Learn and Generate Bibliographies, Citations, and Works Cited

MLA: Understanding the Core Elements of Works Cited

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MLA Style is designed to be flexible since it’s used in the arts and humanities. The Eighth Edition of MLA Handbook provides an easy way to create entries for different sources, such as artworks, videos and printed materials.

student doing MLA Works Cited list

MLA Elements

There are nine elements to each entry in an MLA Works Cited list. The Eighth Edition has revised these elements so if your instructor requires to you to use the Seventh Edition, please check that out instead of using this system. Follow each element with the punctuation mark as shown in this list.

  1. Author.
  2. Title of source.
  3. Title of container,
  4. Other contributors,
  5. Version,
  6. Number,
  7. Publisher,
  8. Publication date,
  9. Location.

Use hanging indent for each entry. This helps separate the entries to make it easier for the reader.

Author.

Last name, full first name, middle initial.

Remember commas, and end with a period.

If 2 authors, include them in the order in which they are presented in the work.

Last name, first name, and first name, last name

*Second author listed by first name, last name not last name first.

Author refers to whomever produced the work. If you have an editor rather than an author, use this format:

Last Name, First Name, editor,.

Corporate author

Bloomberg. Economics of France. Taylor and Francis, 2002.

Title of source.

Type titles exactly as they are found in the source. Italicize both title and subtitle.

Sloan, Anton. Graphic Design: How to Create Beauty. U of New Mexico P, 2010.

 

The title of an essay, a story, or a poem in a collection, as part of a larger whole, is placed in quotation marks.

Barzun, Jacques. “Behind the Blue Pencil: Censorship or Creeping Creativity?” On Writing, Editing, and        Publishing. U of Chicago P, 1986, pp. 120-126.

 

The title of periodical (journal, magazine, newspaper) is set in italics and the title of an article in the periodical is set within quotation marks.

Note: Place periods or other punctuation within quotation marks.

Xue, Shiqi. “Chinese Lexicography Past and Present.” Dictionaries: Journal of the Dictionary Society of North America, vol. 4, 1982, pp. 151-169.

Title of container.

Bazin, Patrick. “Toward Metareading.” The Future of the Book, edited by Geoffrey Nunberg, U of                   California P, 1996, pp. 153-68.

 

In the example above, The Future of the Book is the container, the information that follows the container describes the container.

The title of the container is italicized and followed by a comma

Blake, Roger. “Seeing Red.” The New York Times Book Review, 9 Nov. 2017, p.23.

Note:  Place periods inside quotation marks.

In this example, the container is the New York Times Book Review and within that container is an article titled “Seeing Red.” The container is described by the date of publication and location (page number).

A television series is made up of episodes, therefore the title of the series is the container and the name of the episode is part of that container. The container is described by relevant information about the episode (director, writer, etc.).

“The Talk.” Black-ish, directed by Rebecca Asher, written by Vijal Patel, season 1, episode 2. ABC, 2014.

Other Contributors,

If the work has been edited or translated, include those contributors in this element. Other roles may be:

  • adapted by
  • directed by
  • illustrated by
  • introduction by
  • narrated by
  • performance by

Include translators and editors of scholarly editions and collections. Works originally published in another language are usually recorded in documentation because they play key roles. If there are several contributors to a project, include the ones that are relevant to your project. If you’re writing about a television episode and focus on a key character, you can mention the series creator and actor who played that role.

Version,

Books may be revised, or there may be different versions of musical and film compositions such as live versions, director’s cut, unabridged versions.

Alert your reader to the correct version you are citing, by including that information in the entry.

Strunk, William, Jr. and E.B. White. The Elements of Style. 4th ed., New York: Longman-Allyn, 2000.

 

Jean-Jacques Beineix, director. Betty Blue, 1986. Performance by Beatrice Dalle, director’s cut, Cinema Libre Studio, 1993.

Number,

If the source is part of a numbered sequence, such as a volume of a book or journal issue, you’ll need to indicate that number in your entry.

Books

Indicate the volume number of a book here.

Journals

Journals usually have both volume and issue numbers. Typically, a volume is one year’s issues and numbered sequentially starting with one. Issue numbers start at the beginning of each year and end at the end of the year. For example, a journal that’s entering its 12 year and publishes monthly issues will start a new volume in January – vol. 12 starting with new issue number for January. For example:  vol. 12, no. 1.

However, some journals do not use volume numbers and will simply number their issues sequentially.  In that case, just use the issue number, no. 18

Comic books are numbered like journals with issue numbers

Publisher,

Books

You can find the publisher of a book on the title page or the copyright page.

Films/TV series

Look for the entity that had the primary overall responsibility for it such as NBC or Warner Bros.

Websites

If the website is published by an organization such as a library or university, you can find that information easily either on the ABOUT or CONTACT page or a copyright notice.

Sites that host works are not publishers. For example, YouTube and Vimeo host videos and databases such as ProQuest or DOAJ are also hosting services. Therefore, you don’t need to list them.

For academic presses, remember to abbreviate the name of the publisher by replacing University Press with UP such as Boston UP or U of New Mexico P.

Publication date,

Sometimes you’ll see various publication dates listed as the original object was published in various formats throughout the years. How do you know which one to use in your MLA citation entry? Chose the one that best fits your experience in finding that source. If you use an online source that also appears in print, use the date of the online source as that’s the actual object you are citing.

For print sources, there is only one date but be careful to find the actual date of publication of the revision you consulted. The date is either on the title page or copyright page. Use the most recent date listed. Use the actual book to find the date as online booksellers or bibliographies may have an incorrect date.

Use the full date, if available, for web comments, web articles etc. Use the date a video was uploaded, if available.

Use the date printed on journals, magazines, newspapers. If the full date is available, use that.

Again, remember the key is to make sure your reader can find the exact source you cited. Your entry is creating a path to that source.

Location.

The final piece of your entry is the location; therefore, you’ll end it with a period.

In print sources, the work’s location is the page (s) number. Use p. or pp.

Use the URL or DOI to indicate the location of a web source. Follow your instructor’s guidance to determine whether to include links. If you do include a link, leave out the http/https section of the link.

Indicate the name and city of physical objects such as a work of art – sculpture, painting or artifact listed in your entry. However, if the name indicates the city, don’t repeat the city’s name.

For example, if you’re citing a piece of art at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the name alone is fine; however, to cite a piece of art at the Getty Museum, you will need to include the name of the city, Los Angeles.

Park, David. Two Women, 1957, Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

 

Walker, Kara. Christ’s Entry into Journalism, 2017, Museum of Modern Art, New York.

 

As always, remember the main reason you are going to all this trouble is because you want your reader to find the same source you used in your paper. Once you get the hang of using the core elements to create your MLA Works Cited page, you’ll feel relaxed and confident about creating entries for your sources.

Work Cited

MLA Handbook. 8th ed. New York: The Modern Language Association of America, 2016.

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About the author

Adrienne Mathewson

Adrienne Mathewson, Editor-in-Chief of Bibliography.com, is an Information Professional with a Master’s in Library, Information & Science from San José State University with an emphasis on information literacy and scholarly publishing. She is a certified librarian through the State of New Mexico.

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