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How to Cite a Museum Plaque


The guiding rule in research writing is that you must cite every piece of information you quote, either verbatim or by paraphrase. Websites and books are the most common fodder for research, but helpful information can even be found hanging on a wall – say, on a museum plaque. The source isn’t as far-fetched as you might think, as many plaques contain historical information that may not be available elsewhere. Learn how to cite such a source according to Modern Language Association style, which is commonly used for research papers written about the arts and the humanities.

Follow the dictates of MLA style by signaling your reader that the forthcoming information emanates from a source -- rather than you -- for an in-text citation. For example: "A plaque at a Springfield, Illinois, museum hints that the president did, in fact, have boyhood friends, who even called him by a pet name (Lincoln plaque)."

Cite the title of the plaque or describe its subject matter in italics. For example: "A Tribute from ‘Abbie’s Pals’ in the Springfield, Illinois, community."

Include the date shown on the plaque, if any. If no date is shown, use “nd” -- which stands for “not dated.”

State the name of the building that houses the plaque and the city and state in which the building is situated. For example: "The Land of Lincoln Museum, Springfield, Illinois."

Include the date when the reader viewed the plaque, such as: "December 26, 2011."

String the entire citation together. Based on the previous examples, it would read as follows: "A Tribute from ‘Abbie’s Friends’ in the Springfield, Illinois, Community, nd, The Land of Lincoln Museum, Springfield, Illinois. December 26, 2011."

Tips
  • Err on the side of including more information, rather than less, in a citation. After all, the goal is to help your reader track down information. So be sure to include all useful and relevant details.
  • Double-space the “Works Cited” page at the end of the research paper. Make the first line of each documented source flush left and every subsequent line of the source indented five spaces.
References
About the Author

With education, health care and small business marketing as her core interests, M.T. Wroblewski has penned pieces for Woman's Day, Family Circle, Ladies Home Journal and many newspapers and magazines. She holds a master's degree in journalism from Northern Illinois University.

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