MLA Works Cited

MLA Works Cited refers to the rules for compiling a list of references at the end of a text that cites sources according to the MLA Handbook, 9th Edition. Learn how teachers and editors evaluate an MLA works cited page.

Jimmy Wales and two others hold aloft a Citation Needed sign

What is MLA Works Cited?

MLA Works Cited refers to the MLA’s (Modern Language Association’s) guidelines for formatting a list of references at the end of a text that cites sources.

The MLA Handbook, 9th Edition requires authors to provide a list of references — aka a works cited page — at the end of their texts

  1. to acknowledge the people and ideas that have informed their thinking and writing
  2. to provide citations for summarized, quoted, and paraphrased sources.

MLA Works Cited vs. MLA In Text Citation

The bibliographical information (e.g., who is the author? publisher? and so on) that MLA requires for a Works Cited Page differs from the bibliographic information it requires for an MLA citation in the body of a text.

Works Cited Page
See the article below to learn about MLA’s guidelines for formatting a works cited page

In Text Citation
See MLA Citation to explore creative ways to introduce and vet sources inside the body of your paper


Scholars use a variety of terms to refer to a works cited page, including references, sources, endnotes, citations.

Related Concepts: Annotated Bibliography; Copyright & Writing; Intellectual PropertyPage Design; Plagiarism; Rhetorical Analysis; Textual Research Methods

MLA Works Cited

Writers provide a works cited page so that their readers can

  1. learn more about the topic
  2. evaluate the currency, relevance, authority, accuracy, purpose of sources they’ve used in a text
  3. distinguish the author’s ideas and language from the ideas of others
  4. better understand the flow of a scholarly conversation for a particular topic over time (aka historiography)

In academic writing, teachers are likely to scrutinize the works cited page to see

  1. whether students have cited all of the sources they referenced in the body of the text
  2. whether or not the sources reflect the best available information on the topic, including the gated web
  3. whether the sources you have selected are appropriate given the rhetorical situation
  4. whether or not students have introduced new information, new sources, in ways that help readers with flow

In both academic and workplace writing, people

  1. cite sources to acknowledge the author’s copyright, intellectual property, ideas
  2. cite sources to add additional evidence, backing or qualifications for claims.

MLA Works Cited Page

Required Bibliographical Information

Entries on your works cited list will include the following elements.

  • Please note that every element listed below won’t necessarily apply to your source. For example, some sources won’t have an author identified, and periodicals don’t require publisher information. If the element listed doesn’t apply to your source, skip it and move on to the next element.
  1. Author:
    • list author’s name, last name first, followed by a period.
  2. Title of source:
    • Capitalize the first word and any major words in the title; enclose titles of articles in quotation marks and titles of larger works such as books, journals, or newspapers in italics.
  3. Title of container:
    • If the source you are citing is contained or included in a larger work, such as a journal or edited collection, provide the name of the container here, followed by a comma.
  4. Other contributors:
    • List the names of other contributors, such as translators or editors, if appropriate, followed by a comma.
  5. Version:
    • For example, the 9th edition of the MLA Handbook is the version we are following here. For journals or magazines, you may instead have a volume number. Follow this with a comma.
  6. Number:
    • Issue numbers are preceded by the abbreviation “no.” and followed by a comma.
  7. Publisher:
    • You can usually find the publisher of a book on the title or copyright page. You do not need to include a publisher’s name for periodicals. Follow the publisher’s name with a comma.
  8. Publication date:
    • Provide the year of publication for books; for periodical publications, give the month and year, or day-month-year, if applicable. Follow the publication date with a comma if you have location information.
  9. Location:
    • For most publications, the location indicates the page number or numbers of the article and is preceded by the abbreviation “p.” for a single page or “pp.” for two or more pages. For online publications, the location is commonly designated by the URL or Web address, or the DOI (Digital Object Identifier), if available. Conclude the entry with a period.
  10. Repeat 3-9 as necessary:
    • For an article in a journal accessed through an online database, list the title of the database as the container and whatever other information is available

Skip any information that is not available or applicable. For example, a book in print will not have a container, and a journal will usually not require information about a publisher.

Do include other pertinent information, such as the name of a translator, for instance, if available, in the order in which it is listed above. 

MLA Format Citation

How to Cite Work in MLA Format

Below are the common templates for citing sources.

Source Type
Citation FormatExample
Single-Authored Book Author. Title of source. Publisher, Publication dateAgnew, Eleanor. Back from the Land: How Young Americans Went to Nature in the 1970s, and Why They Came Back. Ivan R. Dee, 2004. 
Book with Multiple Authors Last Name, First Name and First Name Last Name. Title of source. Publisher, Publication date. 
Sabherhagen, Fred, and James V. Hart. Bram Stoker’s Dracula: A Francis Ford Coppola Film. Signet, 1992.
Multiple Sources by the Same Author  Replace the author’s first and last name with three hyphens —  —“Pronoun Showdown: Gender Neutrality and Neutral Pronouns in Language.” 11  April 2016. University of Illinois/Facebook. Pronoun_showdown_2016.pdf  
Article or Chapter in an Edited Collection Author. “Title of Source.” Title of container, Other contributors, Version, Publisher, Publication date, Location.**Include information about contribution (for example, “edited by”). 
Schwartz, Nathan. “Information Literacy Instruction and Citation Generators: The Provision of Citation and Plagiarism Instruction.” Teaching Information Literacy and Writing Studies, edited by Grace Veach, vol. 2, Purdue UP, 2019, pp. 241-54. 
Article in a Print Journal 
Author. “Title of source.” Title of container, Version, Number, Publication date, location. 
Rogers, Pat. “Crusoe’s Home.” Essays in Criticism, vol. 24, no. 4, Oct. 1974, pp. 375-90. 
Journal Article Accessed Using an Electronic Database Author. “Title of source.” Title of container, Version, Number, Publication date, location. Title of container, location. 
Jordan, Joseph P. “The Man with Two Faces: Stuttering Characters and Surprise.” Journal of Popular Culture, vol. 50, no. 4, Aug. 2017, pp. 855-70. Academic Search Complete, doi: 10.1111/jpcu.12576.
Article Accessed from an Online Journal Author. “Title of source.” Title of container, Version, Number, Publication date, location. Jamieson, Sandra, and Rebecca Moore Howard. “Rethinking the Relationship between Plagiarism and Academic Integrity.” International Journal of Technologies in Higher Education, vol. 16, no. 2, 2019, 
Article from a Webpage Author. “Title of source.” Title of container, Publication date, location.Web sites may list an organizational or corporate author. If no author is listed, begin with the source title. 
The Wizarding World Team. “New Harry Potter Mobile Puzzle Game in Development.” Wizarding World, 9 Dec. 2019, 
Entire Web Site Title of source. Publication date, location. Wizarding World. 2019,
MLA Works Cited Examples

Works Cited Rubric

The criteria for evaluating a works cited page may vary across academic and professional disciplines.

The rubric below distinguishes failing works cited pages from passing works cited pages. In this framework, a professional works cited list shows a sensitivity to the ongoing scholarly conversations on a topic. The author’s use of quotations, paraphrases, and summaries suggests the author is aware of the thought leaders and scholarly conversations on particular topics.

Fragmented, Writer-Based Citations
Grade: F to C-
Developing Awareness of Citation Practices
Grade: C to B+
Professional, Reader-Based Citations
Grade: A
The sources are inappropriate given the rhetorical situation

The sources do not reflect awareness of information literacy perspectives and practices. There are problems with the currency, relevance, authority, accuracy, and purpose of attributed sources
The sources are mostly appropriate given the rhetorical situation

The selection of sources suggests the authors are sensitive to information literacy practices and perspectives.

Most of the time the selected sources are appropriate given available information, media, and genre

The sources reflect an appropriate type of information: anecdotal information;
textual research; empirical research
The sources are
authoritative. They represent the most important works on a topic, the canon.

The sources are timely.

Bibliographic Information
Most of the citations are missing required bibliographic information:

Title of container
Other contributors
Version (edition)
Number (vol. and/or no.)
Publication Date
Location (pages, paragraphs URL or DOI)
2nd container’s title
Other contributors
Publication date
Date of Access.*

Most sources cited in the text are listed on the works cited.

Most sources listed on the works cited are cited in the text

Most entries include all of the relevant citation information*
All in text citations are properly attributed in the works cited

Each entry includes all of the relevant citation information*
Rubric Criteria for Evaluating Works Cited Pages

Read More: