Works Cited

Writers often consult other work when crafting a piece of writing, like websites, scholarly journal articles, and documentaries. No matter where a writer draws their ideas from or what type of paper they are writing, they must cite any source they use while crafting their paper. Citing a source means giving a source credit. When a writer cites, they record information about a source, such as the author's name, the title, and the publication date. Doing this ensures writers avoid stealing other people’s ideas. One way writers can give credit to the sources they use is by writing a Works Cited page at the end of their paper. 

Works Cited Works Cited

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Table of contents

    Works Cited, Works Cited MLA, Pen and Paper, StudySmarterA works cited page goes at the end of a paper formatted according to MLA guidelines.

    Works Cited Definition

    A Works Cited page is a list of sources a writer uses while writing a text. The Works Cited page goes at the end of the paper. In it, the writer lists information about all the sources that they directly referenced within the body of the text and arranges the sources alphabetically by authors’ last names.

    A Works Cited page is a list of sources at the end of a paper that notes all the sources a writer used while writing a text.

    Purpose of Works Cited

    The purpose of a Works Cited page is for a writer to give credit to the sources they used when writing a text. Providing credit helps writers avoid plagiarism, which is when a person passes off another person's works as their own. Plagiarism disrespects the creators of other sources and can cause a writer to lose their academic credibility. To come across as a trustworthy source of information, writers have to be honest about which ideas were their own and which ones they drew from other sources.

    When writers list the resources they use, they also allow readers to go and check for themselves if the evidence is credible. Credible sources come from reliable people and are often vetted by scholars. Allowing readers to confirm that the sources are reliable helps to enhance writers' academic integrity and can help strengthen their claims.

    Works Cited, Magnifying Glass, StudySmarterA Works Cited list can help readers find related sources.

    Works Cited pages can also be useful for readers who want to read more about a subject. When writers provide readers with other credible sources related to a topic, they help readers with further research. Works Cited pages ensure the information about the other sources is clear and straightforward.

    The phrase "Works Cited" is often confused with "bibliography." These two concepts are similar but have distinct differences. In a bibliography, a writer lists all the sources they have used in writing a paper, not just the ones they directly referenced in the text. For instance, if a book informed the writer's perspective on a topic, but they did not directly reference material from it in their essay, they would list it in a bibliography but not a Works Cited page.

    Works Cited MLA

    MLA is the Modern Language Association’s guidelines for formatting citations. This style is typically the required formatting guide for writers in the humanities and arts. However, this is not always the case, so writers should always confirm the required formatting guide for the text they are writing.

    The MLA guidelines require writers to cite all references to other sources in the body of the text with in-text citations and also list detailed information about those sources on a Works Cited page at the end of the paper. This makes it easy for readers to see a citation at the end of a piece of evidence and then flip to the end of the paper to find out more information about the source.

    MLA and other referencing styles like APA, Chicago, and Harvard update their guidelines periodically, so writers should always double-check that they are following the most updated version. The Association published the first MLA style sheet in 1951, and today the organization is on its ninth edition!

    Formatting a Works Cited Page in MLA

    To format a Works Cited page according to MLA guidelines, writers should follow the following steps:

    • Use one-inch margins

    • Use an easy-to-read font such as Times New Roman or Arial, size 12

    • Click paragraph, spacing, double

    • Center the title “Works Cited” as the first line

    • Put the writer’s full name and page number in the upper right-hand corner

    • Put a hanging indent on all citations so that the first line is not indented, but all the other lines are. To do this, select the citations, click paragraph, indent, and hanging.

    • Organize all citations alphabetically

    Writing Citations in MLA

    The format for citations varies based on the type of source. The chart below demonstrates how to cite different sources according to MLA guidelines.

    Source TypeFormat Example

    Book

    Author’s Surname, Author’s First Name. Title. City of Publication, Publisher, Date of Publication.

    Baldwin, James. Giovanni's Room. New York, Delta Trade Paperbacks, 2000.

    Webpage

    Author’s Surname, Author’s First Name. “Title.” Name of Website, Date of publication, URL.

    Spinnery, Laura. "The Big Idea: Could the Greatest Works of Literature be Undiscovered?" The Guardian, 22 May 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/books/2022/may/30/the-big-idea-could-the-greatest-works-of-literature-be-undiscovered.

    Journal Article

    Author’s Surname, Author’s First Name. "Title" Journal Title, Volume, Issue, Year, pages. DOI.

    Nicholls, Tracey. “Introduction: Bell Hooks’ Contributions to Emancipatory Thought.” The CLR James Journal, vol. 17, no. 1, 2011, pp. 2–9. JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/26758831.

    Journals often have more than one author. If a journal article has two authors, note them both in the order they appear. If a journal article has 3 or more authors, include the first author’s surname, first name, and then “,et al.”

    Works Cited Example

    The following example demonstrates what an MLA Works Cited list might look like for an essay about Toni Morrison's book Song of Solomon (1977).

    MLA Work Cited Example

    Works Cited, MLA Works Cited, StudySmarterAn example of a Works Cited page in MLA Format. StudySmarter Originals

    Note how the author included the access date for journal articles. Including this information for journal articles is not required, but many writers choose to do so.

    Works Cited MLA vs Works Cited APA

    APA is the American Psychological Association's guidelines for formatting citations. Writers in the social sciences and behavioral sciences often use APA. Like MLA, APA also requires a page at the end to cite the sources. However, in APA this page is called "References," and it looks slightly different from MLA. The following chart demonstrates how to format a Reference page for APA.

    Formatting a Reference Page According to APA :

    To format a Works Cited page according to APA guidelines, writers should follow the following steps:

    • Use one-inch margins

    • Click paragraph, spacing, double

    • For the font, use 12-point Times New Roman

    • Center the title “References” as the first line

    • Put the page number in the upper right-hand corner

    • Put a hanging indent on all citations so that the first line is not indented, but all the other lines are. To do this, select the citations, click paragraph, indent, and hanging

    • Organize all citations alphabetically.

    Writing Citations in APA

    The following chart demonstrates to cite different types of sources according to MLA guidelines.Note: I would add an example column as you did for MLA.

    Source TypeFormat

    Book

    Author’s Surname, Author’s First Initial. (Year of Publication). Title (edition). Publisher.

    Webpage

    Author’s Surname, Author’s First Initial. (Year, Month, Date of Publication). Title of Page. Website Name. URL.

    Journal Article

    Author’s Surname, Author’s First Initial. Author's Middle Initial. (Year of Publication). Title of Article. Title of Journal, Volume(Issue), page range. DOI or URL

    Note how the above citations differ from the citations in MLA. For instance, the year of publication for sources goes earlier in all citations.

    APA Work Cited Example

    The following example demonstrates what a Works Cited page in APA format would look like.

    Works Cited, APA Works Cited, StudySmarterAn example of a Works Cited page in APA format. StudySmarter Originals.

    There are several websites that assist writers in formatting Works Cited pages. Using a search engine to search for citation tools can streamline the process of organizing references. To use these tools, writers insert information about the source they are citing, and the tool produces citations according to the selected style. While this process is quick and useful, it is important to check the final citations they produce against the style guide's rules.

    Works Cited - Key Takeaways

    • A Works Cited page is a list of sources at the end of a paper that notes all the sources a writer used while writing a text.
    • The purpose of a Works Cited page is to avoid plagiarism and provide readers with other relevant sources.
    • MLA is the Modern Language Association's guide for formatting citations, and it requires a Works Cited page.
    • A Works Cited page should be double-spaced, 12-point font, with hanging indents for all sources, arranged in alphabetical order by authors' last names.
    • An MLA Works Cited page is similar to APA's guidelines for citations, but the latter calls the page "References" and formats information in the citations in a different order.
    Frequently Asked Questions about Works Cited

    What is the purpose of works cited in a research paper?

    The purpose of a works cited page is for a writer to give credit to the sources they used when writing a text.

    What is the meaning of Works Cited?

    A Works Cited page is a list of sources at the end of a paper that notes all the sources a writer used while writing a text.  

    How to do a Works Cited page?

    Writers should format citations for sources according to MLA guidelines and arrange them alphabetically on the last page of their paper in double-spaced, 12-point font. 

    What is an example of Works Cited?

    A Work Cited list is a list of sources a writer used in a paper. An example of a citation on a Work Cited page is:  Johnson, James How to Cite. London. Smith Publication, 2021. 

    What is the difference between Works Cited APA and Works Cited MLA?

    In APA the list of citations at the end of a paper is called References. APA also formats citations differently, with information like the date of publication in a different place than in MLA citations.  

    Test your knowledge with multiple choice flashcards

    Which of the following citations is in APA format?

    Which of the following citations is in APA format?

    Which of the following is not a requirement for APA formatting?

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