MLA Citation and Works Cited Pages

There are a multitude of things that go into a MLA formatted paper. In addition to the qualities listed in How to Format an MLA Paper, there is also the use of in-text citation and a Works Cited list. These two elements bring together a MLA paper as a way to properly cite all source material that was used in the compilation of your research paper. The general rule of thumb is, if you did not know the material, facts, or figures before you wrote the paper, or had to consult a source for what you are writing, it should be cited using both the in-text citation and the Works Cited list.

In-Text Citation

In-Text Citation refers to the rules set forth by the Modern Language Association, MLA, for identifying sources used in research. MLA style uses a two-part parenthetical style for citing sources used. The in-text citations in a paper are used to point the reader to the alphabetical Works Cited list that appears at the end of the research paper. By listing the source in the parenthetical style, using a name or title, and a corresponding page number, your instructor can easily and readily identify your source and the research used. That is the purpose of the combination style of in-text citation and a Works Cited list. Together, these references identify and credit the sources used in the paper and allow others to access and retrieve this material.

Parenthetical references should be as clear as possible, and with just enough information to identify the source. More in-depth information about the source is saved for the Works Cited list.

  • Give only the information needed to identify a source. Usually the author’s last name and a page reference are all that is needed.
  • Place the parenthetical reference as close as possible to the material being documented and where a pause would naturally occur, preferably at the end of a sentence.
  • Parenthetical material should complement, not repeat, information given in the text. If you include an author’s name in a sentence, you do not need to repeat it in your parenthetical statement.
  • The parenthetical reference should precede the punctuation mark that concludes the sentence, clause, or phrase that contains the cited material.
  • Electronic and online sources are cited just like print resources in references cited in the text. If an online source lacks numbering, omit numbers from the parenthetical references. If a source includes fixed page numbers or section numbering, such as numbering of paragraphs (pars.), cite the relevant numbers.

Examples:1

Author’s name in text:

Dover has expressed this concern (118-21).

Author’s name in reference:

This concern has been expressed (Dover 118-21).

Two locations:

Williams alludes to this premise (136-39, 145).

Two works cited:

(Burns 54; Thomas 327)

Multivolume works – References to volumes and pages:

(Wilson 2:1-18)

Multivolume works – References to an entire volume:

(Henderson, vol. 3)

Multivolume works – In text reference to an entire volume:

In volume 3, Henderson suggests

Corporate authors:

(United Nations, Economic Commission for Africa 51-63)

Works with no author:2

as stated by the presidential commission (Report 4).

Online source with numbered paragraphs:

(Fox, pars. 4-5)

Works Cited List

References cited in the text of a research paper must appear at the end of the paper in a Works Cited list or bibliography. This list provides the information necessary to identify and retrieve each source that specifically supports your research.

  • Arrange entries in alphabetical order by authors’ last names (surnames), or by title for sources without authors.
  • Capitalize the first word and all other principal words of the titles and subtitles of cited works listed. (Do not capitalize articles, prepositions, coordinating conjunctions, or the “to” in infinitives.)
  • Shorten the publisher’s name; for example, omit articles, business abbreviations (Co., Inc.), and descriptive words (Press, Publisher).
  • When multiple publishers are listed, include all of them, placing a semicolon between each.
  • When more than one city is listed for the same publisher, use only the first city.
  • Use the conjunction “and,” not an ampersand (&), when listing multiple authors of a single work.
  • Pagination: Do not use the abbreviations ”p.” or ”pp.” to designate page numbers.
  • Indentation: Align the first line of the entry flush with the left margin, and indent all subsequent lines (5 to 7 spaces) to form a “hanging indent.”
  • Italics: Choose a font in which the italic style contrasts clearly with the regular style.

The following is a sample Works Cited list using multiple types of sources:


Works Cited

@NathanFillion. Web Log Post. Twitter.com. 11 Aug. 2010. Web. 2 Oct. 2010. Web. <http://twitter.com/NathanFillion/status/20950100363>.

Chan, Evans. ”Postmodernism and Hong Kong Cinema.” Postmodern Culture. 10.3. (2000): n. pag. Project Muse. Web. 5 June 2008.

Davis, Anita Price, comp. North Carolina during the Great Depression: A Documentary Portrait of a Decade. Jefferson: McFarland, 2003. Print.

Geist, Joshua. Personal interview. 28 Sept. 2010.

GeneseeLibrary. ”MLA Citation part 1 – books.” Online Posting. YouTube, 22 Dec. 2009. Web. 2 Oct. 2010.

Piper, Andrew. ”Rethinking the Print Object: Goethe and the Book of Everything.” PLMA. 121.1. (2006): 124-38. Print.

Matuozzi, Robert. ”Archive Trauma.” Archive Trouble. MLA Annual Convention. Hyatt Regency, Chicago. 29 Dec. 2007. Address.

Ramones, The. ”Sheena Is a Punk Rocker” Rocket to Russia. Sire, 1977. CD.

Rowling, J[oanne] K[athleen]. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. New York: Levine-Scholastic, 2000. Print.

World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade. Design Lead Rob Pardo, Jeff Kaplan and Tom Chilton. Chris Metzen and Debi Mae West. Blizzard Entertainment, 2007. Game.


Additional Resources

The examples of MLA style and format listed on this page include many of the most common types of sources used in academic research. For additional examples and more detailed information about MLA citation style, refer to the following resources:

MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers. 7th ed. New York: Modern Language Association of America, 2009. Print.

This book is designed for high school and undergraduate students.

The following hyperlink will take you to the MLA website and a list of frequently asked questions about MLA style. There are other resources also available at this website that will help you write a properly formatted MLA paper.

Frequently Asked Questions about the MLA Style Manual.” Modern Language Association. Modern Language Association, 2008. Web. 30 June 2009.

Examples and source material for this post are from the Cornell University Library website page for MLA Citation


1Examples used are from the Cornell University Library MLA website.

2When a work has no author, use the work’s title or a shortened version of the title when citing it in text. (If abbreviating a title, omit initial articles and begin with the word by which it is alphabetized in the Works Cited list.)

Last Updated: 12/3/2015 1:21 PM