MLA Works Cited | 2021 Guidelines & Free Template

In MLA style, the list of Works Cited (also known as a reference list or bibliography) appears at the end of your paper. It gives full details of every source that you cited in the text.

Like the rest of an MLA format paper, the Works Cited should be left-aligned and double-spaced with 1-inch margins.

You can use the free Scribbr Citation Generator to create and manage your Works Cited list. Choose your source type and enter the URL, DOI or title to get started.

Formatting the Works Cited page

The Works Cited appears at the end of your paper. The layout is similar to the rest of an MLA format paper:

  • Title the page Works Cited, centered and in plain text (no italics, bold, or underline).
  • Alphabetize the entries by the author’s last name.
  • Use left alignment and double line spacing (no extra space between entries).
  • Use a hanging indent on entries that run over onto additional lines.
  • Include a header with your last name and the page number in the top right corner.

Format of an MLA Works Cited page

Creating a hanging indent

If an entry is more than one line long, each line after the first must be indented 0.5 inches. This is called a hanging indent, and it helps the reader see where one entry ends and the next begins.

In Microsoft Word, you can create a hanging indent on all entries at once.

  1. Highlight the whole list and right click to open the Paragraph options.
  2. Under Indentation > Special, choose Hanging from the drop-down menu.
  3. Set the indent to 0.5 inches or 1.27cm.

If you’re using Google Docs, the steps are slightly different.

  1. Highlight the whole list and click on Format > Align and indent > Indentation options.
  2. Under Special indent, choose Hanging from the dropdown menu.
  3. Set the indent to 0.5 inches or 1.27cm.

You can also use our free template to create your Works Cited page in Microsoft Word or Google Docs.

Download Word template Copy Google Docs template

Examples of Works Cited entries

MLA provides nine core elements that you can use to build a reference for any source. Mouse over the example below to see how they work.

The Core Elements of a Works Cited entry

Author. “Title of the Source.” Title of the Container, Other contributors, Version, Number, Publisher, Publication date, Location.

You only include the elements that are relevant to the type of source you’re citing.

Use the interactive tool to see different versions of an MLA Works Cited entry.

Examples for common source types


The main elements of a book citation are the author, title (italicized), publisher, and year.

  • Morrison, Toni. The Bluest Eye. Vintage International, 2007.

If there are other contributors (such as editors or translators), or if you consulted a particular volume or edition of a book, these elements should also be included in the citation.

Book chapter

If a book is a collection of chapters by different authors, you should cite the author and title of the specific work. The container gives details of the book, and the location is the page range on which the chapter appears.

  • Andrews, Kehinde. “The Challenge for Black Studies in the Neoliberal University.” Decolonising the University, edited by Gurminder K. Bhambra et al., Pluto Press, 2018, pp. 149–144.

This format also applies to works collected in anthologies (such as poems, plays, or stories).

Journal article

Journals usually have volume and issue numbers, but no publisher is required. If you accessed the article through a database, this is included as a second container. The DOI provides a stable link to the article.

  • Salenius, Sirpa. “Marginalized Identities and Spaces: James Baldwin’s Harlem, New York.” Journal of Black Studies, vol. 48, no. 8, Jul. 2016, pp. 883–902. Sage Journals,

If there is no DOI, look for a stable URL or permalink instead. Omit the “https://” prefix if using a URL or permalink, but always include it with a DOI.


For websites (including online newspapers and magazines), you usually don’t have to include a publisher. The URL is included, with the “https://” prefix removed. If a web page has no publication date, add an access date instead.

  • Coates, Ta-Nehisi. “The Case for Reparations.” The Atlantic, Jun. 2014,

If a web page has no publication date, add an access date instead.

More MLA citation examples

We also have examples for a wide range of other source types.

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Authors and titles in the Works Cited list

There are a few important formatting rules when writing author names and titles in your Works Cited entries.

Author names

Author names are inverted in the Works Cited list. However, when a second author is listed, their name is not inverted. When a source has three or more authors, only the first author is listed, followed by “et al.” (Latin for “and others”). A corporate author may sometimes be listed instead of an individual.

  • Smith, John.
  • Smith, John, and David Jones.
  • Smith, John, et al.
  • Scribbr.

When no author is listed for a source, the Works Cited entry instead begins with the source title. The in-text citation should always match the first element of the Works Cited entry, so in these cases, it begins with the title (shortened if necessary) instead of the author’s last name.

Oxford Classical Dictionary. 4th ed., Oxford UP, 2012.

(Oxford Classical Dictionary)

Source and container titles

The titles of sources and containers are always written in title case (all major words capitalized).

Sources that are part of a larger work (e.g. a chapter in a book, an article in a periodical, a page on a website) are enclosed in quotation marks. The titles of self-contained sources (e.g. a book, a movie, a periodical, a website) are instead italicized. A title in the container position is always italicized.

If a source has no title, provide a description of the source instead. Only the first word of this description is capitalized, and no italics or quotation marks are used.

  • Kafka, Franz. “The Metamorphosis.” The Metamorphosis and Other Stories, . . .
  • Eliot, George. Middlemarch. . . .
  • Mackintosh, Charles Rennie. Chair of stained oak. . . .

Ordering the list of Works Cited

Arrange the entries in your Works Cited list alphabetically by the author’s last name. See here for information on formatting annotations in an MLA annotated bibliography.

Multiple sources by the same author(s)

If your Works Cited list includes more than one work by a particular author, arrange these sources alphabetically by title. In place of the author element, write three em dashes for each source listed after the first.

Coates, Ta-Nehisi. Between the World and Me: Notes on the First 150 Years in America. Spiegel and Grau, 2015.
———. “The Case for Reparations.” The Atlantic, Jun. 2014,
———. The Water Dancer. One World, 2019.

The same applies to works by the same group of authors; replace the author element with three em dashes for subsequent sources.

Note, however, that two sources by “Smith, John, et al.” aren’t necessarily by the exact same authors; the authors represented by “et al.” could be different. Only use the three em dashes if the group of authors is exactly the same in each case; otherwise, repeat the author name and “et al.”

One author in combination with different coauthors

Sometimes, multiple entries will start with the same author, but in combination with different coauthors. Works by the author alone should come first, then works by two authors, and finally works by three or more authors (i.e., entries containing “et al.”).

Within this, sources with two authors are alphabetized by the second author’s last name, while sources using “et al.” are instead alphabetized by the title of the source.

Smith, John. . . .
Smith, John, and Emma Jones. . . .
Smith, John, and David Wilson. . . .
Smith, John, et al. . . .

Sources with no author

If there is no author, alphabetize the source based on the title of the work. Ignore articles (the, a, and an) for the purposes of alphabetization. If a title begins with a number, alphabetize it as you would if the number was spelled out.

Frequently asked questions about the Works Cited

What goes in an MLA Works Cited list?

The MLA Works Cited lists every source that you cited in your paper. Each entry contains the author, title, and publication details of the source.

How should I format the Works Cited page?

According to MLA format guidelines, the Works Cited page(s) should look like this:

  • Running head containing your surname and the page number.
  • The title, Works Cited, centered and in plain text.
  • List of sources alphabetized by the author’s surname.
  • Left-aligned.
  • Double-spaced.
  • 1-inch margins.
  • Hanging indent applied to all entries.
How do I apply a hanging indent?

To apply a hanging indent to your reference list or Works Cited list in Word or Google Docs, follow the steps below.

Microsoft Word:

  1. Highlight the whole list and right click to open the Paragraph options.
  2. Under Indentation > Special, choose Hanging from the dropdown menu.
  3. Set the indent to 0.5 inches or 1.27cm.

Google Docs:

  1. Highlight the whole list and click on FormatAlign and indent Indentation options.
  2. Under Special indent, choose Hanging from the dropdown menu.
  3. Set the indent to 0.5 inches or 1.27cm.

When the hanging indent is applied, for each reference, every line except the first is indented. This helps the reader see where one entry ends and the next begins.

What information do I need to include in an MLA Works Cited entry?

A standard MLA Works Cited entry is structured as follows:

Author. “Title of the Source.” Title of the Container, Other contributors, Version, Number, Publisher, Publication date, Location.

Only include information that is available for and relevant to your source.

How do I cite a source with multiple authors in MLA?

In MLA Style, if a source has two authors, name both authors in your in-text citation and Works Cited entry. If there are three or more authors, name only the first author, followed by et al.

Number of authors In-text citation Works Cited entry
1 author (Moore 37) Moore, Jason W.
2 authors (Moore and Patel 37) Moore, Jason W., and Raj Patel.
3+ authors (Moore et al. 37) Moore, Jason W., et al.
Are titles capitalized in MLA?

Yes. MLA style uses title case, which means that all principal words (nouns, pronouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, and some conjunctions) are capitalized.

This applies to titles of sources as well as the title of, and subheadings in, your paper. Use MLA capitalization style even when the original source title uses different capitalization.

What is the easiest way to create MLA citations?

The fastest and most accurate way to create MLA citations is by using Scribbr’s MLA Citation Generator.

Search by book title, page URL or journal DOI to automatically generate flawless citations, or cite manually using the simple citation forms.

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Shona McCombes

Shona has a bachelor's and two master's degrees, so she's an expert at writing a great thesis. She has also worked as an editor and teacher, working with students at all different levels to improve their academic writing.


December 1, 2021 at 6:26 PM

How would I cite an author with two last names, both in-text and on my works cited page. Her surnames aren't hyphenated- Linda Rodriguez McRobbie.
Would it be: McRobbie, Linda Rodriguez or would both surnames come before her first name?

Thank you for your help!


Jack Caulfield
Jack Caulfield (Scribbr Team)
December 2, 2021 at 11:52 AM

Hi Tracy,

The rule is that the surname comes first, however many names it’s made up of. In your case it seems likely that “Rodriguez McRobbie” is the surname, so you would write “Rodriguez McRobbie, Linda.” It can be tricky to determine this, of course; if you’re unsure, it’s best to try to look up the author or other citations of their work to determine the correct division of their name.


November 20, 2021 at 5:02 PM


I need to cite a book but only a portion, let's say chapters 1 to 4 out of 8 chapters. Do I need to cite each chapter separately with the book as a container, or is it sufficient to cite the book as a whole and just add the page range of those chapters?
e.g. Firbas, Jan. (italics->)Functional Sentence Perspective in Written and Spoken Communication. Cambridge University Press, 1992, pp. 3-86.

I am unsure how to go about it, please help!


Jack Caulfield
Jack Caulfield (Scribbr Team)
November 22, 2021 at 12:51 PM

Hi Tereza,

In your Works Cited list, just cite the book as a whole—don’t add the page numbers of the specific chapters. When you cite this source in the text, you’ll provide the page numbers of the specific quotations and information you use, so it will be clear to the reader where to look.


November 16, 2021 at 9:24 PM

Which publishing date should be used? The original or most current?


Jack Caulfield
Jack Caulfield (Scribbr Team)
November 22, 2021 at 12:14 PM

Hi Margaret,

You should include the publication date of the version of the source you used, so the most recent one listed in your version of the source.

If you think it’s relevant (for example, for a classic work of literature), you can optionally add the original publication date directly after the source title, e.g. Larsen, Nella. Passing. 1929. Penguin Classics, 2020.


October 24, 2021 at 1:58 PM

How would I cite the annotations by Leslie S. Klinger in „The Annotated American Gods“? The original novel is written by Neil Gaiman…


Jack Caulfield
Jack Caulfield (Scribbr Team)
October 25, 2021 at 4:59 PM

Hi Leo,

MLA doesn't specifically provide an example of this type of citation, but I would suggest citing the annotations something like this:

Klinger, Leslie S. Annotations. The Annotated American Gods. Novel by Neil Gaiman, William Morrow, 2020.


Kyle Siler
October 4, 2021 at 5:38 PM

How would you cite a Twitter Tweet?


Jack Caulfield
Jack Caulfield (Scribbr Team)
October 11, 2021 at 3:50 PM

Hi Kyle,

To cite a tweet, you give the name of the account (or the person's name if known), then the account's @ in square brackets, then the text of the tweet, then "Twitter", and finally the date and URL. For example:

Biden, Joe [@JoeBiden]. "For the first time since March 2020, the unemployment rate is below 5%. We still have more work to do, but recovery is moving forward even in the face of a pandemic." Twitter, 11 Oct. 2021,


June 16, 2021 at 8:40 PM

Do we have to cite a publisher of a Journal article in case it is available ?Or publisher are included only in books ?


Jack Caulfield
Jack Caulfield (Scribbr Team)
June 23, 2021 at 4:49 PM

Hi Amezian,

No, MLA says you don't need to give the publisher of a journal article (or of other articles like those in magazines, newspapers, etc.). This is because just giving the journal name usually provides enough information to find the article.


June 16, 2021 at 7:41 PM

1-How can we cite the place of publication in case it contains more than one place { For exmple:Rabat , Agdal , Morocco}.?Should we write the full name with commas separating the words?
2-Do we have to cite the publication places in other forms of resources such as poems and articles ?


Jack Caulfield
Jack Caulfield (Scribbr Team)
June 23, 2021 at 4:59 PM

Hi Ibtassim,

1. You should generally include enough information to identify the place. Usually that's just the city and country (Rabat, Morocco). For places within the USA, it might be the city and state (Boston, Massachusetts). You usually shouldn't include smaller areas like regions within a city.

2. No, a physical location is only listed in MLA style for sources you experienced in person, e.g. an artwork in a museum, a live lecture, a musical performance. You don't include this for books, articles, and other print sources.


June 12, 2021 at 3:16 PM

How do we cite the names of translators and editors[do we start with their first names ?]
do we write the name of the first editor/translator +et al. If the number exceeds two ?


Jack Caulfield
Jack Caulfield (Scribbr Team)
June 14, 2021 at 4:20 PM

Hi Jihade,

Yes, when your citation starts with the author's name and then lists the translator and/or editor after the title, the translator/editor name starts with their first name—only the name at the start of the entry is reversed. In cases where an editor or translator is listed in the author position (at the start), though, their name is reversed.

And yes, translators and editors follow the same rules as authors in terms of use of "et al."; when there are more than two editors or translators, list the first one followed by "et al."

You can see examples of how to list translators and editors within a Works Cited entry here.


February 1, 2021 at 12:19 AM

What if the source for in-text citation is a translated one? whose surname will be written- author's or translator's?


Jack Caulfield
Jack Caulfield (Scribbr Team)
February 1, 2021 at 2:55 PM

Hi Bhavya,

The name included in the in-text citation is always the one listed at the start of the Works Cited entry. With a translated work, it's usually the original author who is listed first, and therefore also in the in-text citation. If you've listed the translator first in the Works Cited entry (for example, if the original author is unknown or the focus of your analysis is on the specific translation), then the translator's surname appears in the in-text citation.


November 7, 2020 at 6:17 AM

How do i do i citate a movie


Shona McCombes
Shona McCombes (Scribbr Team)
November 17, 2020 at 8:29 PM

Hi Ariana,

We have an article that explains how to cite a movie in MLA. Hope that helps!


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