Our MLA Guide to Developing Authentic Works Cited Pages

3.1
(116)

Welcome to EasyBib.com’s Guide to MLA Works Cited Pages! This guide serves as a one-stop shop for everything you need to know about creating an authentic MLA works cited page.

In this guide, you’ll learn about:

  1. What an MLA works cited page is
  2. Bibliography vs. Works Cited — What’s the Difference?
  3. Page Formatting
  4. Heading & Title Format
  5. Organizing the List
  6. Formatting Author Names 
  7. Title rules: capitalization, italics and quotation marks
  8. Developing References with the EasyBib MLA works cited generator
  9. Example Works Cited
  10. Works Cited (for this page)

There are many ways to style references, but for this guide, we are specifically focusing on an MLA reference page. MLA stands for Modern Language Association. They are the creators of the MLA format, which is a commonly used style to create references. Many literature and language courses use MLA style, but due to its popularity, numerous other subject areas and disciplines use it as well. This guide follows the guidelines in their current edition, which is the 8th edition.

This guide is not affiliated with the Modern Language Association. It was developed by EasyBib.com’s in house librarians to serve as a quick guide and snapshot of some of the guidelines found in the MLA Handbook, 8th ed.

Let’s get started with an explanation of what exactly a reference page is and why creating one is necessary.

 


1. What a works cited page is

An MLA works cited page shows all the sources that were consulted and included in a project. Each source has a corresponding in-text citation within the paper.

Why do we cite? When students and scholars create a research paper, they seek out information in books, websites, journal articles, and many other types of sources. The information from these sources, combined with the scholar’s own thinking and knowledge, aid in the formation of a final project.

However, simply placing information from books, websites, journal articles, newspaper articles, and other source types into a project without a reference is not acceptable. Without a reference or citation, it’ll look like the paper’s author came up with everything themself! 

That means it’s necessary to call out when information is included from outside sources and originated elsewhere. 

This is easily done in two ways:

  1. In-text or parenthetical citation
  2. Full references in a Works Cited list

In-text & parenthetical citations

In the body of a research project, add a short reference next to a quote or paraphrased information that came from a source. This is called a narrative in-text or parenthetical citation. Here’s an example of one:


Langdon’s expertise is revealed in Chapter 1, when he is introduced to a group of university students. “Our guest tonight needs no introduction. He is the author of numerous books: The Symbology of Secret Sects, The An of the Illuminati, The Lost Language of Ideograms, and when I say he wrote the book on Religious Iconology, I mean that quite literally. Many of you use his textbooks in class” (Brown 8).


In the example above, the writer displays that the quote was taken from Brown’s book, on page 8.

Even though this information is helpful, the brief reference to Brown and page 8 isn’t enough information to truly understand the origin of the quote. Other relevant Information, such as the full name of the author, the title of the book, the publisher, and the year the book was published is missing. Where can the reader find that information? In the works cited MLA list!


Full references in the works cited list

The MLA works cited list is the final page of a research project. Here, the reader can take the time to truly understand the sources included in the body of the project. The reader can turn to the MLA works cited list, look for “Brown” and see the full reference, which looks like this:

Brown, Dan. The DaVinci Code. Knopf Doubleday, 2003.

Included in the above reference is the full name of the author (Dan Brown), the title of the source (The DaVinci Code), the publisher of the book (Knopf Doubleday), and the year the book was published (2003).

The information provided in the reference supplies the reader with enough information to seek out the original source themselves, if he or she would like.

Click here for an MLA works cited guide by The University of York, which contains information about structuring both types of references (in-text and full references).

If you’re asking yourself, “How does the MLA style of citation work?” here’s some additional information.

 


2. Bibliography vs. Works cited – What’s the difference?

Quite often, the two terms are used interchangeably. While similar, they have some unique differences.

Bibliography

—————————

Works Cited 

—————————

A list of sources that relate to the content in a research paper or project. 

  • Example: Authors sometimes include a list of sources for further or additional reading. This additional reading list is a bibliography.

 

 

A list of sources that are included in the body of a research paper or project, often via an in-text citation. 

  • Sources are only listed if they were mentioned in the text.
  • Each source corresponds to a narrative in-text citation or parenthetical citation.

If you’re looking to style your references in a different style, click here for more styles.

Another commonly used reference style is APA. If your teacher or professor requests your references be made in APA citation style, check out this page on APA format.

Here’s more information on how to develop an MLA in-text citation and APA in-text citation.

The remainder of this guide focuses on the placement, organization, and styling guidelines for the MLA works cited list.

 


3. Page formatting

The reference page is the final page of a research paper and starts on its very own page.

If your project isn’t an actual research paper, but a slideshow, video, or another type of project, follow the same guidelines as above. Place the works cited list on the final slide, page, or screen of the project.

Here are the recommended guidelines for margins, spacing, and page numbers taken from the MLA Style Center’s web page “Formatting a Research Paper.”


Margins:

  • Place one inch margins around the entire document.
  • The only exception is the “running head.” See the “Running Head” section below to learn more about the margins of this component.
  • Most word processing programs automatically default to one inch margins. In the page setup settings, you can view and modify the size of the margins.

Spacing:

  • Double space the entire page. The title, references, and other components should all have double spaces.

It is not necessary to create double spaces manually by pressing the “enter” or “return” key in between each and every line. Your word processing program can automatically adjust the line spacing for you. Look for a section in the settings area called “Line spacing” or “Paragraph spacing.” You should be able to click or check off “double spacing.”

While an APA works cited is very different from a Modern Language Association style works cited, note that  APA bibliography pages also use double spacing throughout and 1 inch margins.


Page numbers:

  • The reference list is the final page(s) of a research paper.
  • If the conclusion of a research project is on page 7, page 8 would be the first page of the reference list. If the list runs onto the next page after that, it would be page 9.

For more information regarding how to display the page numbers, see the section below titled, “Running Head.”

 


4. Heading & title format

This next section focuses on how to properly label and format the page numbers and title.


Running head

The running head is found at the top of every page of the research project. It’s also included on the reference list.

The running head displays the:

name of the writer or author of the research project + page number.

There is one space between the author’s name and the page number. Here is an MLA works cited page example of a running head:

Kleinman 8

 

The above is an example of a running head that would be seen on page 8 of a research project. The writer’s last name is Kleinman.


General running head guidelines:

  • It is placed in the top right corner of every page.
  • It sits half of an inch from the top of the page and along the right side’s one inch margin.

Reminder: If the concluding sentence of the research project is on page 10, the reference list starts on page 11. Even though the reference page starts on its own page, the numbering throughout the entire project includes the reference page.


Title

Below the running head is the title of the page, which should either be “Work Cited” or “Works Cited.”

  • Only 1 reference = “Work Cited”
  • Multiple references =”Works Cited”

Whether you’re making an MLA work cited page or an MLA works cited page, here are some general rules to follow:

  • Align the title to the center of the document
  • Add a one-inc margin below the top edge of the paper
  • Do not bold, italicize, or underline the title
  • The title should be the same size and style as the rest of the document (12-point font)
  • Place a double space between the title and the first citation on the page

Here’s a sample MLA works cited running head and title:

If you’re reading through this page, but have yet to determine your research paper topic, look no further! We have thorough guides on historical individuals to rev up your brainstorming engine! Check out our guides on Abraham Lincoln, Muhammad Ali, and Marilyn Monroe.

 


5. Organizing the list

The full citation entries run along the left side of the paper, along the one inch margin.

Each MLA work cited entry has a hanging indent, meaning the first line of the full reference starts along the one inch margin and any additional lines after the first are indented in one and a half inches from the left margin. Double space each line

Here is a work cited MLA example of a hanging indent:

References are generally organized in alphabetical order by the first item in the reference, which is quite often the last name of an author. There are exceptions. See the section below titled, “Organizing the Entries” for more information.

If you need further assistance with learning how to cite work in MLA, here’s an informative site.

This next section provides instructions to help you organize your references. There are two options: alphabetical order and non alphabetical order.


Alphabetical order

The majority of references are organized in alphabetical order by the first item in the reference, which is usually an author’s last name. When a source doesn’t have an author, the title is placed first in the reference. Many films and movies, for instance, begin with the title, since no author is present.

Either way, whether the reference starts with the last name of the author, or a title, the entries are placed in alphabetical order.

Here’s a works cited MLA example, organized in alphabetical order.

Benjamin, Chloe. The Immortalists. Penguin, 2018.

Black Panther. Directed by Ryan Coogler, performance by Chadwick Boseman, Marvel Studios, 2018.

Egan, Jennifer. Manhattan Beach. Scribner, 2017.


Non-alphabetical order

The majority of reference lists are organized in alphabetical order. However, it is acceptable to only organize “annotated bibliographies” in alphabetical order, chronological order, or subject order. Here’s more information about the organization and creation of an MLA annotated bibliography.

Here’s more on how to do an MLA works cited page.


6. Formatting Author Names

If you need help structuring or formatting the author’s name (or multiple authors’ names) in your references, this section will help.

Let’s start with the proper structure for one author’s name (taken from Section 2.1 of the official Handbook). If the source you’re attempting to cite was created by one individual author, structure the name as follows:

  • Last name, First name.

The last name of the author is placed at the start of the reference, followed by a comma, and the first name of the author. Conclude this information with a period.

Here are a few examples illustrating how to structure an author’s name with a middle name or middle initial:

  • Burroughs, William S.
  • Yeats, W. B.
  • Alcott, Louisa May.

Wondering how to organize two or more works by Louisa May Alcott in your paper? It may be tricky to determine how to alphabetically arrange the references, since each MLA work cited entry begins with Louisa May Alcott.

To create a proper MLA works cited list when there are multiple sources by the same author, place the references in alphabetical order by the title. Only include the author’s name in the first reference. In place of the author’s name, place three dashes, followed by a comma. (Follows rules from Section 2.7.2 of the Handbook.)

Below is a visual representation of a properly organized and structured MLA style works cited list. All three sources in this MLA works cited page example are by the author, Louisa May Alcott.

Alcott, Louisa May. “Eight Cousins.” Project Gutenberg, 2018, www.gutenberg.org/files/2726/2726-h/2726-h.htm.

– – -, Little Women. Bantam Classics, 1983.

– – -, Rose in Bloom. CreateSpace, 2018.

In need of an MLA work cited website to help create your MLA work cited page? Check out EasyBib.com!


Two authors

According to section 2.7.3 of the official Handbook, the first listed author’s name on the source is the first author seen in the reference. The second listed author’s name on the source is the second author placed in the reference.

The first author’s name is placed in reverse order, followed by a comma and the word “and.” The second author’s name is listed in standard order, followed by a period.

  • Last name, First name of Author 1, and First name Last name of Author 2.

Here are a few examples for a works cited page in MLA:

  • Brust, Steven, and Emma Bull.
  • Jory, John, and Mac Barnett.

When there are multiple sources on a reference list by the same co-authors, organize those specific references alphabetically by the titles. Only include the names of the coauthors in the first entry.

Jory, John, and Mac Barnett. The Terrible Two. Amulet, 2017.

– – -, The Terrible Two Get Worse. Amulet, 2017.

 

There may be times when you’re attempting to add additional sources by one of the co-authors, or the lead co-author along with a different individual.

Here is an example of how a works cited page in MLA would be organized. Included is a source solely written by one of the coauthors (John Jory) and a source by John Jory with a different coauthor, Avery Monsen.

Jory, John. The Bad Seed. HarperCollins, 2017.

– – -, Giraffe Problems. Random House, 2018.

Jory, John, and Mac Barnett. The Terrible Two. Amulet, 2017.

– – -, The Terrible Two Get Worse. Amulet, 2017.

Monsen, Avery, and Jory John. All My Friends Are Dead, Chronicle, 2010.

Jory John’s work, The Bad Seed, is listed first in the reference list since the single author’s name is organized first in alphabetical order. The second entry includes the three hyphens and a comma in place of John Jory’s name since it is redundant to write out and display the author’s name again in the list. Entries three and four are by the coauthors Jory John and Mac Barnett. The hyphens in the fourth source replace the authors’ names in the third for the same reason as above; it’s unnecessary to write out both co-authors’ names twice. The Terrible Two book is placed before The Terrible Two Get Worse as the titles are placed in alphabetical order. The fifth entry is by John Jory and Avery Monsen. Monsen’s name is displayed first on the source, which is why her name is listed first in the entry. Remember: authors are placed in the order they appear on the source.


Three or more authors

When there are three or more authors listed on a source, it is unnecessary to include all individuals’ names in the reference list. Only include the first listed author’s last name, followed by a comma and their first name, followed by another comma and the abbreviation “et al.”

Et al. is an abbreviation used in academic works. It translates to “and others” in Latin. Replace the second, third, and any additional authors’ names with “et al” on your work cited page in MLA.

Here is how the author position would be filled for a source with multiple authors:

  • Robertson, Judy, et al.

The above example represents a journal article written by Judy Robertson, Beth Cross, Hamish Mcleod, and Peter Wiemer-Hastings. Instead of including all four authors’ names in the entry, only the first listed author’s name is included. Here is how the full MLA works cited website entry would look on the page:

Robertson, Judy, et al. “Children’s Interactions with Animated Agents in an Intelligent Tutoring System.” International Journal of Artificial Intelligence in Education, vol. 14, no. 3-4, 2004, pp. 335-357. IOS Press, content.iospress.com/articles/international-journal-of-artificial-intelligence-in-education/jai14-3-4-05.

If including an additional reference by Judy Robertson, but with different co-authors, include her name again in the reference list.

For example, take a look at this journal article by Judy Robertson, Judith Good, and Helen Pain. The MLA work cited entry would begin with Judy Robertson, et al. and not three hyphens since there are different co-authors than the first. Here is how the reference list for both MLA works cited website journal articles would be organized:

Robertson, Judy, et al. “BetterBlether: The Design and Evaluation of a Discussion Tool for Education.” International Journal of Artificial Intelligence in Education, 1998, pp. 9, 219-236, ijaied.org/pub/1026/file/1026_paper.pdf.

Robertson, Judy, et al. “Children’s Interactions with Animated Agents in an Intelligent Tutoring System.” International Journal of Artificial Intelligence in Education, vol. 14, no. 3-4, 2004, pp. 335-357. IOS Press, content.iospress.com/articles/international-journal-of-artificial-intelligence-in-education/jai14-3-4-05.

The entries are listed in alphabetical order by the title of the source since the first positions are the same.

If you’re still questioning how to do a works cited page in MLA, learn more here.

Check out our topic guides to give you a peek into the lives of notable individuals. Our Martin Luther King, Winston Churchill, and Mother Teresa guides are filled with biographical information and quotes!


Authors with proper titles

There are times when an author is graced with a prestigious title such as a Duke, Sir, Saint, and others (see Section 2.12 of the Handbook for more examples).

When an author has a specific title, it should be omitted from the body of a project and also omitted from the reference list.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle should be in the project as Arthur Conan Doyle.

On a work cited page in MLA, it would be displayed as:

  • Doyle, Arthur Conan.

Authors with suffixes

If an author has a suffix in his or her name, such as Junior (Jr.) or a roman numeral such as II, III, IV, or V, this information is included in the reference list. The individual’s name is placed in reverse order, with the last name displayed in the first position. Immediately following the last name is a comma, followed by the first name and middle name. After the first and middle names, a comma is placed, and the suffix of the individual is placed at the end.

Here are a few examples to illustrate how suffixes are structured:

Cal Ripken Jr. would be structured as

  • Ripken, Cal, Jr.

Frederick William III would be structured as:

  • William, Frederick, III.

Pen names

If the author’s pen name is one that is well known, it is acceptable to use the pen name in place of the author’s real first and last name. For example, Mark Twain, Dr. Seuss, George Orwell, and O. Henry are all acceptable to use in a works cited MLA section, as their pen names are well known.

If the author’s pen name is less familiar, place the author’s real name in parentheses in the reference.

Here is an MLA works cited example to illustrate how lesser known pen names are structured:

Coffey, Brian. (Dean Koontz). Blood Risk. Bobbs-Merrill, 1973.

Van Dyne, Edith. (L. Frank Baum). Aunt Jane’s Nieces At Work. 1st World Library, 2006.


Names in Other Languages

Many names in languages other than English include conventions and features that are different from names in English. This next section provides information to help you properly structure and organize the names of authors in other languages. It follows rules from section 1.1.4 in the official Handbook


French

French names often include the particles de, d’, or du. Some examples include Valery Giscard d’Estaing, Bertrand du Guesclin, and Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Perigord.

When “de” is used in an individual’s name, it is separated from the last name. Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Perigord would be structured in a work cited MLA list as:

  • Talleyrand-Perigord, Charles Maurice de.

If, however, the last name is only one syllable, “de” is considered part of the last name. The reference entry would begin with de and then the last name of the individual, followed by a comma and the first name.

When “du” or “dus” is used in an individual’s name, it is included as part of the last name. Capitalize the “d” in “du.” Bertrand du Guesclin would be structured in a work cited MLA list as:

  • Du Guesclin, Bertrand.

When d’ is placed before a last name, d’ is included as part of the last name, but only when the last name begins with a vowel. Valery Giscard d’Estaing would be structured as:

  • d’Estaing, Valery Giscard.

Asian

Prior to determining how to structure an Asian author’s name, consider the source. Many Asian publishers display the author’s last name first on sources. If the source was published in Asia, do not reverse the author’s name in the reference list. Write it in the order shown on the source, without any commas. End the author’s name with a period.

If the source was published in English, it is quite possible that the author’s last name is displayed first as well. This is when the researcher must do a bit of detective work to determine the author’s first name and last name. Run the name through a search engine and identify the author’s first name and last name. If the last name is placed first on the source, keep it as is in the reference entry. Do not reverse the names and write it in standard form.

If, on the source, the author’s name is placed in standard order (first name followed by last name) reverse it in the reference list. Begin the reference with the last name of the individual, add a comma, and add the first name of the author. End the field with a period.


Latin

Famous historical figures in Roman history have names that are widely known. Some examples include Julius Caesar, Augustus, Claudius, Constantine, and others. While these individuals are known by their Roman names, their full names are in Latin.

Begin the reference entry with the Roman name. Immediately following the Roman name, add the individual’s full name in parentheses. End the information with a period.

Here is an MLA works cited website example:

Augustus (Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus). “The Deeds of the Divine Augustus.” The Internet Classics Archive, translated by Thomas Bushnell, 1998, classics.mit.edu/Augustus/deeds.html.

APA citation website references look much different! Make sure you check out our handy guides on EasyBib.com!


German

Two commonly used particles in German names are “von” and “zu.” Examples include Alexander von Humboldt, Ferdinand von Zeppelin, Prince Chlodwig zu Hohenlohe-Schillingsfürst, and Maximilian zu Wied-Neuwied.

When a German individual’s name includes the particles “von” or “zu,” the particles are not included as part of the person’s last name. Ferdinand von Zeppelin would be organized in the work cited MLA list as:

  • Zeppelin, Ferdinand von.

If, on the source, von is displayed as a last name, it is acceptable to include it at the beginning of the individual’s last name. Examples include books by Dita Von Teese and Diane Von Furstenberg.

Here is an MLA works cited example:

Von Furstenberg, Diane. Diane: A Signature Life. Simon & Schuster, 2009.


Italian

If the particles d’, del, de, della, di, da, are used in an individual’s last name, and the individual is relatively current and from modern times, the particles are included as part of the last name and the reference entry begins with the particle.

When the individual’s name begins with one of the same particles above, but he or she is from historical or ancient times, the particle is not included as part of the individual’s last name.

  • Di Lampedusa, Giuseppe Tomasi.

Spanish

There are two commonly used particles in Spanish names: “de” and “del.” If an individual’s name includes the particle, “de,” do not include it as part of his or her last name. When “del” is visible in an individual’s last name, the “d” in “del” is capitalized and placed at the beginning of the citation.

  • Del Toro, Benicio.
  • Leon, Juan Ponce de.
  • Soto, Hernando de.
  • Del Rio, Andres Manuel.

 


7. Title rules


Capitalization

According to section 1.2 of the Handbook, titles should be written in title case format. This means that the first letter in the first word, the first letter in the last word, and the first letters of all important words are capitalized. Any coordinating conjunctions (and, for, but, or, so, nor, and yet), articles (a, an, the), and prepositions in the title are not capitalized.

Here are a few MLA works cited examples of how titles should appear in references:

  • A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
  • The Wizard of Oz
  • Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry
  • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

If the source you’re attempting to cite is in a language other than English, it is recommended to use “sentence case” form. Sentence case only has the first letter in the first word capitalized and the first letter in any proper nouns capitalized. All other words are written in lowercase letters.

Don’t forget to use EasyBib.com’s MLA work cited generator to develop your works cited page in MLA.

Need help nailing down a research topic? You may find some inspiration in our Black history facts guide or our Albert Einstein and Malcolm X topic guides.


Italics vs. Quotation marks

Whether the source is placed in italics or quotation marks depends on where the source was found. If the title stands alone, place the title in italics. If the title was found in a container, such as a website, anthology, edited book, or another type of container, place the source in quotation marks and the container in italics.

Mather, Victor. “Japan Advances in World Cup 2018 Despite Losing to Poland.” New York Times, 28 June 2018, nyti.ms/2IzyUdm.

Salinger, J. D. The Catcher in the Rye. Little Brown, 1991.


Titles beginning with numbers

Titles beginning with numbers are placed in the reference list in alphabetical order, as if the title was written out alphabetically.

Here’s an MLA works cited example: The movie 2 Fast 2 Furious, would be organized in alphabetical order as if it said “Too Fast Too Furious.” The citation would still be begin with the number even though it is organized alphabetically.

Don’t forget to try EasyBib.com’s MLA works cited generator to help you develop your references and your MLA works cited page. Our MLA works cited generator is free and simple to use!


8. Developing references on EasyBib.com

EasyBib.com has an MLA works cited generator, which helps you produce references . This means you don’t have to spend time determining how to structure and organize the components of a citation.

To create your complete page of works cited in MLA with our tools, head to the EasyBib homepage.

Did your teacher or professor request that your references be made in MLA format? Luckily for you, MLA is the default format on EasyBib.com. If you’re not sure which style to use, ask your teacher.

 

  • Select your source. Examples: book, website, video, etc. There are several types to choose from!
  • Input information. Sources like websites, books, etc., will let you do an automatic search for citation information on your source. Input details like your source’s title, author, ISBN, DOI, or keywords.
  • Select your source. Look through the results list and choose the one that matches your source.
  • Review details. See what was found during the search.
  • Review and edit the citation form. Feel free to add any missing details, or update any fields.
  • Complete citation. Congratulations on your new citation! Copy and paste it into your document, or keep adding citations to your list.

 

All references are automatically organized in proper order and can be exported to Microsoft Word Documents, Google Docs, Dropbox, or One Drive. There’s even an option to email the reference! Thanks to EasyBib.com’s intuitive design and 

Even better? EasyBib Plus gives you access to tools that do more than simply creating full references. References in the text are created for you too! Whether it’s a Modern Language Association reference, or an APA parenthetical citation, APA book citation, or APA journal reference, we’ll create both types for you.

Looking for a different MLA works cited website or general research help? Check out others, which are featured in an article about the style in the news.

Need a bit more help? Our plagiarism checker is a one-stop shop to help you with your writing, grammar, and reference needs. Copy and paste your paper into our proofreader and receive comprehensive feedback! Stress less and submit your paper with confidence!

Follow our EasyBib Twitter feed to discover more citing tips, fun grammar facts, and the latest product updates.


9. Example Works Cited

 


10. Works Cited

“Formatting a Research Paper.” MLA Style Center, Modern Language Association of America, style.mla.org/formatting-papers/.

MLA Handbook. 8th ed, Modern Language Association of America, 2016.


Published October 16, 2013. Updated March 5, 2020.

Written and edited by Michele Kirschenbaum and Elise Barbeau. Michele Kirschenbaum is a school library media specialist and the in-house librarian at EasyBib.com. Elise Barbeau is the Citation Specialist at Chegg. She has worked in digital marketing, libraries, and publishing.

How useful was this post?

Click on a star to rate it!

We are sorry that this post was not useful for you!

Let us improve this post!

Tell us how we can improve this post?