MLA Works Cited

The MLA format is one in a number of editorial styles widely used in writing essays and research papers and in formatting sources and references. Established and developed by the Modern Language Association, the complete and definitive style guidelines of the MLA format if fully explained its two publications, namely, the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, which is designed for high school and undergraduate students, and the MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing, which is mostly used by graduate students and professional writers.

Regardless of your classification, the MLA format is generally prescribed for scholarly writing in the fields of literature, philosophy, the arts, literary criticism, and language studies. This style requires you cite each of your sources and structure each entry into a specially formatted citation, to be placed alphabetically in the MLA works cited page.

You can start preparing your MLA works cited by creating a new, separate page and typing “Works Cited” on the first line (without the quotation marks), and aligning this label to center. Set the margins to one inch on all sides of this page, and double space the citation entries throughout.

The MLA format recommends underlining all titles of books, magazines, scholarly journals, newspapers, and web sites, and enclosing all titles of articles within double quotation marks. When certain elements of a source, such as an author’s name, are not provided, leave it out and go on to the next element. Below are some citation examples demonstrating the MLA format, and illustrating how your MLA works cited page should look like:


Works Cited

Achebe, Chinua. “An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad’s Heart of Darkness.” Massachusetts Review 18 (1977): 782-84.

Bain, Carl E., Jerome Beatty, and J. Paul Hunter, eds. The Norton Introduction to Literature, 4th ed. New York: Norton, 1986.

Green, Martin. Dreams of Adventure, Deeds of Empire. New York: Basic Books, 1979.

Kohut, Heinz. The Analysis of the Self: A Systematic Approach to the Psychoanalytic Treatment of Narcissistic Personality Disorders. New York: International Universities Press, 1971.


As exemplified above, each entry is structured with a hanging indent: the first line of a citation is flushed to the left margin of the page, while the second and subsequent lines are indented by five more spaces. The complete names of the authors are provided, starting with their last names, followed by their given names and middle initials. Titles of works are underlined instead of italicized, and the year of publication is placed after the published, ending the entry.

Should you require further assistance in formatting your citations or in preparing your MLA works cited page, it is advisable to use a works cited generator to automatically generate your sources into accurately formatted citation entries. A works cited generator comes in very handy especially if you have a long list of sources and references to format.