MLA style

Hey all,
I just completed my first two papers in my quest for higher education (pause for big applause)

I am finalizing them, but I have a question on proper MLA citation. I have a book about it and have looked on-line, but I can’t find a definitive answer to this question.

The papers I wrote were called “reaction” papers. In it, the instructor said to describe the main points of the books, in my own words, then offer a reaction to the book. (agree with premise, etc). Now, the subject matter was about the Americans With Disabilities act and its impact, blah, blah, blah. Each book has a single author.

If I use my own words to describe parts of the ADA, such as the phrase “reasonable accomadation”, do I have to cite where in the book I saw that phrase? I mean, most of the ideas in a paper like this are going to be from the book- I’m supposed to be describing the main points, after all. Besides direct quotes (which I know I have to cite), what other types of ideas are supposed to be cited?

Anyone who does this for a living or is in college and familiar with this type of paper- I would really appreciate some assistance. I’ve been out of school for a long time, and I didn’t think to ask my instructor before now. Needless to say, the papers are due tomorrow, or I would not bother the board with this.


According to MLA style, you need to provide a citation each time you paraphrase information from your source. Most professors that I know agree that one cite per paragraph is good enough. It’s always better to have too many cites than too few. Avoids that messy plagiarism stuff.

I’d put a cite right after your sentence about ‘reasonable accomodation’.

Hope this helps. MLA can be messy sometimes.

Yes, all paraphrases and direct quotes should be cited. If your whole paragraph is paraphrased from the same source, just include a cite at the end of a paragraph. If you’re doing a direct quote you should include the page number, e.g. (Brown, 1996: 143). For a paraphrase, just the author’s name and the date of the publication should be included, e.g. (Brown, 1996). You don’t need to reference the page number for a paraphrase (although it’s a good idea to keep it for your own records, just in case you need to go back and look it up.) If you’re paraphrasing and then including your own thoughts or interpretation afterwards, just provide a reference for the paraphrased section. If you have two cites from the same source in a row (even in different paragraphs), some teachers will let you write (ibid.) instead of repeating (Brown, 1996).

Thanks so much for your answers! I really appreciate it. It was the paraphrasing stuff that was confusing me, and I think I have a grip now :slight_smile: :slight_smile:


After having taught English for a 2 year stint (freshman comp, yuck) and being in the american educational system for over two decades straight, I’d recommend going to a local bookstore and finding a small handbook with mla, apa and chicago in it. I don’t think it would run over 8 bucks and you’ll thank yourself for it down the road. I bought my bedford handbook 8 years ago and have used the living heck out of it. You’d be amazed how fidgety some professors are about citations–particularly of the more esoteric sources…