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How to Cite Non-Traditional Sources in MLA Style

In some respects, writing a dissertation or thesis in MLA Style was easier two or three decades ago, at least when it came to compiling the Works Cited list. You might not have used a computer for writing or the Internet for locating more sources, but at least you didn't have to cite many non-traditional sources in a Works Cited page.

How to Cite Non-Traditional Sources in MLA Style

Brian Scott is a professional freelance writer with over a decade of experience. He recommends using an MLA formatting software to correctly format and write papers in MLA Style, available at http://www.masterfreelancer.com/mla-writing-style-software.php

In some respects, writing a dissertation or thesis in MLA Style was easier two or three decades ago, at least when it came to compiling the Works Cited list. You might not have used a computer for writing or the Internet for locating more sources, but at least you didn’t have to cite many non-traditional sources in a Works Cited page.

When citing non-traditional sources in MLA, such as Web pages or electronic media, you need to follow specific rules, just as you do with traditional print media, such as books and scholarly journals. I have listed some of the more common instances below. When writing your paper, if you encounter any situations not discussed below, you always can turn to the MLA Style Manual, which covers every potential source, both traditional and non-traditional. Just be certain to use the third edition, as the guidelines have changed for a few types of sources, such as Web sites.

BROADCAST. When citing a TV or radio broadcast, start with the title of the episode or segment in quotation marks, if one is available, followed by the title of the program in italics. Then list the network, the local broadcast affiliate, the date of broadcast, the type of broadcast, and any additional information that would be helpful to the reader, such as if you took the ideas or quotes from a transcript. You may list the name of an author, director, or performer at the beginning of the listing on the Works Cited page, if that person was primarily responsible for the content of the entire broadcast. If the primary source was interviewed on a program, list those who conducted the interview, if available.

* Smith, Xavier Z. Interview by Jeffrey T. Jones and Terry J. Thomas. “Economic Times In Africa.” Financial Times Worldwide. National Public Radio. KPBS, Omaha, 25 May 2007. Radio.
* “African Economic Struggles.” News Hour. PBS. WPBS, New York, 2 Apr. 2006. Television. Transcript.

ILLUSTRATIONS OR GRAPHIC NOVELS. Unlike most printed books, using an illustration or graphic novel as a source for your paper may present some tough circumstances as far as compiling material for the Works Cited list. For example, many illustrated books have more than one “author.” You might have a writer along with multiple illustrators, for example. When listing the source in the Works Cited page, first list the person who had the most influence on the source as you’re using it. For example, if you’re using the writer’s idea in your paper, list the primary writer first before any illustrators or other writers.

* Smith, Xavier Z., writer. Understanding Technologies, an Illustrated Guide. Illus. Quincy X. Smith and Jon Q. Smith. Introd. Travis Johnson. New York: State University Press, 2006. Print.

WEB SITES. When citing Web sites, the third edition of the MLA Style Manual now allows writers to eliminate the URL, or Web address, if the reader of the paper can easily find the Web site through the other information listed when citing the source. The MLA says because URLs sometimes change, the URL isn’t as valuable to finding the source later as is a good description of the source. MLA recommends including the URL if you think your readers will have a difficult time finding the source without the URL.

You’ll need to continue to include an author, article name, Web site name, date of creation of the article or Web page, and date when you accessed the Web site when citing a Web site, but the URL is now optional. If you decide to include a URL, list it inside angle brackets. Also, be sure to include the word Web as part of the listing, usually after the date of creation of the Web site. If no date is available, use n.d. in place of the date. Finally, use italics for the title if the article is independent, and use quotation marks if the article is part of a larger work, using italics for the name of the larger work.

* Smith, Xavier Z and Travis Johnson. African Economic Forecast, 2006. State University, 20 Dec. 2005. Web. 27 Jan. 2008. http://www.stateu(dot)edu/economics/smith2006.html.

As often occurs, if the Web site you’re using has no author or editor listed, start with the title of the page or article that you’re citing.

* “How Technology Affects Economies.” Economic Development Worldwide. Economic Development Worldwide, n.d. Web. 27 Jan. 2008.

Finally, if you’re using material that has appeared in more than one medium, such as a print version and a Web page, cite only the medium that you used primarily.

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