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MLA (Modern Language Association) Style: What is your resource?

Is it a book?

We all know what a book looks like, but what KIND of book it is makes a difference.

To figure out what kind of book it is, ask these questions:

  • Is it written by one person or more than one?
  • On the title page, is "editor" listed after the author's name?
  • Is each chapter written by a different person?
  • If it's an encyclopedia, does each entry have an author?
  • Did you get the book electronically or in print?
  • If you got it it electronically, where did you get it and how did you read it?

Is it an article?

Articles can exist in several formats, and the same article may appear in print, in a database, and on a website. Articles can be from newspapers, scholarly sources, magazines, or trade publications. These are all called serials.

Think about these questions when determining the type of article you have:

  • Where did you find it?
  • How did you read it?
  • How often is it published?
  • Are there pictures, and what do they look like?
  • Did you print the article or copy or scan the article?

What type of book is it?

The easiest book to cite has `one author. You will know it's a monograph because the title page will look like this:

You will know a book is an edited collection if the title page stated "edited by" and each chapter is written by a different person.

An encyclopedia is a reference work with entries written (usually) by different people. The authors may or may not be listed.

If the same book is published many times, they may be different editions. The layout, page numbering, and even words might change. The edition will be noted on the cover, title page, or copyright page.

What type of serial is it?

Newspapers contain current events, news, or general events; quick facts; short interviews; brief book reviews, and advertisements. They have very up-to-date information, and the articles are written by journalists.

Magazines contain articles on brief, current events, news, or general events; quick facts; short interviews; brief book reviews, and advertisements. Articles are written by journalists or staff writers.

Journals contain in-depth research on specialized or technical topics; usually includes an abstract; academic book reviews; or news on developments or recent research in a specific field of study. They may be lengthy (+20 pages) and are written by scholars in a field.

Trade publications are written for members of a profession. They frequently contain product reviews; statistics for specific industries; new publications; and patents. Articles are written by staff writers or people who work in the profession.

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