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MLA Style (8th Ed.): Paper Format/Guidelines

Tips for Writing the Works Cited List

This is a list of all the sources you have used to research your paper.

  1. The list of works cited appears on a separate page at the end of the essay.  It is titled (centred, no quotation marks, no underline):

    Works Cited

  2. The list is arranged alphabetically by the author’s last name, or, if there is no author, by the first word in the title. When arranging the list ignore, but do not omit, “The”, “An” or “A” at the beginning of the title.

  3. After the first line each entry is indented ½ inch or 5 spaces from the left margin.  This is called a hanging indent.  

  4. Each entry presents information in a specific order:  the author’s name, the title, the publication information.

  5. Double-space the entire list, both between and within entries.

  6. If a book does not give the publisher or the date of publication, then give what information you might know in square brackets [ ].

  7. Each citation in a works cited list ends with a period.

  8. Citations must appear both in the text of your paper (in-text citations) and in the works cited list at the end of your paper.

  9. With a few exceptions, the punctuation for citations in the works cited list is restricted to commas and periods and follows a format.  Periods are used after the author, after the title of the source, and at the end of the information for each container.  Commas are used in the author's name and between elements within each container.

Major Changes from the MLA Handbook, 7th ed.

1. Core Elements

The 8th edition offers a much more simplified approach as one citation format can be used for all source types.  Previous editions focused to the treatment of different types of sources.  The 8th edition identifies and focuses on the nine core elements common to most sources -

  1. Author;
  2. Title of Source;
  3. Title of Container;
  4. Other Contributors;
  5. Version;
  6. Number;
  7. Publisher;
  8. Publication Date; 

It is very flexible and offers guidelines on how to reference each of them.

Abbreviations

  • n.d. for no date and n.p. for no publisher are no longer used
  • Common terms in the works-cited list like Editor, edited by, translator and review of are no longer abbreviated.  The eight edition also provides a shorter list of recommended common academic abbreviations (pp. 96-97)

Authors

  • When a source has three or more authors, et al. is used after the first author.  Previously this was done when a source had four or more authors. (p. 22)

Books and Other Printed Works

  • In the works cited list, page numbers are preceded by p. or pp. Previously just the page numbers were given. (p. 46)
  • The place of publication is no longer given for books except in special circumstances (p. 51)
  • Provide the publishers full name.  Omit business words such as Company (Co.), Corporation (Corp.), Incorporated (Inc.) and Limited (Ltd.).  Replace University Press with UP. (p. 97)

Journals

  • Volume and issue numbers of scholarly journals are now labeled as vol. and no. e.g. you would now use vol. 73, no. 6 rather than 73.6 (pp. 39-40)
  • Cite the DOI (digital object identifier) if one is available (preceded by doi:) rather than the URL. (p. 110)

Online Works

  • The URL is now given for a web source.  Omit the http:// or https://.  Angle brackets are no longer used around it. (pp. 48, 110)
  • Citing the date a webpage was accessed is now optional. (p. 53)

Miscellaneous

  • The medium of publication (e.g.Web, Print) is no longer provided unless it is needed for clarity. (p. 52)