How to Properly List Sources in My Essay in the MLA Format

Modern Language Association style is commonly used for structuring papers related to English and the humanities. The seventh edition of the "MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers" provides guidelines on how to cite sources within your essay and how to list these sources in your references. When using MLA style, your reference page is called a Works Cited page.

In-Text Citations

When you quote, summarize or paraphrase someone else’s work within your essay, you must provide in-text citation. This information clearly points your readers to the specific sources on your Works Cited page. The general MLA format for in-text citations is the author’s last name and the page number within parentheses at the end of the referencing sentence before the punctuation.

The page number refers to the specific page from the author's work where you found the information you are using within your essay. For example,

"Broadcast news influences the decision-making process" (Postman 51-63).

If the author’s name is included in the sentence, you only need to include the page number within the parenthetical reference. For example,

“According to Postman, broadcast news influences the decision-making process" (51-63).

Works Cited Page

In MLA format, a Works Cited page appears at the end of your paper, listing all the sources you used. On its own separate page, the words “Works Cited” are centered on the first line; they do not need quotation marks or any extra formatting. This page uses the same formatting as the rest of your paper, with 1-inch margins, a legible 12-point font and a header featuring your last name and page number. The entries are alphabetized by author’s last name. All your citations are double-spaced, with no extra space between entries. For any citation that is more than one line long, the second and subsequent lines are indented five spaces.

Works Cited Entries

In MLA format, each entry on your Works Cited page features the author’s name, the title, city of publication, publisher’s name, date of publication and medium, such as a book, website or interview. The general format for a single author book in MLA style is the author’s last name, a comma, the author’s first name and a period. Next type the title of the book, in italics and title case, followed by a period. Then write the city of publication, a colon, the publisher’s name, a comma, the year of publication and a period. Finally, list the medium and end with a period. For example:

Wood, James. How Fiction Works. New York: Farrar, 2008. Print.

Internet Sources

Unlike other styles, MLA does not require you to include the URL when listing an Internet source on your Works Cited page. You list the author’s last name, a comma, first name and a period. If no name is available, you start with the title. Then comes the title of the website in italics and title case, followed by a period. Next, list the publisher or sponsor of the site, if given, a comma, the year it was published and a period. Write the medium, which in this case is Web, a period, the date you accessed the information and end with a period. For example:

Linder, Douglas O. Famous Trials. Univ. of Missouri Kansas-City Law School, 2009. Web. 29 Apr. 2009.

Cite this Article