Preparing the List of MLA Works Cited
In a research paper that follows MLA style, the list of works cited is the only place where readers will find complete information about the sources you have cited. For that reason, your list must be thorough and accurate.
The list of works cited appears at the end of your paper and, as its title suggests, lists only the works you have cited in your paper. Occasionally, your instructor may ask you to prepare a list of works consulted. That list would include not only the sources you cite but also the sources you consulted as you conducted your research. In either case, MLA prefers Works Cited or Works Consulted to the more limited heading Bibliography (literally, “description of books”) because those headings are more likely to accommodate the variety of sources-articles, films, computer software-that writers may cite in a research paper.
To prepare the list of works cited, follow these general guidelines:
1. Paginate the works cited section as a continuation of your text if the text of your paper ends on page 8, begin your list on page 9 (unless there is an intervening page of endnotes).
2. Double-space successive lines of an entry and between entries.
3. Begin the first line of an entry flush left, and indent successive lines five spaces or one-half inch.
4. List entries in alphabetical order according to the last name of the author.
5. If you are listing more than one work by the same author, alphabetize the works according to tide (excluding the articles a, an, and the). Instead of repeating the author’s name, type three hyphens and a period, then give the title.
6. Underline the titles of works published independently— books, plays, long poems, pamphlets, periodicals, films.
7. Although you do not need to underline the spaces between words, a continuous line is easier to type and guarantees that all features of the title are underlined. Type a continuous line under tides unless you are instructed to do otherwise.
8. If you are citing a book whose title includes the title of another book, underline the main title, but do not underline the other title (for example, A Casebook on Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man).
9. Use quotation marks to indicate the titles of short works that appear in larger works (for example, “Minutes of Glory.” African Short Stories). Also use quotation marks for song titles and for the titles of unpublished works, including dissertations, lectures, and speeches.
10. Use arabic numerals except with names of monarchs (Elizabeth II) and except for the preliminary pages of a work (ii-xix), which traditionally use roman numerals.
11. Use lowercase abbreviations to identify the parts of a work (for example, vol. for volume), a named translator (trans.), and a named editor (ed.). However, when these designations follow a period, they should be capitalized (for example, Woolf, Virginia. A Writer’s Diarv. Ed. Leonard Woolf).
12. Whenever possible, use appropriate shortened forms for the publisher’s name (Random instead of Random House). See the list of abbreviations beginning on page 58.
13. Separate author, title, and publication information with a period followed by one space.
14. Use a colon and one space to separate the volume number and year of a periodical from the page numbers (for example, Trimmer, Joseph. “Memoryscape: Jean Shepherd’s Midwest.” Old Northwest 3 (1976): 337-69).
In addition, MLA recommends procedures for documenting an extensive variety of sources, including nonprint materials such as films, television programs, and computer software. The following models illustrate the sources most commonly cited.