The Writing Center @ The University of Wisconsin - Madison

Creating an MLA works cited page

General Formatting Information for Your Works Cited Section

Beginning on a new page at the end of your paper, list alphabetically by author every work you have cited, using the basic forms illustrated below. Title the page Works Cited (not Bibliography), and list only those sources you actually cited in your paper. Continue the page numbering from the body of your paper and make sure that you still have 1–inch margins at the top, bottom, and sides of your page. Double-space the entire list. Indent entries as shown in the models below with what’s called a "hanging indent": that means the first line of an entry begins at the left margin, and the second and subsequent lines should be indented half an inch from the left margin. Most word-processing programs will format hanging indents easily (look under the paragraph formatting options).

Introduction to the 8th Edition

In 2016, MLA substantially changed the way it approaches works cited entries. Each media type used to have its own citation guidelines. Writers would follow the specific instructions for how to cite a book, a translated poem in an anthology, a newspaper article located through a database, a YouTube clip embedded in an online journal, etc. However, as media options and publication formats continued to expand, MLA saw the need to revise this approach. Since a book chapter can appear on a blog or a blog post can appear in a book, how can writers account for these different formats?

MLA’s solution to this problem has been to create a more universal approach to works cited entries. No matter the medium, citations include the specifically ordered and punctuated elements outlined in the following table.

Elements of a Works Cited Entry

1. Author.

Last name, First name.

2. Title of source.

Italicized If Independent; "Put in Quotations Marks if Not."

3. Title of container,

Often Italicized,

4. Other contributors,

Name preceded by role title (for example: edited by, translated by, etc.),

5. Version,

i.e. 2nd ed., revised ed., director’s cut, etc.,

6. Number,

vol. #, no. #,

7. Publisher,

Name of Entity Responsible for Producing Source,

8. Publication date,

i.e. 14 Feb. 2014; May—June 2016; 2017,

9. Location.

i.e. pp. 53-79; Chazen Museum of Art; https://www.wiscience.wisc.edu/ (If possible, use a DOI (digital object identifier) instead of a url.)

10. Date of Access.

Optionally included when citing a web source.


If the source doesn’t include one of these elements, just skip over that one and move to the next. Include a single space after a comma or period.

The third category—"container"—refers to the larger entity that contains the source. This might be a journal, a website, a television series, etc. Sometimes a source can also appear nested in more than one container. A poem, for example, might appear in an edited collection that has been uploaded to a database. A television episode fits in a larger series which may be contained by Netflix. When a source is in a larger container, provide information about the smaller one (i.e. the edited collection or the TV series), then provide information for elements 3–10 for the larger container. For example, the works cited entry detailed below is for a chapter from an economics textbook, entitled Econometrics, that is contained on UW–Madison’s Social Science Computing Cooperative website.

Example of a Works Cited Entry


Hansen, Bruce E. "The Algebra of Least Squares." Econometrics, University of Wisconsin Department of Economics, 2017, pp. 59-87. Social Science Computing Cooperative, UW–Madison, http://www.ssc.wisc.edu/~bhansen/econometrics/Econometrics.pdf.

Here is the breakdown of these elements:

1. Author.

Hansen, Bruce E.

2. Title of source.

"The Algebra of Least Squares."

3. Title of container,

Econometrics,

4. Other contributors,

5. Version,

6. Number,

7. Publisher,

University of Wisconsin Department of Economics,

8. Publication date,

2017,


3. Title of container,

Social Science Computing Cooperative,

4. Other contributors,

5. Version,

6. Number,

7. Publisher,

UW–Madison,

8. Publication date,

9. Location.

http://www.ssc.wisc.edu/~bhansen/
econometrics/Econometrics.pdf.

10. Date of Access.

(This could be included, but this site is fairly stable, so the access date wasn’t deemed to be important.)


One of the benefits of this system is that it can be applied to any source. Whether you’re citing a book, a journal article, a tweet, or an online comic, this system will guide you through how to construct your citation.

A Few Notes

  • Books are considered to be self-contained, so if you’re citing an entire book, items 2 and 3 get joined. After the author’s name, italicize the title, then include a period and move on items 4–9.
  • No matter what your last item of information is for a given citation, end the citation with a period.
  • Also, if it is appropriate to include an access date for an online source, put a period after the full url in addition to one after the access date information.
  • It is particularly important to include access dates for online sources when citing a source that is subject to change (like a homepage). If the source you are working with is more stable (like a database), it’s not as critical to let your readers know when you accessed that material.

For more information about any of this, be sure to consult the 2016 MLA Handbook itself.