Standard Documentation Formats
Standard Documentation Formats - MLA
Written by Margaret Procter, Writing Support   
Article Index
Standard Documentation Formats
MLA System: Parenthetical Author-Page References (humanities)
Numbered Note
All Pages

MLA System: Parenthetical Author-Page References (humanities)

This streamlined format gives author and page in parentheses within the text of the paper, then sets out full references in a Works Cited (or Works Consulted) list. Developed by the Modern Language Association, it is now widely accepted in the humanities. The MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers gives detailed advice and examples, with useful sections on citing non-print sources such as films, paintings, sound recordings, and Internet sources. See also the MLA website for recommendations on details of referring to non-print sources. The seventh edition of the MLA Handbook, published in 2009, has made a number of changes to the system: 

  • It specifies that every Works Cited entry must name the medium of the item, for instance, "Print" or "Web," "Film" or "DVD." 
  • It advises that URLs do not need to be included for Internet sources, on the grounds that readers can find current web addresses by searching. (However, some professors still expect URLs, as in the entry for Zygmundi below.)  
  • It specifies that for Internet sources you must include the date you read the page. That information helps indicate which version of the page you looked at.
  • It now also specifies that if you read a journal article online through a database service such as Project Muse, you must give the name of the service. See our section on Electronic Sources.


When Hamlet protests to his mother, "Leave wringing of your hands" (III.iv.35), he is naming a universally recognizable gesture. As Smith says, similar broad physical movements are "still the most direct way of indicating inner turmoil" (960). Zygmundi confirms their continuing usefulness in contemporary productions of other sixteenth-century plays. Renaissance audiences would have recognized hand-wringing as a signal for inner distress (Brown, Renaissance Stage 111), specifically for a condition that the Elizabethan author Reynolds named "ague of the spirits" (qtd. in Mahieu 69). Poor sight lines in Elizabethan theatres also required highly visible body movements (Smith 964). In her new book, Brown attempts to show that such gestures are related to stylized movements from religious ceremonies, among other influences (Brown, Ritual 90). She argues that acting methods responded to both the physical conditions of the theatres and the audience's cultural expectations (Brown, Ritual 14).

Works Cited

Brown, Joan. The Renaissance Stage. Toronto: U of Toronto P, 2000. Print.

---. Ritual and Drama in the Elizabethan Age. Toronto: Oxford UP, 2008. Print.

Mahieu, Aline. Acting Shakespeare. Toronto: Gibson, 2004. Print.

Shakespeare, William. Hamlet, The Norton Introduction to Literature. Ed. Alison Booth, J. Paul Hunter, Kelly J. Mays, and Jerome Beaty. 8th ed. New York: Norton, 2001. 941-1033. Print.

Smith, Jasmine. "Renovating Hamlet for Contemporary Audiences." UTQ 76 (2007): 960-69. Project Muse. Web. 22 Aug. 2012.

Zygmundi, David. "Acting Out the Moralities for Today's Audiences." Termagant Society Online. 31 Nov. 2002. Web. 22 Aug. 2012. ‹›.


Joomla Templates by Joomlashack