Documenting Scholarly Essays and Books

A research paper must always acknowledge borrowed quotations, paraphrases, facts, and ideas. Such acknowledgments are common practice in all scholarly discourse. For example, if you mention in your paper that the richest 1% of U.S. households own half the country, you must cite the book, article, speech, or other source from which this information has been taken. There are at least three reasons for citing sources:

·        If your readers are interested in studying this subject, they can use your references as a starting point.

·        If they doubt your facts or interpretations, they can look them up.

·        If they suspect that you plagiarized (used somebody else's words as if they were yours or claimed someone else’s ideas as your own), they can find you out.

You may be able to help your readers by adopting a uniform style of citing sources. There are several such styles, all equally valid and all equally arbitrary, but Wayne State’s Interdisciplinary Studies Program (ISP) often follows the style recommended by the Modern Language Association of America (the MLA style). For example, examine the following excerpt from a professional article:

By 1992 the global shield had lost 5% of its ozone. By then, the world's nations agreed to advance the virtual phaseout date (1996 for rich countries, 2006 for poor) and to replace CFCs with somewhat less destructive materials (Asimov and Pohl 129-133).

Here the author makes the statement that somewhat less destructive materials could replace CFCs. The source of this information is pages 129 through 133 in a work written by Asimov and Pohl. To find more details about this work, we go to the end of the essay from which this excerpt had been taken, where we find a "Works Cited" section. The surnames of the first authors are arranged alphabetically, so we look under "Asimov" and find the entry:

Asimov, Isaac, and Frederick Pohl. Our Angry Earth. New York: Doherty, 1991.

The first author's surname is Asimov and the second's is Pohl. Their first names are Isaac and Frederick. The book from which the cited information has been taken is Our Angry Earth. It was published in the city of New York, by the publisher Doherty, in the year 1991.  The MLA style is fairly rigid, supposedly with the goal of making the reader's life a bit easier.  Thus, for the first author, last name is given first; for subsequent authors, last name is given last. 

Note that the names of books, journals, and newspapers are italicized. If you don't have a printer with an italic font, you should instead underline the book's title, as follows:

Asimov, Isaac, and Frederick Pohl. Our Angry Earth. New York: Doherty, 1991.

So far, we’ve only touched book citations. You will need to cite other sources as well. Here are a few of the most common cases (taken from 


Works Cited


Hennessy, Margot C. "Listening to the Secret Mother: Reading J.E.Wideman's Brothers and Keepers." American Women's Autobiography: Fea(s)ts of Memory. Ed. Margo Culley. Madison, WI: U. Wisconsin Press, 1992. 302-314.

In-text Citation


Wideman, like the woman autobiographer, has to investigate the silences of culture in order to inscribe the story of his people (Hennessy 306).

Scholarly Journal Article

Works Cited


Christie, John S. "Fathers and Virgins: Garcia Marquez's Faulknerian Chronicle of a Death Foretold." Latin American Literary Review 13.3 (1993): 21-29.

In-text Citation


The combination of these large patterns of similarity is particularly useful in examining Chronicle of a Death Foretold since both writers break down narrative authority through innovative use of multiple perspectives (Christie 22).

 This is all you need to know for this class. . To be sure, this doesn’t cover all contingencies, so if unsure, follow a sensible format which is more or less consistent with the above.  Alternatively, you may identify the relevant format in each particular case by consulting Prof. Darling’s examples (see below).

SAMPLE PAGE: Works Cited

Anderson, J. "Keats in Harlem." New Republic 204.14 (8 Apr. 1991):

n. pag. Online. EBSCO. 29 Dec. 1996.

Angier, Natalie. "Chemists Learn Why Vegetables are Good for You." New

York Times 13 Apr. 1993, late ed.: C1. New York Times Ondisc. CD-ROM.

UMI-Proquest. Oct. 1993.

Anzaldua, Gloria. Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza. San Francisco:

Spinsters/ Aunt Lute, 1987.

Astin, Alexander W. Achieving Educational Excellence. Washington:

Jossey-Bass, 1985.

Burka, Lauren P. "A Hypertext History of Multi-User Dimensions." MUD History.

URL: (5 Dec. 1994).

Christie, John S. "Fathers and Virgins: Garcia Marquez's Faulknerian Chronicle

of a Death Foretold." Latin American Literary Review 13.3 (Fall 1993): 21-29.

Creation vs. Evolution: "Battle of the Classroom." Videocassette. Dir. Ryall

Wilson, PBS Video, 1982. (MLA) 58 min.

Darling, Charles. "The Decadence: The 1890s." Humanities Division Lecture Series.

Capital Community-Technical College, Hartford. 12 Sept. 1996.

Feinberg, Joe. "Freedom and Behavior Control." Encyclopedia of Bio-ethics,

I, 93-101. (MLA) New York: Free Press, 1992.

Hennessy, Margot C. "Listening to the Secret Mother: Reading J.E. Wideman's

Brothers and Keepers." American Women's Autobiography: Fea(s)ts

of Memory. Ed. Margo Culley. Madison, WI: U. Wisconsin Press, 1992.


Jones, V.S., M.E. Eakle, and C.W. Foerster. A History of Newspapers. Cambridge,

Eng.: Cambridge UP, 1987.

Metheny, N.M., and W. D. Snively. Nurses' Handbook of Fluid Balance.

Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1967.

"Money." Compton's Precyclopedia. 1977 ed., X, 80-91.

Mumford, Lewis. The Highway and the City. New York: Harcourt Brace

and World, 1963.

- - -. Highways Around the World. New York: Prentice, 1967.

Orchestra. CD-ROM. Burbank: Warner New Media. 1992.

Pepin, Ronald E. Literature of Satire in the Twelfth Century. Lewiston:

Edwin Mellen Press, 1988.

Pikarsky, M. and Christensen, D. Urban Transportation Policy and

Management. Boston: D.C. Heath, 1976.

"The Political Problems of Arms-Treaty Verification." Technology Review

May/June 1986: 34-47.

Redford, Robert. Personal Interview. 24 Sept. 1996.

Schneider, Pamela. Interview. Seniors: What Keeps Us Going. With Linda

Storrow. Natl. Public Radio. WNYC. New York. 11 July 1988.

Seabrook, Richard H. C. "Community and Progress." cybermind@jefferson.village. (22 Jan. 1994).

Shaw, Webb. "Professionals are Required to Report Abuse." Akron (Ohio)

Beacon Journal, Nov. 11, 1984 (Located in NewsBank [Microform].

Welfare and Social Problems, 1984, 51: D12-14, fiche).

Sixty Minutes. CBS. WFSB, Hartford. 3 May 1991.

U.S. Dept. of Commerce. U.S. Industrial Outlook. Washington, D.C.,

Government Printing Office, 1990.

"U.S. troops capture chief aide to warlord." The Hartford Courant 22 Sept.

1993: A5.

"What's a Hoatzin?" Newsweek 27 Sept. 1993: 72.

Williams, Larry. "Powerful Urban Drama Builds in Bell's Tense 'Ten Indians'."

Rev. of Ten Indians, by Madison Smartt Bell. Hartford Courant

1 Dec. 1996: G3.


The whole thing, let me make it clear, is a good idea carried too far.  The reader cares for one thing only:  being able to effortlessly find the reference in question, wherever it may be.  The reader knows not the MLA or APA style, in most cases, and couldn't care less.  Nowadays, one doesn't need to know where a book was published, yet over and over academic writers are being forced by editors of scholarly journals to add that information to their essays.  One does not need to know the name of the publisher--this is in fact thinly disguised advertising.  The date is important, but the reader can recognize the date wherever it may appear.  So don't spend too much time on this aspect of your essay. 

But, if you are a perfectionist, and wish to follow the High Priesthood’s injunctions for any citing contingency under the sun, you have two options. First, if you have more money than you can use, please feel free to spend $25 on Joseph Gibaldi’s MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing, 2nd edition. A bit less comprehensive source, but adequate and free, is Prof. Charles Darling’s useful and elegantly organized site (from which some of the material above has been taken):

William Hogarth: Scholars Listening to a Lecture

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