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MLA Style

The MLA style provides guidelines on how to format the works cited list and how to arrange the entries of this list in your research paper.

Formatting the works cited

The principles for arranging entries in a works cited list, the capitalization rules, the use of italics, and abbreviations are some of the guidelines that the MLA style provides to help you format your citations accurately and consistently.

The bibliographic entries of a works cited list follow specific rules in terms of alphabetization, capitalization, italicization, and abbreviations.

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Works cited entries are placed in alphabetical order. Alphabetize letter by letter by the author's last name or the title of the work when no author is available.
  • If there are entries starting with special characters like online usernames, ignore the special character and alphabetize with the second letter.
  • Omit titles, affiliations and degrees the precede or follow names like Sir, PhD, Saint etc. Retain a suffix that is essential part of a name Rockfeller, John D., IV or a roman numeral Rust, Arthur George, Jr.
  • When you cite two or more works by the same author, list the works alphabetically by title. Provide the author's name in the first entry only. Begin the second entry with three hyphens followed by a period, instead of the author's name. Proceed with the title, and any other necessary elements of the source described.
All principal words in a citation should be capitalized. You should also capitalize words which appear at the beginning of a title or a subtitle. Check the table below to find out which words are considered to be principal words and therefore should be capitalized.
Stand alone titles, such as books, periodicals, reports, films, websites etc. are italicized. Titles of databases are also italicized.
The MLA style suggests a list of terms that could be abbreviated. However, if you think that an abbreviation may confuse your audience, state the full word and do not use its abbreviated form. Check the table below to find out the abbreviations of these common terms.
  • All months should be abbreviated except for May, June, July.
  • For specialized abbreviations on the books of the Bible and the works of Shakespeare check section 1.6.4 of the MLA Handbook, 8th edition.