Skip to Main Content

MLA Style (8th edition)

Formatting citations using the MLA 8th style. Based on the MLA Handbook, 8th edition.


The last page of your paper should contain the bibliography. This is a listing of all of the full bibliographic citations. Each style will have rules for formatting this page, starting with the title. Below is a breakdown of what each style wants you to title your bibliography and why.

  • MLA 8th wants you to entitle your bibliography page, Works Cited page. This is because the style asks that you only list the items that you are actually citing in your research.

Formatting Your Citations

Formatting your citations correctly is a major part of getting your Works Cited page correct. It also serves the purpose of making the citations easy to see and read and allows the user to easily identify information for each source. 

Your entire paper, will no doubt be double-spaced and formatted with Times New Roman in size 12 font. The same will be true for your full citations within the Works Cited page. They should be double-spaced to allow the reader to easily read the information on a large page of text. 

List Order

MLA 8th requires that you list your citations on your Works Cited page in alphabetical order by the author's last name. However, since you may have a corporate author where you use a corporation or company name, or have no author and list the title of your source first - it's better to just think of it as alphabetical order by the first letter of the first word in your citation. See examples below.

Hanging Indent

You'll notice in the sample Works Cited below that each citation listed has a hanging indent. This allows the reader to quickly identify the citation in your list from the information provided in your in-text citation. It literally, makes the name stand out in the list. 


Punctuation is also a critical part of what makes a citation complete. Each punctuation and format style serves a particular purpose.

  • Periods (aka full stops): Separate each field. 
  • Commas: Separate information that belongs together in each field. 
  • Italics: Highlight the title of the encapsulating item (ex: book title; newspaper title)
  • Quotes, highlights the article title (Example: chapter title; newspaper article title)


You will find that scholarly, peer-reviewed, academic articles often have a DOI (Digital Object Identifier) associated with it. You may find this in a database search result at the bottom of the entry identifying your result (see below). Or, the DOI may be printed on the actual article. 

A DOI is a unique string of numbers and letters assigned to a journal article to make them easier to locate. Kind of like a barcode. If a DOI is available for the article, include it instead of the URL as it is more stable than a URL. If a DOI is not provided, then use the permanent URL (aka permalink).

When formatting the URLs in your citation, MLA 8th requires that you leave off the https:// or http:// and simply begin with the link (ex: However, if your URL begins with a www. you should keep that on your link listed (ex:

Do Not Activate URLS

Generally speaking, you should not activate any links within your Works Cited page. However, you may have a professor who prefers this as they will want to click on the links if you submit the item electronically. Make sure you check with your professor before submitting your assignment.