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Work Cited Example For Essay

Your research paper ends with a list of all the sources cited in the text of the paper. This is called a Works Cited list.

See an example in the "Sample Paper & Works Cited List" box on this page.

Here are eight quick rules for this list:

  1. Start a new page for your Works Cited list (e.g., if your paper is 4 pages long, start your Works Cited list on page 5).
  2. Centre the title, Works Cited, at the top of the page and do not bold or underline it.
  3. Double-space the list.
  4. Start the first line of each citation at the left margin; indent each subsequent line five spaces (also known as a "hanging indent").
  5. Put your list in alphabetical order. Alphabetize the list by the first word in the citation. In most cases, the first word will be the author’s last name. Where the author is unknown, alphabetize by the first word in the title, ignoring the words a, an, the.
  6. For each author, give the last name followed by a comma and the first name followed by a period.
  7. Italicize the titles of full works: books, audiovisual material,websites.
  8. Do not italicize titles of parts of works, such as: articles from newspapers, magazines, or journals / essays, poems, short stories or chapter titles from a book / chapters or sections of an Internet document. Instead, use quotation marks.

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Whenever you incorporate outside sources into your own writing, you must provide both in-text citations (within the body of the paper) and full citations (in the Works Cited page). The in-text citations point your reader toward the full citations in the Works Cited page.

That's why the first bit of information in your in-text citation (generally, the author's name; if no name is provided, the title of the article/book/webpage) should directly match up with the beginning of your Works Cited entry for that source. For further information about in-text citations, please read "Formatting In-Text Citations."

For example, let's say I have a quote from Benedict Anderson's Imagined Communities in my research paper. Within the body of the paper, following the quote, I include the following in-text citation: (Anderson 56). This information points to the book's entry in my Works Cited page:

Anderson, Benedict. Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism. London: Verso, 2006. Print.

When your reader sees the in-text citation in your essay, she may decide that the source might be valuable for her own research. When she looks at the Works Cited page, she can easily locate the source (because the Works Cited page is alphabetized and because she has the in-text citation as her referent) and then can use the full citation to retrieve a copy of the source for her own research. But aside from providing the reader with resources for her own research, the Works Cited page serves another function: it establishes the writer's credibility. If a writer fails to include in-text citations and/or a Works Cited page, that writer has plagiarized because he or she has neglected to provide the publication information of the source. In addition, when a reader locates undocumented information in an essay, she will likely think that the information was made up by the writer or that the information was stolen from a source, or plagiarized. And when a reader peruses a writer's Works Cited page, she can see the types of sources used by the writer, assessing those sources in terms of their credibility. For instance, if a reader reads my Works Cited page and sees I cite sources from university presses such as Oxford UP and Cambridge UP, she will know that I've incorporated credible sources into my research paper. Thus, including both in-text citations and a Works Cited page in a research paper provides the writer with ethos, or credibility.

Now let's take a look at how to properly format a Works Cited page according to MLA guidelines:

Placement

According to MLA style guidelines, the Works Cited page should appear after the body of your paper and any accompanying endnotes. It should begin on a new page, and the pagination should continue from the body of the paper. In the above example, the Works Cited page begins on page 38, which means that the essay concluded on page 37.

General format

The Works Cited page should be double-spaced throughout. The first line of each entry should be flush with the left margin; if the entry extends more than one line, ensuing lines should be indented 1/2 inch from the left margin. The first page of the Works Cited list should have the title "Works Cited," not "Bibliography." The Works Cited title should appear in the same manner as the paper's title: capitalized and centered—not bolded, within quotation marks, italicized, underlined, or in a larger font.

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