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Top 10 Most Common Errors in MLA Citations

1. Forgot to double-space all citations.
Everything in an MLA-formatted essay must be double-spaced--both the essay and the Works Cited list.

2. Forgot to use hanging indentation on each citation.
For each and every citation, the first line of the citation should align with the left margin, then all additional lines in the citation should be indented 1/2 inch. 

3. Forgot to put all entries in alphabetical order.
All entries should be in alphabetical order, using the first letter of every citation (usually the first letter of the author's last name). Don't number the entries, don't list them in order by source type (books, then articles, etc.)--just alphabetize them.  

4. Forgot to use italic font for book titles, database names, newspaper titles, magazine titles, journal titles, website names, and film titles.
Always use italics for the title of a major, lengthy work. Examples: The Great Gatsby, Academic Search Complete, Proquest Research Library, The New York Times, National Geographic, The Journal of the American Medical Association, The Huffington Post. 

5. Forgot to use quotation marks for article titles, book-chapter titles, and web page titles.
Always use quotation marks for the title of a smaller work that is included within a larger work. Examples: "Young Goodman Brown" or "Heroines Triumph at Box Office, but Has Anything Changed in Hollywood?"<< Notice, the article and chapter titles are *not* in italics.

6. Incorrectly used capitalization for author names, the titles of books, the title of journals, and/or the title of articles.
NEVER use all capitalized letters for anything in a citation (unless it's an acronym that was used in an article- or book-title, such as "U.S.A."). Only capitalize the first letter of all major words in a title. Leave the "baby words" in a title--conjunctions, prepositions, and articles--lower-case unless it's the first word in the title or subtitle. Look at the examples above, in #4 and #5.

7. Didn't list authors correctly (especially if the source has multiple authors).

  • The first author is always listed with her name inverted--last name first (for example: Lopez, Jennifer).
  • If the source has 2 authors, then the second author is listed with her name 'normal' (for example: Lopez, Jennifer and Kim Kardashian).
  • If the source has 3 or more authors, then you name the first author and use the abbreviation "et al." which in Latin means "and others" (for example: Jackson, Michael, et al.)

8. For web pages, forgot to identify an author or hosting organization.
If you can't identify a credible author for the website, then you shouldn't be using it as a source for a college assignment. But it's okay if the page is hosted, or the copyright is held, by an organization that has a good reputation--then list the organization itself as the author of the web page.

9. Didn't use international style to notate dates.
When noting the date of a periodical's publication or the date of Web access, MLA style requires you mark it as Day Month Year, *not* the American-style of Month Day Year. So...

  • 28 June 2018 is correct! Not June 28, 2018.
  • 4 Oct. 2015 is correct! Not October 4, 2015.
  • 16 Feb. 2019 is correct! Not Feb. 16th, 2019.
    * Also note--abbreviate the month to three letters, unless the month is May, June, or July.

10. Forgot to end the citation--if it's an electronic source--with a DOI (digital object identifier) or URL.
If you read an article online--in a database or on the open Web--then the article may have a DOI, digital object identifier, assigned to it. If you see one, then end the citation with it. If your source does *not* have a DOI, then end the citation with the URL (web address) for the web page where you found the source.

Model: Correctly formatted citations

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