Unit 6 - Documentation of the Essay / Grammar Guide

6.1 Objectives .
6.2 Discussion
6.3 Summary
6.4 Lab
6.5 Exercises

6.1 Objectives

To learn to properly document an essay using the Modern Language Association (MLA) Format. To link to the wonderful Grammar Guide from Webster College


6.2 Discussion

The new MLA documenting convention takes advantage of new technologies, and is quite easy to use. No longer do we have long footnotes or endnotes that contain almost as much material as the old Bibliography entries. Instead we have only two items to master, PARENTHETICAL NOTES and a WORKS CITED list. I think the concepts are easier to understand if we first examine the WORKS CITED list. Before doing that, a brief commercial for a wonderful Grammar Guide:



At Webster College you can also find a wonderful GRAMMAR GUIDE, complete with self-administered quizzes . This site (http://grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/grammar/) will help you with everything from run-on sentences to paragraph and essay organization. Once you have arrived at the guide, select the subject matter that you need the most help with. Download the powerpoint and name it something that you can find easily. After reading the lesson and viewing the powerpoint, take the self-administered quizzes. The move to the next area that you need work in. I would suggest allocating one hour per subject. This is the BEST tool to learn grammar that I know.



is an alphabetical (by author), double-spaced list of the works you have cited to write your paper. This list, and the accompanying parenthetical notes, allow the reader to duplicate your research, or pursue material which she/he finds of interest. The exact (and Works Cited must be exact) format for the entry depends on the type of work you are quoting. Books with one author are cited differently from books with two or more authors. Pamphlets, personal interviews, sacred works are all cited differently and you must refer to a master MLA formatted list.

In HW the samples are found in the blue bordered pages--look at the side of the book; you can open right to them--from pages 590-628. The MLA Form Directory starts on p.601 and you can find the type of entry you wish to make very quickly.

See also the sample Works Cited list that starts on page 650. Notice how the second (and subsequent) lines of each entry are indented 6 spaces. This is so the author's last name will stand out, making the entries easier to find.

On the Internet, you can find an excellent on-line guide at The MLA Documenting Convention from Palomar College



Here is a comprehensive summary of the types of citations you are likely to need for most student essays. The format follows the current MLA standards for "Works Cited" lists, with TWO CAVEAT EMPTORS:

FIRST, because it is very difficult to indent in email and in html, you need not follow the normal rule for indentation which is to indent six spaces in second and subsequent lines. Again, this is so the author's last name will stand out, making the entries easier to find. I do encourage you to skip a space between WORKS CITED entries.

SECOND, because it is also difficult to underline in these two media, I have shown book-length, separately published titles, which would normally be underlined, in ALL CAPS. Follow that convention for papers submitted electronically in my course. A short story, poem, essay, or work not separately published, should appear in quotation marks, as shown.

My thanks to Dana Gioia, a great American poet, and his wife Mary, and to Addison Wesley Longman for permission to publish these entries here:

 Reprinted by permission of the authors from LITERATURE: AN INTRODUCTION TO FICTION, POETRY, AND DRAMA, 7th ed., Longman. Copyright@1999 by X.J. Kennedy and Dana Gioia.



No Author Listed


One Author

Middlebrook, Diane Wood. ANNE SEXTON: A BIOGRAPHY. Boston: Houghton, 1991.

Two or Three Authors

Jarman, Mark, and Robert McDowell. THE REAPER: ESSAYS. Brownsville, OR: Story Line, 1996.

Four or More Authors

Phillips, Rodney, et al. THE HAND OF THE POET. New York: Rizzoli, 1997.


Phillips, Rodney, Susan Benesch, Kenneth Benson, and Barbara Bergeron. THE HAND OF THE POET. New York: Rizzoli, 1997.

Corporate Author

Poets & Writers. A WRITER'S GUIDE TO COPYRIGHT. New York: Poets & Writers, 1979.

Two Books by Same Author

Bawer, Bruce. THE ASPECT OF ETERNITY. St. Paul: Graywolf, 1993.


Author and Editor

Shakespeare, William. THE SONNETS. Ed. G. Blakemore Evans. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1996. One Editor

Monteiro, George, ed. CONVERSATIONS WITH ELIZABETH BISHOP. Jackson: UP of Mississippi, 1996.

Two Editors

Craig, David, and Janet McCann, eds. ODD ANGLES OF HEAVEN: CONTEMPORARY POETRY BY PEOPLE OF FAITH. Wheaton, IL: Shaw, 1994.


Chekhov, Anton. SELECTED STORIES. Trans. Ann Dunnigan. New York: Signet, 1960.

Introduction, Preface, or Afterword

Thwaite, Anthony. Preface. CONTEMPORARY POETS. Ed. Thomas Riggs. 6th ed. New York: St. James, 1996. vii-viii.

Lapham, Lewis. Introduction. UNDERSTANDING MEDIA: THE EXTENSIONS OF MAN. By Marshall McLuhan. Cambridge: MIT P, 1994. vi-x.

Work in an Anthology

Allen, Dick. "The Emperor's New Clothes." POETRY AFTER MODERNISM. Ed. Robert McDowell. Brownsville, OR: Story Line, 1991. 71-99.

Translation in an Anthology

Neruda, Pablo. "We Are Many." Trans. Alastair Reid. LITERATURE: AN INTRODUCTION TO FICTION, POETRY, AND DRAMA. Ed. X.J. Kennedy and Dana Gioia. 7th ed. New York: Longman, 1999. xxx.

Multivolume Work

Wellek, René. A HISTORY OF MODERN CRITICISM, 1750-1950. Vol. 7. New Haven: Yale UP, 1991. 8 vols. 1955-92.

Book in a Series

Ross, William T. WELSON KEES. Twayne's US Authors Ser. 484. Boston: Twayne, 1985.

Republished Book

Ellison, Ralph. INVISIBLE MAN. 1952. New York: Vintage, 1995.

Revised or Subsequent Editions

Janouch, Gustav. CONVERSATIONS WITH KAFKA. Trans. Goronwy Rees. Rev. ed. New York: New Directions, 1971.


 Reprinted by permission of the authors from LITERATURE: AN INTRODUCTION TO FICTION, POETRY, AND DRAMA, 7th ed., Longman. Copyright@1999 by X.J. Kennedy and Dana Gioia.


Signed Article

McPhillips, Robert. "Timothy Steele." THE OXFORD COMPANION TO TWENTIETH CENTURY POETRY IN ENGLISH. Ed. Ian Hamilton. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1994.

Unsigned Encyclopedia Article - Standard Reference Book


Dictionary Entry




Journal with Continuous Paging

Balée, Susan. "Flannery O'Connor Resurrected." HUDSON REVIEW 47 (1994): 377-393.

Journal That Pages Each Issues Separately

Salter, Mary Jo. "The Heart Is Slow To Learn." NEW CRITERION 10.8 (1992): 23-29.

Signed Magazine Article

Gioia, Dana. "Studying with Miss Bishop." NEW YORKER. 5 Sept. 1986: 90-101.

Unsigned Magazine Article

"Fair Strike." NEW REPUBLIC. 16 Feb. 1998: 7-8.

Newspaper Article

Lyall, Sarah. "In Poetry, Ted Hughes Breaks His Silence on Sylvia Plath." NEW YORK TIMES 19 Jan. 1998, natl. ed.: A1+.

Signed Book Review

Harper, John. "Well-Crafted Tales with Tabloid Titles." Rev. of TABLOID DREAMS, by Robert Olen Butler. ORLANDO SENTINEL 15 Dec. 1996: D4.

Unsigned, Untitled Book Review




Periodically Published Information, Collected on CD-ROM

Kakutani, Michiko. "Slogging Surreally in the Vietnamese Jungle." Rev. of THE THINGS THEY CARRIED, by Tim O'Brien. NEW YORK TIMES 6 Mar. 1990, late ed.: C21. NEW YORK TIMES ONDISC. CD-ROM. UMI-Proquest. Oct. 1993.

CD-ROM Publication

"Appall." THE OXFORD ENGLISH DICTIONARY. 2nd ed. CD-ROM. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1992.


 Reprinted by permission of the authors from LITERATURE: AN INTRODUCTION TO FICTION, POETRY, AND DRAMA, 7th ed., Longman. Copyright@1999 by X.J. Kennedy and Dana Gioia.


Online Scholarly Project

VOICE OF THE SHUTTLE. Ed. Alan Liu. 3 Mar. 1998. U of California, Santa Barbara. 12 Mar. 1998 <http://humanitas.ucsb.edu/>.

Online Reference Database

BRITANNICA ONLINE. Vers. 97.1.1. Mar. 1997. Encyclopaedia Britannica. 19 Mar. 1997 <http://www.eb.com/>.

Online Professional Site

WALLACE STEGNER ENVIRONMENTAL CENTER. San Francisco Public Library. 15 Mar. 1998 <http://sfpl.lib.ca.us/stegner/wallace.html>.

Online Book

Whitman, Walt. LEAVES OF GRASS. [1892] 15 Mar. 1998 <http://www.bibliomania.com/Poetry/Whitman/Grass/>.

A rticle in Online Scholarly Journal

Hoffman, Tyler B. "Emily Dickinson and the Limit of War." EMILY DICKINSON JOURNAL 3.2 (1994). 15 Mar. 1998 <http:/www.colorado.edu/EDIS/journal/articles/

III.2.Hoffma n.html>.

Article in Online Newspaper

Koehler, Robert. "Latino Perspective Takes Center Stage." LOS ANGELES TIMES WEBSITE. 31 July 1993. 15 Mar. 1998 <http://www.latimes.com/HOME/ARCHIVES/>.

Article Accessed via Computer Service

Bray, Rosemary L. "Renaissance For a Pioneer of Black Pride." NEW YORK TIMES 4 Feb. 1990, late ed., sec. 2:7. NEW YORK TIMES ONLINE. Nexis. 1 Mar. 1998.

Article in Online Magazine

Garner, Dwight. "The Salon Interview: Jamaica Kincaid." SALON 13 Jan. 1996. 1 Mar. 1998 <http://www:salonmagazine.com/

05/features/kincaid.html> .

Review in Online Newspaper

Hollander, John. "The Fluent Mundo." Rev. of WALLACE STEVENS; COLLECTED POETRY AND PROSE, by Wallace Stevens. LOS ANGELES TIMES WEBSITE 16 Nov. 1997. 14 Mar. 1998 <http://www.latimes.com/HOME/ARCHIVES/>.

Online Posting

Grossenbacher, Laura. "Comments About the Ending Illustration." 4 Sept. 1996. Online posting. The Yellow Wallpaper Site. 14 Mar. 1998. <http://www:cwrl.utexas.edu/~daniel/amlit/wallpaper/readcomments.ht ml>



Roethke, Theodore. THEODORE ROETHKE READS HIS POETRY. Audiocassette. Caedmon, 1972.



HAMLET. By William Shakespeare. Dir. Franco Zeffirelli. Perf. Mel Gibson, Glenn Close, Helena Bonham Carter, Alan Bates, and Paul Scofield. Warner, 1991.



MOBY DICK. By Herman Melville. Dir. Franc Roddam. Perf. Patrick Stewart and Gregory Peck. 2 episodes. USA Network. 16-17 Mar. 1998.



HENRY V. By William Shakespeare. Dir. Laurence Olivier. Perf. Laurence Olivier. 1944. Videocassette. Paramount, 1988.

 Reprinted by permission of the authors from LITERATURE: AN INTRODUCTION TO FICTION, POETRY, AND DRAMA, 7th ed., Longman. Copyright@1999 by X.J. Kennedy and Dana Gioia.  My students, and I, extend our gratitude to all who made this possible. The cited work is a superb anthology, best I have ever seen! Many Mahalos.



One of the many nuggets in the on-line guide from Capitol Cities College is how to cite material from the WORLD WIDE WEB and other electronic sources. To cite the web, there are FOUR components: (1) author, (2) subtitle and title of Homepage as found on the blue window title bar, (3) URL, and (4) date visited. A sample entry for this page is:

Swensson, John K. "Unit 6, English Syllabus." SWENSSON'S ARGUMENTATIVE APOCALYPSE. URL:http://mccinfo.mauicc.hawaii.edu/staff/swensson/(18 Jul. l996).

Note: two things about this entry. First, the second and subsequent lines should be indented 6 spaces. Second, note that I have used ALL CAPS in lieu of an underlined title. This is an acceptable convention because of the technology. Anytime you are referring to a separately published work such as a novel, play or Homepage, you may use ALL CAPS vice underlining the title. Works that are not separately published such as poems, short stories, and subpages of a homepage ("Unit 6,English Syllabus.") are put between quotation marks.

Documentation of online sources is evolving; the GIOIA Samples, just above, are very current, circa 1998. You may use them or use this shortened form in this section. Your choice; you paid the tuition. But do use one sample or the other.


are called that because they appear in parentheses and contain only enough data to be clear, usually only the page number, or the author's name and page number. If you were writing a paper about two works by the same author, you might need to add a title to make it clear to which work you were referring. A sample of this is in Unit 4 in the Sample Introductory Para in which the author is clearly using more than one essay by Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston. Indeed when you get to the sample body para of the same theme, you can see the short title of the second essay. You also see some excellent examples of parenthetical notes in Unit 4, "Sample Argumentative Theme #2, "Why Aren't There More Female Computer Scientists."

In HW, parenthetical notes are covered on pages 591-93.

You use only as much as you need to make the note clear, and you use a note after direct quotations AND summaries:

According to Piaget, play, after all, is the way the growing mind gets nourishment (87).


Play, after all, is the way the growing mind gets nourishment (Piaget 87).

In both of these cases, I can tell that the material comes from an article or book by Piaget, page 87. I need only turn to the Works Cited list at the end of the paper and look alphabetically for the Piaget entry to determine the title and publisher of Piaget's work.


6.3 Summary

Documentation is really easy; just follow the sheet music in the text you are using.

Make sure that your paper contains an exact list, alphabetically by author, of the works you have cited.

The MLA documenting convention for a Works Cited entry for electronic, on-line sources is evolving, but in its simplest form, encompasses four elements, in order:

(2)Title of Subpage and Homepage
(4)Date of YOUR visit.

And supplement those Works Cited with simple, Parenthetical Notes that contain the least amount of information necessary to recreate your scholarship.


6.4 Lab

NOTE: Most PEC (Peer Editing Copy) Requirements include a typed Works Cited list and parenthetical notes as part of the grade. The only exceptions to this are writings early in the quarter or semester


6.5 Exercises



Last Updated: 9/18/09