MLA list of works cited
This page describes lists of works cited in MLA:
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. Vintage, 2002.
New Zealand Writers Guild. "Writing for Television: A Beginners Guide." New Zealand Writers Guild, 2005.
Pere, Vernice Wineera. "Song from Kapiti." Lake, Mountain, Tree: An Anthology of Writing on New Zealand Nature and Landscape, edited by Philip Temple, Godwit, 1998, pp. 220-221.
Wallis, Mick, and Simon Shepherd. Studying Plays. 2nd ed., Hodder Arnold, 2002.
Watson, Lois. "Body Parts in Limbo When Amputees Can't Let Go." Sunday Star Times, 19 Oct. 2008: A8.
Fomison, Tony. Hill Top Watcher. 1976, oil on canvas, Te Papa, https://www.tepapa.govt.nz/visit/exhibitions/toi-art/tony-fomison-lost-dark. Accessed September 2, 2018.
Works cited format
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.
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.
There is a list of core elements that you may, or may not, use in your citation. Any elements that you do not have or do not know should simply be omitted. Pay attention to the punctuation. For most references, you only have two full stops (one after the author and one after the title of the source) and everything after the title of the source (e.g. book title, chapter, journal article) is separated by commas. Note: images follow a slightly different format. In your citation, the elements should be listed in the following order:
- 1. Author.
- 2. Title of source.
- 3. Title of container (self-contained if a book),
- 4. Contributors (translators or editors),
- 5. Version (edition),
- 6. Number (vol. and/or no.),
- 7. Publisher,
- 8. Publication date,
- 9. Location (pages, paragraphs, URL or DOI).
Punctuation is important in the list of works cited. Look at the examples and use the same punctuation (commas and full stops). The type of source (e.g. book, journal article) determines whether something is in italics or quotation marks. The title of a container (e.g. a book, journal) is always italicized and the title of an article or section is put in quotation marks.
In addition to the core elements, you also may include optional elements (e.g. the medium of an artwork, a description of a conference or lecture) in your citation if you feel they are necessary to make the citation more locatable for the reader. Generally, optional elements are placed next to the core element they relate to.
Each entry has three basic parts:
- The name of the author
- The title of the work
- Further publication information
In the list of works cited, the last name (surname) of the author comes first, followed by the first name (personal name).
If there are two authors, they are separated from each other with a comma and there is an "and" before the final author.
Entries are alphabetised according to the first author's last name or, if there is no identifiable author, whatever else appears first in the entry (usually the title). Remember: Only the first author's last name is given first and following co-author details are given in the order of first name, last name.
Dorris, Michael, and Louise Eldrich. The Crown of Columbus. HarperCollins Publishers, 1999.
If a source has three or more authors, then give the first authors last name but replace the other authors with 'et al.' (which means 'and others' in Latin). This applies to both the works cited list and in-text citations.
Burdick, Anne, et al. Digital Humanities. MIT P, 2012.
Authors with the same last name
If two different authors of different sources have the same last name, alphabetise them according to their first names.
Smith, Lisa. Interesting Facts About Tulips. Wiley, 2017.
Smith, Wesley. Ethnicity, Culture and Gender: An Exploration of Intersectionality. Oxford UP, 2002.
Citing multiple works by the same author
If there are two or more entries by the same author(s), alphabetise them by the title. Use three hyphens and a full stop in place of the authors name for entries after the first. When using the title to alphabetise, ignore initial "a", "an", and "the". If the single author of multiple references is also listed as the first co-author in another reference, then alphabetize according to the last name of the second co-author. Note: Entries that only have one author are listed before entries that have 2 or more authors.
Tannen, Deborah. Talking Voices: Repetition, Dialogue, and Imagery in Conversational Discourse. 2nd ed., Cambridge UP, 2007.
---. You're Wearing That? Understanding Mothers and Daughters in Conversation. Ballantine Books, 2006.
Tannen, Deborah, and Roy O. Freedle, editors. Linguistics in Context: Connecting Observation and Understanding. Ablex Publishing, 1988.
The main titles (e.g. the book, newspaper, website or page, journal, image title) of printed material and web pages are italicised.
Sometimes a reference will have two titles: the name of an article or entry (the source), and the name of the container, or the whole, larger work in which the source is located. For example, journals (the container) have a name, but each individual article also has a title. Anthologies have both a book title (the container) and a chapter title. In these cases, the container title is italicised, but the source itself, or section, (e.g. the article or chapter) title is put in quotation marks (" "). Note the full stops after the author, the source title and the container title. All the other elements are separated by commas:
Pere, Vernice Wineera. "Song from Kapiti." Lake, Mountain, Tree: An Anthology of Writing on New Zealand Nature and Landscape. Edited by Philip Temple, Godwit, 1998, pp. 220-221.
Salih, Sara. "Filling up the Space Between Mankind and Ape: Racism, Speciesism and the Androphilic Ape." Ariel 38.1, 2007, pp. 95-111.
Note: This level of detail will be unnecessary for most undergraduate assignments. So, unless you have a specific reason for including the larger container (e.g. the source can only be found on a particular database), then it can usually be omitted. For more about this see the section on MLA Principles.
Here are some examples that include the larger container:
Evans, Nicholas. "Positional Verbs in Nen." Oceanic Linguistics, vol. 53, no. 2, 2014, pp. 223-255. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/43286529. Accessed 26 May, 2018.
"Chapter One: The Vanishing of Will Byers." Stranger Things, season 1, episode 1, Netflix, July 15, 2016. Netflix, www.netflix.com/nz/title/80057281
Madonna and Child, circa 1845, wood and paua, Auckland War Memorial Museum. New Zealand Sculpture: A History, by Michael Dunn, Auckland UP, 2002, p. 8.
Note: You only need to give the www. address so delete https:// details. If the DOI is available, cite this instead of the URL.
Note: All words in a title should begin with an upper-case letter except for minor functional words (e.g. 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 with a question mark or exclamation mark.
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:
Note: In past editions of MLA, all sources needed to indicate the publishing medium: e.g. "Print" for physical books and journals, "Web" for online material. In the most recent edition of MLA, however, the publishing medium is no longer required information.
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.
References and further reading
MLA Handbook. 9th ed., Modern Language Association, 2021. [Massey Library link]
MLA Handbook. 8th ed., Modern Language Association, 2016. [Massey Library link]
The MLA Style Centre. Modern Language Association, 2018, https://style.mla.org/.
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.