How to Write an MLA Style Bibliography

When you document references in your paper, there are certain guidelines you should follow to adhere to the proper style guide for your paper. One requirement for an MLA style bibliography is to include a list of the works referred to in the paper. This list is generally alphabetized and is referred to as Resources, Works Cited or Bibliography.

If you are creating a reference list in the MLA style, the list would be called Works Cited. However, don’t confuse the Works Cited list with MLA style’s Selected Bibliography or Works Consulted. A bibliography is a much more complete and comprehensive list of works including all works you utilize in any way in your paper. You do not need to directly cite a work in your paper to list it in the bibliography. Works you refer to in even an obscure way or you use in your research impacting your paper can be in the bibliography.

MLA Style Bibliography Characteristics

Just as in a References or Works Cited list, the works you list in your MLA style bibliography should be in alphabetical order with the author’s last name first, then a comma, then the first name followed by a period. If the author is unknown, you can list the work with reference to the editor, translator or other source, or if no source is known, alphabetized by the first word of the title.

MLA Style Bibliography Format

You will format your MLA style bibliography just like a Works Cited or Resources list. Some points you need to remember are that entries are not numbered, just listed alphabetically; if “A,” “An” or “The” is at the beginning of a title, it is not alphabetized (use the word that follows); also, entries are not separated into categories in any way; again, listing the entries alphabetically will suffice, regardless of the source and influence of the citation.

In terms of formatting the bibliography, use a new, blank page; start one inch down, center the type, and title the page “Selected Bibliography,” Selected List of Works Consulted” or “Suggestions for Further Reading.” Double space after the title, then begin by listing all of your entries in alphabetical order by the first word, remembering the guidelines governing items with titles that begin with “A,” “An” or “The”.

Example:

    MLA Style Bibliography

    Adams, Patrice. “Fast and Furious Editing.” ChoicePoint [New York]. 12 June 2001.

    “Beginner Editing: Presenting Your Sources.” Webmaster Tips Newsletter.

    WebGuru. “Beginner Tip #4.” WebGuru. N.p., 10 Aug. 1999. Web..

Begin all of your bibliography entries flush with the left margin of the page. Type until you reach the right margin, then indent five spaces for any additional lines you may need within the same item entry. Make sure to double space the entire page both within each item you list, as well as between them.

While you can definitely learn and perfect the MLA formatting style with some practice, there are also resources available to aid in the easy and accurate adherence to MLA guidelines in order to create a MLA style bibliography. These days there are numerous quality formatting software products on the market that can help take the tedium out of this aspect of academic writing.

David Plaut is the founder of Reference Point Software (RPS). RPS offers a complete suite of easy-to-use formatting template products featuring MLA and APA style templates, freeing up time to focus on substance while ensuring formatting accuracy. For more information, log onto http://www.referencepointsoftware.com/ or write to:
info @ referencepointsoftware.com

Reference Point Software is not associated with, endorsed by, or affiliated with the American Psychological Association (APA) or with the Modern Language Association (MLA).

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