Citing Materials Appearing in EMLS

Be it an email message from a learned colleague, a posting on the SHAKSPER discussion group, or an article in the Bryn Mawr Medieval Review, citing information received from the internet has typically been difficult, chiefly because stylistic guidelines covering such citation--and the resources outlining those guidelines for use by those in the Humanities--are just now emerging; for those in the Arts, the absence of explicit MLA guidelines in this area has been especially noticeable. Peter Graham, in his recent review (Internet Research [Spring 1994]: 85-88) of Xia Li and Nancy B Crane's Electronic Style: A Guide to Citing Electronic Information (Westport, Conn.: Meckler, 1993), outlines briefly the history of the problem and the state of the current situation, so I will not do so here.

My purpose, rather, is to suggest a way in which articles, reviews, and notes in EMLS can be cited roughly within the stylistic parameters set out in the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers Third Edition (New York: MLA, 1988). For pragmatic reasons, this suggestion covers only pieces in EMLS and consciously neglects other electronic materials.

Essays, reviews, notes and other documents appearing in electronic publications such as EMLS should and can be cited seamlessly alongside those in more traditional media. In this spirit, we suggest two slight modifications to the MLA style which will allow for the straightforward citation of materials appearing in EMLS:

  1. that citations follow MLA guidelines for parenthetical citation (155 ff.), treating the item number (or that of a review, note, &c.) and paragraph numbers of EMLS pieces as one would the page number of a typical journal article, and
  2. that the same information be substituted in the Works Cited list (122 ff.), and the Universal Resource Locator (URL) of the piece be included following this information.

An example, using the fifth paragraph from the second numbered item appearing in this issue (the first volume and number of EMLS), will help to make this clear.

To quote the final sentence, one would do as follows:

Other situations are handled in the same way as laid out in the MLA guidelines, with the same treatment of the item and paragraph numbers as substitutes for page numbering. The entry of the Carlson article on the Works Cited page would appear as below:

As the authoritative (and archived) version of EMLS is that which resides at our WWW URL, and as versions of EMLS available by GOPHER and electronic mail derive from that version and do not deviate in paragraph or item number from it, all references should be to that version.

As work published electronically is becoming increasingly more common, a clear need has emerged for formal guidelines on the citation of work in this medium to be issued for those who abide by MLA stylistic guidelines. Until such guidelines are established--quite possibly in the forthcoming edition of the new MLA Handbook (1995)--we should expect some diversity and flux in citation methods. Comments and discussion on this suggested method of citation would be appreciated. Please write the Editor at EMLS@UAlberta.ca.

My thanks go out to Jeff Miller, Joanne Woolway, and Peter Graham, all of whom have been kind enough to read this document in unfinished form, and whose comments have been incorporated herein.


[http://asgard.humn.arts.ualberta.ca/emls/EMLS footer.html]

(RGS, 11 December 1997)