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Basic Beginning Format for a Works Cited PageBy johnwhitfield17
MLA (the Modern Language Association) formatting is usually preferred by instructors who teach English and Humanities classes. For some students, putting together this type of bibliography seems complicated. While there are citation generators available online, sometimes students still need to understand some basics to know if the generator is putting together the citation correctly. There are some common elements in all Works Cited citations, and knowing how a basic citation is put together will help students as they continue learning MLA format.
First Basic Rule: Always Begin With an Author
Of course, every rule has an exception, and there are ways to handle sources that don't have authors. However, for the meantime, here is how to format with an author.
The basic format of the author looks like this:
The last name goes first because readers will look for the last name when perusing the Works Cited list. If there are multiple authors, the first author remains as formated in the example above. But the second (and remaining authors up to three) are written with the first name first and the last name last.
Smith, Martin, and David Keene.
Smith, Martin, David Keene, and Barbara Johnson.
If there are more than three authors, they can all be included in the Works Cited list if the student so chooses and - if so - they must be listed in the order the authors are listed in the work. However, one essayhelpwriter.org way multiple authors over three can be listed is this way:
Smith, Martin, et al.
The phrase "et al" stands for "and others" in Latin.
How to Cite Corporate, Government, and Anonymous Authors
A corporate author is often an organization or association that has written a work without identifying specific authors. Corporate authors will also come before other information in a citation:
Modern Language Association.
Government authors are similar. However, if a government publication also has an identified author, there are different formatting rules (that won't be covered in this particular article):
State of Texas.
Authors are always followed with a period in the citation.
If an author is anonymous or otherwise unknown, the title of the work is the first entry. The title just so happens to be the next step.
The Specific Work (the Title) is the Second Step
There is always a work that is being cited in the bibliography, so it is always the second entry in the citation (if there is an unknown author, the title of the work is the first part). Titles can be anything from a book title to the title of an article, a song, story, etc.
Smith, Martin. "English is Fun."
Smith, Martin. How to Enjoy Writing a Paper.
"Works Cited Pages are Simple."
Large works, such as books, CDs, newspapers, journals, and anthologies, are either italicized or underlined. While underlining used to be the preferred method, today most instructors will accept these titles in italics. Small works that are found in larger works, such as stories, newspaper or magazine articles, or songs, are put in quotation marks.
A Works Cited Page Requires More Information
After the author and title, the next information required in the citation depends upon the actual source. There are many different rules depending on the media one is citing (websites are cited one way, books another, television shows differently, etc.). However, students should know that with MLA formatting, the first expected pieces of information are the author or authors, followed by a title. While MLA citation can seem complicated and confusing, if a student knows at least this much, he has a head start on putting together his bibliography.