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How to Format an MLA Bibliography


MLA stands for Modern Language Association. MLA is a style manual for students, writers and researchers who write papers, assignments and research reports in the humanities faculties, particularly English and related language subjects. The MLA style manual requires that bibliographies to papers and assignments are written and structured a certain way. Details, such as periods and commas, are very important in MLA formatting.

Start the bibliography on a new page. Page number should be in the top right-hand corner.

Write the title “Bibliography” and center it at the top of the page, creating a 1-inch margin from the top. The title should not be bold or underlined.

Set the margins to MLA format standards. There should be a 1-inch margin at the top and 1-inch margins on both sides of the bibliography. Adjust the lines in the document so each first line of a source is aligned with the left side margin. Every subsequent line in the source entry should have an indent of five spaces, also called a hanging indentation.

Start the first entry two lines after the title.

Write the last name followed by the first name, if citing a book by a single author. The two names should be separated by a comma and followed by a period. The name of the book should follow and be underlined, followed by a period. The place of publication should then be written, followed by a colon, publisher, comma and year of publication. End the citation with a period.

Write a book with two or more authors as follows: Last name, comma, first name and end with a period. Add a comma to indicate more authors and write an “and” to connect them. If the book has three or more authors, write the first author as presented in this step, followed by “et al.” which is short for “and others” in Latin. Write the second author's name normally. Underline the title of the book and end with a period. List the place of publication, colon, publicist, comma and year of publication.

Write the name of the corporation first followed by a period, if no author is present. For example, a university can be a corporation. Write the underlined title and end with a period. Write the place of publication, colon, publisher, comma and year.

Start with the name of the title of the book followed by a comma, if no author is present. The title should be underlined. Follow the title with the place of publication, comma and year.

Write the name of the editor, if referencing an anthology. Start with the last name, comma, first name, period, comma and end with “ed” and a period. Follow this by the underlined title and a period. Write the number of the edition, such as 3rd ed. or 4th ed. follow by a period. Write the place of publication, colon, publisher, comma and year. Close with a period.

Start with the last name, comma, first name and a period, if referencing a specific work within an anthology. Write the title in quotation marks and end with a period. Write the underlined name of the anthology followed by a period. Write “Ed” to indicate the editor of the anthology. Follow the “Ed” with a period, initials of first and middle name of the editor and the full last name. End with a period. Indicate the edition, such as 4th ed., and end with a period. Write the place of publication, colon, publisher, comma, year and end with a period. Write the page numbers of the specific work in the anthology, such as 1486-1583. End with a period. This style format also works for citing specific chapters in a standard book.

Double-space the entire bibliography and alphabetize the list according to the authors’ last names. If there is a work that has no author, alphabetize it by the name of the work itself.

Items you will need
MLA guide book
Computer
Document with bibliography
About the Author

Based in Toronto, Mary Jane has been writing for online magazines and databases since 2002. Her articles have appeared on the Simon & Schuster website and she received an editor's choice award in 2009. She holds a Master of Arts in psychology of language use from the University of Copenhagen in Denmark.

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