Writing Tips - Documentation


There are two reasons to document ideas and materials you've obtained from other sources. The first is to prevent you from being expelled from the university for plagiarism, the basic definition of which is trying to pass off someone else's work as your own. The second is to allow your reader to find sources you've used as easily as possible.


Conventions on how to document are just that: conventional agreements. They vary from discipline to discipline, and they change within disciplines over time. In our program, we ask you to follow the current conventions of the Modern Languages Association. You'll use in-line citations with a work cited list, footnotes and not endnotes. You will not use a bibliography.

The basic conventions are not difficult to master; there are plenty of examples available for documenting more unusual sources, such as Internet pages and interviews. It takes much more time to remain confused about them and as a result mess up your paper and possibly your research.

In addition to the standard print versions of the MLA style sheets, you may consult the online guide to MLA conventions at Capital College: A Guide for Writing Research Papers based on Modern Language Association (MLA) Documentation . You may also see several real-life examples of research papers on the Samples page of this guide.