Old geezers. Why won’t they just leave us alone?

I’m speaking, of course, of the the aged ladies and gentleman of the Modern Language Association.

Okay, no, I don’t actually know the average age of the typical Modern Language Association crony, but age isn’t about years, it’s a state of mind. That’s what old people always say. And old people are always right. The petty demands of the MLA could only be the product of truly ancient minds.

But old people are always right, which is why we must learn MLA standard formatting for all of our literature-related documents.

The current project we’re working on–our presentations about villains and ghosts–will draw from a few different sources that will need references, so it is time to ramp up our mad MLA skillz. Since this is not a formal research paper, but rather wil be deployed as a PowerPoint presentation, there are a few things we’ll do differently. For one thing, we won’t do in-text citations (that’s when you put in parentheses with an author’s name and a page number following a quote), and we won’t do a Works Cited page at the end of the presentation. Generally, when working in PowerPoint, a quote from a source such as a scholarly journal or a website will stand on a slide alone, and the complete reference information should appear right on that slide. You can see an example of how that should look if you download the sample slides from Friday’s post. The reference is generally placed at the bottom of the page in a smaller font. This is the one part of the slide that can sometimes violate the “no smaller than 24” font-size rule.

In order to format references correctly, in the past it has been necessary to consult massive manuals, such as the MLA Handbook, which required you to locate instructions for the exact type of publication you were referencing. For some kinds of oddball references, it is still necessary to look it up and verify the form, but for most things today, most people let technology do the work for them so they can concentrate on the more substantial work of researching, coming up with ideas, and writing. The best citation and reference “machine” I’ve found is the Citation Machine. This program covers all your basic journals, magazines, books, and websites, and will convert to MLA and APA. We’ll do a little more in class tomorrow to get to know the parts of a complete reference, but if you have a basic knowledge of what should be there and how it should look this automated reference creator will help you out a lot.

If you weren’t here today, download the handout at the bottom of the post. Don’t forget that presentations begin on Friday, and you’ll need to get me your presentation before then.



Download: Introduction to MLA format references


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