Arranging Sources for MLA Works Cited Page

Prepare an MLA Format Bibliography by Using These Guidelines

Knowing how to format sources in an MLA Works Cited page makes it easier to put citations together. This guide will help struggling teens.

It is likely that students arranging sources in MLA format for the first time realize rather quickly that there is a pattern to the arrangement of the information. It's fairly obvious, for example, that the author or authors of the work are acknowledged first. In the event that there is no author, the title of the work comes first. What are some other things students can keep in mind to make formatting a Works Cited list a little easier without using plagiarism-checker?

The First Piece of Information Acknowledges the Author and the Work

The first piece of information in a Works Cited entry lists the author, followed by his work, even if the author is a government or corporate author. If the work is a book, then the title of the book immediately follows the author's name (which is listed with last name first):

  • Sanders, Susan. Learning English the Easy Way.

But what if the author wrote an article or a short story that is incorporated in a larger work, such as a book, newspaper, magazine, or journal article? The rule remains the same. Whatever the author's actual work is follows the author's name. However, a larger work such as a book or journal is either underlined or italicized, while the shorter work (the story or article) is enclosed in quotation marks:

  • Sanders, Sue. "Grammer Rules."

If a Shorter Work is Included in a Larger Work, the Larger Work Must Also be Cited

Readers won't necessarily be able to find a shorter work if the writer doesn't include the larger work in the citation as well. So if, for example, an article can be found in a newspaper, the citation would include the title of the article, followed by the title of the newspaper:

  • Johnson, Red. "Earthquake Injures Thousands." Springfield Daily News

The same holds true whether the larger work is a newspaper, magazine, journal, book, or webpage. Credit goes first to the writer(s) of the piece, followed by the title of the piece, followed by the larger work (if applicable). If the source were a book, the remainder of the citation would be the same as the standard book citation, but if it is a newspaper, magazine, or journal, the student must also include the volume and issue number or the date. Finally, with all smaller works that nest in larger works, the student must also let his readers know the page number(s) where the cited work can be found.

Citing Articles in Journals, Magazines, and Newspapers

When citing from a journal, the student must also give his readers the volume (and issue number, if applicable) where the work can be found. The volume number is listed first, and the issue number comes next. The two are separated by a period:

  • Pennington, Ann. "New English Isn't so New." Quarterly Journal of English Exploration 11.2 (2009): 111-23. Print.

As with any citation, the volume and issue number are followed by a date, the page numbers, and the medium. Magazines are a little different, in that volume and issue numbers are not included; magazines are instead identified by date:

  • Pennington, Ann. "Grammar is Learned Intrinsically." Grammar Today Jan. 2010: 35+. Print.

If the article begins on one page but is continued elsewhere in the magazine (meaning the pages aren't consecutive), the student adds a plus sign after the first page number. Newspaper articles are similar to magazines:

  • Johnson, Red. "Economy on the Rise." Springfield Daily News 7 Feb. 2010: A2. Print.

There are Many Other Sources That Require Different Methods of Formatting

There are more sources to cite other than simply books, magazines, newspapers, or journals. MLA has ways to format almost any type of media, from webpages and ebooks to brochures and CDs. However, when students learn the basic information and know what to expect, putting together the bulk of the Works Cited page seems a little less intimidating.


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