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MLA 8: Creating Citations for a Works Cited Page

Learn how to format your papers and cite resources in MLA 8th format.

Works Cited Page

Works Cited refers to the page at the end of your paper listing all the sources you used.

How to Create Citations for a Works Cited Page

Use the following handout and websites to find examples for how to cite your sources at the end of of your paper in MLA.

You can also try to use free online tools to help you create citations in a variety of formats, including MLA, however, all online citation tools, including those available in the library databases, are not completely accurate. You will have to make make edits to ensure your citations are in the proper format.

Basic Formatting for a Works Cited Page

  • Works Cited should be centered at the top of the page
  • order citations alphabetically, typically by author's last name
  • include hanging indent after the first line of each entry
  • place quotation marks around sources in containers, such as a poem, short story, book chapter, journal article etc.
  • italicize sources for stand-alone items, such as a novel, play, journal, book, etc.
  • capitalize main words in a title
  • format author in citations as follows:
    • one author: last name, first name.
      • Example: Reddy, Anisha.
    • two authors: last name, first name and first name last name.
      • Example:  Reddy, Anisha and Nate Conner. 
    • three authors: last name, first name, et al.
      • Example: Jones, Steve, et al.
  • DOIs are preferred over URLs. When using an URL, remove http:// or https:// 
    • Example:  doi:10.1002/tox.20155

Elements

Create citations for your Works Cited page using this template with its elements. Your citation may not have all the elements. You may also repeat elements 3-9 depending on whether or not your source stands on its own or it is part of one or more containers.  

Order of Elements Element & Punctuation Following the Element Example(s)
1 Author.  
2 Title of source.  
3 Title of container, .... book, journal, database
4 Other contributors, Translators or Editors
5 Version, Edition
6 Number, Vol. and/or No.
7 Publisher,  
8 Publication date,  
9 Location. Refers to page numbers (pp.), not to a place of publication, unless deemed necessary; could refer to a DOI or database URL for an article

Tips

  • If an element is missing, move on.
  • If your source is in one or more containers, you will repeat some elements starting back at element #3.
  • Only use a period after the Author element, Title of Source element, and the Location element; all other elements are followed by a comma.
  • Stand alone source vs. source in a container
    • a book is considered a self contained/stand alone source (one container)
    • a chapter in a book would be one container (chapter) within another container (the full book)
    • a journal article would be container 1, found in a journal (container 2), which may be in a database (container 3)
  • Access date is an optional element, which is why it is not included above. You will need to ask your instructors whether or not they prefer to have the access date.

Database Citation Generators

Database citation generators are not perfect.

  • They frequently provide the name of the database brand vs. the name of the database.
  • DOIs are preferred to URLs. If an article doesn't have a DOI, you will need to use the permalink, not the link in your address bar. Database citation generators also do this incorrectly.

Screenshot of a permalink

MLA 8 Basic Format of Works Cited Page

This video shows how to properly format a Works Cited page in Microsoft Word. The example page uses the newest updated 8th edition 2016 MLA Guidelines (ProfessorAllenNPCC, 3:41).

Hanging Indents in Google Docs (Easy Way)

This video shares a very easy way to format your Works Cited page with hanging idents in Google Docs (Jen Jonson, 0:35).