Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Works Cited Page

The MLA works cited page is where all sources used in a research paper are listed. This section is aptly called Works Cited.

Like every other manual of style, the MLA has a specific format that needs to be followed when listing references. Because there are several types of source materials, a student or a researcher has to be familiar with how to cite a specific source. Of course, some elements, such as author's name, title of the book, and year when it was published, are always present in a citation.

The works cited page's basic rule is to list the sources alphabetically by the author's last name. Should the author be mentioned twice or thrice in the works cited section, his or her name should be replaced with three hyphens. For example, if a publication by Reuben Post Halleck has already been cited, its second mention in the works cited page should be as such:

---. History of American Literature. Hamburg: Tredition, 2011. Print.

When citing a book, gather all available information about it. The common elements needed when including a book in the works cited list are author's full name, book title in italics, location of publisher, name of publisher, year when the book was published, and medium of publication. Here is an example of a book with only one author listed in the works cited page:

Jackson, Robert. Seeking the Region in American Literature and Culture: Modernity, Dissidence, Innovation (Southern Literary Studies). Louisiana: Louisiana State University Press, 2005. Print.

If a book has two or more authors, these authors' names should be written as given name first followed by their last name. As such, if the authors are John Smith, Jane Doe, and Peter Smith, they would be written in the works cited page as Smith, John, Jane Doe, and Peter Smith. The following example better illustrates a cited book with more than one author:

Akmajian, Adrian, Richard A. Demers, Ann K. Farmer, and Robert M. Harnish. Linguistics: An Introduction to Language and Communication. 6th ed. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press, 2010. Print.

Notice that the second example is already in its sixth edition. When a reference material that has an updated edition is used as a source, the researcher must include which edition he or she is using. The edition number should be placed after the book title.

Some books have an author as well as an editor. The author is the main idea behind the book, that is, he or she who writes it, while the editor is the one to ensure that it is seamlessly written. When including this kind of publication in the works cited section, the rules are mostly the same except that after the book title, the editor's name should be inserted. Here is an example:

De Saussure, Ferdinand. Course in General Linguistics. Eds. Perry Meisel, Haun Saussy, Wade Baskin. New York City: Columbia University Press, 2011. Print.

Needless to say, a works cited page is still considered insufficient when documenting reference materials. In-text citations should also be used throughout the main body of the research paper. A citation is relatively simple to make. A researcher only needs to have the author's last name and the page number where the direct quote to be borrowed or the idea to be paraphrased or summarized appears. If the material was taken online, it is perfectly acceptable not to put a page number in the in-text citation.

Writing a research paper is a long, arduous task. Thanks to the scholars who have made contributions to their respective fields, researchers today have several materials to consult. The least they could do is to credit the great minds that have come before them.

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