Many nonfiction books and scholarly journal articles contain explanatory footnotes that can provide interesting information not included in the main text. If you are writing a research paper, you may want to reference one of these notes. When using the Modern Languages Association of America (MLA) style, you must directly quote the note in the in-text citation using the letter "n" followed by the number. In "Works Cited", however, you have to cite the entire work, not just the note. Footnotes are different from endnotes, which appear at the end of a job. You can learn more about how to make endnotes here.
Method 1 of 2: Write in-text citations
Step 1. Use the author-page method for parenthetical citations
As a general rule, when you paraphrase or quote a reference in a research paper, you should continue it with the author of the work and the page number (or page numbers) where the material appears.
- For example: "(Eggers 23)".
- The quote is within the punctuation. Do not include any punctuation marks or abbreviations (such as "p.") Before the page number.
Step 2. Distinguish multiple works by the same author with abbreviated titles
In some jobs, you will need to talk about several books or articles written by the same author. In this case, include one to three words from the title so that readers will know which specific work you are referring to.
- The abbreviated title usually consists of the first couple of words in the title, excluding any opening articles such as "a" or "the".
- Write the titles of the articles in quotation marks and those of the books in italics. For example: "(Eggers, Heartbreaking Work 23)".
Step 3. Add the note number to cite a specific note
If the information you have paraphrased or quoted appears in a note rather than in the text itself, it is a good idea to direct the reader to that particular note by using the letter "n" followed by the note number.
- For example: "(Eggers 23n4)".
- If you are going to cite multiple notes on the same page, use square brackets and the abbreviation "nn". For example: "(Eggers 23 [nn 4, 7, 9])".
Step 4. Omit page numbers in electronic sources
If you're citing an online source that includes numbered footnotes (or more likely, numbered endnotes), you won't have a page number. Generally, you would not have a parenthetical citation for these sources, but you should indicate to the reader the note you quoted or paraphrased.
For example: "(Eggers n4)"
Step 5. Add in-text references when possible
Citations in parentheses can affect the fluency and readability of a text. For this reason, the MLA style guide encourages writers to include the author's name in the text of the work itself, so you only have to note the page number on which the information appears.
For example: "When Dave Eggers wrote his book, A Heartwarming, Amazing, and Great Story, he was unprepared for how cancer survivors (23n4) would embrace his work."
Method 2 of 2: Form a Full Appointment
Step 1. Gather information about the source
When you provide a complete citation in the "Works Cited", you will need to provide information about the entire work. Regardless of the type of work, all citations in MLA include the same basic elements.
- In general, you will need the author, title, names of other contributors, specific version or publication numbers, and information about the publication.
- For printed sources, this information can easily be found on the title page of the work.
- Online and multimedia sources may require additional research to find the information you need to form a complete citation. Ask your teacher or a librarian for help if you can't find the information you need.
Step 2. Use the concept of "container" for a work that is part of another
The 8th edition of the MLA style guide introduced the concept of "containers", which means that when you build a quote, you start with the smallest unit and work your way up to the largest.
For example, you could cite the note to an article in an academic journal that appears in an electronic database. In this case, it begins with the name of the article followed by the name of the journal and, at the end, the database in which the journal is hosted
Step 3. Add a direct URL and the date of access to online works
A direct URL allows readers to go directly to the source and read it. Since online materials can be moved or disappear, the date you accessed them can help the reader find an archived copy if they are later removed.
In MLA citations, you don't have to include the "http:" part of the URL, just the part that starts after the slashes, which usually starts with "www."
Step 4. Review the appointment with the MLA templates
MLA provides online templates that can help you practice writing full citations using the container method. You can also use these templates to review your work after creating a citation, especially if you include an unusual source.