Learn and Generate Bibliographies, Citations, and Works Cited

Organizing Works Cited in MLA Format

Unlike a bibliography, an MLA format works cited list only lists the sources you cite in your research paper. Every citation in your paper should match up to an entry in your works cited list. This means you need to review your paper to make sure the in-text citations are properly sourced at the end of your paper.

If your instructor asks you to prepare a bibliography in MLA 8 style, title it as “Works Consulted,” rather than “Works Cited,” and prepare it as directed. Even if you have only one source for a paper, prepare a list and title it in the singular as “Work Cited,” and create the entry in proper MLA format.

Note: These instructions are based on MLA 8th Edition. If your instructor asks you to use MLA 7th Edition, there are some differences, so you should use MLA 7th Edition instructions.


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When to Use a Works Cited List

In 1951, the Modern Language Association (MLA) created a brief pamphlet to encourage consistency in writing styles. They’ve revised the resulting MLA style several times since then to accommodate the rapidly changing ways information can be retrieved.

You’ll use MLA 8 style primarily in the humanities, art and language studies. It’s designed to be flexible enough for the writer, while also making it easy for users to read your paper and find the sources used to create it.

Always include a works cited list at the end of your paper. If you’ve used footnotes or endnotes, the notes page will precede your works cited list.  Remember to follow your instructor’s guidelines when researching and writing your paper.

Working Bibliography

The easiest way to create a works cited list is to prepare a working bibliography as you start your research paper. This is a rough list of all the sources you consult along with pertinent information, such as the author, publisher, and title. Include a brief summary of the source and why you think it might be useful.

When you’ve finished writing your paper and are ready to tackle the works cited list, go back to your working bibliography and start organizing it into your works cited page. A working bibliography is also known as a preliminary bibliography.

Organizing a Works Cited List

Student Organizing a MLA Works Cited List

As you work through organizing your works cited list, be mindful both of how you format the page and how you format each individual entry.

Works Cited Page Format

For your works cited page, follow these guidelines:

  • Follow the same margins/font as your paper.
  • Double-space the text.
  • Choose 12 point, Times New Roman font.
  • Employ 1-inch margins all around.
  • Page numbers begin on page 1 and end on the last page.
  • Start your works cited list on the last page of report. Keep the numbering sequence.
  • Center the title Works Cited. Do not bold, underline or italicize.
  • If you have only one source, use the title Work Cited.
  • If your instructor wants you to prepare a bibliography, use the title Works Consulted.
  • Alphabetize the list in the letter by letter format.

Works Cited Entry Format

For each entry on your works cited page, follow these guidelines:

  • Use a hanging indent for each entry, double-spaced.
  • Include the URL for the source, if available.
  • If a DOI® is available, include this instead of the URL.
  • Do not include http:// or https:// in the web address.
  • If possible, include the date of retrieval. This is optional but a helpful inclusion.
  • Format each entry using the MLA core elements.

A Helpful Hint

As you’re creating your working bibliography and converting that into a works cited list, remember you are creating a path for your reader to find your sources. Keep in mind the nine core elements of MLA style as you prepare your paper. Then, organizing and and finalizing your works cited list will be easy and quick.

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