If you have ever written or edited a Wikipedia article, you will know that properly citing all of your sources is essential. As an open-source encyclopedia of information, Wikipedia relies on citations to build credibility. One of the methods of citation you can use in your article is known as MLA style citations. This article will go over how and when to use them.
What are MLA Style Citations?
MLA stands for the Modern Language Association. They are a large scholarly body that aims to promote the study and teaching of language and literature. They created the MLA Style citation method in the 1950s in order to help writers demonstrate credibility in their work, as well as to help readers trust the source of information. MLA is one of many different types of citation that you can use in your research.
What Kind Of Citation To Use On Wikipedia
Wikipedia uses five different kinds of citations in its articles:
- Full Citations are the most commonly used method of citing information in a Wikipedia article. It will show up in the article as a footnote, with full details of the source in the citations section.
- General References are sources that are not directly referenced in the article, but support the information in general. Some articles have their own ‘General References’ section that is separate from other citations.
- In-text attributions are used within sentences, especially to reference quotes, paraphrases, or statements of biased opinion.
- Inline Citations include any citation that is added at the end of sentences or paragraphs, close to the information it supports. These can be done as footnotes or parenthetical citations. These should always be used after in-text attributions.
- Short Citation is a type of inline citation that does not give the entire details of the source.
MLA citations are one of the types of short citations, along with APA Style, Harvard Style, and Chicago Style. You’ll be familiar with these if you have ever had to write an academic paper!
When To Use MLA Citation On Wikipedia
Even though full citations with footnotes are the most common type of citation seen on Wikipedia articles, there are still times that you should use short citations. Which style of short citation you use will depend on the subject matter of your article:
- APA Style comes from the American Psychological Association and is used for topics related to education and social sciences.
- Chicago Style, from the University of Chicago, is used for history, fine art, and business topics.
- Harvard Style is generally used for scientific articles.
- MLA style is used for the arts and humanities.
There are many other methods of referencing, but MLA and APA styles are the most popular styles. So, if you are writing an article about anything in the arts, humanities, and literature, use MLA style.
In a Wikipedia article, you should use MLA citations whenever you want to reference the specific pages of a source. You can use the MLA style to cite journal articles, books, and even web pages.
How To Do In Text Citations For MLA
MLA is a simple style where you include the author (by last name only) and page numbers inside a parenthesis. However, this can vary slightly depending on the way you structure the sentence and what kind of source you are referencing.
- In general, when you use the MLA style, you will state a fact from a source, and follow it with the author’s last name and the page number. Ex. The sky is blue (Smith, 18).
- If you use the author’s name in the sentence, only list the page number. Ex. Smith states that the sky is blue (18).
- If there are multiple authors of a source, list all of the authors. Ex. The sun provides the earth with heat (Smith, Doe, and Johnson, 20).
- When there is no author, you can use the article title or a shortened title if the title is too long. Ex. There are millions of stars in the Milky Way Galaxy (Space, 27).
- When citing a web page with no page numbers, simply use the author’s name. Ex. There are eight planets in the solar system (Williams).
Always place the punctuation after the citation, as noted above. MLA citations should go at the end of sentences or paragraphs. when using them in a Wikipedia article, they should link to the full citation at the bottom of the article.
Full MLA citations can be formatted in a few different ways, depending on the source. If you can’t find a certain piece of information, you can leave it out. Take a look at these examples:
Author’s Last Name, First Name. Title of the Book. Edition, Publisher, Year of Publication.
Author’s Last Name, First Name. Title of the Article. Title of the Journal, vol. Volume, no. Issue, Month Year of Publication, pp. Pages, Link.
Author’s Last name, First name. “Title of Work.” Website, Day Month Year of Publication, URL.
What Is A Works Cited Page?
A ‘Works Cited’ page is a list of references to sources that you used directly in your research paper or Wikipedia article. In a long research paper, the list of citations can be several pages long. On a Wikipedia article, this will appear at the bottom of the page and can include hundreds of sources.
When you are writing a research article or paper, you will also need to include a bibliography. Bibliographies and works cited pages differ slightly. While works cited pages include sources that you directly referenced, a bibliography also includes sources you did not directly use. In a bibliography, you have to list all of the sources that you read in order to build your foundational understanding of the subject matter. This is why it is so vital to keep track of your research as you go.
In both works cited pages and bibliographies, references should always be arranged in alphabetical order based on the author’s last name.
Why Do I Need A Works Cited Page On
Doing all of this work may seem complicated, but citing your work is vital to writing Wikipedia articles. Writers and editors need to properly cite sources in order to back up information and avoid spreading misinformation to the public. Citations are also vital for readers so that they can trust the information they are being given as well as find resources for further information.
Citations build Wikipedia’s credibility, as well as make sure writers and editors are not plagiarising other people’s work. In fact, if you try to write an article or make edits without proper sources, they will get rejected.
Here are some tips for citing your Wikipedia article:
- Be mindful to avoid citation overkill. Instead, only use the necessary amount of sources you need to cite the information.
- Be consistent with the citation method that you use in the article to avoid clutter. If editing an existing article, maintain the same citation method that is already being used.
- You do not need to cite something that is common knowledge. E.g. ‘Abraham Lincoln was the 16th president of the United States of America’.
- Make sure that the sources you do use are credible.
- Do not directly use Wikipedia as a source in your article, as this goes against Wikipedia’s policies.
How To Cite Wikipedia
If you are a student writing a research paper, Wikipedia articles will usually appear at the top of Google search results for your search term. This makes Wiki articles convenient sources of information. However, teachers and professors usually advise staying away from Wikipedia when doing research. You actually can, however, use Wikipedia as a port of call when doing research. Here is how to use Wikipedia in research papers:
- Enter your search term on Google.
- Click on the Wikipedia page and read over the information.
- If you see any information you want to use in your research, click on the citation at the end of the sentence or paragraph. Clicking on this will take you to the works cited page at the bottom of the article.
- If you want to browse through the citations, scroll down to the bottom of the page to the ‘References section. With larger articles, this section will be subdivided into ‘Citations’, ‘General References’, and sometimes a ‘Further Reading’ section.
- Click directly on the links to the sources provided on the works cited page. If there is no link, that means the reference can not be found online, and you can try searching for it at your library.
- Evaluate the reference based on your college, university, or research body’s guidelines.
- Reference that source directly in your research paper instead of referencing Wikipedia.
Knowing how and when to use citations on Wikipedia can seem complicated, but it is essential for writing Wikipedia articles. Follow these steps and tips for using MLA citations in your Wikipedia article, and get your article published! Browse our other articles if you need more information about creating Wikipedia articles.