood. Toronto: Festival of Festivals, 1979. 7-28. .

an online film review

Ebert, Roger. “Touch of Evil.” Rev. of Touch of Evil, dir. Orson Welles. rogerebert.com.          

            13 September 1998. 27 May 2009 <http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.           


Note that there are two dates. The first is the date that the review was posted, the second the date that the writer accessed it. Sometimes the first date will not be available. In that case, simply put the date of access.

a film DVD

Blade Runner. Dir. Ridley Scott. With Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, Sean Young, and           

            Edward James Olmos. Warner Brothers, 2007

an online article

Mapes, Marty. “Nir Bergman: Director Talks About Seeing and Making Movies in   


            Israel.” Movie Habit. 10 March 2003. 26 June 2007 <www.moviehabit.com                    

            essays/ bergman04.shtml.>.

an anonymous online article

“Brazil Economy” CIA-The World Fact Book. 19 June 2007. 7 July 2007 <https://www.



For the many other entry possibilities, see the MLA Handbook (multiple copies are available for checkout in the Learning Commons) or a standard-size college English handbook. You can also improvise in some cases as long as you follow the entry-structure logic displayed in the samples above.