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MLA Citations (8th ed.): Formatting & Ordering Your Works Cited

This guide will help you format your paper and cite resources according to MLA citation style.

Works Cited Basics

In a research paper, the Works Cited list is usually placed at the end, after any endnotes. In other forms of academic work, the list may appear elsewhere.

For example, if you are doing a Powerpoint presentation, include brief citations on each slide that uses borrowed material and add a works-cited list on a slide at the end. (p. 128)

Or, if you are doing a web-based project, you could link your citations to the online materials you cite. Then add a works-cited list as an appendix to the project. (p. 128)

Page title - The words Works Cited should appear centered one inch from the top of the page. If you have only 1 citation the title should be Work Cited. (p. 111)

Alignment - The first line of each entry should align with the left margin. All subsequent lines should be indented 5 spaces or set a hanging indent at 1/2 inch. If creation of a hanging indentation is difficult--in certain digital projects, for example--leaving an extra space between entries serves the same purpose. (p. 112)

Letter-by-letter Alphabetization

The works cited list is put into alphabetical order by the authors' names, determined by the letters that come before the commas separating the authors' last and first names. Other punctuation marks and spaces are ignored.

The letters following the commas are considered only when two or more last names are identical.

Examples:

     Descartes, René
     De Sica, Vittorio

     MacDonald, George
     McCullers, Carson

     Morris, Robert
     Morris, William
     Morrison, Toni

     Saint-Exupéry, Antoine de
     St. Denis, Ruth

Special characters (i.e. @) and accents (é vs. e) should be ignored when alphabetizing. (p.112)

Alphabetizing by Title

Alphabetize an entry in your works cited by title in two situations:

  1. No author is named at the start of the entry
  2. The work's author appears at the start of more than one entry

Alphabetize titles letter by letter, ignoring any initial A, An, or The or the equivalent in other languages. If the title begins with a numeral, alphabetize the title as if the numeral were spelled out. (p.115)

Multiple Works by One Author

If you have two or more works by the same author, give the author's name in the first entry only. In each additional entry, in place of the name, type three hyphens. (p. 113)

The three hyphens are followed by a period. Usually this is followed by the source's title. If the person named performed a role other than creating the main content, however, place a comma after the three hyphens and enter a term describing the role (editor, translator, director, etc.) before moving on to the title.

If the same person performed such a role for two or more works, the label should appear in each entry.

NOTE: Terms describing the person's role are not considered in alphabetization!

Examples:

     Borroff, Marie. Language and the Poet: Verbal Artistry in Frost, Stevens, and Moore.
               
U of Chicago P, 1979.

     ---, translator. Pearl: A New Verse Translation. W. W. Norton, 1977.

     ---. "Sound Symbolism as Drama in the Poetry of Robert Frost." PMLA, vol. 107, no. 1, Jan. 1992,
               pp. 131-44. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/462806.

     ---, editor. Wallace Stevens: A Collection of Critical Essays. Prentice-Hall, 1963.

**If a single author cited in one entry is also the first of multiple authors in the next entry, repeat the name in full. Repeat the name in full whenever you cite the same person as part of a different team of authors.

Cross-References

To reduce repetition, you can cross-reference certain entries in your works cited. For example, if you are citing two or more works from a collection such as an anthology, using a cross-reference to reduce the amount of information you have to repeat. (p.115) For example:

     Agee, James. "Knoxville: Summer of 1915." Oates and Atwan, pp.171-75.

     Angelou, Maya. "Pickin Em Up and Layin Em Down." Baker, Norton Book, pp. 276-78.

     Atwan, Robert. Forword. Oates and Atwan, pp. x-xvi.

     Baker, Russell, editor. The Norton Book of LIght Verse. W. W. Norton, 1986.

     ---, editor. Russell Baker's Book of American Humor. W. W. Norton, 1993.

     Hurston, Zora Neale. "Squinch Owl Story." Baker, Russell Baker's Book, pp. 458-59.

     Oates, Joyce Carol, and Robert Atwan, editors. The Best American Essays of the Century.
               Houghton Mifflin, 2000.

     Walker, Alice. "Looking for Zora." Oates and Atwan, pp. 395-411.