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How to Use MLA for Works Cited


MLA stands for the Modern Language Association, which has developed a documentation style utilized mainly for citing sources in humanities papers. The MLA style consists of two parts: in-text citations and a works-cited page. Following are examples of some of the most common source citations.

Understand the Basic Formatting

MLA guidelines dictate that a works-cited page should be titled "Works Cited" with this title centered on the page with one-inch margins on all sides. Each source entry on the page should be double-spaced and in alphabetical order by the author's last name. If there is no author available, then the work's title should be used in place of the author's name. If a source appeared in print rather than electronically, you must include the word "print" at the end of the entry.

Make a list of all the sources you need to document. Make sure you have the author name(s), publication information, date and page numbers. This will help you to document your sources quickly.

Decide what types of sources you have to document, and use the list below to format each correctly.

Books:

Author's last name, first name. Title of Book (in italics). Place of publication: Publisher, publication year.

An example: Beah, Ishmael. A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier (in italics). New York: Sarah Crichton Books, 2007. print.

If there is more than one author, use the first author's name as above, and each additional author is listed in the traditional order (given name first).

Periodicals:

Articles in a magazine, newspaper or journal follow a similar style. Instructions and samples of each of these are below.

Magazine or Newspaper: Author. "Title of article." Title of periodical (in italics). day month year: pages.

Example: Buchman, Dana. "A Special Education." Good Housekeeping. Mar. 2006: 143-8. print.

Personal Interviews:

If you conduct an interview with an individual, it is considered a personal interview and must be documented in a works-cited page. Follow the format below:

Last name of person being interviewed, first name. Personal Interview. Date.

Example: Williams, Nicole. Personal Interview. 15 July 2009.

Websites:

Citing websites can be tricky because not all information can be found on each site. Follow the format below, but skip over any information which you cannot locate on a particular site. In addition, as of 2009, MLA no longer requires the use of URLs in works cited pages.

Entire Website: Editor, author, or compiler name (if available). Name of Site (italics). Version number. Name of institution/organization affiliated with the site (sponsor or publisher). Medium of publication. Date of access.

Example: The Purdue OWL Family of Sites (italics). The Writing Lab and OWL at Purdue and Purdue U, 2008. Web. 23 April 2008.

Page of a website: Follow the format above, but begin with the name of the page.

Warning
  • Remember this is not an exhaustive list of items to document. Consult an MLA handbook for more detailed information and instructions for documenting types of sources not listed here.
About the Author

Nicole A. Williams is from Boston, Mass. She currently teaches at Bridgewater State University and Massasoit Community College. Her research interests include web 2.0 technologies, multimodal composing, the construction of space in the composition classroom and political campaign rhetoric. Nicole holds a Master of Arts in rhetoric and composition from Ball State University.