What are Works Cited?

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  • Written By: Caitlin Kenney
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 08 September 2016
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A works cited page is a formatted list of all the works referenced in a piece of writing. It is similar to a bibliography, but not exactly the same. While a citation list compiles only the works explicitly referenced within the text, a bibliography includes all the works consulted, whether they received in-text citations or not. Whenever a writer uses the ideas of another author, she must give credit to the author within the text and in a reference list, such as works cited. Unless the information used is common knowledge, failure to cite sources is considered plagiarism and can lead to expulsion in academia or getting fired in professional writing.

A works cited page begins on a new page at the end of a paper. Its margins should be consistent with the rest of the paper. Popular formats for citations include American Psychological Association (APA), Modern Language Association (MLA), Chicago style, American Medical Association (AMA), and Turabian. Each style is used for different subjects of writing and contains rules for in-text citations and citation lists. APA is used for social sciences and education, MLA is used for humanities, Chicago style is used for history and humanities, AMA is used in pieces focusing on health and medicine, and Turabian is designed for general use by college students.


APA formatting for a works cited list orders sources alphabetically by authors’ last names and indents after the first line of each source. A space should be included between each entry. The general format of a book entry in APA style is:

Author’s last name, First initials. (Date of publication). Book Title. City of

For example:

White, E. B. (1952). Charlotte’s Web. New York, NY: Harper Collins.

The format of an article entry in an APA style is:

Author’s last name, First Initials. (Publication date). Article Title. Name of

Periodical, volume number , pages used.

MLA requires a works cited page at the end of a research paper. Like APA, MLA formatting also orders sources alphabetically by the last names of authors and indents after the first line of each source, leaving a space between each listing. The general format of a book entry should read as follows:

Author’s last name, Author’s first name. Title of Book. City of publication:

For example:

White, E.B. Charlotte’s Webb. New York, NY: Harper Collins, 1952.

A works cited list in Chicago style also organizes listings alphabetically by last name, indented after the first line of each source, with a space between each listing. Usually, Chicago style requires a bibliography instead of a works cited page, but the formatting remains the same. Chicago style entries should read as follows:

Author’s last name, Author’s first name. Title of Book. Place of publication:

For example:

White, E.B. Charlotte’s Web. New York, NY: Harper Collins, 1952.


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Discuss this Article

Post 2

I had to write a paper in college using the APA format. I was totally unfamiliar with this format. I had always used MLA when I was in highschool.

When I starting writing the paper, the APA format seemed hard at first. The way works are cited in an article are so very different from MLA format. After spending a week on the paper, I finally felt more comfortable with APA format.

I can say that after the experience of writing that paper, I like APA format better. It seems easier and flows better. I especially like the bibliography at the end.

Post 1

My daughter is learning the MLA format in school. At first she complained because she said that it seemed boring but I told her that failure to give the original author credit for mentioning their work is like stealing.

When she realized the significance of the work cited references she was more compliant in following the works cited guide perfectly. I think that more teachers should fully explain the ramifications of not using the work cited format correctly because then more students would take it seriously.

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