Works Cited Format

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Adding a proper works cited page at the end of your essay shows that you take research seriously. This lesson shows how to alphabetize your entries and format them following the MLA Handbook (9th ed.).

Basic Format

Always start your works cited page on a separate page. It may be helpful to insert a page break in your document.

Next, write “Works Cited” at the top and centre this heading. Start your first entry on the next line (left aligned):

Works Cited Page

Here are a few more things to note:

  • Include your regular header (last name and page)
  • Double space all your entries
  • Don’t add extra spaces between entries
  • Use the same font you have used throughout the essay
  • If you only have one citation, write “Work Cited” instead of Works Cited”

Hanging Indentation

MLA citation uses hanging indentation to organize the entries in your works cited list. In other words, for each entry, indent every line after the first:

Hanging Indentation

If you are not sure how to create this effect, check out our quick tutorial on hanging indentation.

If you are publishing something in a digital format (where indentation can be difficult to replicate), you may forego hanging indentation and instead add an extra space between entries.


Sort your entries alphabetically, observing the following guidelines.

Single Author

1. Spaces, symbols, and punctuation marks are ignored:

St Germain, Timothy


Street, Ann

Ignore the space in the first name and the @ in the second.

2. Ignore anything after the comma unless two last names are identical:

Koopman, Jordan

Koopman, S.

Koopmans, E.

In this example, Koopman comes before Koopmans, and where the two names are identical they are separated based on first name (after the comma).

3. If you are citing multiple items by the same author, use three dashes or hyphens (- – -) at the start of each entry after the first:


Add a period and a space immediately afterwards.

4. If the person cited is not an author, but a contributor, add a comma instead of a period and describe their role:

Bombadil, Anthony. Flora and Fauna of the Old Forest.

– – -, editor. Goldberry’s Recipes.

In alphabetizing, you ignore the role description (in this case the word editor).

Multiple Authors

5. When a work is created by multiple people, keep the same order as in the source:

Lobotomy, Max, and Sandra Brundage

Even though Lobotomy comes later in the alphabet than Brundage, it appeared first in the source.

6. If someone has coauthored works with different people, organize the entries by the last names of the second authors:

Lobotomy, Max, and Sandra Brundage

Lobotomy, Max, and Nathalie Prop

In this example, Brundage comes before Prop in the alphabet.

7. If the same coauthors are responsible for multiple entries, cite them by using three hyphens or dashes (- – -) followed by a period:

Lobotomy, Max, and Sandra Brundage

– – -.

In this example, Lobotomy and Brundage are cited for two coauthored works.

8. However, if the order of the names is different in each source, cite them in the order you found them:

Brundage, Sandra, and Max Lobotomy

Lobotomy, Max, and Sandra Brundage

The implication is that Brundage was the principal author of the first work, whereas Lobotomy received more credit for the second.

No Author

9. If an entry has no author, or multiple entries have the same author, alphabetize by title. Ignore any articles (a, an, the), even in foreign languages (e.g., le, das):

A Farewell to Farms

The Great Gadfly

A Hassle in India

10. If a title starts with a numeral, alphabetize it as if spelled out:

The Dot-com Bubble

1999: Waiting for the Millennium

In this example we ignore the article (The) and mentally spell out 1999 as nineteen ninety-nine.


If you find yourself citing the same source multiple times, there is a way to shorten the entries. Let’s say you’ve used three articles from the same essay collection. What you would do is give a complete citation for the essay collection and shorten the individual entries:

Noseworthy, Edward. “Indie Music and American Identity.” Sharp, pp. 87-103.

Pinetree, Margo. “The Impact of NPR’s Tiny Desk Series.” Sharp, pp. 24-33.

Sharp, Alex, editor. Contemporary Indie Music. McCord Press, 2017.

Wallace, Declan. “Hair Styles and Indie Bands: The Correlation between Acoustic Instruments and Unkempt Hair.” Sharp, pp. 66-77.

If you want to provide some further clarification, you can add a shortened version of the collection title after the editor’s name:

Sharp, Indie Music, pp. 24-33.

This can be useful if the editor has worked on multiple projects listed in your Works Cited.

For more information about formatting the Works Cited page, see the end of chapter 5 of the MLA Handbook (9th ed.).