As you gather your sources, you need to keep an accurate list of books, articles, and other materials that you may use in your paper, including the bibliographic information for each source. You will need this information for your list of works cited.
One way to keep this information is to create 3 x 5 or 4 x 6 bibliography cards. Cards have three advantages:
1. They can be easily carried with you as you do your research.
2. They can help you create your works-cited page as you go. If you take care to copy your bibliographic information onto the cards in the proper MLA form, you will have less to do at the last minute when you prepare your list of works cited.
3. They can easily be alphabetized or discarded as you find additional sources or finalize the list of sources you actually used for your works-cited list.
Today some researchers save time by printing bibliographic information directly from computer catalogs and indexes. Although most of the important material can be recorded this way, one disadvantage is the pressure of converting the information to the MLA format at the last stage of the process. Likewise, you may not get all the correct information from a the library's computer catalog and may still need to look at the actual source. However, instead of using cards, you may create your own bibliography files or use specific software programs to keep your bibliographic material on disk. Always remember to keep hardcopies and backup disks if you use computer filing systems.
Use the following instructions to prepare bibliography cards.
• Record only one source on each card.
• Record all other bibliographic material. See Documenting Bibliographic Entries for the precise MLA format to use for each kind of source.
• In the upper left-hand corner, record the call number for all sources obtained from a library.
• Assign each source a number. Write this source number in the upper right-hand corner of your bibliography cards.
• When you are taking notes, write the source numbers from your bibliography cards in the upper right-hand corner of your note cards to avoid the necessity of copying complete publication information each time you refer to a particular source. See Sample Note Cards.
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