A Complete Guide for Arranging MLA Works Cited



MLA works cited list is a final component of your work, which contains a bibliographic description of the sources used and is placed at the end of your academic paper. The rules for the design of the works cited list are very strict and must be carefully followed in order to create a perfect paper. If you have to write a work in MLA format, you need to know more about its features. Here you’ll find a full guide for formatting your list of references in MLA style. 

1. Key Elements

So you need to point out: 

  • The author’s name 
  • the source title
  • the version (edition)
  • year of publishing
  • publishers
  • the publication place. 

All of these are the main elements of the references. You need to indicate them in the specified order. 

 2. Basic rules for arranging references

According to the MLA standards, the list of bibliography should be named the works cited list. Let’s check out the basic design requirements.

  • It should be placed on a separate page. 
  • It should be arranged in alphabetical order according to the authors’ names.
  • If the writer is not known, including in the list the titles of the work or the organization responsible for the title of the source without taking into account both definite and indefinite articles
  • First point out the surname and then other names separated by a comma. 
  • Internet nicknames are not forbidden 
  • Editors and translators are added here but their names should be marked with the notes “editor” or “translator”. 
  • The titles of the source and container should be italicized.
  • If there is no source title, provide general information about it. 
  • If there are several dates of publication, choose exactly the option that you used in your work.
  • If you used the same source but with different publication dates, list the editions in chronological order.
  • If you want to include things that are not contained in the peculiar source, use square brackets in order to indicate them. 
  • If you have any doubts about any source element, put a question mark in their place. 
  • Double spacing and readable font are required. 

3. Quotes in the text

In the MLA format, a reference to the author’s quote in the document is provided briefly and clearly so that the reader can easily find it in the list of used literature. The source of information is indicated in parentheses in the format “author-page”. This means that only the name of the author and the page number from which the quote was taken should be given in the text. Full information on the source must be presented in the works cited list. 

The name of the author can be given either at the beginning or in parentheses after a quote or paraphrase. 

Take a look at the examples: 

Dover expressed concern that… (118-21)

Concern was expressed that… (Dover 118-21).

What if there are several authors?

If the source you are using has several authors, you must indicate their names in parentheses:

This hypothesis (Merton and Smith 7) proposed… 

The theory (Sumner, Rachel, and Vaud 23) explains…

What if the author is not specified?

If there is no author of the work, use a short variant of the working title in the text. Check out the examples: 

Book: The Idea of a University points out “…” (74) or (The Idea of a University 74) 

Article: “An Approach to Instilling Confidence” points out “…” (16) or (“An Approach to Instilling Confidence” 16)

What if several sources from the same author are used?

Specify a shortened option of the book name in parentheses: (Edwards, The Healing Intelligence 145)

What if there are a few authors with the same second names?

Where it happens, write the first letter of the author’s name: (H. Edwards, The Healing Intelligence 145)

What if it’s not possible to specify a page?

Instead of a page, you can specify a section or chapter: 

Reference to the chapter: 

In chapter 3, Henderson suggests… or (Henderson, ch. 3) 

Reference to the certain paragraph from an online source:

(Fox, par. 4-5).

How to cite quotes?

Write an abbreviation “qtd.” in front of the author’s name to indicate his or her exact quote: 

(qtd. In Edwards 145) 

How to cite audio and video materials?

If you use video or audio materials, accurately mark the time of the quote that you give in the text: 

(Graham 00:13:47) 

4. Ways to cite various kinds of sources

The citation in the text depends only on whether the author is known or whether the source is multimedia. The list of references is greatly dependent on the kind of source.

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How to arrange book references in MLA style

Books are the main type of source, so you need to know how to arrange book references correctly. 

Thus, all you have to do is to remember a specific pattern: A surname, name, title, edition, place of publication, publishers, publication date. Take a look at the example: 

Soars, John G. Headway Pre-Intermediate, 3rd ed, Oxford University Press, 2013. 

Things to consider:

  • The title should be written in Italics with all the words capitalized. 
  • If there are more than 1 author, their names should be specified in order with the conjunction “and”. 
  • If necessary, you may indicate translators and editors. 

How to arrange references of translated books in MLA style

In this case, the only difference is that you need to specify the translator. There are two options for how to do this: 

Let’s check out good examples:

1. Redman, Stuart., translator and Jane Rothberg. The Handbook of Technology Foresight: Concepts and Practice. Cambridge University Press, 2011. 

2. O’Connell, Sue. Focus on IELTS. Translated by Mary Keenan, Oxford University Press, 2017. 

In the same way, you can specify the editor.



How to arrange electronic book references in MLA style

An electronic book is perceived as another variant of the book. Thus, the e-book identifier is introduced in the version section of the sample of the standard book reference. Certain e-book providers may be referred, for example, kindle, may be referred to as “kindle ed.”.

Thus, the citation scheme is as follows: 

A surname, name, title, e-book, edition, place of publication, publishers, publication date.

Miles, Ann J., et al. Patterns of Innovation in Services, e-book. Berlin, Heidelberg, Springer, 2010. 

How to arrange references for a chapter in MLA style

The chapter reference in some details varies from the usual book one. 

Thus, you need to point out the chapter title as well as the certain page numbers. 

Saritas, Oliver D. “National Strategy”. Systems Thinking for Foresight, Manchester: University of Manchester, 2016, pp. 27-34 

How to arrange article references in MLA style

The reference scheme for the article is very similar to the previous version. 

In this case, you need to add the title of the newspaper (or another source like DoMyWriting.com). 

Thaler, Richard H. “From Homo Economicus to Homo Sapiens”, Journal of Economic Perspectives, Vol.14, no.1, Winter 2015, pp.55-63 

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5. Ways to cite non-print media

Very often non-print media are used in academic papers, so you need to know the rules for quoting them. 

Pictures in MLA style

The main scheme for citing the picture is as follows: 

The last name of the photographer or creator, other names. “Title of picture”. Site title, reproduction, date, URL. 

Lindbergh, Peter. “Kate Moss”, BBC, Upstate New York, 1994

Movies in MLA style

The main scheme for citing the movie is as follows: 

Director name, “Title”, releaser, date. 

Also, you can add actors, performing the leading roles, but this is optional. 

Cameron, James, director. “Titanic”. Paramount Pictures, 1997.

Keep in mind that if the main interest for your papers is not the director but the movie itself, you can swap their positions. Then you obtain the following format: 

“Title”, directed by (name), releaser, release date.

If you cite an online movie, indicate URL.

TV Shows in MLA style

The scheme for citing is almost the same as the movie reference, but the difference is that you need to specify the season and episode. 

“Title of the episode”, TV Show Title, creators, directors, season, episode, network, release date.

“A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms”, Game of Thrones, written by Bryan Cogman, directed by David Nutter, season 10, episode 2, HBO, 2019. 

Music records in MLA style

The scheme for citing the record is as follows: 

Performer’s name, “Track Title”, Album, version, label, release date.

The Beatles. “All You Need Is Love”. Magical Mystery Tour, Parlophone, 1967. 

6. Ways to cite websites

The scheme for citing the website is as follows: 

Author’s surname, name. “Page Title”, Website Title, date, URL. 

Khadka, Navin S. “Cut air pollution to fight climate change”, BBC, 20 Sep. 2019

The correct design of the MLA works cited list is extremely important for your scientific paper. Follow our guidelines and your work will be fully appreciated