Citing FAQs

Citing Websites can be a Pain
Often, there is no author given for a website. Not having someone standing behind a source as author may be a clue about the site’s validity. 

What if Some of Information in the Model Works Cited Entry isn’t in my Source?
Again, lack of too much information tells you something about the reliability of the site. However, life must go on. If you lack an author, go to the next best thing. What’s that? The title would go next.

If you lack a clear title, sometimes you have to infer what it would be from the website. Titles can be tricky.

On a Practical Note. . .
Remember, all you’re doing in the works cited is pointing someone in the right direction within a set format. Can they find the source you’re citing? Easily? As long as they can easily find the source, you’re doing a big part of your job as a citer of information. Don’t neglect the format, though. Every misspelling, every dot out of place, every spacing error tells the reader something about you. You’ll want those “somethings” to be positive rather than negative, right?

Indent the second and third lines of a given works cited entry. Writers usually do this last. Also, you should apply italics last, as fewer errors result when you type in the regular font style.

Double-space works cited entries, leaving no extra spaces between entries or between the centered Works Cited title of the page and the first entry.

Alphabetize the entries, ignoring words like “The” or “An” in titles as you organize entries.

Should I use underlined text or italicized text in works cited entries?  
The current MLA 8 rules call for italics, not underlining.  Underlined items nowadays look like hyperlinks (buttons) and so should be avoided. 

Citing’s Three Basic “Sentences”
Think of the works cited entry as a collection of three rough sentences. First, there’s the author’s information. Second, we have the title information. The third “sentence” includes publication data. All types of sources follow this basic organization. Knowing this rule allows you to answer many citing questions on your own, using the reference to check your work. Certainly, this should free you up from having to ask others, since the information is readily available.

Be your own best answerer of questions in any course you take!

Citing is a practical thing. If you’re ever in doubt, simply cite. If you think you haven’t paraphrased correctly, go back and check the original, putting quotes around the words you used. The citations in the text point us to the works cited page, which points us out towards the sources. Finally, every citing decision is made on a case-by-case basis, with these practical rules in mind.

Let’s get these things right, since they say so much about the writer’s credibility. There’s a lot at stake. Keep on asking questions if you can’t locate the answers. Thanks for reading!