MLA list of works cited
This page describes lists of works cited in MLA:
- The list of works cited
- List format
- Order of entries
- Entries with the same author(s)
New to referencing? See the introduction to referencing.
The list of works cited
The list of works cited appears at the end of the assignment, under the heading “Works cited”. It lists detailed information about each source that has been cited in the assignment. Every source mentioned in an in-text citation should be listed in this list. If a source doesn't have an in-text citation, it should not be listed here.
Example list of works cited:
McEwan, Ian. Atonement. London: Vintage, 2002. Print.
New Zealand Writers Guild. “Writing for television: A beginners guide.” New Zealand Writers Guild. 2005. Web. 28 June 2011.
Pere, Vernice Wineera. “Song from Kapiti.” Lake, Mountain, Tree: An Anthology of Writing on New Zealand Nautre and Landscape. Ed. Philip Temple. Auckland: Godwit, 1998. 220-221. Print.
Wallis, Mick, and Simon Shepherd. Studying Plays. 2nd ed. London: Hodder Arnold, 2002. Print.
Watson, Lois. “Body Parts in Limbo When Amputees Can't Let Go.” Sunday Star Times 19 Oct. 2008: A8. Print.
Every entry in an MLA list of works cited has a hanging indent. This means that every line after the first is moved a few spaces to the right.
The entries are in alphabetical order according to the first element (author or title) listed. See order of entries below for details.
Different types of source have different formats, and everything about each entry (from the punctuation to the capitalisation of words) is strictly prescribed. Getting it exactly right takes some practice, but these pages should highlight some common pitfalls.
Punctuation is important in the list of works cited. Look at the examples and use the same punctuation (commas, full stops, and colons). The title of a work, for example, is always italicised; the title of an article or section is put in quotation marks.
Each entry has three basic parts:
- The name of the author
- The title of the work
- Further publication information, including the publishing medium
In the list of works cited, the surname (family name) of the author comes first, followed by the personal name (first name).
If there are several authors, each is separated from the others with a comma, and there is an “and” before the final author. All authors aside from the first have their surname after their personal name:
Wallis, Mick, and Simon Shepherd.
See 2+ authors for details.
If there is no author, see no author.
The main titles of printed material and web pages are italicised.
Sometimes a reference will have two titles: the name of an article or entry, and the name of the whole work. For example, journals have a name, but each individual article also has a title. Anthologies have both a book title and a chapter title. In these cases, the main title is italicised, but the section (article or chapter) title is put in quotation marks (“ ”):
Pere, Vernice Wineera. “Song from Kapiti.” Lake, Mountain, Tree: An Anthology of Writing on New Zealand Nature and Landscape. Ed. Philip Temple. Auckland: Godwit, 1998. 220-221. Print.
Salih, Sara. “Filling up the Space Between Mankind and Ape: Racism, Speciesism and the Androphilic Ape.” Ariel 38.1 (2007): 95-111. Print.
In titles, all words should begin with an upper-case letter except for minor functional words (a, the, and, but, in, of, to, etc.). If there is a title and subtitle, put a colon between the two unless the title ends on a question mark or exclamation point.
The other elements of the entry vary depending on the type of source being referenced. Formatting details for each type of source are given on these pages:
All sources must indicate the publishing medium: “Print” for physical books and journals, “Web” for online material, “Film“ for movies, and so forth. See the individual source types for details on correct placement of the publishing medium.
If you're not sure which source type to use, see what type of source is this?
See referencing elements for a more detailed discussion of the different types of publication information, including solutions to common problems.
Order of entries
Entries are alphabetised according to the first author's surname, or whatever else appears first in the entry (usually the title).
If two authors have the same surname, alphabetise them according to their first names.
If there are two entries with identical authors, alphabetise them by the title. When using the title to alphabetise, ignore initial “a”, “an”, and “the”.
If two different entries begin with the same author, entries that have only that one author come before entries with 2+ authors. If two different 2+ author entries begin with the same author, alphabetise by the second author. If the second author is the same, use the third, and so forth.
McEwan, Ian. Atonement…
Johnson, Jack. The Best in Modern Fiction…
Johnson, Jack, and Hai Nguyen. Adventures in Prose…
The Saga of King Hrolf Kraki…
Salih, Sara. “Filling up the Space Between Mankind and Ape: Racism, Speciesism and the Androphilic Ape.”…
If the list of works cited contains more than one entry with identical authors, their name is only written once. In the subsequent entries, three hyphens are put instead:
McEwan, Ian. Atonement…
---. The Cement Garden…
---. Enduring Love…
The author's name is written again in full if it is co-authored with another person.
See multiple sources by one author for information on what the in-text citation should look like.
References and further reading
Modern Language Association of America. (2009). MLA handbook for writers of research papers (7th ed.). New York, NY: Author. [Massey Library link]
These pages are provided as a guide to proper referencing. Your course, department, school, or institute may prescribe specific conventions, and their recommendations supersede these instructions. If you have questions not covered here, check in the style guide listed above, ask your course coordinator, or ask at Academic Q+A.