When you relate source information in a research paper, you must give the source credit for it. If you don't, you are committing plagiarism. MLA Style parenthetical documentation is the easiest way to do this. (If you doubt this, ask your parents about doing footnotes and/or endnotesóthe old way.)
As you write your research paper, whenever you use information that came from a note card, insert the authorís last name and page number (in parentheses) before the end punctuation in the sentence. This should not be hard because your note cards should already have the authorís name and page number on them. Here is an example of what parenthetical documentation looks like (Smith 26). Notice that any information you learned from the source must be documented even if itís not a direct quote.
You do not have to have parenthetical documentation after every sentence. The way you determine when to use it is simple: whenever you are reporting information you learned from a source, you need parenthetical documentation. So, if you write a paragraph that includes information that comes from page 74 of a book by Christian Earl, the end of your paragraph will look like this (Earl 74).
Things to remember about
∑ Parenthetical documentation is not optional. It must appear in the body of the research paper. It shows that you learned from your sources and you are giving credit where credit is due.
∑ Parenthetical documentation should not all come from the same source. You should usually have at least one parenthetical citation for each source listed in your Works Cited Page.
∑ Parenthetical documentation should look like this (Thompson 32).
∑ You put the end punctuation of the sentence after the final parenthesis.
∑ The only things within the parentheses are the authorís last name and page number with one space between them.
∑ DONíT put the name of the book or magazine.
∑ DONíT an Internet address.
∑ DONíT put the name of the encyclopedia it came from.
∑ DONíT put commas, colons, semicolons, abbreviations, or typographical symbols like &, #, or @ in your documentation.
∑ DONíT put a space between the final parenthesis and the end punctuation of the sentence.
∑ DO put a space between the last word in the sentence and the open parenthesis, like this (Washburn 146).
∑ DO put a space between the authorís last name and the page number, like this (Ashton 11).
∑ So, once again, it looks like this sentence (Thompson 34).
∑ Got it? I hope so (Thompson 66).