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  1. Preface
  2. The Things We Carry: Experience, Culture, and Language
    1. Unit Introduction
    2. 1 The Digital World: Building on What You Already Know to Respond Critically
      1. Introduction
      2. 1.1 "Reading" to Understand and Respond
      3. 1.2 Social Media Trailblazer: Selena Gomez
      4. 1.3 Glance at Critical Response: Rhetoric and Critical Thinking
      5. 1.4 Annotated Student Sample: Social Media Post and Responses on Voter Suppression
      6. 1.5 Writing Process: Thinking Critically About a “Text”
      7. 1.6 Evaluation: Intention vs. Execution
      8. 1.7 Spotlight on … Academia
      9. 1.8 Portfolio: Tracing Writing Development
      10. Further Reading
      11. Works Cited
    3. 2 Language, Identity, and Culture: Exploring, Employing, Embracing
      1. Introduction
      2. 2.1 Seeds of Self
      3. 2.2 Identity Trailblazer: Cathy Park Hong
      4. 2.3 Glance at the Issues: Oppression and Reclamation
      5. 2.4 Annotated Sample Reading from The Souls of Black Folk by W. E. B. Du Bois
      6. 2.5 Writing Process: Thinking Critically about How Identity Is Constructed Through Writing
      7. 2.6 Evaluation: Antiracism and Inclusivity
      8. 2.7 Spotlight on … Variations of English
      9. 2.8 Portfolio: Decolonizing Self
      10. Further Reading
      11. Works Cited
    4. 3 Literacy Narrative: Building Bridges, Bridging Gaps
      1. Introduction
      2. 3.1 Identity and Expression
      3. 3.2 Literacy Narrative Trailblazer: Tara Westover
      4. 3.3 Glance at Genre: The Literacy Narrative
      5. 3.4 Annotated Sample Reading: from Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass by Frederick Douglass
      6. 3.5 Writing Process: Tracing the Beginnings of Literacy
      7. 3.6 Editing Focus: Sentence Structure
      8. 3.7 Evaluation: Self-Evaluating
      9. 3.8 Spotlight on … The Digital Archive of Literacy Narratives (DALN)
      10. 3.9 Portfolio: A Literacy Artifact
      11. Further Reading
      12. Works Cited
      13. Works Consulted
  3. Bridging the Divide Between Personal Identity and Academia
    1. Unit Introduction
    2. 4 Memoir or Personal Narrative: Learning Lessons from the Personal
      1. Introduction
      2. 4.1 Exploring the Past to Understand the Present
      3. 4.2 Memoir Trailblazer: Ta-Nehisi Coates
      4. 4.3 Glance at Genre: Conflict, Detail, and Revelation
      5. 4.4 Annotated Sample Reading: from Life on the Mississippi by Mark Twain
      6. 4.5 Writing Process: Making the Personal Public
      7. 4.6 Editing Focus: More on Characterization and Point of View
      8. 4.7 Evaluation: Structure and Organization
      9. 4.8 Spotlight on … Multilingual Writers
      10. 4.9 Portfolio: Filtered Memories
      11. Further Reading
      12. Works Cited
    3. 5 Profile: Telling a Rich and Compelling Story
      1. Introduction
      2. 5.1 Profiles as Inspiration
      3. 5.2 Profile Trailblazer: Veronica Chambers
      4. 5.3 Glance at Genre: Subject, Angle, Background, and Description
      5. 5.4 Annotated Sample Reading: “Remembering John Lewis” by Carla D. Hayden
      6. 5.5 Writing Process: Focusing on the Angle of Your Subject
      7. 5.6 Editing Focus: Verb Tense Consistency
      8. 5.7 Evaluation: Text as Personal Introduction
      9. 5.8 Spotlight on … Profiling a Cultural Artifact
      10. 5.9 Portfolio: Subject as a Reflection of Self
      11. Works Cited
    4. 6 Proposal: Writing About Problems and Solutions
      1. Introduction
      2. 6.1 Proposing Change: Thinking Critically About Problems and Solutions
      3. 6.2 Proposal Trailblazer: Atul Gawande
      4. 6.3 Glance at Genre: Features of Proposals
      5. 6.4 Annotated Student Sample: “Slowing Climate Change” by Shawn Krukowski
      6. 6.5 Writing Process: Creating a Proposal
      7. 6.6 Editing Focus: Subject-Verb Agreement
      8. 6.7 Evaluation: Conventions, Clarity, and Coherence
      9. 6.8 Spotlight on … Technical Writing as a Career
      10. 6.9 Portfolio: Reflecting on Problems and Solutions
      11. Further Reading
      12. Works Cited
    5. 7 Evaluation or Review: Would You Recommend It?
      1. Introduction
      2. 7.1 Thumbs Up or Down?
      3. 7.2 Review Trailblazer: Michiko Kakutani
      4. 7.3 Glance at Genre: Criteria, Evidence, Evaluation
      5. 7.4 Annotated Student Sample: "Black Representation in Film" by Caelia Marshall
      6. 7.5 Writing Process: Thinking Critically About Entertainment
      7. 7.6 Editing Focus: Quotations
      8. 7.7 Evaluation: Effect on Audience
      9. 7.8 Spotlight on … Language and Culture
      10. 7.9 Portfolio: What the Arts Say About You
      11. Further Reading
      12. Works Cited
    6. 8 Analytical Report: Writing from Facts
      1. Introduction
      2. 8.1 Information and Critical Thinking
      3. 8.2 Analytical Report Trailblazer: Barbara Ehrenreich
      4. 8.3 Glance at Genre: Informal and Formal Analytical Reports
      5. 8.4 Annotated Student Sample: "U.S. Response to COVID-19" by Trevor Garcia
      6. 8.5 Writing Process: Creating an Analytical Report
      7. 8.6 Editing Focus: Commas with Nonessential and Essential Information
      8. 8.7 Evaluation: Reviewing the Final Draft
      9. 8.8 Spotlight on … Discipline-Specific and Technical Language
      10. 8.9 Portfolio: Evidence and Objectivity
      11. Further Reading
      12. Works Cited
    7. 9 Rhetorical Analysis: Interpreting the Art of Rhetoric
      1. Introduction
      2. 9.1 Breaking the Whole into Its Parts
      3. 9.2 Rhetorical Analysis Trailblazer: Jamil Smith
      4. 9.3 Glance at Genre: Rhetorical Strategies
      5. 9.4 Annotated Student Sample: “Rhetorical Analysis: Evicted by Matthew Desmond” by Eliana Evans
      6. 9.5 Writing Process: Thinking Critically about Rhetoric
      7. 9.6 Editing Focus: Mixed Sentence Constructions
      8. 9.7 Evaluation: Rhetorical Analysis
      9. 9.8 Spotlight on … Business and Law
      10. 9.9 Portfolio: How Thinking Critically about Rhetoric Affects Intellectual Growth
      11. Further Reading
      12. Works Cited
    8. 10 Position Argument: Practicing the Art of Rhetoric
      1. Introduction
      2. 10.1 Making a Case: Defining a Position Argument
      3. 10.2 Position Argument Trailblazer: Charles Blow
      4. 10.3 Glance at Genre: Thesis, Reasoning, and Evidence
      5. 10.4 Annotated Sample Reading: "Remarks at the University of Michigan" by Lyndon B. Johnson
      6. 10.5 Writing Process: Creating a Position Argument
      7. 10.6 Editing Focus: Paragraphs and Transitions
      8. 10.7 Evaluation: Varied Appeals
      9. 10.8 Spotlight on … Citation
      10. 10.9 Portfolio: Growth in the Development of Argument
      11. Further Reading
      12. Works Cited
    9. 11 Reasoning Strategies: Improving Critical Thinking
      1. Introduction
      2. 11.1 Developing Your Sense of Logic
      3. 11.2 Reasoning Trailblazer: Paul D. N. Hebert
      4. 11.3 Glance at Genre: Reasoning Strategies and Signal Words
      5. 11.4 Annotated Sample Reading: from Book VII of The Republic by Plato
      6. 11.5 Writing Process: Reasoning Supported by Evidence
      7. Further Reading
      8. Works Cited
    10. 12 Argumentative Research: Enhancing the Art of Rhetoric with Evidence
      1. Introduction
      2. 12.1 Introducing Research and Research Evidence
      3. 12.2 Argumentative Research Trailblazer: Samin Nosrat
      4. 12.3 Glance at Genre: Introducing Research as Evidence
      5. 12.4 Annotated Student Sample: "Healthy Diets from Sustainable Sources Can Save the Earth" by Lily Tran
      6. 12.5 Writing Process: Integrating Research
      7. 12.6 Editing Focus: Integrating Sources and Quotations
      8. 12.7 Evaluation: Effectiveness of Research Paper
      9. 12.8 Spotlight on … Bias in Language and Research
      10. 12.9 Portfolio: Why Facts Matter in Research Argumentation
      11. Further Reading
      12. Works Cited
    11. 13 Research Process: Accessing and Recording Information
      1. Introduction
      2. 13.1 The Research Process: Where to Look for Existing Sources
      3. 13.2 The Research Process: How to Create Sources
      4. 13.3 Glance at the Research Process: Key Skills
      5. 13.4 Annotated Student Sample: Research Log
      6. 13.5 Research Process: Making Notes, Synthesizing Information, and Keeping a Research Log
      7. 13.6 Spotlight on … Ethical Research
      8. Further Reading
      9. Works Cited
    12. 14 Annotated Bibliography: Gathering, Evaluating, and Documenting Sources
      1. Introduction
      2. 14.1 Compiling Sources for an Annotated Bibliography
      3. 14.2 Glance at Form: Citation Style, Purpose, and Formatting
      4. 14.3 Annotated Student Sample: “Healthy Diets from Sustainable Sources Can Save the Earth” by Lily Tran
      5. 14.4 Writing Process: Informing and Analyzing
      6. Further Reading
      7. Works Cited
    13. 15 Case Study Profile: What One Person Says About All
      1. Introduction
      2. 15.1 Tracing a Broad Issue in the Individual
      3. 15.2 Case Study Trailblazer: Vilayanur S. Ramachandran
      4. 15.3 Glance at Genre: Observation, Description, and Analysis
      5. 15.4 Annotated Sample Reading: Case Study on Louis Victor "Tan" Leborgne
      6. 15.5 Writing Process: Thinking Critically About How People and Language Interact
      7. 15.6 Editing Focus: Words Often Confused
      8. 15.7 Evaluation: Presentation and Analysis of Case Study
      9. 15.8 Spotlight on … Applied Linguistics
      10. 15.9 Portfolio: Your Own Uses of Language
      11. Further Reading
      12. Works Cited
  4. Navigating Rhetoric in Real Life
    1. Unit Introduction
    2. 16 Print or Textual Analysis: What You Read
      1. Introduction
      2. 16.1 An Author’s Choices: What Text Says and How It Says It
      3. 16.2 Textual Analysis Trailblazer: bell hooks
      4. 16.3 Glance at Genre: Print or Textual Analysis
      5. 16.4 Annotated Student Sample: "Artists at Work" by Gwyn Garrison
      6. 16.5 Writing Process: Thinking Critically About Text
      7. 16.6 Editing Focus: Literary Works Live in the Present
      8. 16.7 Evaluation: Self-Directed Assessment
      9. 16.8 Spotlight on … Humanities
      10. 16.9 Portfolio: The Academic and the Personal
      11. Further Reading
      12. Works Cited
    3. 17 Image Analysis: What You See
      1. Introduction
      2. 17.1 “Reading” Images
      3. 17.2 Image Trailblazer: Sara Ludy
      4. 17.3 Glance at Genre: Relationship Between Image and Rhetoric
      5. 17.4 Annotated Student Sample: “Hints of the Homoerotic” by Leo Davis
      6. 17.5 Writing Process: Thinking Critically and Writing Persuasively About Images
      7. 17.6 Editing Focus: Descriptive Diction
      8. 17.7 Evaluation: Relationship Between Analysis and Image
      9. 17.8 Spotlight on … Video and Film
      10. 17.9 Portfolio: Interplay Between Text and Image
      11. Further Reading
      12. Works Cited
    4. 18 Multimodal and Online Writing: Creative Interaction between Text and Image
      1. Introduction
      2. 18.1 Mixing Genres and Modes
      3. 18.2 Multimodal Trailblazer: Torika Bolatagici
      4. 18.3 Glance at Genre: Genre, Audience, Purpose, Organization
      5. 18.4 Annotated Sample Reading: “Celebrating a Win-Win” by Alexandra Dapolito Dunn
      6. 18.5 Writing Process: Create a Multimodal Advocacy Project
      7. 18.6 Evaluation: Transitions
      8. 18.7 Spotlight on . . . Technology
      9. 18.8 Portfolio: Multimodalism
      10. Further Reading
      11. Works Cited
    5. 19 Scripting for the Public Forum: Writing to Speak
      1. Introduction
      2. 19.1 Writing, Speaking, and Activism
      3. 19.2 Podcast Trailblazer: Alice Wong
      4. 19.3 Glance at Genre: Language Performance and Visuals
      5. 19.4 Annotated Student Sample: “Are New DOT Regulations Discriminatory?” by Zain A. Kumar
      6. 19.5 Writing Process: Writing to Speak
      7. 19.6 Evaluation: Bridging Writing and Speaking
      8. 19.7 Spotlight on … Delivery/Public Speaking
      9. 19.8 Portfolio: Everyday Rhetoric, Rhetoric Every Day
      10. Further Reading
      11. Works Cited
    6. 20 Portfolio Reflection: Your Growth as a Writer
      1. Introduction
      2. 20.1 Thinking Critically about Your Semester
      3. 20.2 Reflection Trailblazer: Sandra Cisneros
      4. 20.3 Glance at Genre: Purpose and Structure
      5. 20.4 Annotated Sample Reading: “Don’t Expect Congrats” by Dale Trumbore
      6. 20.5 Writing Process: Looking Back, Looking Forward
      7. 20.6 Editing Focus: Pronouns
      8. 20.7 Evaluation: Evaluating Self-Reflection
      9. 20.8 Spotlight on … Pronouns in Context
      10. Further Reading
      11. Works Cited
  5. Handbook
  6. Index

H 1 . Introduction

This handbook is a brief yet comprehensive reference for you to consult as you write papers and other assignments for a college course. You can refer to it as you draft paragraphs and polish sentences for clarity, conciseness, and point of view. You can read it to learn how to identify and revise common sentence errors and confused words. You can use it to help you edit your writing and fine-tune your use of verbs, pronouns, punctuation, and mechanics. And you can have it open as you integrate and cite quotations as well as other source material in your papers in MLA or APA style.

Designed as a reference tool, the handbook is organized to help you get answers to your questions. You do not need to read the entire handbook to get helpful information from it. For example, if your instructor has noted that you need to work on comma splices, you can refer to Sentence Errors, before you turn in a final draft of your writing. If you know you frequently misuse commas, refer to Punctuation, and check your sentences against the advice there. And if you, like many writers, can’t remember which punctuation marks go inside and outside quotation marks, refer to Quotations. Becoming familiar with the handbook and the various topics will allow you to use it efficiently.

H 2 . Paragraphs and Transitions

Paragraphs help readers make their way through prose writing by presenting it in manageable chunks. Transitions link sentences and paragraphs so that readers can clearly understand how the points you are making relate to one another. (See Editing Focus: Paragraph and Transitions for a related discussion of paragraphs and transitions. See Evaluation: Transitions for a related discussion of transitions in multimodal compositions.)

Effective Paragraphs

Paragraphs are guides for readers. Each new paragraph signals either a new idea, further development of an existing idea, or a new direction. An effective paragraph has a main point supported by evidence, is organized in a sensible way, and is neither too short nor too long. When a paragraph is too short, it often lacks enough evidence and examples to back up your claims. When a paragraph is too long, readers can lose the point you are making.

Developing a Main Point

A paragraph is easier to write and easier to read when it centers on a main point. The main point of the paragraph is usually expressed in a topic sentence. The topic sentence frequently comes at the start of the paragraph, but not always. No matter the position, however, the other sentences in the paragraph support the main point.

Supporting Evidence and Analysis

All the sentences that develop the paragraph should support or expand on the main point given in the topic sentence. Depending on the type of writing you are doing, support may include evidence from sources—such as facts, statistics, and expert opinions—as well as examples from your own experience. Paragraphs also may include an analysis of your evidence written in your own words. The analysis explains the significance of the evidence to the reader and reinforces the main point of the paragraph.

In the following example, the topic sentence is underlined. The supporting evidence discussed through cause-and-effect reasoning comes in the next three sentences. The paragraph concludes with two sentences of analysis in the writer’s own words.

Millions of retired Americans rely on Social Security benefits to make ends meet after they turn 65. According to the Social Security Administration, about 46 million retired workers receive benefits, a number that reflects about 90 percent of retired people. Although experts disagree on the exact numbers, somewhere between 12 percent and 40 percent of retirees count on social security for all of their income, making these benefits especially important (Konish). These benefits become more important as people age. According to Eisenberg, people who reach the age of 85 become more financially vulnerable because their health care and long-term care costs increase at the same time their savings have been drawn down. It should therefore come as no surprise that people worry about changes to the program. Social Security keeps millions of retired Americans out of poverty.

Opening Paragraphs

Readers pay attention to the opening of a piece of writing, so make it work for you. After starting with a descriptive title, write an opening paragraph that grabs readers’ attention and alerts them to what’s coming. A strong opening paragraph provides the first clues about your subject and your stance. In academic writing, whether argumentative, interpretative, or informative, the introduction often ends with a clear thesis statement, a declarative sentence that states the topic, the angle you are taking, and the aspects of the topic the rest of the paper will support.

Depending on the type of writing you’re doing, you can open in a variety of ways.

  • Open with a conflict or an action. If you’re writing about conflict, a good opening may be to spell out what the conflict is. This way of opening captures attention by creating a kind of suspense: Will the conflict be resolved? How will it be resolved?
  • Open with a specific detail, statistic, or quotation. Specific information shows that you know a lot about your subject and piques readers’ curiosity. The more dramatic your information, the more it will draw in readers, as long as what you provide is credible.
  • Open with an anecdote. Readers enjoy stories. Particularly for reflective or personal narrative writing, beginning with a story sets the scene and draws in readers. You may also begin the anecdote with dialogue or reflection.

The following introduction opens with an anecdote and ends with the thesis statement, which is underlined.

Betty stood outside the salon, wondering how to get in. It was June of 2020, and the door was locked. A sign posted on the door provided a phone number for her to call to be let in, but at 81, Betty had lived her life without a cell phone. Betty’s day-to-day life had been hard during the pandemic, but she had planned for this haircut and was looking forward to it: she had a mask on and hand sanitizer in her car. Now she couldn’t get in the door, and she was discouraged. In that moment, Betty realized how much Americans’ dependence on cell phones had grown in the months she and millions of others had been forced to stay at home. Betty and thousands of other senior citizens who could not afford cell phones or did not have the technological skills and support they needed were being left behind in a society that was increasingly reliant on technology.

Closing Paragraphs

The conclusion is your final chance to make the point of your writing stick in readers’ minds by reinforcing what they have read. Depending on the purpose for your writing and your audience, you can summarize your main points and restate your thesis, draw a logical conclusion, speculate about the issues you have raised, or recommend a course of action, as shown in the following conclusion:

Although many senior citizens purchased and learned new technologies during the COVID-19 pandemic, a significant number of older people like Betty were unable to buy and/or learn the technology they needed to keep them connected to the people and services they needed. As society becomes increasingly dependent on technology, social service agencies, religious institutions, medical providers, senior centers, and other organizations that serve the elderly need to be equipped to help them access and become proficient in the technologies essential to their daily lives.

Transitions

Transitional words and phrases show the connections or relationships between sentences and paragraphs and help your writing flow smoothly from one idea to the next.

Flow

A paragraph flows when ideas are organized logically and sentences move smoothly from one to the next. Transitional words and phrases help your writing flow by signaling to readers what’s coming in the next sentence. In the paragraph below, the topic sentence and transitional words and phrases are underlined.

Some companies court the public by mentioning environmental problems and pointing out that they do not contribute to these problems. For example, the natural gas industry often presents natural gas as a good alternative to coal. However, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists, the drilling and extraction of natural gas from wells and transporting it through pipelines leaks methane, a major cause of global warming (“Environmental Impacts”). Yet leaks are rarely mentioned by the industry. By taking credit for problems they don’t cause and being silent on the ones they do, companies present a favorable environmental image that often obscures the truth.

Transitional Words and Phrases

Following are some transitional words and phrases and their functions in paragraphs. Use this list when drafting or revising to help guide readers through your writing. (See Editing Focus: Paragraphs and Transitions for another discussion on transitions.)

Type of Transition Examples
to compare or show similarity likewise, similarly, in like manner
to contrast or change direction but, yet, however, nevertheless, still, at the same time, on the other hand, conversely
to add to also, and, furthermore, next, then, in addition
to give examples for example, for instance, to illustrate, specifically, thus
to agree or concede certainly, of course, to be sure, granted
to summarize or conclude finally, in conclusion, in short, in other words, thus, in summary
to show time first, second, third, next, then, soon, meanwhile, later, currently, concurrently, at the same time, eventually, at last, finally
to show a spatial relationship here, there, in the background, in the foreground, in the distance, to the left, to the right, near, above, below
Table H1

H 3 . Clear and Effective Sentences

This section will help you write strong sentences that convey your meaning clearly and concisely. See Editing Focus: Sentence Structure for a related discussion and practice on effective sentences.

Emphasis

The most emphatic place in a sentence is the end. To achieve the strongest emphasis, end with the idea you want readers to remember. Place introductory, less important, or contextual information earlier in the sentence. Consider the differences in these two sentences.

Less Emphatic Angel needs to start now if he wants to have an impact on his sister’s life.

More Emphatic If Angel wants to have an impact on his sister’s life, he needs to start now.

Concrete Nouns

General nouns name broad classes or categories of things (man, dog, city); concrete nouns refer to particular things (Michael, collie, Chicago). Concrete nouns provide a more vivid and lively reading experience because they create stronger images that activate readers’ senses. The examples below show how concrete nouns, combined with specific details, can make writing more engaging.

All General Nouns Approaching the library, I see people and dogs milling about outside, but no subjects to write about. I’m tired from my walk and go inside.

Revised with Concrete Nouns Approaching Brandon Library, I see skateboarders and bikers weaving through students who talk in clusters on the library steps. A friendly collie waits for its owner to return. Subjects to write about? Nothing strikes me as especially interesting. Besides, my heart is still pounding from the walk up the hill. I wipe my sweaty forehead and go inside.

Active Voice

Active voice refers to the way a writer uses verbs in a sentence. Verbs have two “voices”: active and passive. In the active voice, the subject of the sentence acts—the subject performs the action of the verb. In the passive voice, the subject receives the action, and the object actually becomes the subject. Although some passive sentences are necessary and clear, a paper full of passive-voice constructions lacks vitality and becomes wordy.

Active-voice verbs make something happen. By using active verbs wherever possible, you will create stronger, clearer, and more concise sentences.

Passive Voice On the post-training survey, the anti-harassment tutorial was rated highly informative by employees.

Revised in Active Voice On the post-training survey, employees rated the anti-harassment tutorial highly informative.

Conciseness

Concise writing considers the importance of every word. Editing sentences for emphasis, concrete nouns, and active voice will help you write clearly and precisely, as will the following strategies. To be concise, eliminate wasted words and filler—not ideas, information, description, or details that will interest readers or help them follow your thoughts. (For more on conciseness, see Editing Focus: Sentence Structure.)

Use Action Verbs

Using action verbs is one of the most direct ways to cut unneeded words. Whenever you find a phrase like the ones below, consider substituting an action verb.

Instead of the phrase . . . Use an action verb
reach a decision, come to a decision decide
made a choice chose
hold a meeting meet
arrive at a conclusion conclude
have a discussion discuss
Table H2

Cut Unnecessary Words and Phrases

Eliminate words and phrases that do not add meaning. Consider the following sentences, which say essentially the same thing.

Wordy In almost every situation that I can think of, with few exceptions, it will make good sense for you to look for as many places as possible to cut out needless, redundant, and repetitive words and phrases from the papers, reports, paragraphs, and sentences you write for college assignments. (49 words)

Concise Whenever possible, cut needless words and phrases from your college writing. (11 words)

The wordy sentence is full of early-draft language in three chunks. The first chunk comes at the beginning of the sentence. Notice how In almost every situation that I can think of, with few exceptions, it will make good sense for you to look for as many places as possible is reduced to Whenever possible in the concise sentence.

The second chunk of the wordy sentence is needless, redundant, and repetitive. The concise version reduces those four words to needless because the words have the same meaning. The third chunk of the wordy sentence comes at the end. Notice how papers, reports, paragraphs, and sentences you write for college assignments is reduced to your college writing. The meaning, although expanded to all writing, remains the same.

The following phrases are common fillers that add nothing to meaning. They should be avoided.

  • a person by the name of
  • for all intents and purposes
  • in a manner of speaking
  • more or less

Some common filler phrases have single-word alternatives, which are preferable.

Replace a common filler phrase . . . With a single word
at all times always
at the present time now
at this point in time now
for the purpose of for
due to the fact that because
the reason being because
in the final analysis finally
last but not least finally
Table H3

Avoid there is/there are and it is

Starting a sentence with there is, there are, or it is can be useful to draw attention to a change in direction. However, starting a sentence with one of these phrases often forces you into a wordy construction. Wordiness means the presence of verbal filler; it does not mean the number of words, the amount of description, or the length of a composition. (For more on these constructions, see Editing Focus: Sentence Structure.)

Wordy There is often uncertainty about whether or not employees are required to turn on their cameras during online meetings, and there are some employees who don’t. However, it is the expectation of employers that cameras be turned on.

Concise Employees are often uncertain whether they must turn on their cameras during online meetings, and some don’t. However, employers expect cameras to be turned on.

Parallelism

Within a sentence, parallelism—the repetition of a word or grammatical construction— creates symmetry and balance, makes an idea easier to remember, and sounds pleasing to the ear. In the first example below, the parallelism is established by the repetition of the phrase beginning with who. In the second example, the parallelism is created by the underlined nouns.

Unparallel After 25 years, the battle over the reintroduction of wolves continues between environmental activists, who support it, and hunters and people who own cattle ranches and are opposed.

Parallel After 25 years, the battle over the reintroduction of wolves continues between environmental activists, who support it, and cattle ranchers and hunters, who oppose it.

Unparallel Exercises that improve core strength include crunches, leg lifts, and when you do push-ups and planks.

Parallel Exercises that improve core strength include crunches, leg lifts, push-ups, and planks.

Variety

Varying the length and structure of sentences makes your writing more interesting to read.

Simple Sentences

A simple sentence has one idea expressed in a single main clause (also known as an independent clause). A main clause contains a subject and a predicate and can stand alone as a sentence. A simple sentence can be short or long, as shown in the examples below. The phrases in the long sentence add information, but the sentence remains a simple sentence nonetheless because it has only one clause.

The coronavirus spread around in the world in 2020.

School-age children and college students were pushed into virtual learning environments in March 2020, with schools closing for unspecified lengths of time.

Compound Sentences

A compound sentence contains two or more main clauses that are equally important to the meaning of the sentence. (A main clause contains a subject and a predicate and can stand alone as a sentence.) You can create compound sentences in the following ways:

  • Compound Sentence Using a Coordinating Conjunction

    Create a compound sentence by using a coordinating conjunctionfor, and, nor, but, or, yet, or so (fanboys)—to join main clauses. To remember the coordinating conjunctions, use the mnemonic device fanboys.

    Restaurants and small retailers experienced steep drops in revenue during the pandemic, and many were forced to close.

    Restaurants and small retailers experienced steep drops in revenue during the pandemic, yet many survived the downturn.

  • Compound Sentence Using a Semicolon

    A semicolon can join two main clauses that are closely related in meaning. When using a semicolon, you must have a complete sentence before and after it.

    Restaurants and small retailers experienced steep drops in revenue during the pandemic; many were forced to close.

  • Compound Sentence Using a Semicolon and Transitional Word or Phrase

    A transitional words or phrases such as however, in fact, meanwhile, therefore, consequently, as a result, instead, or furthermore indicates the relation of two or more equally important ideas in the main clauses.

    Restaurants and small retailers experienced steep drops in revenue during the pandemic; however, many survived the downturn.

Complex Sentences

A complex sentence contains one main clause (a clause that contains a subject and a predicate and can stand alone as a sentence) and one or more subordinate clauses (also known as dependent clauses). Subordinate clauses begin with a subordinating word or phrase such as although, because, even if, when, whenever, since, as though, whether, as long as, until, or while. The main clause expresses the main idea of the sentence, and the subordinate clause expresses the less important idea. Like a main clause, a subordinate clause has a subject and verb; however, unlike a main clause, it cannot stand alone as a sentence. A subordinate clause punctuated as a sentence is a type of sentence fragment. The subordinate clauses in the following sentences are underlined.

Although the federal government provided financial assistance, the money came too late for many businesses. When schools and universities shut down in March of 2020, students had to learn at home, a situation that proved challenging for many households.

Compound-Complex Sentences

A compound-complex sentence contains two or more main clauses (clauses that contain subjects and predicates and can stand alone as sentences) and one or more subordinate clauses (clauses that begin with a subordinating word such as although, because, even if, when, whenever, since, as though, whether, as long as, until, and while). A compound-complex sentence is an effective structure to use when you want to express three or more ideas in a single sentence. The example sentence has two main clauses (double underline) and three subordinate clauses (single underline).

When school districts reopened, parents had to decide whether they wanted their children to attend classes in person, and they had to be ready for classes to move online if there were outbreaks of the coronavirus in their community.

H 4 . Sentence Errors

These four common sentence errors can make your writing hard to read: fragments, comma splices, run-on sentences, and mixed constructions.

Sentence Fragments

A sentence fragment is a group of words that lacks a subject, a verb, or both, or it is a subordinate clause (a clause that begins with a subordinating word such as although, because, since, and so on) punctuated as though it were a sentence by itself. Although most are grammatical errors, sentence fragments can be used judiciously in conventional writing so long as the purpose is clear to readers and the fragment is clearly intended.

Unintentional Sentence Fragments

Often a sentence fragment follows a complete sentence and expands on it, as illustrated in the examples below (fragments are underlined). You can correct most fragment errors by attaching the fragment to the sentence to which it belongs or by rewriting the fragment as a complete sentence.

Sentence Fragment People think that they will be happy if they are well off. That money will make everything better.

Revised by Attaching the Fragment to a Complete Sentence People think that they will be happy if they are well off and that money will make everything better.

Sentence Fragment Psychologist David Myers explains how students have increasingly chosen to attend college to make more money. Thus further explaining his point of people’s desire to use money to gain happiness.

Revised by Attaching the Fragment to a Complete Sentence Psychologist David Myers explains how students have increasingly chosen to attend college to make more money, thus further explaining his point of people’s desire to use money to gain happiness.

Sentence Fragment Although income grew, people’s happiness did not. With rich people reporting that even though they had plenty of money, their happiness had not changed much.

Revised by Adding a Verb Although income grew, people’s happiness did not. Rich people reported that even though they had plenty of money, their happiness had not changed much.

Sentence Fragment For many people, increased income is being spent on the things that people are unable to pay less for. Things like taxes, childcare, transportation, and housing.

Revised by Adding a Subject and a Verb For many people, increased income is being spent on things that people are unable to pay less for. These include taxes, childcare, transportation, and housing.

Intentional Sentence Fragments

Intentional sentence fragments force quick reading, inviting readers to stitch meaning to together. Intentional fragments are most common in creative writing and advertising.

The rabbit darted out of the shadows. A flash of movement. The dog lunged and strained at the leash.

Comma Splices

A comma splice is a common error that occurs when two complete sentences are joined by a comma. You can correct a comma splice by adding a coordinating conjunction (for, and, nor, but, or, yet, or so), adding a period and creating two sentences, adding a coordinating conjunction and creating a compound sentence, or subordinating one clause and creating a complex sentence.

Comma Splice The author sheds light on the financial sacrifice many mothers make, they take care of their children without compensation and often lose professional status.

Revised with a Coordinating Conjunction The author sheds light on the financial sacrifice many mothers make, for they take care of their children without compensation and often lose professional status.

Comma Splice Many college students see their education as the way to become wealthy, some are sacrificing happiness to pursue high-paying careers.

Revised with a Period Many college students see their education as the way to become wealthy. Some are sacrificing happiness to pursue high-paying careers.

Comma Splice Psychologist David Myers conducted multiple surveys asking people about their attitudes about money, the results revealed that people felt they needed more regardless of how much they had.

Revised with a Semicolon Psychologist David Myers conducted multiple surveys asking people about their attitudes about money; the results revealed that people felt they needed more regardless of how much they had.

Comma Splice Love cannot be paid for, it is a gift that parents give because they love their children.

Revised with a Semicolon and Transitional Word or Phrase Love cannot be paid for; indeed, it is a gift that parents give because they love their children.

Comma Splice Students are choosing majors to enable them to earn more money, they are under the misconception that earning money guarantees happiness.

Revised with a Subordinate Clause Students are choosing majors to enable them to earn more money because they are under the misconception that earning money guarantees happiness.

Run-on Sentences

In a run-on sentence, two or more complete sentences are not separated by any punctuation. Like comma splices, most run-on sentences can be revised in one or more of the following ways: adding a coordinating conjunction (for, and, nor, but, or, yet, or so), adding a period and creating two sentences, separating the sentences with a semicolon, separating the sentences with a semicolon and transitional word or phrase (such as on the other hand, however, consequently, and so on), or turning the less important sentence into a subordinate clause starting with a subordinating word such as although, because, if, when, since, and so on.

Run-on Sentence The DNR eventually designated the area as crucial habitat the protection came too late to save the nesting birds.

Revised with a Comma and a Coordinating Conjunction The DNR eventually designated the area as crucial habitat, but the protection came too late to save the nesting birds.

Run-on Sentence Most people realize that being wealthy won’t just happen many college students choose a major that will ensure they make money.

Revised with a Period Most people realize that being wealthy won’t just happen. Many college students choose a major that will ensure they make money.

Run-on Sentence Parents do not expect any financial reward they care for their children out of love and responsibility.

Revised with a Semicolon Parents do not expect any financial reward; they care for their children out of love and responsibility.

Run-on Sentence The average American family’s expenses have risen faster than incomes they have saved less than prior generations.

Revised with a Semicolon and Transitional Word or Phrase The average American family’s expenses have risen faster than incomes; as a result, they have saved less than prior generations.

Run-on Sentence College students have the opportunity to choose any major they tend to choose those that offer immediate opportunities to earn money when they graduate.

Revised with a Subordinate Clause Although college students have the opportunity to choose any major, they tend to choose those that offer immediate opportunities to earn money when they graduate.

Mixed Sentence Constructions

A mixed sentence contains parts that do not fit together because of grammar or meaning. In the following example, the writer needs to revise either the second part to fit with the first part or the first part to fit with the second. (See Editing Focus: Mixed Sentence Constructions for more on mixed sentence constructions.)

Mixed Sentence By starting my general studies classes last semester gave me the opportunity to take classes in my major this fall.

Second Part Revised By starting my general studies classes last spring, I had the opportunity to take classes in my major this fall.

First Part Revised Starting my general studies classes last spring gave me the opportunity to take classes in my major this fall.

Just because . . . doesn’t mean Constructions. Just because . . . doesn’t mean constructions are common in speech but should be avoided in writing.

Just because Just because I want to be a doctor doesn’t mean I will get into medical school.

Revised Simply wanting to be a doctor doesn’t guarantee admission to medical school.

Revised Although I want to be a doctor, I will need to work hard to get into medical school.

H 5 . Words and Language

The English language is rich and always evolving, offering you many ways and words to express yourself in writing and speech.

Language Varieties

English is not one language but many, made up of regional and social dialects. In addition, groups speak using specialized language among themselves that can be difficult for outsiders to understand. As a writer, be aware of the audience for your writing. Use language that your readers will understand directly or from context.

Dialects

English dialects are distinctive versions of the language used in geographical regions and/or by particular social or ethnic groups. Standard American English, the English spoken by newscasters, is one such dialect, as are African American Vernacular English, Creole, Appalachian English, and others. English dialects have many features in common, but each has particulars of grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation. (For an in-depth discussion of dialects and academic writing, see Spotlight on … Variations of English.)

Slang

Groups of people with similar skills and interests often develop slang that allows them to express ideas quickly and vividly. Slang also signals knowledge about a particular topic, such as meme culture, music, sports, and more. Slang is generally considered too casual for most academic writing, but it may be appropriate for personal essays. In your papers, be aware of your purpose and audience when choosing to use slang. Avoid using slang that your readers are unlikely to understand.

Technical Expressions

Experts in many professional fields use specialized and technical expressions that allow them to communicate efficiently and clearly with each other. Such language is often incomprehensible for nonexperts and should be avoided in writing for general readers. (For tips on writing about a technical topic for an audience of nonspecialists, see Spotlight on … Discipline-Specific and Technical Language.)

Biased Language

Biased words and expressions exclude or demean people on the basis of gender, sex, sexual orientation, age, ethnicity, social class, or physical or mental traits.

Biased Language Based on Sex and Gender

English includes words and expressions that are considered biased based on sex and gender, such as mankind, businessman, chairman, fireman, and so on. These are commonly replaced by gender-neutral words such as humanity, businessperson, chair or chairperson, and firefighter. (See Spotlight on … Bias in Language and Research for more on language bias.)

In addition, the English pronoun he has traditionally been used as the gender-neutral pronoun. For example, the construction A doctor should have a caring attitude toward his patients was once common but is now widely viewed as gender biased because many doctors are not men. For a discussion of the pronoun he used as the gender-neutral pronoun, see Pronouns.

Labels and Stereotypes

Be sensitive to labels and stereotypes that may insult a group of people you are writing about. Avoid labels that don’t put people first, such as cancer victim and wheelchair-bound. Don’t make assumptions about entire groups of people that promote stereotypes, such as teenagers are rebellious, elderly people don’t hear well, conservatives are rich, or women are more emotional than men. (See Spotlight on … Bias in Language and Research for more on language bias.)

Exact Words

As a general rule, use plain, direct words in your writing. Avoid reaching for a word that sounds fancy or impressive, especially if you are unsure about the meaning. If you use a word that is only vaguely familiar to you, look it up in a dictionary to ensure you are using it correctly. (You can type the word and “def” to get a definition.) Doing so has the added benefit of building your vocabulary.

Words Commonly Confused

The words in the following list are commonly confused or misused by writers. As you write, consult this list or use a reliable online tool, such as Merriam-Webster, to check the meanings and usage of words you’re unsure of. Keep a list of words that cause you trouble as you become aware of them. Then, after you draft a document, do a search for the words on your list. (For a discussion of homonyms, homographs, and homophones, see Editing Focus: Words Often Confused.)

Confusing Words Definitions and Examples
accept, except Accept means “to receive willingly.” Except is used mostly as a preposition meaning “excluding.” He accepted all the gifts except mine.
advice, advise Advice is a noun meaning “guidance.” Advise is a verb meaning “to recommend.” My mother gives good advice when she advises me about my college courses.
affect, effect The verb affect means “to produce a change in.” The noun effect means “result.” The wine affected me, but it seemed to have no effect on my roommate.
all ready, already All ready means “completely prepared.” Already means “happened by or before now.” We were all ready for the trip, but the train had already left.
all right, alright All right is always two words meaning “acceptable” or “satisfactory.” Alright is an informal spelling.
all together, altogether All together means “everyone or everything together.” We put the tickets all together for safekeeping. Altogether means “completely” or “entirely.” The book is altogether incomprehensible.
allusion, illusion An allusion is an indirect or implied reference. The poem includes an allusion to the Bible. An illusion creates a false impression of reality. Magic relies upon illusion, seeing what you believe instead of what is really there.
A lot

A lot is always two words meaning “much” or “many.”

Alot is a misspelling.

apart, a part Apart denotes a separation. Social distancing requires people to stand six feet apart from each other. A part denotes a segment of something. The dog is a part of our family.
bare, bear As verbs, bare means “to uncover.” Bear means “to endure.” Bear with me while I bare my soul.
complement, compliment Complement means “to add to” or “to complete.” Compliment means “to make an approving remark.” Many people now compliment the fresh gray paint that complements the exterior stone on the house. Complimentary also means “free” or “without cost.” Because they sold advertising space for the newspaper, they received complimentary tickets to the game.
conscience, conscious Conscience is a noun that refers to the awareness of one’s actions being right or wrong. I have a guilty conscience. Conscious is an adjective meaning “awake” or “alert.” She remained conscious after hitting her head on the windshield.
disinterested, uninterested Disinterested means “impartial.” Uninterested means “not interested.” She was chosen as a disinterested party to hear both sides of the disagreement. Unfortunately, she was uninterested in the dispute.
elicit, illicit Elicit is a verb meaning “to bring out.” Illicit means “unlawful.” His claims elicited a response from the mayor about the effort to stop demand for illicit drugs.
emigrate, immigrate People emigrate, or leave, one country. They immigrate to a new country to live. When my family emigrated from Chile, they immigrated to the United States.
everyday, every day Everyday is an adjective meaning “common,” “ordinary,” or “used daily.” Every day is a noun phrase meaning “every day.” Everyday tasks are ones you do every day, like brushing your teeth and washing dishes.
farther, further Farther refers to distance. I can’t carry these groceries any farther. Further means “in addition,” “more,” and “to a greater extent” and refers to abstractions like time or amount. I can’t discuss this issue any further.
fewer, less Fewer refers to items that can be counted. Less refers to items that cannot be counted: I have fewer assignments than my roommate, and she has less time than I do. Cacti need less water than other plants.
good, well Good is an adjective. That color looks good on you. Well is an adverb. Marguerite speaks Chinese well. Well is used as an adjective only in reference to health. She looks well after recovering from the flu.
imply, infer Imply means “to suggest.” Your email implies you’re upset. Infer means “to conclude.” I infer from your email that you’re upset.
its, it’s Its is a possessive pronoun. The dog wagged its tail. It’s is a contraction of “it is” or “it has.” It’s my turn. Its followed by an apostrophe is incorrect.
lay, lie Lay means “to put or set something down.” Please lay the books on the table. Lie means “to be in or move into a horizontal position” or “to be situated.” I need to lie down and rest my eyes. The towns lie near the waterfalls. Note also that lay is the past tense of lie. I fell asleep as soon as I lay down to rest my eyes.
lead, led The past tense of the verb to lead is led. The noun lead (rhymes with red) is the metal. Nina led a group of tourists past the old lead mine.
lose, loose Lose is a verb meaning to “mislay” or “not win.” I lose a sock every time I do laundry. These teams never lose their games. Loose means “not tight” or “not secure.” The loose shutters may be unsafe in a storm.
myself, herself, himself, yourself, ourselves, themselves, yourselves Do not use the -self pronouns in place of a personal pronoun in an effort to sound more formal: Malia and I [not myself] wrote the report. The report was written by Malia and me [not myself]. Use the -self pronouns in the following situations: Malia wrote the report herself. She treats herself to brunch on Sundays.
peak, peek, pique Peak means “a highest point” or “to reach a highest point.” After a difficult climb, the hikers finally reached the peak. Peek means “a secretive look” or “to take a secretive look.” My brother peeked at his birthday gifts. As a verb, pique means “to spark interest.” The two classes piqued her interest in physics. As a noun, pique also means “irritation.” His pique at her probing questions was obvious.
precede, proceed Precede means “to go before.” The example that precedes this one is peak/peek/pique. Proceed means “to go forward.” The judge’s decision allowed the lawsuit to proceed.
prejudice, prejudiced Prejudice is a noun that is sometimes used incorrectly in place of prejudiced, an adjective. His outrageous views were highly prejudiced [not prejudice].
principal, principle Principal has several meanings: “a chief or head, particularly of a school,” “a capital sum of money,” or “first or highest in rank, importance, or value.” Principle refers to a “rule of conduct or action.” The school principal outlined the principles behind the code of conduct. The small principal in their savings account is not their principal source of income.
raise, rise Raise means “to lift” or “to grow” and always takes an object. She raised her hand to tell the story of how she raised three children on her own. Rise means “to get up” and does not take an object. Like the sun, the moon rises in the eastern sky.
set, sit Set means “to put” or “to place” and takes an object. He set the groceries on the table. Sit means “to be seated” and does not take an object. She sits in the same seat for every class.
than, then Than is used to compare. I am older than you. Then indicates time. Do your homework, and then we’ll get pizza.
that, which That is used to introduce information essential to the meaning of a sentence. The phone that I bought five years ago no longer charges fully. Which is most often used to introduce information that is nonessential to the meaning of a sentence. My iPhone 7, which I bought five years ago, no longer charges fully. (For more on nonessential and essential information, see Editing Focus: Commas with Nonessential and Essential Information.)
that, who, which Use that and which to refer to things and most animals. The tiger that had escaped was found. Use who to refer to people and animals with names. Doctors who treated COVID-19 patients were often called heroes.
their, there, they’re Their is a possessive pronoun. There indicates place. They’re is a contraction of “they are.” The Smiths rescued their missing cat from that tree over there; they’re happy to have him back.
to, too, two To can be a preposition indicating direction. I am going to the pool. Or it can be part of an infinitive (the to form of a verb). I like to swim. Too means “also” or “excessively.” Do you like to swim too? Two is a number. I swim two times every week.
unique, unusual Unique means “one of a kind.” Unusual means “uncommon.” Saying that something is more unique than something else is incorrect because something unique cannot be compared. Use unusual instead when comparing.
weather, whether Weather refers to the state of the atmosphere. Whether refers to alternatives. Whether we attend the game in person or watch it on TV depends on the weather.
who’s, whose Who’s is the contraction of “who is” or “who has.” Who’s going to the game? Whose is the possessive form of “who.” Whose backpack is this?
your, you’re Your is the possessive form of “you.” You’re is the contraction of “you are.” You’re going to be relieved that I found your earring behind the desk.
Table H4

H 6 . Point of View

Point of view refers to the vantage point from which a story, event, report, or other written work is told. The point of view in which you write depends on the genre in which you are writing. For example, you will likely use first person in personal narrative writing. For most academic writing, you’ll use third person. (See Editing Focus: Characterization and Point of View for a related discussion of point of view in narrative writing.)

First Person

In the first-person point of view, the writer or narrator (I, we) is present in the writing. First person is commonly used in personal writing genres, such as literacy narratives, memoirs, and profiles, as well as in fiction.

After midnight—my paper started, my exam studied for—I leave the library and head back to my apartment. In the dark, I listen closely when I hear footsteps behind me, and I step to the edge of the sidewalk to let a man pass. At my door, I fumble for my key, open the door, turn on the light, and step inside. I am safe, ready to eat, read a bit, and return to my paper.

Second Person

Second-person point of view is used occasionally when an outsider (you) becomes part of a story. It should not be confused with a writer or speaker using “you” when directly addressing an audience (you). Nor should it be confused with giving instructions (drive forward, add one cup of brown sugar, close the door) or with its similar use in textbooks such as this one. However, second person is not considered appropriate in most academic writing.

Writers often slip into second person when they intend to write in third person. In the example below, the writer starts in third person and shifts by accident to second person. To check your sentences for second person, search your documents for you, and revise as needed.

Shift from Third Person to Second Person The federal government should raise the minimum wage because it has the responsibility to ensure people earn a wage you can live on. The current minimum wage, $7.25 per hour, is not enough to pay rent, let alone support a family. Many people cannot lift themselves out of poverty. A higher minimum wage can help you.

Revised The federal government should raise the minimum wage because it has the responsibility to ensure workers earn a wage they can live on. The current minimum wage, $7.25 per hour, is not enough to pay a single person’s rent, let alone support a family. Many people cannot lift themselves out of poverty. A higher minimum wage can help them.

Third Person

The third-person point of view (he, she, it, they) is customary for fiction and for academic writing, such as research papers, reports, visual and textual analysis papers, argumentative essays, and the like. Third-person point of view emphasizes the information instead of the writer.

The hikers and other passive trail users argue that mountain bikes should not be allowed on narrow trails traditionally traveled by foot and horse. They point out that the bikes’ wide, treaded tires cause erosion, that the bikers’ high speeds startle hikers and horses, and that their presence on trails disrupts the tranquility that hikers and bird watchers seek.

H 7 . Verbs

In a sentence, a verb expresses an action, an occurrence, or a state of being.

Subject-Verb Agreement

In many sentences, making the verb agree with the subject is straightforward: I run every day. My sister runs every other day. Sometimes our brother joins us, and all of us run together. However, subject-verb agreement gets tricky in the following circumstances. (See Editing Focus: Subject-Verb Agreement for more on subject-verb agreement.)

Agreement with Compound Subjects

Two or more subjects joined by and take a plural verb in most sentences:

Yoga and meditation are effective activities for relieving stress.

However, when the parts of the subject form a single idea or unit, the verb is singular:

Macaroni and cheese is my favorite meal.

When compound subjects are joined by or or nor, the verb agrees with the word closest to it:

Either your aunts or your mother remembers where your great-grandmother’s grave is located.

Neither the image nor the words convey the message of the advertisement clearly.

Agreement When Words Come between Subject and Verb

The verb must agree with the subject even when words and phrases come between them:

The cost of the flights is prohibitive.

A box of invitations with stamps and return addresses was on the desk.

Agreement When the Verb Comes Before the Subject

The verb must agree with the subject, even when it comes before the subject:

Are James and Tamara at the front of the line?

There were three people ahead of us in line.

Under the table are a newspaper and a magazine.

Agreement with Everyone and Other Indefinite Pronouns

An indefinite pronoun is general; it does not refer to a specific person, place, or thing. Most indefinite pronouns take a singular verb, but not all. Those that take a singular verb include anybody, anyone, anything, each, everybody, everyone, everything, nobody, no one, nothing, one, somebody, someone, and something.

Everyone in the class has prepared a research proposal.

Nobody among the accused suspects admits to the crime.

The following indefinite pronouns take a plural verb: both, few many, others, and several.

Several of the students in the class have proposed researching hurricanes.

Both of the suspects deny committing the crime.

Several indefinite pronouns take a singular or plural verb depending on whether the word they refer to is singular or plural. These include all, any, enough, more, most, neither, none, and some.

Most of the class has proposed researching a topic related to climate change. (Most refers to class.)

Most of the students in the class have proposed researching a topic related to climate change. (Most refers to students.)

Neither the students nor the teachers have proposed a field trip. (Neither/nor refers to students and teachers.)

Agreement with Collective Nouns

Collective nouns such as audience, band, class, crowd, family, group, or team can take a singular or a plural verb depending on the context. When the group acts as a single unit, which is the most common construction, use a singular verb:

The band rehearses every day.

When the group acts individually, use a plural verb, or to avoid confusion, add the word members and use a plural verb.

The jury do not agree on a verdict.

The jury members do not agree on a verdict.

Agreement with Words Such as News and Statistics

Some nouns that end in -s, such as athletics, economics, measles, news, physics, politics, and statistics seem plural but are usually regarded as singular in meaning. In most situations, these words take a singular verb:

Day after day, the news was bad.

Statistics fulfills a math requirement for many college majors.

When a word like economics, politics, or statistics refers to a specific situation, use a plural verb:

The economics of the situation are hard to comprehend.

Agreement with Titles and Words Used as Words

Whether singular or plural in form, titles and words used as words take singular verbs:

Directed by Spike Lee, Da 5 Bloods centers around four veterans returning to Vietnam to find the remains of their squad leader and the fortune they hid together.

Children is the plural form of child.

Verb Tense

Tense expresses the time of a verb’s action—the past, present, or future. Tense comes naturally in speech, but it can be tricky to control in writing. The following guidelines will help you choose the appropriate tense for your writing and use it consistently. (See Editing Focus: Verb Tense Consistency for a related discussion of consistent verb tense.)

Verb Tense in Narrative Writing

Personal experience stories, such as literacy narratives, memoirs, personal essays, or profiles, can be written in either the past or the present tense. Although the most natural way to tell a story about a past experience is to write in the past tense, the present tense can draw readers into the story and give the illusion that the experience is happening as they are reading it. In the following examples, the writer describes driving with her Native American grandfather to a tribal conference. Notice the difference between the past and present tense.

Narrative Writing Using Past Tense I sat silently next to Grandfather and watched him slowly tear the thin white paper from the tip of the cigarette. He gathered the tobacco in one hand and drove the van with the other. I memorized his every move as he went through the motions of the prayer, which ended when he blew the tobacco out the window and into the wind.

Narrative Writing Using Present Tense I sit silently next to Grandfather and watch him slowly tear the thin white paper from the tip of the cigarette. He gathers the tobacco in one hand and drives the van with the other. I memorize his every move as he goes through the motions of the prayer, which ends when he blows the tobacco out the window and into the wind.

Verb Tense in Academic Writing

Academic disciplines differ in their tense preferences for signal phrases used in formal essays and reports to introduce and discuss evidence. A signal phrase is a verb that tells readers the words or ideas that follow come from another source. Signal phrases include words such as argues, asserts, claims, comments, denies, discusses, implies, proposes, says, shows, states, and suggests. (For more discussion and a more extensive list of signal phrases, see Editing Focus: Integrating Sources and Quotations.)

acknowledges declares observes
admits endorses poses
agrees explains posits
argues finds proposes
asserts grants reports
believes illustrates reveals
claims implies says
comments insists shows
concedes maintains states
concludes notes suggests
thinks writes
Table H5

If you are writing for a course in English, a foreign language, or a related discipline and using MLA documentation style, you generally will use the present tense or the present perfect tense in signal phrases.

Present Tense The film critic Manohla Dargis claims that . . .

Present Perfect Tense The film critic Manohla Dargis has claimed that . . .

When you are analyzing a work of literature, common practice is to use the literary present tense in discussing both the work of the author and the action that occurs in the work:

Being cool is key to the lives of the speakers in “We Real Cool,” a poem by Gwendolyn Brooks. Brooks uses short lines and stanzas in which speakers list what it means to be cool: dropping out of school, staying out late, playing pool, drinking, carousing, and so on. Being cool unites the speakers, and they celebrate their lifestyle, even as they acknowledge in the final line of the poem that their coolness may cause them to die young.

(For more on literary present tense, see Editing Focus: Literary Works Live in the Present.)

If you are writing for a course in history, art history, philosophy, religion, or a related discipline in the humanities, you generally will use the present tense or the present perfect tense in signal phrases.

Present Tense The historian Eduardo Galeano argues that . . .

Present Perfect Tense The historian Eduardo Galeano has argued that . . .

On the other hand, if you are writing for a course in the social sciences, such as psychology, political science, or economics; a course in the natural sciences, such as biology, chemistry, or physics; or a technical field such as engineering, you will generally use past tense or present perfect tense for most signal phrases.

Past Tense The study found that individuals who identify as transgender . . . (past tense)

Present Perfect Tense: Several recent studies have found that individuals who identify as transgender . . .

Verb Tense Consistency

Whichever tense you choose, be consistent throughout a piece of writing. You may need to shift tenses to indicate actual changes in time, but the governing tense should remain constant. (See Editing Focus: Verb Tense Consistency for a related discussion of consistent verb tense.)

Inconsistent Blinking back tears, I clutched my two-year-old son to my chest, kiss his forehead, and will gather my things. It is 2003, and I was headed to active duty in Iraq with the National Guard. I hug my spouse, my mom, my dad, my brothers, and my grandma. Then I turn and climbed on the bus that takes me to a future that, in all honesty, was terrifying to me.

Consistent Blinking back tears, I clutched my two-year-old son to my chest, kissed his forehead, and gathered my things. It was 2003, and I was headed to active duty in Iraq with the National Guard. I hugged my spouse, my mom, my dad, my brothers, and my grandma. Then I turned and climbed on the bus that would take me to a future that, in all honesty, was terrifying to me.

Irregular Verbs

Most verbs are regular and form the past tense and past participle forms by adding -d or -ed.

  • I bake/I baked/I have baked
  • She discovers/she discovered/she has discovered
  • They shovel/they shoveled/they have shoveled

Some verbs, however, are irregular and form the past tense and participle in another way. Below are a few of the approximately 200 irregular verbs in English. For a comprehensive list of irregular verbs, see this list.

  • begin/began/begun
  • bring/brought/brought
  • buy/bought/bought
  • do/did/done
  • drive/drove/driven
  • fall/fell/fallen
  • go/went/gone
  • have/had/had
  • is/was/been
  • lead/led/led
  • hide/hid/hidden
  • ring/rang/rung
  • run/ran/run
  • see/saw/seen
  • sing/sang/sung
  • sit/sat/sat
  • shake/shook/shaken
  • speak/spoke/spoken
  • take/took/taken
  • wear/wore/worn
  • write/wrote/written

Verb Mood

Verbs have three moods: indicative, imperative, and subjunctive. Mood can be said to indicate a speaker’s attitude or intention.

Indicative Mood

Use the indicative mood to state a fact or an opinion or to ask a question:

Thousands of women currently serve in the military.

I think college tuition is expensive.

The weather was awful for much of the winter but will improve soon.

Have you submitted your request for time off?

Imperative Mood

Use the imperative mood to give instructions and commands. The subject, you, is often implied but not stated:

(You) Use the online form to request time off.

(You) Submit your request for time off by Friday.

You must submit your request on time.

Subjunctive Mood

Use the subjunctive mood to express wishes, suggestions, or requirements or to state hypothetical or unlikely conditions:

The rules state that every member be present for the vote.

I wish you were here to see the exhibition.

The governing board could be more effective if all members were active.

Students who failed the class would have passed had they completed all assignments.

H 8 . Pronouns

A Pronouns is a word used in place of a noun. Some pronouns are I, you, he, she, we, they, who, and everyone. The noun a pronoun replaces or refers to is its antecedent. (See Editing Focus: Pronouns for a related discussion of pronouns.)

Pronoun Reference

A pronoun should refer to a clear and specific antecedent.

Clear Antecedent All nine members of the school board voted in favor of changing the district’s mascot. They explained their reasoning during the meeting. (They refers clearly to members.)

Unclear Antecedent In Smith’s essay, she explains why many American families have less money saved and more debt than families in the 1970s.

Revised In her essay, Smith explains why many American families have less money saved and more debt than families in the 1970s.

Problems with pronoun reference occur in the following situations:

Vague this, that, which, or it. The pronouns this, that, which, and it should not refer to words expressing an idea, an event, or a situation.

Vague Reference The school board voted to change the district’s mascot without holding special meetings with the public. This made some community members angry. (Are community members angry about the vote or about the lack of special meetings?)

Revised The school board voted to change the district’s mascot without holding special meetings with the public. Their decision to avoid public discussion before the vote made some community members angry.

Indefinite it, they, or you. The pronouns it, they, and you should have a definite antecedent in a sentence.

Indefinite it Crittenden explains that mothers are taken for granted and disrespected, even though our society calls it the most important job in the world.

Revised Crittenden explains that mothers are taken for granted and disrespected, even though our society calls motherhood the most important job in the world.

Indefinite they Japan has considerable wealth compared to Ireland, but they have a low subjective well-being index.

Revised Japan has considerable wealth compared to Ireland, but Japanese citizens have a low subjective well-being index.

Indefinite you The federal government should raise the minimum wage to ensure you earn a wage you can live on.

Revised The federal government should raise the minimum wage to ensure workers earn a wage they can live on.

Pronoun-Antecedent Agreement

In many sentences, making a pronoun agree with its antecedent is straightforward: My neighbors gave me the keys to their apartment. However, pronoun-antecedent agreement gets tricky in the following circumstances.

Agreement with Generic Nouns and Indefinite Pronouns

Generic nouns refer to a type of person or job someone performs, such as athlete, child, scientist, doctor, or hairdresser. Indefinite pronouns include words such as anyone, each, everyone, everything, many, most, and none.

All generic nouns and most indefinite pronouns are singular in meaning. Traditionally, these words took the singular pronouns he/him/his because English does not have a gender-neutral third-person pronoun that refers to people: Everyone has his own opinion or A doctor needs to show that he cares about his patients.

More recently, writers have been replacing he/him/his or his/her with they/them/their when the person’s gender is unknown or unimportant or when the person has indicated a preference for non-gendered pronouns:

Everyone has their own opinion.

A doctor needs to show that they care about their patients.

These plural pronouns are increasingly accepted and intentionally used by writers, teachers, and editors. Many prominent publications and style guides indicate that the plural pronoun should replace binary or singular ones in most cases. If using a plural pronoun does not fit the situation (such as in a paragraph where the pronoun they is also used several times to indicate a group), try rewriting the sentence in either of these ways:

Remove the pronoun. Everyone has an opinion.

Make the antecedent plural. People have their own opinions. Doctors need to show that they care about their patients.

Agreement with Collective Nouns

Collective nouns such as audience, band, class, crowd, family, group, or team can take a singular or plural pronoun depending on the context. When the group acts as a single unit, which is the most common construction, use a singular pronoun. When the group members act individually, use a plural pronoun. If using the plural sounds awkward, add the word members so that the plural is clear.

The band went through its complete playlist.

The band loaded their instruments on the bus. The band members loaded their instruments on the bus.

Pronoun Case

Pronouns have three cases: subjective, objective, and possessive. Pronouns change case according to their function in a sentence.

  • Subjective case pronouns function as subjects: I, we, you, he/she/it, they, who/whoever:

    Antonio and I share an apartment downtown in a neighborhood we like.

  • Objective case pronouns function as objects: me, us, you, him/her/it, them, whom/whomever:

    The manager gave us a tour of the building.

  • Possessive case pronouns show ownership: my/mine, our/ours, your/yours, his/her/hers/its, their/theirs, whose:

    Our friends live in the building too.

Pronoun case gets tricky in the circumstances explained below.

Case in Compound Structures

Compound subjects use subjective case pronouns. Compound objects use objective case pronouns.

Subjective Case Antonio and I have occasional disagreements about the dishes.

Objective Case Occasional disagreements about the dishes come up between Antonio and me.

Case After than or as

In a comparison, the case of the pronoun indicates which words have been left out:

Antonio cares more about having a clean kitchen than I [do].

Sometimes I think Antonio cares more about a clean kitchen than [he cares about] me.

Who or Whom

Use the subjective case who in place of a subject—whether it is the subject of the sentence or the subject of a clause:

Who is going to the concert? (subject of sentence)

Give the tickets to whoever can use them. (subject of clause)

She is the person who is best qualified for the job. (subject of clause)

She is the person who I think is best qualified for the job. (subject of clause; the intervening words “I think” don’t change the subject or verb of the clause)

Use the objective case whom in place of an object, whether it is the object of a verb, preposition, or clause:

I don’t know whom to ask. (object of verb)

To whom should I give the extra concert tickets? (object of preposition)

Give the tickets to whomever you choose. (object of clause)

We or us with a Noun

Use we with a subject. Use us with an object.

We citizens must vote in order to make our voices heard. (subject)

Legislators need to hear from us citizens. (object)

Case Before or After an Infinitive

Use the objective case before and after an infinitive (the to form of a verb: to run, to walk, to eat):

The agent asked Antonio and me to write a review.

We agreed to give him a positive review.

Case Before a Gerund

Generally, use the possessive case of a pronoun before a gerund (the -ing form of a verb used as a noun: gentle snoring, elegant dining):

He grew tired of their partying late into the night.

The rental agreement depends on your approving the lease terms.

H 9 . Punctuation

This section covers the major marks of punctuation: commas, apostrophes, semicolons, colons, periods, question marks, exclamation points, dashes, and parentheses. (For using brackets and ellipses, see Quotations.)

Commas

Commas alert readers to brief pauses within sentences.

Commas with Main Clauses

Use a comma before a coordinating conjunction (for, and, nor, but, or, yet, or so) joining main clauses:

Businesses in the metropolitan area are growing, and unemployment is down.

Many job seekers use online sites like Indeed.com, but a few still send traditional cover letters and résumés through the mail.

A solution must be determined soon, or the problem will continue.

Commas with Introductory Information

Use a comma after an introductory element at the start of a sentence:

After class is over, we should get lunch and review our notes.

Shuffling his feet nervously, he waited for the train.

However, the circumstances have not changed.

Commas with Nonessential and Essential Information

(See Editing Focus: Commas with Nonessential and Essential Information for a related discussion of commas.)

Nonessential information refers to information that is usually not necessary to the basic meaning of a sentence. Nonessential information is set off by commas. In the following sentence, the word original tells readers which labs no longer meet the needs of the teachers and students. The underlined information adds information but does not change the meaning of the sentence and thus is nonessential to the basic meaning:

The original technical education labs, which were installed 50 years ago, no longer meet the needs of the teachers and students.

Essential information, on the other hand, is necessary to the meaning of the sentence. In following example, the word original is no longer part of the sentence; the underlined words convey necessary information about the labs:

The technical education labs that were installed 50 years ago no longer meet the needs of the teachers and students.

You can test whether information is nonessential by removing the information. If the meaning of the sentence is unchanged, the information is nonessential. If the meaning becomes too general or changes, the information is essential. In the sentence above, only the labs installed 50 years ago, as opposed to other labs, no longer meet the needs of teachers and students. Note, also, the use of which with nonessential information and that with essential information.

Commas Around Nonessential Information

Place commas around information that is not essential to the meaning of a sentence:

The entire technology department, which consists of nine teachers and five staff members, has contributed to a report on the needed updates to the technical education labs.

The technology department chair, who teaches welding, wrote the final report.

Updates to the labs will begin in June, when school is not in session.

No Commas Around Essential Information

Do not place commas around essential information:

According to the technical education teachers, the labs need equipment that students are likely to encounter in the workplace.

Faculty who teach auto mechanics have requested updates to their lab.

The teachers are concerned about the labs because students are not learning the skills they need.

The amount of lab space that needs to be updated is substantial.

The department has consulted the industry expert Stacy James.

Serial (Oxford or Harvard) Commas

For clarity, use a comma between items in a series:

He studied all the notes, emails, memos, and reports related to the data breach.

Be aware, however, that certain style manuals, such as the AP Stylebook, do not use the serial comma, also called the Oxford or Harvard comma.

Commas with Numbers, Dates, Titles with Names, and Addresses

The sign gave the city’s population as 122,887.

Nobel Prize winner Toni Morrison died on August 5, 2019.

Diana Wong, M.D., is a practicing obstetrician.

The mailing address for the Smithsonian Institution is 600 Maryland Avenue SW, Washington, D.C., 20002.

Common Comma Errors

Misplaced commas can make sentences choppy and obscure the intended meaning.

No Comma after a Subject or a Verb

Anyone who was still at the party, left when the band stopped playing.

The party ended, after the band stopped playing.

No Comma after a Conjunction Connecting Parts of a Compound Subject, Verb, or Object

Some musicians in the band, and many of the guests danced until midnight. (compound subject)

The band stopped after two hours, and took a well-deserved break. (compound verb)

Guests enjoyed the music, and the dancing. (compound object)

No Comma after a Series

The band played 80s rock, punk, and new wave, all night long.

No Comma before an Indirect Quotation

Online reviews say, that the band is the best in the area.

Apostrophes

An apostrophe has two functions. It indicates possession, and it forms contractions.

Apostrophes to Show Possession

Use an apostrophe and -s to indicate possession with a singular noun or an indefinite pronoun:

Jacks brother is my sisters coworker.

In their family, everyones favorite dessert is ice cream.

If the ’s in a singular noun is pronounced, add apostrophe -s:

The businesss inconsistent hours caused customers to go elsewhere.

Los Angeless airport, LAX, is one of the busiest in the United States.

If the ’s is not pronounced in a singular noun, some writers choose to add an apostrophe alone; however, MLA, APA, and Chicago use the apostrophe and s in these cases:

David Myers book, The Pursuit of Happiness, was published in 1992.

David Myers’s book, The Pursuit of Happiness, was published in 1992.

When the noun is plural and ends in -s, place the apostrophe after the final -s:

American households incomes have grown since the 1970s because more women have entered the workforce.

These families expenses have risen too.

When the noun is plural and does not end in -s, add an apostrophe and -s:

Social medias effect on contemporary life cannot be underestimated.

During the pandemic, parents’ stress grew as they helped with their childrens schooling.

Apostrophes to Form Contractions

Contractions are common in speech and in informal writing. Use an apostrophe in contractions:

When I say I cant, I mean I wont.

Its the best option under the circumstances.

Youre the best friend anyone can have,” Mikayla said.

Theyre driving to their favorite hangout spot.

Common Apostrophe Errors

Apostrophes are not used to form plural nouns, singular verbs, or personal or relative pronouns.

Not in Plural Nouns

How many hotel rooms [not room’s] should be reserved for the wedding?

The Lewises and the Riveras [not Lewis’s and Rivera’s or Lewis’ and Riveras’] have confirmed their reservations.

Not with Verbs Ending in -s

Nikki runs [not run’s] every day.

Jamal walks [not walk’s] to work.

Not with Possessive Personal Pronouns or Relative Pronouns

The book is yours [not your’s].

The dog was barking and wagging its [not it’s] tail.

Whose [not who’s] apartment is this?

Other Punctuation

Semicolons

The semicolon joins main clauses (a clause that contains a subject and a predicate and can stand alone as a sentence). A semicolon is also used to separate items in a series that contain commas.

  • Use a semicolon to join main clauses that are closely related in meaning and that are not joined by a coordinating conjunction (for, and, nor, but, or, yet, or so).

    Originally built in 1928, the school had been remodeled multiple times; the result was an architectural mashup.

  • Use a semicolon to join main clauses that are connected by a transitional word or phrase such as for example, however, therefore, indeed, or after all:

    The governor has proposed increased funding to K-12 public schools; however, the legislature must approve the budget.

  • Use a semicolon between items in a series that contain internal commas:

    The candidates for the award are Michael, who won the essay competition; Sasha, the top debater; and Giselle, who directed several student productions.

Colons

A colon introduces lists, summaries, and quotations. A colon also separates titles from subtitles.

  • A colon can introduce a list:

    Successful athletes have the following qualities: physical ability, mental toughness, commitment, and optimism.

  • A colon can also introduce a summary or an explanation, which may or may not be a main clause (a clause that contains a subject and a predicate and can stand alone as a sentence):

    The team had one goal left before the end of the season: to win the state championship.

  • Book titles often include a subtitle. A colon separates the subtitle from the title:

    Forcing the Spring: Inside the Fight for Marriage Equality

End Punctuation

A sentence ends with a period, a question mark, or an exclamation point.

  • A period ends declarative (statement) and imperative (command) sentences:

    The administration canceled classes.

    Do not attempt to drive to school this morning.

  • A question mark ends a direct question and indicates uncertainty in dates:

    Where is Times Square?

    She asked, “What time is it?

  • An exclamation point ends an emphatic or emotional sentence:

    “What a mess!” she blurted out.

    “Stop! That hurts!” he shouted.

Dashes and Parentheses

Dashes and parentheses enclose nonessential information in a sentence.

  • Use a dash or dashes to set off nonessential information, to indicate a contrast or a pause, or to mark a change of direction.

    We did not notice the rain at firstit began so softlybut soon we were soaked.

    Nothing is as exciting as seeing a snowy owl in a winter farm fieldexcept maybe seeing two snowy owls.

  • Use parentheses to enclose nonessential information such as explanations, asides, examples, and dates.

    He graduated with high honors (magna cum laude) and found a job immediately.

    The city of Madison (home of the University of Wisconsin) is the state capital of Wisconsin.

H 10 . Mechanics

Capital Letters

Use capital letters in the following situations.

  • Capitalize the first word of a sentence: The weather is rainy today.
  • Capitalize proper nouns and proper adjectives: Monday, New Orleans, Mexico, Florida, Halloween, United States Constitution, Department of Education, University of Texas, Native American, Islam, Italian, Freudian.
  • Capitalize titles that precede a person’s name: Dr. Atul Gawande, Senator Tammy Baldwin. [But: Atul Gawande, a doctor; Tammy Baldwin, a senator]

Many online resources, such as this one, list words that should be capitalized. You can also consult a dictionary, such as Merriam-Webster, to determine whether to capitalize a word.

Titles of Works

Titles of books, articles, stories, plays, poems, films, and other works are handled differently depending on the documentation style you are using. The guidelines here follow MLA style.

Capitalization in Titles and Subtitles

Capitalize the first and last words in a title and subtitle and other important words. Do not capitalize articles (a, an, the), coordinating conjunctions (for, and, nor, but, or, yet, or so), or prepositions (above, with, of, in, through, beyond, under) unless they are the first or last words in the title or subtitle.

  • Forcing the Spring: Inside the Fight for Marriage Equality (book)
  • Judas and the Black Messiah (film)
  • “American Military Performance in Vietnam: Background and Analysis” (article)

Italics for Titles of Long Works

Use italics for long works that are published, produced, or released separately from other works. These include books, long poems, plays, movies, videos, published speeches, periodicals (newspapers, magazines, and academic and professional journals), websites, long musical works, works of visual art, computer software, TV or radio programs and series, and pamphlets.

  • Four Fish: The Future of the Last Wild Food (book)
  • The New Yorker (periodical)
  • The Los Angeles Times (newspaper)
  • American Idiot (album)
  • Parasite (film)
  • Saturday Night Live (TV program)

Quotation Marks for Titles of Shorter Works

Put quotation marks around the titles and subtitles of individual shorter works or those that are published or released within larger works. These include articles in periodicals (newspapers, magazines, and academic and professional journals), pages or works on a website, short stories, short poems, essays, songs, episodes of TV or radio programs and series, book chapters, and unpublished speeches.

  • “Living with a Visionary” (article in a magazine)
  • “A World of Fields and Fences” (work on a website)
  • “New York Day Women” (short story)
  • “Corson’s Inlet” (short poem)
  • “Return from ISIS” (TV episode)

H 11 . Quotations

A quotation reproduces the exact written or spoken words of a person or an author, which may include a group. (See Editing Focus: Quotations for a related discussion of direct quotations and Editing Focus: Integrating Sources and Quotations for help with integrating quotations from sources.)

Quotations from Written or Spoken Sources

Put quotation marks around quotations from a written or spoken source.

Quoting a Source

When quoting the words of a source, introduce quoted material with a signal phrase so that readers know the source and purpose of the quotation. Place the quotation inside double quotation marks. When using parenthetical citations, note that the sentence period comes after the parentheses. If you include the author’s name in your signal phrase, give only the page number in parentheses (first example). If you do not give the author’s name in your signal phrase, give the name in parentheses (second example):

In Walden, Thoreau sets forth one individual’s antidote against the lives of quiet desperation led by the working class in mid-nineteenth-century America (5).

Walden sets forth one individual’s antidote against the lives of quiet desperation led by the working class in mid-nineteenth-century America (Thoreau 5).

Abraham Lincoln wrote that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth in his Gettysburg Address.

Quoting or Writing Dialogue

When quoting or writing dialogue between speakers, including characters in a fictional work, place their words in double quotation marks, and start a new paragraph for each speaker:

It’s good to see you—I guess, Brayden said, as Christopher walked up to the door. I thought you were gone for good.

I missed you too much, Christopher said, looking down at his feet.

Single and Double Quotation Marks

Put single quotation marks around a quotation within a quotation, using double quotation marks around the full quotation:

Kennedy writes that after a year of teambuilding work, including improvements in communication, evaluation, and small-group quarterly meetings, morale among staff members improved from average to excellent (17).

Long Quotations

Introduce a long quotation (four typed lines in MLA style; 40 or more words in APA style) with a signal phrase that names the author and ends with a colon. Indent this entire block quotation one-half inch. If you quote more than one paragraph, indent the first line of each subsequent paragraph one-half inch. Do not use quotation marks. Note that the sentence period comes before the parenthetical citation:

In her memoir, Twenty Years at Hull-House, reformer Jane Addams recounts vivid stories of child labor:

The visits we made in the neighborhood constantly discovered women sewing upon sweatshop work, and often they were assisted by incredibly small children. I remember a little girl of four who pulled out basting threads hour after hour, sitting on a stool at the feet of her Bohemian mother, a little bunch of human misery. For even for that there was no legal redress, for the only child labor law in Illinois, with any provision for enforcement, had been secured by the coal miners’ unions, and was confined to the children employed in the mines. (199)

Poetry Quotations

When you quote one, two, or three lines from a poem, use the following format, putting quotation marks around the line or group of lines and separating the lines with a slash:

The 17th-century writer Aphra Behn (1640–1689) wrote humorous poems about love and heartbreak, including “Love’s Power,” which opens with Love when he Shoots abroad his Darts / Regards not where they light (1-2).

When you quote more than three lines from a poem, set them off from your text. Indent the quotation one-half inch, and do not use quotation marks. Note that the sentence period comes before the parenthetical citation.

In the poem “The Character,” Aphra Behn (1640–1689) uses the familiar alternate rhyme scheme, also known as ABAB:

Such Charms of Youth, such Ravishment

Through all her Form appear’d,

As if in her Creation Nature meant,

She shou’d a-lone be ador’d and fear’d. (1-4)

Altering Quotations

When you alter a quotation to fit into your sentence, you must indicate the change you made.

Ellipses

An ellipsis [. . .] indicates that you have omitted words from a quotation. In the example below, the writer omitted words from the middle of the sentence.

In her memoir, Twenty Years at Hull-House, reformer Jane Addams explains that there were no enforceable laws against small children helping their mothers with sweatshop sewing work, and that “the only child labor law in Illinois . . . had been secured by the coal miners’ unions, and was confined to the children employed in the mines” (199).

If you omit the end of a sentence or a complete sentence, include the sentence period:

The author explains as follows: “Damage to the Broca’s area of the brain can affect a person’s ability to comprehend spoken language. . . . A person may understand speech relatively well when the sentence grammar is simple and the content familiar but may struggle when the grammar and content are more complex” (Hollar-Zwick 45).

Brackets

Use brackets [ ] to indicate a change you have made to a quotation:

Abruzzi cited the study, noting that “[t]he results provide hope to patients [with muscular dystrophy].”

Punctuating Quotations

Periods

Place the period inside quotation marks if no source is cited:

The meteorologist said, Today’s weather will be sunny and mild.”

If you are citing a source in parentheses, place the quotation marks at the end of the quotation, followed by the citation and the sentence period:

In Twenty Years at Hull-House, Jane Addams recalls vivid images of child labor: I remember a little girl of four who pulled out basting threads hour after hour, sitting on a stool at the feet of her Bohemian mother, a little bunch of human misery (199).

(See Long Quotations and Poetry Quotations above for exceptions to this rule.)

Commas

Commas go inside quotation marks:

Tomorrow’s weather will be cool and rainy,” the meteorologist said.

Colons and Semicolons

Colons and semicolons go outside quotation marks:

The sign read Closed”: No more films would be shown at the theater. (Note: Use a capital letter if a complete sentence follows the colon.)

Question Marks and Exclamation Points

Question marks and exclamation points go inside quotation marks if they are part of the quotation:

Would you like a sandwich?” asked Adelaide.

Question marks and exclamation points go outside quotation marks if they are not part of the quotation:

“I can’t believe you haven’t read The Lottery”!

H 12 . Index and Guide to Documentation

Although formal differences exist among the conventions for documenting sources, the underlying principle of all documentation systems is the same: When borrowing words, facts, or ideas from someone else, writers must indicate that the material is borrowed. They do this by providing a citation in the text of their paper that points readers to detailed publication information about the source of the material, usually at the end of the paper but sometimes in footnotes. The following examples are in MLA style:

Citation in the Text

Describing Martin Luther King, Jr.’s visit to India, Isabel Wilkerson notes that King was taken aback by the suggestion that Black Americans were the equivalent of the Dalits in the Indian caste system (22).

Works-Cited Entry

Wilkerson, Isabel. Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents. Penguin, 2020.

Documentation Styles by Discipline

Each discipline has its own authority or authorities that provide rules about issues such as spelling of technical terms, preferred punctuation, and editing mechanics, as well as documentation style. In addition, if you write for publication in a magazine, professional journal, book, or website, the publisher will have a “house” style, which may vary in some details from the conventions listed in the authoritative guidelines for the discipline in which you are writing. Below are the sources of style manuals for various disciplines. Always check with your instructor about which style to use in a class.

Discipline Documentation Style
languages, literature, philosophy, and some arts Modern Language Association (MLA)
social sciences, education, and some other sciences American Psychological Association (APA)
history, religion, fine arts, and business Chicago Manual of Style (CMS)
life sciences Council of Science Editors (CSE)
chemistry American Chemical Society (ACS)
physics American Institute of Physics (AIP)
journalism Associated Press (AP)
medicine American Medical Association (AMA)
law Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation
Table H6

Index to MLA Documentation Models

The models, listed numerically, provide examples of in-text citations and works-cited entries (MLA). The models themselves are located in Handbook Section 13 (H13).

In-Text Citation Models

  1. One author
  2. Two or more works by the same author
  3. Two authors
  4. Three or more authors
  5. Authors with the same last name
  6. Organization, government, corporation, or association as author
  7. Unknown author
  8. Work in more than one volume
  9. Work with no page or other reference numbers
  10. One-page or entire work
  11. Source quoted in another source (indirect quotation)
  12. Literary works
    • Poetry and verse plays
    • Fiction and prose plays
  13. Two or more works in the same citation
  14. Sacred text

Endnotes and Footnotes (MLA)

Format of the List of Works Cited (MLA)

Authors and Contributors (MLA)
  1. Book: one author
  2. Book: two authors
  3. Book: three or more authors
  4. Book: two or more works by the same author
  5. Author and editor
  6. Author and translator
  7. Author and illustrator
  8. Work by an organization, a government, a corporation, or an association
  9. Unknown author
Articles in Journals, Magazines, and Newspapers (MLA)
  1. Basic format for a journal article in a database
  2. Article in an academic journal
    • Database
    • Print
    • Online
  3. Article in a weekly or biweekly magazine
    • Database
    • Print
    • Online
  4. Article in a monthly or bimonthly magazine
    • Database
    • Print
    • Online
  5. Article in a newspaper
    • Database
    • Print
    • Online
  6. Editorial or letter to the editor
  7. Review
Books and Parts of Books (MLA)
  1. Basic entry for a book
  2. Print book
  3. E-book
  4. Book, anthology, or collection with an editor
  5. Work in an anthology or chapter in an edited collection
  6. Two or more works in an anthology or edited collection
  7. Revised or later edition
  8. Multivolume work
  9. One volume of a multivolume work
  10. Book in a series
  11. Republished work
  12. Sacred text
  13. Introduction, preface, foreword, or afterword
  14. Published letter
  15. Conference paper
Websites and Parts of Websites (MLA)
  1. Basic format for a short work or page on a website
  2. Short work or page on a website
  3. Blog post
  4. Entire website
  5. Wiki
Social Media (MLA)
  1. Basic format for a social media post
  2. Social media post
  3. Online forum post
  4. Online comment
Personal Communication (MLA)
  1. Email
  2. Text message
  3. Personal letter
Video, Audio, and Other Media Sources (MLA)
  1. Film
  2. Online video
  3. Television programs
    • TV series
    • TV episode
  4. Advertisement
    • Print
    • Online
  5. Cartoon or comic
    • Print
    • Online
  6. Painting or other visual artwork
    • Original work
    • Reproduction
    • Online
  7. Map, chart, or diagram
    • Print
    • Online
  8. Sound recording
    • Album
    • Song
    • Online
  9. Radio
  10. Podcast
  11. Interview
    • Broadcast
    • Online
    • Personal interview
  12. Video game, software, or app
Other Sources (MLA)
  1. Live lecture, speech, address, or reading
  2. Live performance
  3. Letter in an archive
  4. Dissertation
  5. Pamphlet

Index to APA Documentation Models

The models, listed numerically, provide examples of in-text citations and reference entries (APA). The models themselves are located in Handbook Section 14 (H14).

In-Text Citation Models (APA)

  1. One author
  2. Two authors
  3. Three or more authors
  4. Authors with the same last name
  5. Organization, government, corporation, or association as author
  6. Unknown author
  7. Two or more works in the same citation
  8. Work with no page numbers
  9. Source quoted in another source (indirect quotation)
  10. Entire work
  11. Personal communication

Format of the References List (APA)

Authors (APA)
  1. One author
  2. Two authors
  3. Three to twenty authors
  4. Work by an organization, a government, a corporation, or an association
  5. Unknown author
  6. Two or more works by the same author
Articles in Journals, Magazines, and Newspapers (APA)
  1. Basic format for an article in an academic journal
  2. Article in an academic journal
    • With DOI
    • With URL
    • Without DOI or URL
  3. Article in a magazine
    • Database
    • Print
    • Online
  4. Article in a newspaper
    • Database or print
    • Online
  5. Blog post
  6. Published interview
  7. Editorial or letter to the editor
  8. Review
Books and Parts of Books (APA)
  1. Basic entry for a book
  2. Print book or e-book
  3. Book, anthology, or collection with an editor
  4. Article in an edited book, anthology, or collection
  5. Translated or reprinted book
  6. Revised edition
  7. One volume of a multivolume work
  8. Report or publication by a government agency or other organization
  9. Conference paper
Web Sources (APA)
  1. Basic format for a page or work on a website
  2. Page or work on a website
  3. Wiki
Social Media (APA)
  1. Social media post
  2. Online forum post
Video, Audio, and Other Media Sources (APA)
  1. Film
  2. Online video
  3. Television programs
    • TV series
    • TV episode
  4. Music recording
  5. Radio
  6. Podcast
  7. Painting or other visual artwork
  8. Map, photograph, or other visual
  9. Video game, software, or app

H 13 . MLA Documentation and Format

MLA style is the preferred form for documenting research sources in English and other humanities disciplines. The following are general features of MLA style:

  • All material borrowed from sources is cited in the text of a paper by the author’s name and page number (if available).
  • A works-cited list at the end of a paper provides full publication data for each source cited in the text of the paper.
  • Additional explanatory information provided by the writer (but not from external sources) goes in either footnotes or endnotes. These notes are optional.

The instruction in this section follows the MLA Handbook, 8th edition (2016). For more information on MLA style, see this site. For examples of student papers in the textbook using MLA documentation style, see Section 4 in Chapters 5, 7, 9, 12, and 16.

MLA In-Text Citations

In-text citations feature author names, page numbers, and sometimes titles, depending on what information is available. The Index located in H12 provides a listing of the models that are included below.

1. One author

When you quote, paraphrase, or summarize a source, include the last name of the source’s author, if known, in a signal phrase or in parentheses at the end of your sentence. Provide the page or pages on which the original material appeared. Do not include the word page or the abbreviations p. or pp. Use a hyphen [-] to indicate a number range (See Spotlight on … Citation for more on quoting, paraphrasing, and summarizing sources):

Becker points out that Joe Biden’s views on same-sex marriage changed during a personal visit to a family while he was vice president (285-86).

While he was vice president, Joe Biden’s views on same-sex marriage changed during a personal visit with a family (Becker 285-86).

2. Two or more works by the same author

If you cite two or more works by the same author in your paper, give the title of the specific work in your sentence or a short version of the title in parentheses:

According to Lewis Thomas in Lives of a Cell, many bacteria become dangerous only if they manufacture exotoxins (76).

According to Lewis Thomas, many bacteria become dangerous only if they manufacture exotoxins (Lives 76).

Many bacteria become dangerous only if they manufacture exotoxins (Thomas, Lives 76).

See Model 18 for how to cite two works by the same author in the works-cited list.

3. Two authors

If you cite a work with two authors, include both authors’ names in a signal phrase or in parentheses:

In the preface to Half the Sky, Kristof and WuDunn explain their focus on the issues of sex trafficking and sex work, violence against women, and maternal mortality (xxi).

In the preface to Half the Sky, the authors explain their focus on the issues of sex trafficking and sex work, violence against women, and maternal mortality (Kristof and WuDunn xxi).

4. Three or more authors

For works with more than two authors, give the last name of the first author followed by “et al.”:

Of the survey respondents, twenty-two percent described themselves as concerned about future job prospects (Pronkowski et al. 9).

5. Authors with the same last name

When authors of different sources have the same last name, include their initials:

Since the legalization of marijuana for recreational use, frequent use among adults has risen (J. T. Greene 21; M. Greene 30).

6. Organization, government, corporation, or association as author

When no author is given for a work published by a corporation, a government, an organization, or an association, indicate the group’s name in a signal phrase or in parentheses:

The United States Forest Service describes its mission as “sustain[ing] the health, diversity, and productivity of the nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations” (8).

7. Unknown author

When the author of a work is unknown, use the work’s title in a signal phrase or a shortened version of the title in parentheses and a page number if available. Put quotation marks around article titles, and put book or journal titles in italics:

In a pointed 2020 editorial, “Don’t Let the Games Begin,” The New York Times argued that college athletic departments should support public health by canceling sports seasons until athletes and the public were vaccinated.

In a pointed 2020 editorial, The New York Times argued that college athletic departments should support public health by canceling sports seasons until athletes and the public were vaccinated (“Don’t Let”).

8. Work in more than one volume

If you cite only one volume of a multivolume work, give the page number in parentheses. If you cite more than one volume of a multivolume work, give the volume number for each citation before the page number, and follow it with a colon and one space:

Hill notes that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Adventure of the Dancing Men was first published in the Strand Magazine and later in Collier’s Weekly (1: 332).

9. Work with no page or other reference numbers

When the work has no page numbers, give the author’s name in a signal phrase or in parentheses. If the source has paragraph, chapter, or section numbers, use them with the abbreviations par., ch., or sec.:

Chen reports that the number of Americans seeking help with mental health rose during the pandemic that began in 2020. (ch. 2)

The number of Americans seeking help with mental health rose during the pandemic that began in 2020 (Chen, ch. 2).

For an audio or a video recording, give the start and stop times for the segment you are citing shown on the player in hours (if available), minutes, and seconds:

It is well known that maternity leave is available in countries around the world, including Norway, which popularized its policy in a comic YouTube video showing a pregnant woman on skis announcing the start of her one-year paid leave (01:48-02:07).

10. One-page work or entire work

When you cite a work that is one page long or an entire work, such as a book, website, single-page article, tweet, video, or film, you do not need to cite a page or give a reference number:

In Da 5 Bloods, director Spike Lee connects the Civil Rights movement to the war in Vietnam through the music, montages of the era, and characters’ stories.

11. Source quoted in another source (indirect quotation)

When a quotation or any information in your source is originally from another source, try to track down the original source. If you cannot find it, use the abbreviation “qtd. in”:

The group, which has researched global health including access to food, sounded the alarm about a potential “worldwide food crisis” in the early 2000s (qtd. in Sing 32).

12. Literary works
  • Poetry and verse plays

    For poems, provide line numbers for reference, and include line or lines in the first reference:

    In “The Character,” Aphra Behn describes a lovely young woman, starting with her eyes: “Her Eyes all sweet, and languishingly move” (line 4).

    Cite verse plays using act, scene, and line numbers, separated by periods: (Hamlet 4.4.31-39)

  • Fiction and prose plays

    When citing a prose literary work available in various editions, provide additional information after the page number, such as the chapter, act, or scene number, for readers who may be consulting a different edition. Use a semicolon to separate the page number from this additional information: (331; ch. 5) or (78; act 2).

13. Two or more works in the same citation

When you cite more than one work in parentheses, use a semicolon between them:

Americans who resisted or ignored civil defense are often portrayed as heroic people who chose not to build fallout shelters or as marginalized people who could not afford them (Garrison 57; Mechling and Mechling 109).

14. Sacred text

When you cite passages from the Bible or another sacred text such as the Qur’an, give the title of the edition you are consulting the first time you refer to it. Then give the book (abbreviate the title if it is longer than four letters), chapter, and verse, separated by periods:

Several times in the New Testament of the Bible, Jesus comments on wealth, telling his disciples, “And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God” (King James Version, Matt. 19.24).

Endnotes and Footnotes

Writers use notes to offer comments, explanations, or additional information that cannot easily be integrated into the rest of a paper. Use notes to cite several sources within a single context if a series of in-text citations will detract from the readability of the text.

Text with Superscript

The standard ingredients for guacamole include avocados, lemon juice, onion, tomatoes, coriander, salt, and pepper.1 Hurtado’s poem, however, gives this traditional dish a whole new twist.

Note

1. For variations see Beard 314, Egerton 197, Eckhardt 92, and Kafka 26. Beard’s version, which includes olives and green peppers, is the most unusual.

A note may be placed as a footnote at the bottom of the page on which the in-text citation appears or on a separate page of endnotes at the end of the paper. This should be titled “Notes” or “Endnotes” and appear between the last page of the paper and the works-cited list. Include all sources given in notes in the works-cited list.

MLA Works Cited

Each source cited in the text of your paper refers readers to the list of works cited, a complete list of all the sources you quoted, paraphrased, or summarized. Every source cited in the text of your paper must be included in the works-cited list, and every source in the works-cited list must be cited in the text of your paper.

Format of the List of Works Cited (MLA)

After the last page of the paper, start a new page with the centered title “Works Cited” at the top. Create an entry for each source using the following guidelines and examples:

  • Begin each entry at the left margin, and indent subsequent lines one-half inch. (In Microsoft Word, you can also highlight the entire page when you are finished and select “Hanging” from the Special options on the Indentation section of the Paragraph menu.)
  • Alphabetize the entries according to authors’ last names. If two or more authors have the same last name, alphabetize by first name or initial. Alphabetize sources with unknown authors by the first word of the title, excluding a, an, or the.
  • Double-space the entire page.

Core Elements (MLA)

Each entry in the list of works cited consists of core elements:

  • Author. Who is responsible for the work?
  • Title. What is the work called?
  • Publication information. Where can the work be found so that others can consult it? Publication information includes the date of publication and any larger work, which MLA calls a “container,” in which a shorter work is published, such as a journal, magazine, newspaper, database, streaming service, and so on.

    A note on access dates. Although access dates for online sources are not required, MLA acknowledges that an access date can indicate the version of a source you consulted. If you add an access date, place it at the end of the works-cited entry in this format: “Accessed 4 Apr. 2020.” Ask your instructors whether they require access dates.

Authors and Contributors for Books and Articles (MLA)

  • Authors. Give the author’s last name, a comma, the author’s first name and any middle name or middle initial, and then a period. For works with more than one author, an organization as an author, or an unknown author, see the models below.
  • Contributors. People who contributed to the work in addition to the author are called contributors. Refer to them by their role in a phrase such as “adapted by,” “directed by,” “edited by,” “illustrated by,” “introduction by,” “narrated by,” “performance by,” and “translated by.” (See Models 19, 20, 21, 30, and 58 for examples.)
15. Book: one author

Sotomayor, Sonia. My Beloved World. Vintage Books, 2013.

16. Book: two authors

Kristoff, Nicholas D., and Sheryl WuDunn. Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide. Alfred A. Knopf, 2009.

17. Book: three or more authors

Barlow, David H., et al. Abnormal Psychology: An Integrative Approach. 8th ed., Cengage Learning, 2017.

18. Book: two or more works by the same author

When you cite two works by the same author, use three hyphens in place of the author’s name, and alphabetize the works by title:

Trethewey, Natasha. Memorial Drive: A Daughter’s Memoir. Ecco, 2020.

---. Native Guard: Poems. Mariner Books, 2007.

19. Book author and editor

Add the editor’s name after the title:

Hemingway, Ernest. Conversations with Ernest Hemingway, edited by Matthew J. Bruccoli, UP of Mississippi, 1986.

20. Book author and translator

Add the translator’s name after the title:

Ferrante, Elena. My Brilliant Friend. Translated by Ann Goldstein, Europa Editions, 2012.

If you are citing the work of the translator, place the translator’s name in the author position:

Goldstein, Ann, translator. My Brilliant Friend. By Elena Ferrante, Europa Editions, 2012.

21. Book author and illustrator

Add the illustrator’s name after the title. If you are citing the work of the illustrator, place the illustrator’s name in the author position, as shown in the preceding example:

Fasler, Joe. Light in the Dark: Writers on Creativity, Inspiration, and the Artistic Process. Illustrated by Doug McLean, Penguin Books, 2017.

22. Work by an organization, a government, a corporation, or an association

If the author and publisher are not the same, start with the author:

United States Department of Veterans Affairs, Veterans Health Administration. Healthy Living Resource Guide. Government Printing Office, 2020.

If the author and the publisher are the same, give the title of the work in place of the author, and list the organization as the publisher:

MLA Handbook. 8th ed., Modern Language Association of America, 2016.

“This Is Who We Are.” U.S. Forest Service, United States Department of Agriculture, Mar. 2019, www.fs.usda.gov/sites/default/files/This-is-Who-We-Are.pdf.

23. Unknown author

If no author is given, start with the title.

“The Most Beautiful Battalion in the Army.” Grunt Magazine, 1968, pp. 12-15.

Articles in Journals, Magazines, and Newspapers (MLA)

Articles, reviews, editorials, and other short works are published in journals, newspapers, and magazines. They appear in print, on databases, and on websites (though often through a paywall). As a student, you are likely to access many articles and other short research sources primarily through databases available through your library.

24. Basic format for a journal article in a database

Author’s Last Name, First Name. “Title of Article.” Title of Journal, volume number, issue number, Date of Publication, page numbers. Title of Database, DOI or URL.

  • Author. Give the last name, a comma, the first name, and any middle name or initial. Do not list an author’s professional title, such as Dr. or PhD. End with a period.
  • Title of the article. Give the full title and any subtitle, separating them with a colon. Capitalize all significant words in the title. Put the title of the article in quotation marks. End with a period inside the closing quotation mark.
  • Title of the journal. Put the title of the journal in italics. Capitalize all significant words in the title. End the title with a comma.
  • Volume and issue numbers. Use the abbreviations vol. and no. followed by the number and a comma.
  • Publication date. Give the month or season and the year of publication, if available. Use the following abbreviations for months: Jan., Feb., Mar., Apr., Aug., Sept., Oct., Nov., and Dec. Do not abbreviate May, June, or July.
  • Page numbers. Give p. (singular) or pp. (plural) and the page number or numbers of the article, followed by a period.
  • Title of the database. Put the database title in italics, followed by a comma.
  • Location. Give a DOI if available, and end with a period. If there is no DOI, give a URL, preferably a permalink, without http://.
25. Article in an academic journal
  • Database

    Daddis, Gregory A. “Out of Balance: Evaluating American Strategy in Vietnam, 1968–72.” War & Society, vol. 32, no. 3, Oct. 2013, pp. 252-70. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1179/0729247313Z.00000000026.

  • Print

    Daddis, Gregory A. “Out of Balance: Evaluating American Strategy in Vietnam, 1968–72.” War & Society, vol. 32, no. 3, Oct. 2013, pp. 252-70.

  • Online

    Squires, Scot. “Do Generations Differ When It Comes to Green Values and Products?” Electronic Green Journal, no. 42, 2019, escholarship.org/uc/item/6f91213q.

    The journal in the example numbers issues only, so no volume number is given.

26. Article in a weekly or biweekly magazine

To cite an article in a weekly or biweekly magazine, give the author, title of the article, title of the magazine, publication date (day, month, year), and page numbers. If you found the article through a database, add the title of the database and a DOI or URL. If you found the article online, add the URL.

  • Database

    Sanneh, Kelefa. “The Color of Money.” The New Yorker, 8 Feb. 2021, pp. 26-31. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&AuthType=aph&AN=148411685&site=ehost-live&scope=site.

  • Print

    Sanneh, Kelefa. “The Color of Money.” The New Yorker, 8 Feb. 2021, pp. 26-31.

  • Online

    Ferrer, Ada. “My Brother’s Keeper.” The New Yorker, 22 Feb. 2021, www.newyorker.com/magazine/2021/03/01/my-brothers-keeper.

27. Article in a monthly or bimonthly magazine

To cite an article in a monthly or bimonthly magazine, give the author, title of the article, title of the magazine, publication month and year, and page numbers. If you found the article through a database, add the title of the database and a DOI or URL. If you found the article online, add the URL.

  • Database

    Sneed, Annie. “Giant Shape-Shifters.” Scientific American, Sept. 2017, pp. 20-22. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1038/scientificamerican1017-20.

  • Print

    Sneed, Annie. “Giant Shape-Shifters.” Scientific American, Sept. 2017, pp. 20-22.

  • Online

    Stewart, Jamila. “A Look Inside the Black Designers of Canada Initiative.” Essence, July 2020, www.essence.com/fashion/black-designers-of-canada-digital-index/.

To cite a comment on an article, see Model 54.

28. Article in a newspaper

To cite an article in a newspaper, give the author, title of the article, title of the newspaper, publication date (day, month, year), and the page numbers. If you found the article through a database, add the title of the database and a DOI or a URL. If you found the article online, add the URL.

  • Database

    Krueger, Alyson. “When Mom Knows Best, on Instagram.” The New York Times, 27 Nov. 2019, pp. B1-B4. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&AuthType =aph&AN=139891108&site=ehost-live&scope=site.

  • Print

    Krueger, Alyson. “When Mom Knows Best, on Instagram.” The New York Times, 27 Nov. 2019, pp. B1-B4.

  • Online

    Smith, Doug. “They’re Building Affordable Housing for the Homeless—Without Government Help.” Los Angeles Times, 10 Feb. 2021, www.latimes.com/california/story/2021-02-10/theyre-building-affordable-housing-for-the-homeless-without-government-help.

    To cite a comment on an article, see Model 54.

29. Editorial or letter to the editor

An editorial may or may not have an author’s name attached to it. If it does, give the author’s name first. If it does not, start with the title. In both situations, add the designation Editorial or Letter to the Editor after the title.

“For Better Elections, Copy the Neighbors.” Editorial. The Wall Street Journal, 16 Feb. 2021, www.wsj.com/articles/for-better-elections-copy-the-neighbors-11613518448.

30. Review

To cite a review of a book, film, television show, or other work, give the name of the reviewer and title of the review, add Review of before the title of work being reviewed, and give the name of the work’s author, director, or creator after the title.

Girish, Devika. “Refocusing the Lens on Race and Gender.” Review of Test Pattern, directed by Shatara Michelle Ford. The New York Times, 18 Feb. 2021, www.nytimes.com/2021/02/18/movies/test-pattern-review.html.

Books and Parts of Books (MLA)

Use the following guidelines for books and parts of books, such as a selection from an anthology, an article in a collection, a published letter, and so on.

31. Basic entry for a book

Author’s Last Name, First Name. Title of Book. Publisher, Year of Publication.

  • Author. Give the last name, a comma, the first name, and any middle name or initial. Do not list an author’s professional title, such as Dr. or PhD. End with a period.
  • Title of the book. Put the book’s title in italics. Give the full title and any subtitle, separating them with a colon. Capitalize all significant words in the title, even if the book’s cover does not use conventional capitalization. End the title with a period.
  • Publisher. List the publisher’s name without words such as “Inc.” or “Company.” Shorten “University Press” to “UP.” End with a comma.
  • Year of publication. Provide the publication date, and end with a period.
32. Print book

Wilkerson, Isabel. The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration. Vintage Books, 2010.

33. E-book formatted for a specific reader device or service

Wilkerson, Isabel. The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration. Kindle ed., Vintage Books, 2010.

34. Book, anthology, or collection with an editor

Add the abbreviation ed. or eds. (if more than one) after the editor’s first name:

Lunsford, Andrea, ed. Reclaiming Rhetorica: Women in the Rhetorical Tradition. U of Pittsburgh P, 1995.

35. Work in an anthology or chapter in an edited collection

After the author and title of the work, give the title of the anthology or edited collection, name of the editor, publication information, and page numbers of the work:

Royster, Jacqueline Jones. “To Call a Thing by Its True Name: The Rhetoric of Ida B. Wells.” Reclaiming Rhetorica: Women in the Rhetorical Tradition, edited by Andrea Lunsford, U of Pittsburgh P, 1995, pp. 167-84.

36. Two or more works in an anthology or edited collection

When you cite two or more selections from the same anthology or edited collection, list the anthology separately under the editor’s name. In the entries for the selections you cite, include the editor’s name and the page numbers on which the selections appear:

Lipscomb, Drema R. “Sojourner Truth: A Practical Public Discourse.” Lunsford, pp. 227-46.

Lunsford, Andrea, ed. Reclaiming Rhetorica: Women in the Rhetorical Tradition. U of Pittsburgh P, 1995.

Royster, Jacqueline Jones. “To Call a Thing by Its True Name: The Rhetoric of Ida B. Wells.” Lunsford, pp. 167-84.

37. Revised or later edition

For a book published in an edition other than the first, give the edition number after the title:

Strunk, William, Jr., and E. B. White. The Elements of Style, 4th ed., Pearson, 2019.

38. Multivolume work

For a book published in more than one volume, give the total number of volumes after the title:

Klinger, Leslie S. The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes. 2 vols., W. W. Norton, 2005.

39. One volume of a multivolume work

Klinger, Leslie S. The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes. Vol. 2, W. W. Norton, 2005.

When each volume of a multivolume set has an individual title, list the volume’s full publication information first, followed by series information (number of volumes, dates). When separate volumes were published in different years, give inclusive dates:

Churchill, Winston S. Triumph and Tragedy. Houghton Mifflin, 1953. Vol. 6 of The Second World War. 6 vols. 1948-53.

However, if the volume you are using has its own title, you may cite the book without referring to the other volumes as if it were an independent publication.

40. Book in a series

Add the title of the series at the end of the entry:

Thaiss, Christopher. Language across the Curriculum in the Elementary Grades. WAC Clearinghouse, 2011, wac.colostate.edu/books/landmarks/thaiss/. Landmark Publications in Writing Studies.

41. Republished book

Give the original publication date after the title and the date the book was republished after the publisher:

Evans, Elizabeth E. G. The Abuse of Maternity. 1875. Arno, 1974.

42. Sacred text

Give the complete title of the version you consulted followed by the name of the editor and/or translator, the edition, the publisher, and the publication date:

The Bible. Authorized King James Version. Edited by Robert Carroll and Stephen Prickett, Oxford UP, 2008.

The Koran. Translated by N. J. Dawood, rev. ed., Penguin Books, 2015.

43. Introduction, preface, foreword, or afterword

Start with the author of the introduction, preface, foreword, or afterword, followed by a description of the work you are citing, such as “Foreword.” Give the author of the work after the title:

Offill, Jenny. Foreword. Mrs. Dalloway, by Virginia Woolf, Penguin Classics, 2021, pp. vii-xiv.

44. Published letter

Roosevelt, Theodore. Letter to Upton Sinclair. 15 Mar. 1906. Theodore Roosevelt: Letters and Speeches, edited by Louis Auchincloss, 2004, pp. 310-11.

45. Conference paper

Killi, Stainer, and Andrew Morrison. “Could the Food Market Pull 3D Printing Appetites Further?” Industry 4.0—Shaping the Future of the Digital World: Proceedings of the 2nd International Conference on Sustainable & Smart Manufacturing, edited by Paulo Bartolo et al., CRC Press, 2021, pp. 197-203.

Websites and Parts of Websites (MLA)

Use the following guidelines for works that are published only online and do not have an overarching publication, such as a journal, newspaper, magazine, or database.

46. Basic format for a short work or page on a website

Author’s Last Name, First Name. “Title of Short Work.” Title of Website, Publisher, Publication Date, URL.

  • Author. Give the last name, a comma, the first name, and any middle name or initial. Do not list an author’s professional title, such as Dr. or PhD. End with a period.
  • Title of the short work. Put the title in quotation marks. Give the full title and any subtitle, separating them with a colon. Capitalize all significant words in the title. End with a period inside the closing quotation mark.
  • Title of the website. Put the title of the website in italics. Capitalize all significant words in the title. End the title with a comma.
  • Publisher. If the publisher of the website is different from the title of the website (as shown in Model 48), give it next, followed by a comma. If they are the same (as shown in Model 47), give only the title of the website.
  • Publication date. Give the day, month, and year the work was posted, if available. Use the following abbreviations for months: Jan., Feb., Mar., Apr., Aug., Sept., Oct., Nov., and Dec. Do not abbreviate May, June, and July.
  • URL. Give the URL, without “http://.”
47. Short work or page on a website

Shetterly, Margot Lee. “Katherine Johnson Biography.” NASA, 24 Feb. 2020, www.nasa.gov/content/katherine-johnson-biography.

If the source you are citing has no author listed, start with the title. If the page has no title, give the name of the site and a descriptive label, such as “Home page” or “Blog post.”

48. Blog post

Blazich, Frank A. “The Cold Morning of the Day After.” Smithsonian Voices, Smithsonian Magazine, 5 Feb. 2021, www.smithsonianmag.com/blogs/national-museum-american-history/2021/02/05/cold-morning-day-after/.

49. Entire website

Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library. Yale U, 2021, beinecke.library.yale.edu/.

If the website lists an editor, give the person’s name as you would an author, followed by a comma and ed.

50. Wiki

“Coronavirus.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 22 Feb. 2021, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coronavirus.

Social Media (MLA)

Social media include posts made to various platforms and forums, comments made by individuals to posts, and online articles.

51. Basic format for a social media post

Author. “Text of untitled post” or “Title of post” or Descriptive label. Title of Site, Date of Post, Time of Post, URL.

  • Author. Give the author’s handle and name. End with a period.
  • Text, title, or description of post. Match the capitalization exactly, add quotation marks, and end with a period inside the closing quotation mark.
  • Title of the social media site. Put the title of the site in italics, ending with a comma.
  • Publication date and time. Give the day, month, year, and time of the post. Use the following abbreviations for months: Jan., Feb., Mar., Apr., Aug., Sept., Oct., Nov., and Dec. Do not abbreviate May, June, and July.
  • URL. Give the URL, without “http://.”
52. Social media post

@Holleratcha (James Holler). “People go out and vote tomorrow!” Twitter, 2 Nov. 2020, 2:08 p.m., twitter.com/holleratcha/status/1270432672544784384.

Death Valley National Park. “What does it mean to protect something you love?” Facebook, 23 Feb. 2021, 5:01 p.m., www.facebook.com/DeathValleyNPS/posts/4108808255810092.

See Model 54 for how to cite a comment.

53. Online forum post

@Duckpond318. “Turkeys in the arboretum.” Reddit, 15 Mar. 2021, 11:22 a.m., www.reddit.com/r/Wildlife/comments/lqlbo3/turkeys_in_the_arboretum/. Accessed 4 Feb. 2021.

54. Online comment

AKJersey. Comment on “Can We Stop Fighting about Charter Schools?” The New York Times, 22 Feb. 2021, www.nytimes.com/2021/02/22/opinion/charter-schools-democrats.html#commentsContainer.

Personal Communication (MLA)

Use the following guidelines to cite email, text messages, and letters that you sent or received.

55. Email

Roberts, Jeffrey. “Study results.” Received by Kenneth Berg, 21 Oct. 2020.

56. Text message

Igoe, Beverlee. Text message. Received by Alison McGrath, 2 Apr. 2020.

57. Personal letter

Atwood, Margaret. Letter to the author. 11 Mar. 2007.

Video, Audio, and Other Media Sources (MLA)

Use the following guidelines to cite various media sources.

58. Film

Begin with the title, followed by the director, the studio, and the year released.

Casablanca. Directed by Michael Curtiz, Warner Brothers, 1942.

You may also cite other contributors and their roles after the title (as illustrated below). If your paper is concerned with a particular person’s work on a film, such as the director, an actor, or someone else, begin with that person’s name and arrange all other information accordingly. For a film you stream, add the title of the streaming service and the URL:

Moonlight. Directed by Barry Jenkins, performances by Mahershala Ali, Naomie Harris, and Trevante Rhodes. A24, 2016. Netflix, www.netflix.com/watch/80121348?trackId=13752289&tctx=8%2C.

59. Online video

NASA. “Apollo 11 Moonwalk – Original NASA EVA Mission Video.” 20 July 1969. YouTube, 17 July 2014, www.youtube.com/watch?v=S9HdPi9Ikhk.

60. Television series or episode
  • TV Series

    The Good Place. Michael Schur, creator. NBC, 2016-20.

  • Streamed TV episode

    “Jason Mendoza.” The Good Place, season 1, episode 4, NBC, 2016. Netflix, www.netflix.com/watch/80191852?trackId=13752289&tctx=%2C%2C.

61. Advertisement
  • Print

    XOFLUZA. Flu medication advertisement. The New Yorker, 8. Feb. 2021, pp. 5-6.

  • Online

    General Motors. “Will Ferrell Super Bowl Ad.” YouTube, 3 Feb. 2021, www.youtube.com/watch?v=mdsPvbSpB2Y&t=24s.

62. Cartoon or comic
  • Print

    Davis, Jim. “Garfield.” Cartoon. Courier [Findlay, OH], 17 May 1996, p. 18.

    If the source you cite appears in a local newspaper, as it does here, give the city and state in brackets after the name of the newspaper if the city is not part of the newspaper’s name.

  • Online

    Gauld, Tom. “Waiting for Godot to Join the Zoom Meeting.” You’re All Just Jealous of My Jetpack, 31 Jan. 2021, myjetpack.tumblr.com/.

63. Painting or other visual artwork
  • Original work

    Rivera, Diego. Detroit Industry Murals. 1932-33. Detroit Institute of Art.

    If the city is not part of the name of the museum, add it after museum. For example, if the work you viewed was at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, you would end the entry as follows: Museum of Modern Art, New York.

  • Reproduction

    Neel, Alice. Elenka. 1936. Alice Neel: People Come First, by Kelly Baum and Randall Griffey, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2021, p. 142.

  • Online

    Basquiat, Jean-Michel. Untitled. 1983. Museum of Modern Art, www.moma.org/collection/works/63997?artist_id=370&page=1&sov_referrer=artist. Accessed 24 Sept. 2020.

64. Map, chart, or diagram
  • Print

    Everglades National Park. National Geographic Society Maps, 2019.

  • Online

    “Map: Expedition of Lewis and Clark.” National Park Service, 2 Jan. 2018, nps.gov/subjects/travellewisandclark/map.htm.

65. Sound recording

Sound recordings include songs, albums, and spoken word. If you stream a sound recording or watch a performance online, add the name of the streaming service, such as Spotify, Apple Music, or Amazon Music, after the date. If you access the recording online, add the name of the website and the URL after the date.

  • Album

    Prince. Purple Rain. Warner Brothers, 1984.

  • Song

    The Supremes. “Baby Love.” Where Did Our Love Go, Motown, 1964. Spotify.

  • Online

    Gorman, Amanda. “The Hill We Climb.” 20 Jan. 2021, YouTube, www.youtube.com/watch?v=LZ055ilIiN4.

66. Radio

The Road to Higher Ground. Hosted by Jonathan Overby. WPR, 9 Jan. 2021.

If you listened to the radio program online, add the URL after the date.

67. Podcast

McEvers, Kelly, host. “This Is Not a Joke.” Embedded, season 9, episode 2, NPR, 7 Nov. 2019, Apple Podcasts.

If you listened to the podcast on the web, add the URL instead of the podcast service.

68. Interview
  • Broadcast

    Wilkerson, Isabel. Interview. Fresh Air, NPR, 4 Aug. 2020.

  • Online

    Sowell, Thomas. Interview. Hoover Institution, 3 Jan. 2015, www.wsj.com/video/uncommon-knowledge-thomas-sowell-basic-economics/51837CB6-9FF2-305AE55D179A.html.

  • Personal interview

    Wong, Diana. Personal interview. 12 Sept. 2020.

69. Video game, software, or app

Houser, Dan, et al., writers. Grand Theft Auto V. Rockstar Games, 2013. Xbox 360.

Other Sources (MLA)

70. Live lecture, speech, address, or reading

Diaz, Shanna. “Your Dazzling Brain: The Symphony of Sleep.” Community Lecture Series, University of New Mexico Health Science and the City of Albuquerque, 13 Mar. 2018, Albuquerque Academy.

71. Live performance

Hamilton. By Lin-Manuel Miranda, directed by Thomas Kail, 11 Mar. 2018, CIBC Theater, Chicago.

If you watch a video of a performance online, cite it as you would cite an online video.

72. Letter in an archive

Mucklestone, Ada. Letter to Maj. Gen. Ralph J. Olson. 6 Nov. 1958. Wisconsin Historical Society, Madison, Alphabetical Subject File, 1950-66, 1715, Box 13.

73. Dissertation
  • Database

    Park, Eun Jung. Korean American Artists and the 1992 Los Angeles Riots. 2013. U of California, San Diego, PhD dissertation. ProQuest, www.proquest.com/doc-view/1425303659.

  • Print

    Boothby, Daniel W. The Determinants of Earnings and Occupation for Young Women. 1978. U of California, Berkeley, PhD dissertation.

74. Pamphlet

“Facts about Fallout.” Civil Defense Administration, 1961.

MLA Paper Format

Follow your instructor’s formatting guidelines or those indicated here. For sample papers with MLA format and works-cited pages, visit this site.

  • Margins. Use one-inch margins on all sides.
  • Spacing. Double-space throughout the paper, including the works-cited page.
  • Paragraph format. Indent paragraphs one-half inch.
  • Page numbers. Start numbering on the first page of your paper and continue to the end of the works-cited page. Place page numbers in the upper-right corner, and add your last name before the page number: “Coleman 3.”
  • Identifying information. Put your name, your instructor’s name, the course title, and the date in the left corner of the first page of the body of the paper, not in the header. Double-space this information.
  • Title. Center the title on the first page. Do not use italics, boldface, all capitals, or quotation marks. Do not add extra space below the title.
  • Long quotations and quotations from poetry. See Quotations for how to cite long quotations and poetry quotations.

H 14 . APA Documentation and Format

Disciplines in the social sciences—psychology, sociology, anthropology, political science, economics, social work, and often education—use the APA name-and-date system of documentation. APA style highlights authors and dates of publication because timeliness of published material is of primary importance in these disciplines. The following are general features of APA style:

  • All material borrowed from sources is cited in the text of a paper by the author’s name, date of publication, and page numbers (if available).
  • A list of references at the end of a paper provides full publication data for each source cited in the text of the paper.

The instruction in this section follows the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 7th edition (2020). For more information on APA style, visit this site. For examples of student papers in the textbook using APA documentation style, see Section 4 in Chapters 6, 8, and 15.

In-Text Citation Models (APA)

In-text citations feature author names, dates of publication, and page numbers, depending on what information is available. The Index located in H12 provides a listing of the models that are included below.

75. One author

When you quote, paraphrase, or summarize a source, include the last name of the source’s author, if known, in a signal phrase or in parentheses at the end of your sentence. Give the publication date after the author’s name. Provide the page or pages on which the original material appeared preceded by p. or pp. See Spotlight on … Citation.

According to Thomas (1974), many bacteria become dangerous only if they manufacture exotoxins (p. 76).

Many bacteria become dangerous only if they manufacture exotoxins (Thomas, 1974, p. 76).

If you cite two or more works by the same author, published in the same year, use letters after the year to distinguish them: (Gallivan, 2019a, 2019b, 2019c).

76. Two authors

Smith and Hawkins (1990) confirmed that bacteria producing exotoxins are harmful to humans (p. 17).

The study confirmed that bacteria producing exotoxins are harmful to humans (Smith & Hawkins, 1990, p. 17).

77. Three or more authors

For works with more than two authors, give the last name of the first author followed by “et al.”:

The results indicate that alcohol use rose during the period of the study (Dominic et al., 2021, p. 16).

78. Authors with the same last name

When authors of different sources have the same last name, include their initials:

Since the legalization of marijuana for recreational use, frequent use among adults has risen (J. T. Greene, 2019, p. 21; M. Greene, 2020, p. 30).

When authors of the same source have the same name, do not include their initials: (Kim & Kim, 2018, p. 47).

79. Organization, government, corporation, or association as author

When citing a well-known organization, government agency, corporation, or association, introduce an abbreviation of the name in the first reference and use it in subsequent references:

On multiple occasions, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA, 2018) reported that formal efforts to reintegrate combat veterans into civilian life were beneficial.

80. Unknown author

When the author of a work is unknown, use the work’s title in a signal phrase, or put the title in parentheses. Put quotation marks around article titles, and put book or journal titles in italics:

In a pointed editorial, The New York Times argued that college athletic departments should support public health by canceling sports seasons until athletes and the public were vaccinated (”Don’t Let the Games Begin,” 2020).

In its pointed editorial, “Don’t Let the Games Begin” (2020), The New York Times argued that college athletic departments should support public health by canceling sports seasons until athletes and the public were vaccinated.

81. Two or more works in the same citation

When you cite more than one work in parentheses, put the works in the same order that they appear in your list of references, and use a semicolon between them:

Americans who resisted or ignored civil defense were later cast as heroic people who chose not to build fallout shelters or as marginalized people who could not afford them (Garrison, 2006; Mechling & Mechling, 1991).

82. Work with no page numbers

If the work you are citing has no page numbers, help readers find the quotation by providing a heading, a section name, and/or a paragraph number (using the abbreviation para. or paras.):

According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH, 2019), research on PTSD includes gene research and brain imaging technologies (Next Steps for PTSD Research section, para. 6).

For audio or visual works, give the time stamp of the beginning of the source: (Wong, 2020, 34:16).

83. Source quoted in another source (indirect quotation)

When a quotation or any information in your source is originally from another source, try to track down the original source. If you cannot find the original, use the words “as cited in”:

The research collective, which has studied global health including access to food, sounded the alarm about a potential “worldwide food crisis” in the early 2000s (as cited in Sing, 2018, p. 32).

84. Entire work

When you cite an entire work, you do not need to give a page number. See Models 79 and 80. When you mention an entire website, link to the website directly or give the URL. You do not need to include the website in the references list:

The Department of Veterans Affairs maintains a website for PTSD, which contains resources and help for families and healthcare providers as well as veterans (https://www.ptsd.va.gov/).

85. Personal communication

Because personal communications such as emails, letters, personal interviews, and the like cannot be found by other researchers, cite them in the text only:

During our interview, Morales explained that she had quit her job to help her children with their schooling (personal communication, January 4, 2021).

APA References

Each source cited in the text of your paper refers readers to the list of references, a complete list of all the sources you quoted, paraphrased, or summarized. Every source cited in the text of your paper must be included in the references list, and every source in the references list must be cited in the text of your paper.

Format of the References List (APA)

After the last page of your paper, start a new page with the centered, boldfaced title References at the top. Create an entry for each source using the following guidelines and examples.

  • Begin each entry at the left margin, and indent subsequent lines one-half inch. (In Microsoft Word, you can also highlight the entire page when you are finished and select “Hanging” from the Special options on the Indentation section of the Paragraph menu.)
  • Alphabetize the entries according to authors’ last names. If two or more authors have the same last name, alphabetize by the initials of their first and middle names. Alphabetize sources with unknown authors by the first word of the title, excluding a, an, or the.
  • Double-space the entire page.

Core Elements (APA)

Each entry in the list of references consists of core elements:

  • Author. Who is responsible for the work?
  • Date of publication. When was the work published?
  • Title. What is the work called?
  • Publication information. Where can the work be found so that others can consult it?

Sometimes core elements are unknown or missing. In such cases, the entry in the reference list entry must be adapted:

  • No author? If the source has no known author, cite it by the title. See Models 90 and 98.
  • No date of publication? If the source has no publication date, write n.d. instead of the publication date. See Model 110.
  • No title? If the work has no title, put a brief description in square brackets.
  • No publication information? If the source is a personal communication that only you have a record of, cite the source in your text, not in the references, because it cannot be retrieved by other readers. See “Personal communication” above.

A note on retrieval dates: APA recommends adding a retrieval date for sources that are not archived or are likely to change over time, such as a developing news story. If you add a retrieval date, place it at the end of the references entry in this format: “Retrieved April 4, 2020, from https://www.nytimes.com.” Ask your instructors if they require retrieval dates.

Authors (APA)

Give the author’s last name, comma, and first and middle initials if available. For works with more than one author, put a comma and an ampersand (&) before the final author’s name, even when there are two authors.

86. One author

Milanovic, B. (2016). Global inequality: A new approach for the age of globalization. Harvard UP.

87. Two authors

Kristoff, N. D., & WuDunn, S. (2009). Half the sky: Turning oppression into opportunity for women worldwide. Alfred A. Knopf.

88. Three to twenty authors

Provide last names and initials for up to and including 20 authors.

Barlow, D. H., Durand, V. M., & Hofmann, S. G. (2017). Abnormal psychology: An integrative approach. Cengage Learning.

For more than 20 authors, include the first 19 authors’ names, insert an ellipsis, and then add the final author’s name.

89. Work by an organization, a government, a corporation, or an association

Works published by organizations often have the same author and publisher, which is frequently the title of a website. When the author and publisher are not the same, give the author and the title of the website:

National Institute of Mental Health. (2020). Post-traumatic stress disorder. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health. https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/post-traumatic-stress-disorder-ptsd/index.shtml.

When the author and the publisher or title of the website are the same, omit the latter:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021, February 17). Variants of the virus. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/variants/index.html.

90. Unknown author

If no author is given, start with the title:

The most beautiful battalion in the army. (1968). Grunt magazine, 12-15.

91. Two or more works by the same author

List two or more works by the same author (or the same author team listed in the same order) chronologically by year in the reference list, with the earliest first. Arrange works published in the same year alphabetically by title, placing lowercase letters after the publication dates:

Bandura, A. (1969). Principles of behavior modification. Holt, Rinehart, and Winston.

Bandura, A. (1977a). Self-efficacy: Toward a unifying theory of behavioral change. Psychological Review, 84, 191-215.

Bandura, A. (1977b). Social learning theory. Prentice Hall.

Articles in Journals, Magazines, and Newspapers (APA)

Articles, reviews, editorials, and other short works are published in journals, newspapers, and magazines, and they appear in print, on databases, and on websites (though often through a paywall). As a student, you are likely to access many articles and other short research sources primarily through databases available through your library.

92. Basic format for an article in an academic journal

Author’s Last Name, Initials. (Date of Publication). Title of article. Title of Journal, Volume (number), Pages. DOI or URL.

  • Author. Give the last name, a comma, and the initials of the first name and middle name (if available). Do not list an author’s professional title, such as Dr. or PhD. End with a period.
  • Date of Publication. In parentheses, give the year of publication, a comma, and the month or season of publication. End with a period outside the closing parentheses.
  • Title of the article. Give the full title and any subtitle, separating them with a colon. For articles and book chapters, do not use quotation marks or italicize the title. Capitalize only the first word of the title and the first word of a subtitle and any proper nouns.
  • Title of the journal. Put the journal title in italics. Capitalize all significant words in the title. End the title with a comma.
  • Volume and issue numbers. Italicize the volume number, and follow it with the issue number in parentheses (not italicized). End with a comma.
  • Page numbers. Give inclusive page numbers without p. or pp. End with a period.
  • DOI or URL. Provide a DOI (if available) or a URL. Include “http://,” and do not add a period at the end. The preferred format for a DOI is “https://doi.org/” followed by the number. You may encounter older formats for DOI; if so, change them to this format. If the article is online and does not have a DOI, give the URL instead.
93. Article in an academic journal
  • With DOI

    Gawande, A. A. (2017, April). It’s time to adopt electronic prescriptions for opioids. Annals of Surgery, 265(4), 693-94. https://doi.org/10.1097/SLA.0000000000002133

  • With URL

    Squires, S. (2019). Do generations differ when it comes to green values and products? Electronic Green Journal, 42. http://escholarship.org/uc/item/6f91213q

    The online journal in the example numbers issues only, so no volume number or page numbers are given.

  • Without DOI or URL

    Lowther, M. A. (1977, Winter). Career change in mid-life: Its impact on education. Innovator, 8(7), 9-11.

An older journal article you consult in print may not have a DOI. In that case, end with the page numbers.

94. Article in a magazine

For a magazine article you read on a database or online, give the DOI if the article has one; otherwise give the URL. For a magazine article you consulted in print, end the entry after the page number unless a DOI is provided.

  • Database

    Sneed, A. (2017, September 19). Giant shape-shifters. Scientific American, 317(4), 20. https://doi.org/10.1038/scientificamerican1017-20

  • Print

    Sneed, A. (2017, September 19). Giant shape-shifters. Scientific American, 317(4), 20.

  • Online

    Myszkowski, S. (2018, October 10). On the trail of missing American Indian women. The Atlantic. https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2018/10/trail-missing-american-indian-women/571657/

95. Article in a newspaper

For a newspaper article that you read on a database or in print, end the entry after the page numbers. For a newspaper article that you read online, give the URL instead of page numbers.

  • Database or print

    Krueger, A. (2019, November 27). When mom knows best, on Instagram. The New York Times, B1-B4.

  • Online

    Healy, J. (2021, January 12). Tribal elders are dying from the pandemic, causing a cultural crisis for American Indians. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/12/us/tribal-elders-native-americans-coronavirus.html

96. Blog post

Blazich, F. A. (2021, February 5). The cold morning of the day after. Smithsonian Voices. https://www.smithsonianmag.com/blogs/national-museum-american-history/2021/02/05/cold-morning-day-after/

97. Published interview

Beard, A. (2013, May). Life’s work: An interview with Maya Angelou. Harvard Business Review. https://hbr.org/2013/05/maya-angelou

98. Editorial or letter to the editor

An editorial may or may not have an author’s name attached to it. If it does, give the author’s name first. If it does not, start with the title. In both situations, add Editorial or Letter to the Editor in square brackets after the title.

For better elections, copy the neighbors [Editorial]. (2021, February 16). The Wall Street Journal. https://www.wsj.com/articles/for-better-elections-copy-the-neighbors-11613518448

99. Review

To cite a review of a book, film, television show, or other work, begin with the reviewer’s last name, followed by the first and middle (if any) initials. In parentheses, add the year, followed by the title, month, and day of the review. Then in square brackets, add Review of the and the type of work being reviewed, followed by the title and the name of the author, director, or creator and their role. Then give the publication in which the review appeared, ending with a period, and the URL:

Girish, D. (2021, February 18). Refocusing the lens on race and gender [Review of the film Test Pattern, by S. M. Ford, Dir.]. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/02/18/movies/test-pattern-review.html

Books and Parts of Books (APA)

Use the following guidelines for books and parts of books, such as a selection from an anthology, a chapter in a collection, a published conference paper, and so on.

100. Basic entry for a book

Author’s Last Name, Initials. (Year of Publication). Title of book. Publisher.

  • Author. Give the last name, a comma, and the initials of the first name and middle name (if available). Do not list an author’s professional title, such as Dr. or PhD. End with a period.
  • Year of publication. In parentheses, give the year of publication, ending with a period outside the closing parentheses.
  • Title of the book. Put the book’s title in italics. Give the full title and any subtitle, separating them with a colon. Capitalize only the first word of the title and the first word of a subtitle and any proper nouns.
  • Publisher. Give the publisher’s name as shown on the work, omitting words such as Inc. or Company.
101. Print book or e-book

Aronson, L. (2019). Elderhood: Redefining aging, transforming medicine, reimagining life. Bloomsbury Publishing.

Use the same format for an e-book when the content is the same. If you consult a book that has a DOI, provide it after the publisher, using the format “https://doi.org/” followed by the number. (If you encounter older formats for DOI, change them to this format.) If you read a book online, give the URL.

102. Book, anthology, or collection with an editor

Schaefer, C. E., & Reid, S. E. (Eds.). (2001). Game play: Therapeutic use of childhood games (2nd ed.). Wiley.

103. Article or chapter in an edited book, an anthology, or a collection

Burks, H. F. (2001). Using the imagine game as a projective technique. In C. E. Schaefer & S. E. Reid (Eds.), Game play: Therapeutic use of childhood games (2nd ed., pp. 39-66). Wiley.

104. Translated or reprinted book

Freud, S. (1950). The interpretation of dreams (A. A. Brill, Trans.). Modern Library. (Original work published 1900)

105. Revised edition

Strunk, W., Jr., & White, E. B. (2019). The elements of style (4th ed.). Pearson.

106. One volume of a multivolume work

Waldrep, T. (Ed.). (1988). Writers on writing (Vol. 2). Random House.

107. Report or publication by a government agency or other organization

National Institute of Mental Health. (2020). Post-traumatic stress disorder. U.S. Department of Health and Human Service, National Institutes of Health.

If you consulted the publication online, include the URL after the publisher. See Model 89.

108. Conference paper

Killi, S., & Morrison, A. (2021). Could the food market pull 3D printing appetites further? In J.D. da Silva Bartolo, F. M. da Silva, S. Jaradat, & H. Bartolo (Eds.), Industry 4.0—shaping the future of the digital world: Proceedings of the 2nd International Conference on Sustainable & Smart Manufacturing (pp. 197-203). CRC Press.

Web Sources (APA)

Use the following guidelines for works published only online that do not have an overarching publication, such as a journal, newspaper, or magazine.

109. Basic format for a page or work on a website

Author’s Last Name, Initials. (Publication Date). Title of work. Title of website. URL.

  • Author. Give the last name, a comma, and the initials of the first name and middle name (if available). Do not list an author’s professional title, such as Dr. or PhD. End with a period.
  • Date of publication. In parentheses, give the year of publication and a comma, followed by the month and the day. End with a period outside the closing parentheses.
  • Title of the work. Put the title of the work in italics. Give the full title and any subtitle, separating them with a colon. Capitalize only the first word of the title and the first word of a subtitle and any proper nouns.
  • Title of the website. Give the title of the website and end with a period. If the author and the website title are the same, you can omit the title of the site.
  • URL. Copy and paste the URL from your browser window.
110. Page or work on a website

Shetterly, M. L. (2020, February 24). Katherine Johnson biography. NASA. https://www.nasa.gov/content/katherine-johnson-biography

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (n.d.). What is PTSD? National Center for PTSD. https://www.ptsd.va.gov/understand/what/index.asp

If the source you are citing has no author listed, start with the title. See Model 90.

111. Wiki

Coronavirus. (2021, February 22). In Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coronavirus

Social Media (APA)

When you cite a social media post as a source, use labels in square brackets to indicate the type of post and whether images were attached to it.

112. Social media post

Holler, J. [@holleratcha]. (2020, November 2). Everyone get out and vote tomorrow! [Tweet]. Twitter. http://twitter.com/holleratcha/status/1270432672544784384

Death Valley National Park. (2021, February 23). What does it mean to protect something you love? [Images attached] [Status update]. Facebook. www.facebook.com/DeathValleyNPS/posts/4108808255810092.

113. Online forum post

National Aeronautics and Space Administration [NASA]. (2020, November 14). We’re engineers, astronaut trainers, and other specialists working to launch humans on commercial spacecraft from U.S. soil! Ask us anything about the NASA SpaceX Crew-1 mission! [Online forum post]. Reddit. https://www.reddit.com/r/space/comments/jsx91g/were_engineers_astronaut_trainers_and_other/

Video, Audio, and Other Media Sources (APA)

When you cite nonprint sources, such as visual and multimedia sources, use labels in square brackets to indicate the type of source, such as a film, a TV episode, a song, a painting, a photograph, and so on.

114. Film

When you cite a film that you saw in a theater or streamed, you do not need to specify how you watched it.

Jenkins, B. (Director). (2016). Moonlight [Film]. A24.

115. Online video

For an online video, give the name of the person or organization that uploaded it as the author:

TED. (2017, February 27). Sue Klebold: My son was a Columbine shooter. This is my story [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BXlnrFpCu0c

116. Television program
  • TV series

    Schur, M., Miner, D., Sackett, M., & Goddard, D. (Executive Producers). (2016-20). The good place [TV series]. Fremulon; 3 Arts Entertainment; Universal Television; NBC.

  • TV episode

    Mande, J. (Writer), & Benz, P. (Director). (2016, September 29). Jason Mendoza (Season 1, Episode 4) [TV series episode]. In M Schur, D. Miner, M. Sackett, & D. Goddard (Executive Producers), The good place. Fremulon; 3 Arts Entertainment; Universal Television; NBC.

117. Music recording

For an artist whose music is available only through a website, include the URL. If the artist’s music is available on multiple platforms, you do not need to specify how you accessed it.

  • Album

    Prince. (1984). Purple rain [Album]. Warner Brothers.

  • Song

    The Supremes. (1964). Baby love [Song]. On Where did our love go. Motown.

118. Radio

Overby, J. (Host). (2021, January 9). The road to higher ground: World music with African roots and more. WPR.

119. Podcast

McEvers, K. (Host). (2019, November 7). This is not a joke (Season 9, Episode 9) [Audio podcast episode]. In Embedded. NPR.

120. Painting or other visual artwork

For a work of visual art, give the location of the museum or gallery. If you saw the work online, add the URL after the location:

Rivera, D. (1932-33). Detroit industry murals [Painting]. Detroit Institute of Art, Detroit, MI, United States.

Basquiat, J-M. (1983). Untitled [Painting]. Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY, United States. https://www.moma.org/collection/works/63997?artist_id=370&page=1&sov_referrer=artist

121. Map, photograph, infographic, or other visual

If the work you consulted names an author, start with the author. If there is no author, start with the title and a description of the work in square brackets, such as [Map], [Photograph], [Infographic], [Diagram], or another appropriate descriptor:

Expedition of Lewis and Clark [Map]. (2018). National Park Service. http://nps.gov/subjects/travellewisandclark/map.htm

122. Video game, software, or app

Benzies, L., & Sarwar, I. (2017). Grand theft auto V [Video game]. Rockstar Games. https://www.rockstargames.com/games/V

APA Paper Format

Follow your instructor’s formatting guidelines or those indicated here. For sample papers showing APA paper format, see this site.

  • Title page. Give the title of the paper in bold, centered. Then, on separate lines and not boldfaced, give your name, academic department, name of your college or university, course number and name, instructor’s name, and the due date, all centered. Repeat only the title on the first page of the text of your paper.
  • Margins. Use one-inch margins on all sides.
  • Spacing. Double-space throughout the paper, including the references page.
  • Paragraph format. Indent paragraphs one-half inch.
  • Headings. Give headings for the major sections of your paper, such as Method, Results or Findings, and Discussion. Put the headings in bold and center them on the page. Put the next level of headings in bold and place them flush left.
  • Page numbers. Start numbering on the title page of your paper and continue to the end of the references page. Place page numbers in the upper-right corner.
  • Long quotations. See Quotations for how to cite long quotations.

H 15 . Further Reading

MLA Handbook, 8th ed., Modern Language Association of America, 2016.

MLA Handbook, 9th ed., Modern Language Association of America, 2020.

Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 7th ed., American Psychological Association, 2020.

H 16 . Works Cited

Addams, Jane. Twenty Years at Hull-House. Digital Public Library of America, 1910, dp.la/primary-source-sets/theodore-dreiser-s-sister-carrie-and-the-urbanization-of-chicago/.

Becker, Jo. Forcing the Spring: Inside the Fight for Marriage Equality. Penguin Press, 2014.

Behn, Aphra. “The Character.” The Works of Aphra Behn. Edited by Montague Summers, vol. 6, Project Gutenberg, 2014, www.gutenberg.org/files/45777/45777-h/45777-h.htm#Page_113.

Behn, Aphra. “Love’s Power.” The Works of Aphra Behn. Edited by Montague Summers, vol. 6, Project Gutenberg, 2014, www.gutenberg.org/files/45777/45777-h/45777-h.htm#Page_113.

Brooks, Gwendolyn. “We Real Cool.” Blacks, Third World Press, 1994.

Da 5 Bloods. Directed by Spike Lee. Netflix, 2020.

Eisenberg, Richard. “How to Fix Social Security for Vulnerable Americans.” Forbes, 5 July 2018, www.forbes.com/sites/nextavenue/2018/07/05/how-to-fix-social-security-for-vulnerable-americans/.

“Environmental Impacts of Natural Gas.” Union of Concerned Scientists, 19 June 2014, www.ucsusa.org/resources/environmental-impacts-natural-gas.

Garrison, Dee. Bracing for Armageddon: Why Civil Defense Never Worked. Oxford UP, 2006.

Hollar-Zwick, Carol. Me, Hemorrhage: Recovery from a Ruptured Arteriovenous Malformation. Amazon, 2020.

The King James Bible. Project Gutenberg, 1989, www.gutenberg.org/files/10/10-h/10-h.htm#The_Gospel_According_to_Saint_Matthew.

Konish, Lorie. “Some Retirees Get by on Just Social Security. Experts Disagree on How Many.” CNBC, 10 Feb. 2020, www.cnbc.com/2020/02/10/some-retirees-live-on-social-security-experts-disagree-on-how-many.html.

Kristoff, Nicholas D., and Sheryl WuDunn. Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide. Alfred A. Knopf, 2009.

Mechling, Elizabeth Walker, and Jay Mechling. “The Campaign for Civil Defense and the Struggle to Naturalize the Bomb.” Western Journal of Speech Communication, vol. 55, no. 2, Spring 1991, pp. 105-33.

Myers, David. “The Funds, Friends, and Faith of Happy People.” American Psychologist, vol. 55, no. 1, Jan. 2000, pp. 56-67.

“This Is Who We Are.” U.S. Forest Service, United States Department of Agriculture, Mar. 2019, http://www.fs.usda.gov/sites/default/files/This-is-Who-We-Are.pdf.

Thomas, Lewis. Lives of a Cell: Notes of a Biology Watcher. Penguin Books, 1978.

Thoreau, Henry David. Walden. Project Gutenberg, 1995, http://www.gutenberg.org/files/205/205-h/205-h.htm.

University of Agder. “Sorry (not sorry).” YouTube, 6 Feb. 2021, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mi3JQa1ynDw.

Wilkerson, Isabel. Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents. Random House, 2020.

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