A Quick and Easy Guide to the MLA Works Cited Page in Academic Documents

Today we’re taking a look at the MLA works cited page and reviewing the style guidelines for formatting references in the bibliography. First off, here’s a general overview of some of the information that should be contained within your works cited page when editing academic documents and how the references should be formatted.

  • References should appear in alphabetical order. The author’s last name should come first or, if no author is available, the title of source should be used.
  • The name of the source should be written in title case. This means that the first word, last word and all principal words should begin with a capital letter. Articles, prepositions and co-ordinating conjunctions do not need to be capitalized.
  • All publishers should be included and a semicolon should be placed between the name of each. If each publisher is based in a different city you only need to record the city of the first publisher listed.
  • Don’t be tempted to use an ampersand [&] when listing more than one author of a single work, use the conjunction “and” instead.
  • In the MLA works cited page, you do not need to use the abbreviations of p. or pp. to denote pagination, simply write the page number.
  • The first entry on the work cited page should be aligned with the left margin and all subsequent entries should be slightly indented.

Don’t confuse MLA and APA. They are very different. Take a look at our guide to APA formatting.

The MLA Work Cited Page: Examples

Now we’ve taken a look at the basic rules of the MLA work cited page, let’s look at the formatting in action and how it should be used in your academic documents and essays.

MLA for Books

When referencing books in an essay, details of the source should be recorded in the following order:

  1. author(s)/editor(s)
  2. title
  3. edition
  4. place of publication
  5. name of publisher
  6. date of publication
  7. medium of publication

Author’s Last Name, First Name. Title of the Book. Place of Publication: Publisher, Year. Medium of Publication.


Single author

Safro, Jill. Proofreading. New York: Scholastic Professional Books, 2003. Print.


Two authors

Sullivan, K. D., and Merilee Eggleston. The McGraw-Hill desk reference for editors, writers, and proofreaders. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2006. Print.


Three authors

Pagel, Larry G., David Kane, and Ellis Jones. Proofreading & editing. 5th ed. Mason, OH: Thomson South-Western, 2006. Print.


More than three authors

Pagel, Kane, et al. Proofreading & editing precision. 5th ed. Mason, OH: Thomson South-Western, 2006. Print.


No author

Proofreading . Washington, D.C.: U.S. Office of Personnel Management, European Training Program, 1988. Print


Corporate author

AFEPI Association of Freelance Editors, Proofreaders and Indexers. Skibbereen: AFEPI, 1995. Print.


 

MLA for Journals, Magazines and Newspapers

When referencing journals in an academic paper, magazines and newspapers, details of the source should be recorded in the following order:

  1. author(s)
  2. article title
  3. publication title
  4. volume number
  5. publication date
  6. page numbers
  7. medium of publication
  8. date retrieved (if web based)

Author’s Last Name, First Name. “Title of Article.” Periodical Title Volume number. Issue number (Date of publication): Page number range. Medium of Publication. Date retrieved.


Journal entry written by a single author

Field, Samantha. “Dark Matter and Andromeda.” Cosmological Sciences 23.5 (2003): 156-189.


Journal article written by two authors (medium=web)

Martin, Pearl Y., and Sonia Jackson. “Educational Success for Children in Public Care: Advice from a Group of High Achievers.” Child and Family Social Work 7.2 (2002): 121-30. Web. 15 Nov. 2010


Journal article written by three authors (medium= web)

Hughes, Jane C., Elizabeth V. Brestan, and Linda Anne Valle. “Problem-Solving Interactions between Mothers and Children.” Child and Family Behavior Therapy 26.1 (2004): 1-16. PsycINFO. Web. 12 Nov. 2010.

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