Writing about Literature

Quotation, Citation, and Documentation

Citation and Documentation

The List of Works Cited

The alphabetized list of works cited should appear at the end of your completed essay. It must include all, and only, the texts and sources that you cite in your essay; it also must provide full publication information about each one.

If you’re writing a research essay and have created and maintained a working bibliography (see Creating a Working Bibliography), that bibliography will become the core of your works cited list. To turn the former into the latter, you will need to:

  • delete sources that you did not ultimately cite in your essay;
  • add an entry for each primary text you did cite;
  • delete notes about where you found sources (call numbers, etc.).


The list of works cited should appear on a separate page (or pages) at the end of your essay. (If you conclude your essay on page 5, for example, you would start the list of works cited on page 6.) Center the heading "Works Cited" (without quotation marks) at the top of the first page, and double-space throughout.

The first line of each entry should begin at the left margin; the second and subsequent lines should be indented 5 spaces or 1/2 inch.

Alphabetize your list by the last names of the authors or editors. In the case of anonymous works, alphabetize by the first word of the title other than A, An, or The.

If your list includes multiple works by the same author, begin the first entry with the author’s name and each subsequent entry with three hyphens followed by a period. Alphabetize these listings by the first word of the title, again ignoring the words A, An, or The.


The exact content and style of each entry in your list of works cited will depend on the type of source it is. Following are examples of some of the most frequently used types of entries in lists of works cited. For all other types, consult the seventh edition of the MLA Handbook.

Book by a single author or editor

Webb, R. K. Modern England: From the Eighteenth Century to the Present. New
      York: Columbia UP, 1969. Print.

Wu, Duncan, ed. A Companion to Romanticism. Oxford: Blackwell, 1998. Print.

Book with an author and an editor

Keats, John. Complete Poems. Ed. Jack Stillinger. Cambridge: Belknap-Harvard UP,
      1982. Print.

Book by two or three authors or editors

Gallagher, Catherine, and Thomas Laqueur, eds. The Making of the Modern Body:
      Sexuality and Society in the Nineteenth Century
. Berkeley: U of California P,
      1987. Print.

Book by more than three authors or editors

Zipes, Jack, et al. The Norton Anthology of Children's Literature. New York: Norton,
      2005. Print.

Introduction, preface, or foreword

O'Prey, Paul. Introduction. Heart of Darkness. By Joseph Conrad. New York: Viking,
      1983. 7–24. Print.

Essay, poem, or any other work in an edited collection or anthology

Shaw, Philip. “Britain at War: The Historical Context.” A Companion to Romanti-
. Ed. Duncan Wu. Oxford: Blackwell, 1998. 48–60. Print.

Yeats, W. B. “The Lake Isle of Innisfree.” The Norton Introduction to Literature. 10th
      ed. Ed. Alison Booth and Kelly J. Mays. New York: Norton, 2010. 1173. Print.

Multiple short works from one collection or anthology

Booth, Alison and Kelly J. Mays, eds. The Norton Introduction to Literature. 10th ed.
      New York: Norton, 2010. Print.

Frost, Robert. “The Road Not Taken.” Booth and Mays. 1325. Print.

Keats, John. “Ode to a Nightingale.” Booth and Mays. 1337–39. Print.

Article in a reference work

“Magna Carta.” Encyclopaedia Britannica. 14th ed. 630–35. Print.

Article in a scholarly journal

Wyatt, Jean. “Giving Body to the Word: The Maternal Symbolic in Toni Morrison's
      Beloved.” PMLA 108 (May 1993): 474–88. Print.

Article in a newspaper or magazine

McNulty, Charles. “All the World's a Stage Door.” Village Voice 13 Feb. 2001: 69.

Review or editorial

Leys, Simon. “Balzac's Genius and Other Paradoxes.” Rev. of Balzac: A Life, by Gra-
      ham Robb. New Republic 20 Dec. 1994: 26–27. Print.

NOTE: The first name here is that of the reviewer, the second that of the author whose book is being reviewed.

Web site

U.S. Department of Education (ED) Home Page. U.S. Dept. of Education, 12 Aug.
      2009. Web. 26 Aug. 2009.

Yeats Society Sligo Home Page. Yeats Society Sligo, 12 Nov. 2009. Web. 21 Nov.

Article on a Web site

Padgett, John B. “William Faulkner.” The Mississippi Writers Page. 29 Mar. 1999.
      Web. 9 Sept. 2008.

NOTE: The first date indicates when material was published or last updated. The second date indicates when you accessed the site.