MLA Works Cited

Learning Objective

  • Identify the conventions of citation and references

Formatting the Works Cited Section

When citing an essay, you include information in two places: in the body of your paper and in the Works Cited that comes after it. The Works Cited is just a bibliography: you list all the sources you used to write the paper. The citation information you include in the body of the paper itself is called the ;in-text citation

In MLA style, all the sources you cite throughout the text of your paper are listed together in full in the Works Cited section, which comes after the main text of your paper.

Page numbers: Just as the rest of your paper, the top of the page should retain the right-justified header with your last name and the page number.

Title: On the first line, the title of the page—“Works Cited”—should appear centered and not italicized, bolded, or placed in quotation marks.

Spacing: Like the rest of your paper, this page should be double-spaced and have 1-inch margins (don’t skip an extra line between citations).

Alphabetical order: Starting on the next line after the page title, your references should be listed in alphabetical order by author. Multiple sources by the same author should be listed alphabetically by title and can contain three short dashes (—) in place of repeating the author’s name.

Hanging indents: Each reference should be formatted with what is called a hanging indent. This means the first line of each reference should be flush with the left margin (i.e., not indented), but the rest of that reference should be indented 0.5 inches further. Any word-processing program will let you format this automatically so you don’t have to do it by hand. (In Microsoft Word, for example, you simply highlight your citations, click on the small arrow right next to the word “Paragraph” on the home tab, and in the popup box choose “hanging indent” under the “Special” section. Click OK, and you’re done.)

A correctly formatted Works Cited page, according to the MLA handbook

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