How to format the works cited page in MLA (8th ed.)?

Create a spot-on reference in MLA 8 and 9

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According to MLA Style (8th ed.), the following rules apply when formatting a works cited page in a publication:

  • margins: 1 inch (2.54 cm) on all sides;
  • line spacing: double;
  • font: one with clearly visible italics (such as Times New Roman);
  • font size: 12;
  • text aligned left.

Sources in a list of works cited are given in alphabetical order and are not numbered. Each reference should have a hanging indent of 0.5 inches (1.27 cm).

The page heading is centered and is neither italicised nor made bold. The recommended heading title is ‘Works Cited’).

In addition to the rules set forth in the MLA Manual, each particular scientific journal, university, etc. can have its own specific requirements as regards the formatting of the bibliography page.

How to order the references

The list of works cited is ranged in alphabetical order depending on each reference’s first element. Most often, references are sorted according to the last name of the author or the title of the publication, if no author or editor is given. The first names of the authors are taken into account only in case that several authors’ last names are the same. 

If a list contains several works by the same author, their name is given only in the first reference. In all subsequent references, three hyphens are put in place of the author’s data.

Adams, Douglas. The Dirk Gently Omnibus. William Heinemann, 2001.

---. Life, the Universe and Everything. Picador, 2002.

---. Salmon of Doubt. Harmony Books, 1999.

The same also applies to sources with several authors, if these authors and their order are the same for multiple works. The sources written by the same authors are ranged by title.

Fox, Marye Anne, and James K. Whitesell. Chemistry in Motion: Organic Chemistry, with Revised Questions. Jones and Bartlett Publishers, 2004. CD.

---. Organic Chemistry. 3rd ed., Jones and Bartlett Publishers, 2004.

If the editor’s name is given in the beginning of the reference, the same rules apply when listing the authors. The editor’s name can be substituted with three hyphens, yet their role is still to be maintained in the reference.

Jackson, Howard. Analyzing English: An Introduction to Descriptive Linguistics. Pergamon P, 1980.

---, editor. The Bloomsbury Companion to Lexicography. Bloomsbury, 2013.

---. Lexicography: An Introduction. Routledge, 2002.

---. Words and Their Meaning. Longman, 1988.

The titles of the sources should be listed in alphabetical order, omitting the articles (‘a’, ‘an’, ‘the’). The numbers should be considered as if they were written with letters (‘two hundred’ in place of ‘200’, etc.).

For each citation style, the web service "Grafiati" offers the option of listing all references according to the requirements of the style. References are sorted automatically in accordance with all the rules described above for MLA Style. Download your bibliography in Word format (‘Export’ menu on the homepage), and you will get the formatted file with the correct sorting of all sources. You can then simply paste it into your work!

Other citation styles: