Hanging Indentation

Introduction

A number of citation styles require the use of hanging indentation for citing sources at the end of a research paper or book. Here’s the quick explanation of how to add hanging indentation in MS Word.

What It Looks Like

Hanging indentation means that for every entry in your final bibliography, you indent each line after the first one tab space. Here’s an example of an MLA Works Cited Page with hanging indentation:

Now, you can of course just press Tab for every entry, but that’s laborious and MS Word will likely mess up your spacing if you go that route. There’s a much quicker way to achieve hanging indentation …

How To Add Hanging Indentation

Adding hanging indentation in MS Word is super easy. Just highlight your text and press Ctrl + T. That’s it!

Alternatively, you can take a more circuitous route and go to Home > Paragraph (click the little symbol to the right) > Special > Hanging Indentation.

If you take the latter route, you will be able to adjust the spacing options at the same time. For more details, check out the video above.

Works Cited Format

Introduction

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.

Alphabetizing

Sort your entries alphabetically, observing the following guidelines.

Single Author

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

St Germain, Timothy

@strawman202

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:

Hyphens

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.

Cross-listing

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.).

Author

Introduction

Author Image

Most Works Cited entries begin with the name of the author or creator. Alphabetize your entries by last name and provide any first names after the comma:

Chuckle, Hillary. “Ventriloquizing the Belly Laugh: An Ethnographic Perspective.” ROFL, vol. 5, no. 1, Dec., 2005, pp. 1-14.

Don’t forget to add a period after the author’s name. Now let’s review all the tricky cases.

Variants

Initials

Some authors go by their initials:

Dastardly, B. Mugging Muggles for Profit and for Fun. Hogwarts UP, 1788.

Names Not Inverted

In rare cases you do not need to invert the name. Examples include various famous poets and rulers:

Dante Alighieri.

Elizabeth I

This is more common for premodern authors.

Also, in some languages author names are already written in reverse order (with the last name first). In that case, copy the name as you found it:

Kim Min-Jun.

In this example, Kim is the family name.

Pseudonyms

Even if you suspect that a name is a pseudonym, cite it in the regular order:

Warm, Luke. “How to Build Your Own Hot Tub.” Youtube, uploaded by CheapSkate299, 5 Feb. 2019, www.youtube.com/watch?v=HoTu9Bs.

If you like, you can provide the real name in square brackets:

Havank [Hans van der Kallen].

Alternatively, you can provide the real name first and the pseudonym in brackets. This is especially useful for online handles:

Whiner, Uriah [@uwhiner].

You can even provide only the real name by itself in square brackets:

[Hans van der Kallen].

Finally, you might like to group all the works by the same author together, even if published under different names.

Multiple Names

If an author has published under separate names (e.g., due to a name change), you can add the label published as:

Smith, Sarah. Snugglebugs and Hugglebugs. Sentimental Press, 1999.

—. [published as Sarah Jones]. Cuddles and Puddles. Sentimental Press, 1998.

If the author has requested that their previous name not be used, then you can omit the note.

Two Authors

For two authors, keep the same order as they are listed in the source. Invert only the first:

Smith, John, and Bob Jones. Living with Mediocrity: The Challenges of Being Average. Quixotica Press, 2016.

More than Two Authors

For three or more authors, provide the name of the first and add the Latin abbreviation et al. (and others):

Collins, William, et al. “Wanton Willoughby and Wily Wickham: Austen’s Worst Womanizers.” A Moral Tract in Honor of Lady Catherine De Bourgh, edited by Lady De Bourgh, Dowager Press, 1820, pp. 19-153 .

Corporate Author

If a work has been created by an organization, you can list it as the author.

National Artillery Foundation. “Turning your Howitzer into a Lawn Ornament.” The Veteran Gardener, Spring, 2001, pp. 7-8.

If the organization is also the publisher, then don’t list it as the author:

The Best Bumper Stickers Based on the Bard’s Lines. National Shakespearean Automobile Association, 2013.

Contributors

Single Contributor

The main creator of a work does not have to be an author. It can also be an editor, translator, or performer, to mention the most likely possibilities. In such cases, provide the name and add the descriptive label afterwards.

Yawn, Esther, editor. The Causes of Boredom: A Collection of Essays. Etcetera Press, 2017.

Normally, contributors are listed after the title, but when there is no main author then they may be moved to the front of the entry.

Two Contributors

The same rules apply as with two authors. Just add the descriptive label at the end:

Bag, Phil, and Rosemary Trundlewood, editors. Epic Tales of Lost Luggage. Random Publishing House, 2005.

Lee, Amy, and Yao Chow, translators. The Sayings of Confucius: The Fortune Cookie Edition. By Confucius, Analectual Press, 2001.

Note that in the second example the translators have been listed first and the author has been placed after the title. This can be useful when you are drawing special attention to the role of the contributors.

More than Two Contributors

For three or more contributors, provide the name of the first and add the Latin abbreviation et al. (and others):

Gadfly, Norman, et al., editors. The Phenomenology of the Unibrow: A Festschrift for Hans Glinka. Pluckwidge Press, 2007.

Other Creators

As mentioned, the creator of a work does not strictly have to be an author. Here are a few other possibilities:

adapter
performer
creator
director

Add the label of your choice after the creator’s name:

Amblin, Bruce, director. Saws. Nightmare Studios, 1975.

If your focus is on the work itself, then add the name of the creator or contributor afterwards:

Saws. Directed by Bruce Amblin, Nightmare Studios, 1975.

No Author

If a work has no author (and you do not want to emphasize the role of another contributor), just skip the author container:

Voulez Vous “Couchsurf” Avec Moi? Translated by Jean Valjean, Backpacker Promotions, 2012.


For more information about citing authors, see chapter 5 of the MLA Handbook (9th ed.).

Titles

Introduction

Title Example Faded

The second section of a works cited entry is the title. The hardest part of working with titles is knowing how to format them.

Basic Formatting

Let’s say you want to cite the following book:

Title Example

The first task is to know where the title begins and ends. In this case, the blurb under the picture is merely a bit of advertising. Our entry would therefore start as follows:

Higginsbottom, Bernard. Write out of the Box.

We removed most of the capital letters and capitalized only key words. Because this is a book title, we also added italics. In other words, with any title we want to remove the original formatting and apply our own.

In the following sections we will take a closer look at specific formatting conventions.

Subtitles

If a title has a subtitle, be sure to include it in your entry. Say you have read Hillary Chuckle’s fascinating article in the journal ROFL:

Title Example 2

You would start your citation as follows:

Chuckle, Hillary. “Ventriloquizing the Belly Laugh: An Ethnographic Perspective.”

If there is no colon yet between the title and subtitle, you can add one.

Capitalization

You do not need to capitalize the following parts of speech unless they are the first word in your title or come right after the colon:

  • Articles (a, an, the)
  • Prepositions (e.g., with, in, of, beside)
  • Coordinating conjunctions (and, but, for, nor, or, so, yet)
  • The to in infinitives (e.g., to love, to be)

If we take our previous example, we can now see why “An” is capitalized (it comes right after the colon), whereas “the” is not:

Chuckle, Hillary. “Ventriloquizing the Belly Laugh: An Ethnographic Perspective.”

For more examples, check out the other sections on this page.

Italics and Quotation Marks

You may have noticed that some titles are in italics and others are in quotation marks. Italics are used for longer works and quotation marks for shorter ones. Here is a handy chart to show the difference:

Italics Quotation Marks
book article or essay
novella (published by itself) novella (published in a collection)
play short story
longer musical composition poem or song
television show or series webpage or post
film
website
CD or DVD title

If you use quotation marks, place your final period before the last quotation mark:

Jolly, Brian. “Winnie the Pooh and Eating Disorders.”

Titles within Titles

Sometimes one title becomes part of another. Here is a rundown of how you should format such entries.

1. A title in italics inside a title in quotation marks:

“What Optometrists Can Learn from The Great Gatsby.” (an article about a novel)

2. A title in quotation marks inside another title in quotation marks:

“The Symbolism of Monocles in ‘Le Monocle de Mon Oncle’ and ‘Colonel Fazackerly Butterworth-Toast.’” (an article about two poems)

Notice the use of single quotation marks around the poem titles.

3. A title in quotation marks inside a title in italics:

From the Bizarre to the Bazaar: Modernism, Orientalism, and James Joyce’s “Araby.(a book about a short story)

Notice that the entire title is italicized.

4. A title in italics inside another title in italics:

An Introduction to Butlering, with Examples from Downton Abbey and The Remains of the Day (a book title that references a television series and a novel)

The titles inside the overall titles are in regular font.

Missing Titles

If a source has no title, you can make one up! Well, to be exact, you can provide a general description:

Clay, Paul. Red painting with a blue stripe. Museum of Modern Art, Manchester.

In such cases, capitalize the first word and any proper nouns. Use regular font.

Adding a description is also appropriate for things like prefaces, afterwords, and the like:

Smart, Oscar. Preface. Prenuptials for Dummies, by Miriam Willows, Harmony Press, 2019, pp. v-xii.

Your description may make reference to another title. This is useful for untitled reviews:

Moss, Stephanie. Review of The Brotherhood of the Stay-at-Home Dads, by Harold Humber. Filch’s Review of Books, 8 Aug. 2017, www.filchesrob.com/book-reviews/brotherhood-dads.

For tweets, provide the entire message as the title:

Prudhomme, Jacques [@synderesis93]. “Just bought a BMW!! #ChristmasinJuly, #Notfeelingguilty.” Twitter, 25 July 2020, twitter.com/synderesis93/status/8780982734.

Notice that you can keep the original formatting of the text.

For private communication, use a description as the title, naming yourself as the recipient–either by name or as “author”:

Lacy, Sandra. E-mail to the author. 8 Nov. 2015.

Lacy, Sandra. E-mail to Manina Sprocket. 8 Nov. 2015.


For more information on titles, see chapters 2 and 5 of the MLA Handbook (9th ed.).

Containers

Container Example Faded

Container Title

Container Title

A container is a larger work in which the author’s work may be included.

There are many types of containers:

book
magazine
newspaper
periodical
television series
journal database
website

Here is an example of a story in a local newspaper (with a location in brackets):

Dougherty, Jack. “Heffalumps Win State Championship.” Chuggington Post [Feuilleton City, CA], 9 Apr. 2016, F1.

In each case, italicize the container title and follow up with a comma. If the container lacks a title, provide a description in regular font.

Sometimes one container is found inside another container. In the following example, a print journal article has been accessed through a journal database:

Sanchez, Alfie. “A Freudian Analysis of Don Quixote’s Tilting at Windmills.” Journal of Windmill Architecture, vol. 33, no. 1, 1973, pp. 1-18. Journal Pod, www.journalpod.org/stable/5263.

Fortunately, every container follows the same format, so find whatever information you can and plug it in!

Of course, many works are not found inside another container. In that case, skip the container title but still provide other relevant information (as with this stand-alone book):

Foresight, Cassandra. Jobs and Jabs: The Economic Ramifications of Mass Vaccination Efforts. Side Effect Press, 2021.

Contributors

Contributors

In addition to the author of a work, other people may be recognized for their contribution. Use a description such as the following:

adapted by
directed by
edited by
illustrated by
introduction by
narrated by
performed by
screenplay by
translated by
uploaded by

Here are some examples of what this looks like in practice (a Youtube video and an introduction to a conference presentation):

Schadenfreude, Edgar.  “My Favorite Epic Fails.” Youtube, uploaded by Immature98, 19 Aug. 2008. www.youtube.com/watch?v=ran123dom4.

Flytrap, Venus. “The Science behind Trigger Warnings.” Mental Health and the Return to Nature. Peruvian Pavlovians Convention, introduced by Florence Wheelock, 3 July, 2009, Universidad Nacional Toribio Rodríguez de Mendoza de Amazonas, Chachapoyas.

Since an entry may have multiple containers, contributors can be listed for each one:

Lascaux, Yves. Caveman. Illustrated by Bertha Bush, lettering by Jean Old, no. 1, Old Time Comics, 2002. Neolithic Comics, edited by Frank Fly, vol. 1, Renaissance Reprints, 2011-15.

This way you can link the contributors to the specific project they worked on. Note too that if you start a container with the contributors, you must capitalize the first letter.

Introducing some contributions with by sounds awkward. Common examples are general editor and guest editor. Place these after the name:

Rudimentri, Dimitri. “Eastern Europeans and the Fear of Washing the Baby Away With the Bath Water.” Fear and Courage, special issue of Studies in the History of Emotions, Shirley McCormack, general editor, vol. 9, no. 3, 1988, pp. 55-69.

On the other hand, you can also be selective about which contributions you want to recognize. In particular, films have numerous contributors, and it wouldn’t do to list them all:

Saws. Directed by Bruce Amblin, screenplay by Sara Tomlinson, Nightmare Studios, 1975.

Version

Version

You can note what version or edition of the work you have used.

If this is the first information for the container, start with a capital:

Tolstoy, Leo. War and Peace. Edited by Ivan Hadinov, abridged version, Pocket Book Press, 2009.

Shackleton, Kitty. Fifty Great Hikes in and near Antarctica. 22nd ed., Edgeworth Press, 1999.

Note that the word edition is always abbreviated (ed.).

Here are some other descriptions:

special ed.
extended ed.
collector’s ed.
expanded ed.
updated ed.
e-book ed.
unabridged version
director’s cut
rev. ed.

Normally you would not write 1st edition or signed edition. However, there are exceptions, particularly if you are an antiquarian or book dealer…

Indicating which version you are using is important when citing the Bible:

The Bible. New Emphatic Diaglot Version, Wilson Press, 2015.

Common Bible translations include the New International Version, the New King James Version, and the English Standard Version.

Number

Number

Often a source is part of a longer series such as a set of volumes, the pages of a periodical, or the seasons of a television show.

Here are some descriptive words we can use for this information:

volume
issue
season and episode

Volume

A work may be published in multiple volumes. Typically you would cite just the single volume you have consulted.

If this is the first information you have for the container, start with a capital:

Devereux, Bob, editor. The Secret Correspondence of Elizabeth I. Vol. 5, Essex Press, 1991.

Fielding, Annabel, editor. Famous Defamation Suits from Britain and France. Revised ed., vol. 7, Subpoena Press, 2001.

If you want to indicate the complete number of volumes in the series, you can add this at the end of the entry:

Devereux, Bob, editor. The Secret Correspondence of Elizabeth I. Essex Press, 1991. 6 vols.

This information is optional, but may be especially useful if you have cited multiple volumes. If the individual title has its own title, you can provide the series title as supplemental information:

Wigeon, Brenda. The Antagonistic Evolution of Mallards. Northern Shoveler Press, 2006. Vol. 2 of The Evolution of Ducks.

Volume and Issue

Journals (or periodicals) are usually organized in volumes and issues.

In any given year, a journal might publish a number of issues. For instance, many academic journals publish on a quarterly basis—so four issues per year. All the issues in a year are called a volume.

Cite as much of this information as you can find:

Chuckle, Hillary. “Ventriloquizing the Belly Laugh: An Ethnographic Perspective.” ROFL, vol. 5, no. 1, Dec., 2005, pp. 1-14.

If the journal does not use volume numbering, provide only the number:

Groom, Edward. “Changing Attitudes to Wacky Hair Day.” Coiffure, no. 59, 2017, pp. 7-8.

Comic Books are often also numbered:

Splash, Paige. A Trail of Slime. Slugman, no. 8, Gutter Press, 2016.

Season and Episode

This is how you would cite a television show that is part of a longer series:

“The Shish Kebab Murder.” Inspector Grilling, directed by Emma Killjoy, performance by Quentin Gifford, season 2, episode 3, Feel Good Films, 2008.

Finally, if you come across some other descriptive term for the numbering, use that instead.

Publisher

Publisher

The publisher is the organization that prints, produces, funds, or distributes the work.

If multiple organizations have cooperated on a project, separate them with a slash (/):

Zen, Iris. “Black Jellybean.” The Happiness Project, Museum of Possibility / The Jellybean Centre, 28 Feb. 2012. Photo.

Most often, however, you should cite only the main publisher.

Books

For books, the publisher’s name is typically found on the title page or copyright page. Often books are published by a division of a parent company, in which case you need cite only the division.

You can leave out business lingo such as Inc. (incorporated) or Ltd. (limited):

Naylor, John. The Complete History of Baseboards. Thumbnail Press, 2015.

Flagstone, Ed. The Joys of Exam Writing. Honour Roll Press, 1992.

Note that you always capitalize the publisher.

In the case of books published prior to 1900, you may substitute the city of publication for the publisher:

Murdoch, William. Four Constabulary Cases Selected for the Edification of the General Public.  Toronto, 1897.

University Press

If a publisher’s name includes the words University Press, you may shorten it as follows:

Oxford UP

U of Toronto P

If the name of the academic press includes another word that is similar to university, then shorten just the word Press:

Saint Sebastian College P

Brain Trust Institute P

For all other publishers, spell out all the words (including Press).

Films and Television Series

For works produced by media companies and their subsidiaries, cite the organization that is primarily responsible for production and distribution:

Mortimer, Ravi, director. Dessert in the Desert. Performance by Sarah Sand, Dromedary Films, 2011.

If in doubt, cite multiple organizations involved.

No Publisher

If the author or editor of a work is also the publisher (e.g., in the case of a personal web site), don’t cite the name again. The same rule applies if a website title is similar to the publisher’s name.

In fact, for many of your sources you do not need to provide a publisher. This includes articles or essays published in a journal, magazine, or newspaper. It also includes organizations that distribute work (e.g., Youtube) but do not produce it.

Nevertheless, such organizations often do contribute their own content. A good example is Netflix, which creates many of its own shows.

Publication Date

Publication date

Most publication dates contains at least the year of publication.

For some sources, that is all you need. Books are a good example:

Tobago, Winnifred. The Towering Kauri. 2nd ed., Tane Mahuta Press, 2017.

If a book’s copyright page contains multiple dates, try pick the one that belongs to your edition. Usually that would be the most recent date.

For other sources, follow whatever dates they provide. This can be the date of composition or last revision, or you may use a label such as forthcoming.

The basic pattern for citing the publication date is either day-month-year or season-year. Here are some examples:

18 July 1993
winter 2003
Sept. 1963
1906-14

Notice that the last example is of a multi-year project: in such cases, cite both the first and last date. For abbreviations of months of the year, please see the MLA Abbreviations Page.

In some case you may have a choice of dates. For instance, for a television show, you may pick between the date when it first aired and the date of release on DVD.

The same thing goes for publications that appear both online and in print. Try to cite the date of the version you have used.

Please note that the date of publication is not the same as the date of access. The latter refers to when you looked at the material and is a supplemental element.

Missing Date

If the date is an estimate, you can add circa (around) or a description:

Scarface, Richard. Ye Olde Style Guide. Boston, circa 1709.

Inari, Irene. Voyage to Lapland. Helsinki, late eighteenth century.

If you are unsure, add a question mark:

2003?

These examples assume that your source or its description contains some information to go on. If, however, you are supplying your own information, use square brackets:

[2009]
[2009?]

And if you are really uncertain, just omit the date altogether.

Location

Location

A location can be one of a number of things, including the following:

A page range
A city
A disc number
A URL or DOI
A conference venue
An archive number or code

Since the location is the last element in the container, be sure to end it with a period.

Page Numbers

The page range shows the first and last page where the text may be found:

Maestro, Julia. “Beyond Beyonce’s Booty-full Body: How I Got My Teenager Listening to Classical Music.” Sharp and Natural, Dec. 2014, pp. 1-3.

If the text is found on only one page, use a single p. (for page). If the page number is not continuous, use a plus sign after the starting page (e.g., p. 1+).

In addition, when a source uses a different type of numbering, follow that. For example, newspaper sections are usually identified by letter (e.g., E5).

For self-contained works (like most books), you do not need to provide a page range.

URLs and DOIs

For online sources, you may want to provide a link.

If your works cited page is in print form, make sure that the link is not a clickable hyperlink. If the link is underlined, right click it and select “Remove Hyperlink.”

When you copy the URL, you may omit the http:// or https:// (unless you want to create a hyperlink):

Schadenfreude, Edgar. “My Favorite Epic Fails.” Youtube, uploaded by Immature98, 19 Aug. 2008. www.youtube.com/watch?v=ran123dom4.

When the URL is a really long string, shorten it (look for a slash close to the beginning and delete after that). Super long URLs look ugly in your Works Cited.

Since URLs are likely to change, databases often provide a stable or persistent URL. If you find such a permalink, use it instead.

However, even better than a permalink is a DOI, or digital object identifier. Here you do want to provide the proper https:// beginning:

Zinzendorf, Obadiah. “George Herbert’s Visual Poetry: Hidden Easter Eggs in ‘The Easter Bunny.’” The Shapely Poem, vol. 88, no. 5, 2000, pp. 90-105. Journal Pod, https://doi.org/10.1234/tsp.2000.4321.

If you have a choice, use a DOI instead of a URL. In fact, the MLA Handbook notes that long URLs tend to clutter up the page and that they are not always necessary. So check with your instructor!

City or Place

Another common location is the city or place where the work is found or was performed. For example, the following presentation was given at a university in Chachapoyas (Peru):

Flytrap, Venus. “The Science behind Trigger Warnings.” Mental Health and the Return to Nature. Peruvian Pavlovians Convention, introduced by Florence Wheelock, 3 July, 2009, Universidad Nacional Toribio Rodríguez de Mendoza de Amazonas, Chachapoyas.

Locations can be museums, art galleries, archives, conference venues, and so forth. If the city name is already part of the place name (e.g., The Hong Kong Stock Exchange) then you can omit it.

Other locations include disc numbers (e.g., disc 2) and archive numbers (e.g., Library of Alexandria, papyrus roll 19022).


For more information on Containers, see chapter 5 of the MLA Handbook (9th ed.).

Supplemental Elements

Introduction

The MLA Handbook (9th ed.) differentiates between core and supplemental elements. Core elements are generally included in a citation, as long as you can find the relevant information. Supplemental elements are sometimes important and sometimes optional. They are placed either after the title of the source or at the end of the entry.

Information After The Title

Contributor

Place an important contributor to the main work after the title, and before the container:

Berlusconi, Lucia. “An Italian Girl in Provence.” Translated by Robert Mayle. The Best Travel Fiction of 2021, edited by Edmund Grumperlinck, Gourmand Publishing, 2021, pp. 99-105.

In this case, the contributer (Robert Mayle) translated this particular story, but did not necessarily contribute to the rest of the book.

Original Publication Date

In some cases you may want to provide the original publication date. This information also comes right after the title and before the first container:

Lively, William. The Spanish Comedy. 1598. Edited by Karen Sondheim, Oxbridge UP, 2014.

Information After The Entry

Publication History

If you want to show where something has previously been published, use a tag (e.g., “Originally published in”):

Chuckle, Hillary. “Ventriloquizing the Belly Laugh: An Ethnographic Perspective.” Recent Essays in Ethnography, edited by Boris London, Naked Truth Press, 2008, pp. 58-72. Originally published in ROFL, 2005.

You can shorten the publication information for the original source.

Date of Access

For electronic sources, you may provide a date of access. This date indicates when you consulted the electronic source for your research:

Beard, Stuart. “The Final Run.” Sofa Surfers, 8 Feb. 2017, www.sofasurfers.com/stories/the-final-run/. Accessed 20 Feb. 2017.

The date of access is useful because websites change constantly. However, it is not mandatory.

Volumes

For multivolume works, you normally cite only the volume you used. On the other hand, if you want to indicate the complete number of volumes in the series, you can add this at the end of the entry:

Devereux, Bob, editor. The Secret Correspondence of Elizabeth I. Essex Press, 1991. 6 vols.

Series Name

When a book is part of a series, you may include the series title and/or the number of the book:

Etui, Alice. The History of the Pencil Case. Oxbridge UP, 2016. Culture, Style, and Education 3.

Unusual Source

To provide clarity, you may sometimes want to give a brief description at the end:

Flytrap, Venus. “The Science behind Trigger Warnings.” Mental Health and the Return to Nature. Peruvian Pavlovians Convention, introduced by Florence Wheelock, 3 July, 2009, Universidad Nacional Toribio Rodríguez de Mendoza de Amazonas, Chachapoyas, 2017. Presentation.

Normally, the medium of publication is not needed.

US Congress Info

If you cite a government document, you can provide additional information:

United States, Congress, House, Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. Curtailing Presidential Tweets. Government Printing Office, 2017. 115th Congress, 2nd session, House Report 592.


For more information on supplemental elements, see chapter 5 of the MLA Handbook (9th ed.).

Books

Introduction

Here is the basic format for citing books in your Works Cited:

Basic Book Format

In other words, there are only four elements that are essential. Beyond these four, you can add other information where relevant. For example, you can add a translator or editor, an edition, an original publication date, and so forth.

Here is how the same information is organized in our container chart:

Container for Books Image

Note that the final comma becomes a period in our actual citation.

Now that we know the basic format, let’s move on to some variations.

Variants

Multiple Authors

For two authors, keep the same order as they are listed in the source. Invert the first only:

Smith, John, and Bob Jones. Living with Mediocrity: The Challenges of Being Average. Quixotica Press, 2016.

For three or more authors, use the Latin abbreviation et al. (meaning and others):

Fudge, Phoebe, et al. The Theology of Chocolate. Epicurean Publications, 2013.

No Author

If there is no author for a work, simply start with the title.

Editor

If the book has an editor instead of an author, cite it as follows:

Yawn, Esther, editor. The Causes of Boredom: A Collection of Essays. Etcetera Press, 2017.

Author and Editor

If a book has an author and editor, cite it as follows:

McDermott, Louisa. The Reproductive Cycle of Meerkats. Edited by Henry Hammer, Reproduction Press, 2015.

Other Contributors

For more information on how to cite other contributors (e.g., translators), please see the page on citing authors.

Collection or Anthology

First cite the individual essay, chapter, poem, or other contribution. Then add the collection title as the container:

Noseworthy, Edward. “Indie Music and American Identity.” Contemporary Indie Music, edited by Alex Sharp, McCord Press, 2017, pp. 87-103.

Puidgemont, Juan. “Revolutionary Catalonian Soccer Commentators.” Collected Essays from the 20th Conference of Catalonian Soccer Historians, edited by Hendrik Cruyff, Ole Press, 2015, pp. 33-44.

Witty, Lisa. “A Poem for Lazy Perfectionists.” Anthology of Wisconsin Comic Poetry, Frank Uptight, general editor, 2nd ed., vol. 3, Risible Press, 2019, pp. 9-10.

If the selection is of significant length or weight (e.g., a play in a drama anthology), you can italicize the title.

Introduction or Afterword

Here is how you cite an introduction, preface, foreword, afterword, or any other similarly titled section:

Jackson, Deirdre. Introduction. The Priapic Value of Prefaces, by Jacques Derriere. Phallocentric Press, 1973, pp. vi-xxvi.

Pick whatever descriptive term is appropriate. If there is a unique title, then cite that instead:

Cement, Louis. “Biscuits and Graves: Watson’s Southern Aesthetic.” The Collected Poems of Earl T. Watson. Northwesterly UP, 2010, pp. vii-li.

If the text includes both a title and a label, cite both, but treat the label as supplemental information:

Piemaker, Cindy. “Egging On.” Preface. A Memoir of Baking Pies for Politicians, by Liberty Jones, Protest Press, 2021, pp. vi-viii.

If the author of the introduction or afterword is the same as the author of the work, then omit the first name later in the entry:

Whopper, Ernest. Epilogue. The True History of Lying, by Whopper, Truthiness Press, 2015.

Graphic Novels

Comic books—or graphic novels, as hipsters call them—are often part of a series. This makes them a bit like articles in a journal. Cite the title of the comic first and then add the series title and the issue number:

Splash, Paige. A Trail of Slime. Slugman, no. 8, Gutter Press, 2016.

If the issue and the series share the same title, then you need only cite it once:

Lascaux, Yves. Caveman. No. 1, Old Time Comics, 2002.

Should the comic book become part of a collection, you would add another container:

Splash, Paige. A Trail of Slime. 2016. The Complete Slugman, edited by Michael Omnibus, vol. 4, Gutter Press, 2017.

There are of course many other elements you could include. In particular, you might add other contributors (artists, letterers) as well as the original publication details (if the publisher of the collection has changed). Here is one example:

Lascaux, Yves. Caveman. Illustrated by Bertha Bush, lettering by Jean Old, no. 1, Old Time Comics, 2002. Neolithic Comics, edited by Frank Fly, vol. 1, Renaissance Reprints, 2011-15.

Reference Work

You can cite a reference work as a whole, or you can cite an individual entry. In the latter case, use quotation marks for the title of the selection you have used:

Ham, Sam. “Wildlife.” The Encyclopedia of Veganism. 2nd ed., Vinaigrette Publications, 2011, pp. 21-22.

An Edition

Information about what edition you have used can be included in the container:

Shackleton, Kitty. Fifty Great Hikes in or near Antarctica. 22nd ed., Edgeworth Press, 1999.

Tolstoy, Leo. War and Peace. Edited by Ivan Hadinov, abridged version, Pocket Book Press, 2009.

For more information, about editions, see the page on containers.

Multivolume Work

A work may be published in multiple volumes. Typically you would cite just the single volume you have consulted.

If this is the first information you have for the container, start with a capital:

Devereux, Bob, editor. The Secret Correspondence of Elizabeth I. Vol. 5, Essex Press, 1991.

Fielding, Annabel, editor. Famous Defamation Suits from Britain and France. Revised ed., vol. 7, Subpoena Press, 2001.

For more information about citing volumes, see the page on containers.

Original Publication Date

In some cases you may want to provide the original publication date. This supplemental information comes right after the title and before the first container:

Lively, William. The Spanish Comedy. 1598. Edited by Karen Sondheim, Oxbridge UP, 2014.

City of Publication

For books published prior to 1900, you are allowed to provide the city of publication rather than the publisher:

Murdoch, William. Four Constabulary Cases Selected for the Edification of the General Public. Toronto, 1897.

This is especially useful when you cannot find the publisher’s name.

Bible

There is no need to cite an author for the Bible. Be sure to cite the version you have used:

The Bible. New Emphatic Diaglot Version, Wilson Press, 2015.

If you accessed the Bible online, you can indicate that:

The Bible. New Emphatic Diaglot Version, Wilson Press, 2015. Bible Gateway, www.biblegateway.com Accessed 17 Feb. 2021.

Common Bible translations include the New International Version, the New King James Version, and the English Standard Version.

Dissertation

A dissertation is cited just like a regular book, except that it typically lacks a publisher. You can add the university and a brief description as supplemental information at the end:

Alford, M. L. Citation Guidelines and Rates of Depression at Welsh Universities. 2013. Post Hoc Institute, PhD dissertation.

If the institution includes the word university, shorten it to U.


For more information about citing books, see the MLA Handbook (9th ed.), especially the examples at the back.

Articles

Introduction

The basic format for citing articles is as follows:

Article Overview Purple-01

Notice that the periodical title is italicized. Be careful also to follow the rules for punctuation (commas and periods).

Variants

Scholarly article

Our example in the introduction is of a scholarly article, so there’s little new here:

Chuckle, Hillary. “Ventriloquizing the Belly Laugh: An Ethnographic Perspective.” ROFL, vol. 5, no. 1, Dec. 2005, pp. 1-14.

Notice though that in addition to the year of publication, you can provide the month (or season).

Scholarly article from a Database

If you accessed the article through a database, you can provide some extra information. Where possible, add the DOI number and the database title.

Zinzendorf, Obadiah. “George Herbert’s Visual Poetry: Hidden Easter Eggs in ‘The Easter Bunny.’” The Shapely Poem, vol. 88, no. 5, 2000, pp. 90-105. Journal Pod, https://doi:10.1234/tsp.2000.4321.

A DOI is a digital object identifier, a code that identifies the article even if the URL changes.

If there is no DOI, you might provide a URL that will remain stable over time. Databases typically provide a persistent URL in the citation information that accompanies the article.

Here is an example with a URL:

Sanchez, Alfie. “A Freudian Analysis of Don Quixote’s Tilting at Windmills.” Journal of Windmill Architecture, vol. 33, no. 1, 1973, pp. 1-18. Journal Pod, www.journalpod.org/stable/5263.

If you cannot find a persistent URL, you could copy the link from your browser. You may omit the http:// or https://.

Finally, since URLs can clutter up the Works Cited, you can shorten them or leave them out. Check with your instructor for their preference.

Special issue

Occasionally, an article appears in a special issue of a periodical:

Rudimentri, Dimitri. “Eastern Europeans and The Fear of Washing the Baby Away With the Bath Water.” Fear and Courage, special issue of Studies in the History of Emotions, edited by Vladimir Moldau, vol. 9, no. 3, 1988, pp. 55-69.

You can instead cite the special issue as a whole:

Moldau, Vladimir, editor. Fear and Courage. Special issue of Studies in the History of Emotions, vol. 9, no. 3, 1988, pp. 1-179.

This is especially useful if you’re citing multiple articles from the same issue.

Article in a Book

Cite the article first and add the book title as the container:

Noseworthy, Edward. “Indie Music and American Identity.” Contemporary Indie Music, edited by Alex Sharp, McCord Press, 2017, pp. 87-103.

Magazine article

Cite just like a regular article, but pay attention to the date. Add the day/month or season as appropriate:

Maestro, Julia. “Beyond Beyonce’s Booty-full Body: How I Got My Teenager Listening to Classical Music.” Sharp and Natural, 17 Dec. 2014, pp. 1-3.

Newspaper article

If the newspaper is not well-known, add the city in square brackets:

Dougherty, Jack. “Heffalumps Win State Championship.” Chuggington Post [Feuilleton, CA], 9 Apr. 2016, F1.

Notice that the page numbers are often numbered differently.

Review

A review often appears in a periodical, magazine, or newspaper, and is cited accordingly:

Moss, Stephanie. “Papa Still Has a Life.” Review of The Brotherhood of the Stay-at-Home Dads, by Harold Humber. Filch’s Review of Books, 8 Aug. 2017, www.filchesrob.com/book-reviews/brotherhood-dads.

Oglethorpe, Arnold. Review of The Merchant of Mars, directed by Honoria Glossop. Contemporary Shakespeares, vol. 1, no. 2, 2014, pp. 9-10.

Here is what to watch out for:

  • Start with the author of the review.
  • If the review has a title, you do not have to include the phrase “Review of [the title],” though we would recommend you still do.
  • Use italics for titles of longer works (films, plays, books), and quotation marks for shorter works (poems, articles).
  • Note that the creator of the item under review doesn’t have to be an author, but may be an editor, translator, director, and so forth. Just add the relevant phrase after the title (e.g., edited by).

Editorial or Letter to the Editor

If a work lacks a title, you may insert a short descriptive phrase. This applies to editorials and letters to the editor, which may occasionally be missing a title:

Johnson, Breanna. Letter. Chuggington Post [Feuilleton, CA], 11 Apr. 2017, E9.

Gimmick, Flip. Editorial. Chuggington Post [Feuilleton, CA], 11 Apr. 2017, E9.

On the other hand, if the letter or editorial has a title, use that instead:

Johnson, Breanna. “No More Dog Poop on My Lawn!” Chuggington Post [Feuilleton, CA], 11 Apr. 2017, E9.

Finally, for unusual sources you are allowed to add a descriptive phrase at the end of your citation:

Gimmick, Flip. “The Current Housing Crisis.” Chuggington Post [Feuilleton, CA], 11 Apr. 2017, E9. Editorial.

This is of course not necessary if you have already replaced the title with such a description.

Note on Page Numbers

If the article continues elsewhere in a periodical, then cite only the page it starts on and add a plus sign (+):

Lovejoy, Percy. “Save the Planet or Have Another Child? The Ethics of Procreation.” The Avuncular Philosopher, vol. 99, no. 4, 2016, pp. 9+.


For more information, see the MLA Handbook (9th ed.), especially the sample citations at the back.

Electronic Sources

Introduction

Don’t think of electronic sources as radically different from other sources. The same Works Cited sections still apply. For instance, instead of the location being a set of page numbers, it is now usually a URL or DOI.

The main thing is to know what information you might collect from a webpage or website. Don’t be afraid to poke around to find what you are looking for:

Website Example

In this example, it is easy to find the URL, the title, and the date, but we have to do more digging to discover the author’s name and the website title.

Date of Access

Before we get to specific kinds of entries, it is good to note that one element is optional. That’s the date of access. This date is when you last consulted the electronic source for your research:

Beard, Stuart. “The Final Run.” Sofa Surfers, 8 Feb. 2017, www.sofasurfers.com/stories/the-final-run/. Accessed 20 Feb. 2017.

The date of access is useful because websites change constantly. However, this element is not mandatory.

Specific Sources

Entire Website

Cite as much information as you can gather about a website. Start with the creator’s name and the website title, and then add information for the container(s):

Kumar, Hardeep. Kabaddi Highlights. Singh Sports Company, 2014-16, www.kabaddihighlights.com. Accessed 18 Jan. 2017.

The publisher of a website may be a company that runs the site or it may be a single person. If the publisher and the creator are the same, don’t list the publisher again.

If you add the hyperlink, take off the https:// and don’t underline it. If MS Word changes it to a hyperlink, right click on it and select “remove hyperlink.”

If the website was developed over a period of time, then cite the first and last date:

Slackers Anonymous. 1999-2000, www.slackersanonymous.com.

Page of a Website

Citing a page of a website is similar to citing a shorter work such as a poem or essay. Start with the author and title of the page and then provide information for the larger website:

Tannenbaum, O. “The Christmas Sweater from Helsinki.” World’s Ugliest Christmas Sweaters, 14 June 2009, www.ugliestchristmassweaters.uk/christmas-sweater-from-helsinki/.

E-book

When you cite an e-book, indicate this in the container as a “version”:

Chewbacca, Phil. The Language of Spitting. E-book ed., Spittoon Press, 2012.

If the book is published on a website, you can add a URL or DOI:

Schadenfreude, Kirsten. Teachers’ Jokes from around the World. Humorist Press, 2012, www.humoristsinternational.com/jokes/teachers/

Video on a Website

When you cite online videos, there are a few things to watch out for. Often a video has both an original creator/artist and an uploader. If you think it is important to cite the latter, then do so as part of the contributors section of the container:

RAP$HEET. “‘Race Matters’ by Rapper Rap$sheet.” Youtube, uploaded by Itsmymoney, 22 Feb. 2017. www.youtube.com/watch?v=DoUh8Rap?.

If you do not know the original creator, skip the author section:

 “My Least Favorite Epic Fails.” Youtube, uploaded by Immature99, 19 Aug. 2008. www.youtube.com/watch?v=ran123dom4. Accessed 9 Sept. 2015.

Comment on a Web Page

Here is one way to cite a comment on a post:

Merkel, Angelica. Comment on “Why the Greek Monopoly Board No Longer Has Free Parking.” Board Game Greek, 18 Dec. 2010, 2:21 a.m., www.boardgamegreek.com/2010/12/18/why-the-greek-monopoly-board-no-longer-has-free-parking/.

Remember that your own description of the title (Comment on) should not have quotation marks around it. Adding the exact time of day may help others find it more easily.

Email

When you cite an email or text-message, use a simple description:

Lacy, Sandra. Text message to Manina Sprocket. 8 Nov. 2015.

Lacy, Sandra. E-mail to the author. 8 Nov. 2015.

Lacy, Sandra. E-mail to Academic Integrity Committee.


For more information about citing electronic sources, see the MLA Handbook (9th ed.), especially the examples at the back.

Other Sources

Introduction

The MLA Handbook does not provide examples for every last kind of citation. The idea is that you should be able to tailor the basic structure of a citation (author-title-container) to any new format you might come across. That is why the examples on this page should be treated as suggestions. There is no need to follow them slavishly.

Films

When citing a film, you can start with the title or with one of the contributors:

Amblin, Bruce, director. Saws. Nightmare Studios, 1975.

Saws. Directed by Bruce Amblin, Nightmare Studios, 1975.

You can also provide a lot more information about other contributions, should you so choose:

Saws. Directed by Bruce Amblin, screenplay by Sara Tomlinson, performances by Michael King and Major Bill Fright, Nightmare Studios, 1975.

TV Show

Here are just a few ways to cite a TV show or series.

Specific Episode on TV

“The Shish Kebab Murder.” Inspector Grilling, directed by Emma Killjoy, performance by Quentin Gifford, season 2, episode 3, Feel Good Television, 2 May 2008.

Series

Filling, Jeremy, and Nicholas Splat, creators. Inspector Grilling. Feel Good Television, 2007-10.

Episode on DVD

“The Shish Kebab Murder.” Inspector Grilling: Season 2, directed by Emma Killjoy, screenplay by Esther Lovegood, episode 3, Feel Good Television, 2008, disc 1. DVD.

Streamed Episode

“The Shish Kebab Murder.” Inspector Grilling, directed by Emma Killjoy, performance by Quentin Gifford, season 2, episode 3, Feel Good Television, 2008. Netflix, www.netflix.com/.

“The Shish Kebab Murder.” Inspector Grilling, directed by Emma Killjoy, performance by Quentin Gifford, season 2, episode 3, Feel Good Television, 2008. Netflix app.

The first example is for a show streamed on a website and the second through an app.

Audio Recording

If you are citing a CD, LP, or even a cassette, you have a number of options.

Most often you would start with the name of the performing artist, but you can also cite by composer (e.g., Beethoven). It depends who is more central to your project.

You can also add a lot of extra information in the container portion of the citation (other contributors, a streaming service, etc.). The examples below provide a few possible ways of citing an audio recording.

Specific Song

Country, Courtney. “Kissing My Cussin’ Cousin.” Southern Comfort, Broken Bottle Records, 2009. Spotify app. 

Eis, Dietrich. “Melting Glacier.” Waltzing on Ice, performed by the Swedish Ice Hockey Waltzing Band, directed by Ike Kea, Capital Records, 2017, www.capitalrecords.com/waltzing-on-ice/o2349AGh98h32bob.

Entire Album

River, Don. Obsidian Heart. Dark Wood Studios, 2012.

Musical Score

When citing a musical score, it is up to you if you would like to add a descriptive label (e.g., score). For older scores, you may want to add the original date of publication:

Bach, I. B. The Complete Piano Sonatas. 1723. Fortissimo Publishing, 2001. Score.

Podcast

Here is a sample podcast from a station called Not Politically Correct:

“When Libertarians Play Team Sports.” Planet Funny, NPC, 7 Nov. 2006, www.npc.org/podcasts/519889/planet-funny.

If you want to cite the entire podcast series, then start with the series title (Planet Funny).

You can add author or contributor roles as you like:

Cramp, Jenny. “When Libertarians Play Team Sports.” Planet Funny, produced by John Stone, NPC, 7 Nov. 2006, www.npc.org/podcasts/519889/planet-funny.

In some cases you may want to cite a portion of a podcast episode, say a literary reading:

Donne, John. “The Flea.” Narrated by Bobby Turncoat. The Metaphysical Poetry Show, hosted by Gene Splicer, 8 June 2020, iTunes app.

Performance

Here is how you might cite the performance of a play:

Paternak, John. The Embarrassed Teenager. Directed by James T. Butterfield, performed by Antonia Piazza and Jake Storm, 18 Jan. 2017, Holy Rood Theatre, Los Angeles.

In this example, Paternak is the writer of the play.

Use the same format for other performances (e.g., concerts).

Presentation

Here’s how you might cite a lecture or a reading:

Flytrap, Venus. “The Science behind Trigger Warnings.” Mental Health and the Return to Nature: Peruvian Pavlovians Convention, introduced by Florence Wheelock, 3 July, 2009, Universidad Nacional Toribio Rodríguez de Mendoza de Amazonas, Chachapoyas, 2017. Presentation.

The location for this entry includes both the venue (here a university) and the city. A lot of the material in this entry is optional, especially the final description.

Interview

Cite interviews by first providing the name of the person interviewed (the interviewee). Interviews may be published or unpublished. When an interview lacks a title, you can give it a description of your own. Here are some examples:

Unpublished Interview

Conway, Gerald. Interview. Conducted by Abby Thorn, 7 Apr. 2016.

Published Interview

Dangerfield, Godfrey. “Living in the Shadow of Greatness.” Interview by Diana Gray. Magazine of Obscure Folk Heroes, Aug. 2001, pp. 9-11.

This entry is published in a magazine, but the container can be a website, a book, etc.

Dictionary Entry

“Sesquipedalian, Adj. (2).” Merriam-Webster, 2021, www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sequipedalian.

In this example we have consulted an online definition and have used the 2nd definition.


For more information, see the MLA Handbook (9th ed.), especially the examples at the back.