You finally finished your research paper and your sources have been created into entries. Now, you can start putting it all together. You’re almost done. Alphabetizing your MLA Works Cited list is easy as it follows the letter by letter method. Read on to understand how this method works when you’re dealing with multiple authors, no author or other cases.
List Items Alphabetically
The first step is to list each item alphabetically by the author’s last name. Use the letters that appear before the commas that separate the last and first names of the author(s). If two or more last names are the same, then move forward to the first names.
Ignore spaces and other punctuation marks. Here is an example of basic letter by letter alphabetization of last names.
De Stefa, Alonzo
Saint-Exupery, Antoine de
St. Anton, Beth
Ignore diacritical marks such as accents and special characters such as the @ preceding a username (@angelface). For example, the accented letter ś is the same as s and the letter n with a tilde ñ are considered the same.
Alphabetize the entry by the title if the author’s name is unknown. Also, use the title if it’s published by an organization or if the work is a television show, film or other similar work. If the work focuses on a particular person, use that person’s name, otherwise, use the title.
Multiple Works and Multiple Authors
Single Author, Multiple Works
List the entries alphabetically by title.
Place three hyphens (—) in place of the author’s name in the second and subsequent entries, followed by a period.
Use the title to alphabetize works by the same author. Ignore his/her respective role in the production of the work. For example, if a person’s role is the writer on one work and the editor on another, disregard the role.
Do not substitute three hyphens for a single author who is also listed in another work with multiple authors. Type the author’s name out in full.
The three hyphens are usually followed by a period and then by the source’s title. If the person named performed a role other than creating the work’s main content, place a comma after the three hyphens and enter a term describing the role (editor, translator, director, etc.).
Multiple Works by Coauthors
If two or more entries citing coauthors begin with the same name, alphabetize by the last names of the second authors listed.
Scott, Robert, and Robert Kinney
Scott, Robert, and Eric E. Rakim
To document two or more works by the same coauthors whose names appear in consistent order in the works, give the names in the first entry only. Then, in place of both names, type three hyphens, followed by a period and the title.
If the coauthors do not appear in the same order, record the names as found in the works and alphabetize the entries accordingly.
Alphabetizing by Title
When no author is named at the start of the entry, the title determines the placement on the works cited list.
Alphabetize letter by letter, ignoring articles A, An, and The, in any language. An Encyclopedia of the Latin American Novel would be alphabetized by E not A. And alphabetize Le Theatre en France under T rather than L.
If the title begins with a numeral, alphabetize as though it was written out. 1984 should be alphabetized as Nineteen Eighty-Four.
If you start feeling confused, just remember to follow the letter by letter alphabetizing method. Go back and re-read these rules and you’ll do just fine.