MLA Help

Determining information for a government document citation can be challenging. Take advantage of indexes, such as ASU Library One Search, for assistance.


Writer

  • If the writer is unknown use the agency issuing the document, i.e., the political entity (nation, state, etc) followed by the agency.
  • The MLA Handbook does not specify which levels of the bureaucratic hierarchy are required.
    • A well known agency does not need to follow a higher departmental name, e.g., Federal Bureau of Investigation, etc. Enter the name in the "Department/Agency" box.
    • If the case is unclear, enter the top-level department in the "Department/Agency" and the lowest level agency in the next box.
  • If the writer is known, the entry may start with either the personal name or the agency. In the latter case the writer's name follows the title with a "byline," e.g., Ed., By, etc.
  • The Online Catalog may not be of much help for the author because of rules of use for corporate authors.

Title

The title of a document can be hard to decipher.

  • Use the title on the title page rather than the one on the cover if they differ.
  • For microfiche use the title on the title page, not what is printed at the top of the sheet.
  • If there is still doubt, consult an index, such as ASU Library One Search.

Date of CD-ROM

  • The date of a CD-ROM can appear in a number of places, e.g., on the front or the back of the cover slip, on the CD-ROM, etc.
  • If you use the receipt date stamped on the document, check the "Receipt Stamp" box.
  • If you supply the place from a resource other than the document (such as the Online Catalog), check the User Supplied option.
  • If you can not determine the date, select the "No Date" option.

Publication is Printed

Publication Format

  • Select Document is Printed for those that can be held in your hand, e.g., paper, microfiche, CD-ROMs, etc.
  • Select Document is Available on the Internet for those on the Internet.

Place of Publication

  • The place of publication is usually found on the front or the back of the title page, although it can also appear at the end of the document or within a preface or letter of transmittal.
  • If the Government Printing Office printed the document, click that checkbox. The program will automatically supply the place and publisher.
  • If the place is printed in the document, enter that in the box and make sure the "Source" checkbox indicates that.
  • If you supply the place from a resource other than the document (such as the Online Catalog), check the User Supplied option.
  • If you can not determine the place, select the No Place option.

Publisher

  • If the Government Printing Office appears in the document, click the checkbox. The program will automatically supply the place and publisher.
  • The issuing agency can also be the publisher. If so, click the checkbox.
    • The MLA Handbook implies that just the top level of the bureaucratic hierarchy can serve as the publisher.
  • If you supply the publisher from a resource other than the document (such as the Online Catalog), check the User Supplied option.
  • If you can not determine the publisher, select the "No Publisher" option.

Publication is on the Internet

Internet Dates

Citations for Internet resources may require two dates, the Revised and the Access dates, because documents can be readily altered.

  • The "Revised Date," similar to the copyright date, is when the document was last changed. It appears on the document or web page itself.
  • The "Access Date" is when the researcher viewed that document.

Database Name

Some, though not all, documents are part of a database, such as GPO Access or the Department of Energy's Information Bridge.

  • Include the database name in the citation.

Uniform Resource Locator (URL)

The most efficient way to find an Internet document is through its online address - the URL.

  • Include the entire address, although it can be long.


The APA Citation is based on:

  • Gibaldi, Joseph. MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers. 5th ed. New York: Modern Language Association of America, 1999.
  • Modern Language Association. Documenting Sources from the World Wide Web 22 Mar. 2000. 1 Apr. 2000 <http://www.mla.org/style/sources.htm>.