How to Write a Bibliography in MLA

How to Write a Bibliography in MLA: Tips and Examples

Introduction to Bibliographies

A bibliography is a list of sources you referenced in your research paper, typically appearing at the end of your paper. It is important to accurately and thoroughly cite your sources to give credit to the original authors and to allow readers to locate the sources you used easily. There are different bibliography formats that you can use, such as the Modern Language Association (MLA) style or the American Psychological Association (APA) style. This article will focus on how to write a bibliography in MLA format.

Bibliographies serve a few key purposes:

  • They provide a record of the research that you have conducted, allowing others to see the sources that you used and how you used them.
  • They help to establish credibility and authority by demonstrating the thoroughness of your research.
  • They help readers easily locate the sources you used, allowing them to explore your research further or check your sources themselves.

Generally, bibliographies are organized in alphabetical order by the author’s last name. They include the author’s name, the title of the publication, the date of publication, and other relevant information, such as the publisher and page numbers. By following a consistent format, you can make it easy for readers to find and use the sources you have referenced in your research.

Gathering Information for Your Bibliography

To write a bibliography, you will need to gather the following information for each source:

  • Author’s name
  • Title of the publication
  • Date of publication
  • Publisher
  • Page number (for a specific page or chapter in a book)
  • Volume number (for a journal or magazine)

It is important to be thorough and accurate when gathering this information, as any errors or omissions could lead to confusion or mistrust for your readers. If you cite a print source, check the book’s front and back matter or journal for the necessary information. If you are citing an online source, be sure to include the URL and the date that you accessed the information.

It is also a good idea to keep a record of your sources as you conduct your research so that you don’t have to go back and track down the information later. You can use a citation management tool, such as Zotero or EndNote, to help you organize and keep track of your sources. This can save you time and ensure that you have all of the necessary information when it comes time to write your bibliography.

Organizing Your Bibliography

Once you have gathered the necessary information for your bibliography, the next step is to organize the entries in alphabetical order by the author’s last name. If you are citing multiple works by the same author, you should arrange the entries chronologically by the date of publication, with the earliest work listed first.

Make sure to double space between each entry and use quotation marks around the title of any articles or chapters. If you are citing online sources, be sure to include the URL and the date that you accessed the information.

Your bibliography should appear on a separate page at the end of your paper, titled “Works Cited.” This page should be formatted the same way as the rest of your paper, with the same margins, font, and line spacing.

It is important to be consistent and thorough when organizing your bibliography. A clear and logical structure can make it easy for readers to locate and use your sources.

Formatting Your Bibliography in MLA Style

The MLA style is commonly used in the humanities, such as literature, history, and the arts. It is characterized by in-text citations and a “Works Cited” page at the end of the paper.

To format your bibliography in MLA style, you will need to follow these guidelines:

  • Use a legible font, such as Times New Roman or Arial, in size 12.
  • Set your margins to 1 inch on all sides.
  • Use double spacing throughout your paper, including in your bibliography.
  • Alphabetize your bibliography entries by the author’s last name. If you are citing multiple works by the same author, arrange them chronologically by the date of publication, with the earliest work listed first.
  • Use quotation marks around the title of any articles or chapters.
  • Include the URL and date you accessed the information for online sources.

Here is an example of a bibliography entry in MLA style for a book:

Author’s Last Name, First Name. Title of Book. Place of publication: Publisher, Year of publication.

And here is an example of a bibliography entry in MLA style for a journal article:

Author’s Last Name, First Name. “Title of Article.” Title of Journal, vol. number, no. Number (Year of publication): page numbers.

By following these guidelines, you can ensure that your bibliography is properly formatted in MLA style.

Examples of Bibliography Entries in MLA Format

Here are some examples of bibliography entries in MLA format for different types of sources:

Book:
Smith, John. The History of the World. New York: HarperCollins, 2010.
Journal article:
Jones, Mary. “The Impact of Climate Change on Arctic Ecosystems.” Environmental Science & Technology, vol. 45, no. 12 (2011): 5678-5687.
Website:
Brown, Laura. “The Benefits of Meditation.” Mindful.org, mindful.org/benefits-of-meditation, accessed March 1, 2020.
Chapter in an edited book:
Thompson, Emily. “The Evolution of Photography.” In The Art of Photography, edited by Jane Smith, 45-60. New York: Pearson, 2009.

Using these examples as a guide, you can ensure that your bibliography entries are properly formatted in MLA style.

Citing Sources in Your Paper

In addition to including a bibliography at the end of your paper, it is also important to properly cite your sources within the body of your paper. This helps to give credit to the original authors and allows readers to locate the sources you used easily.

There are different ways to cite sources in MLA style, depending on the source type and the context in which you are using it. In general, you should include the author’s last name and the page number (if applicable) in parentheses after the quotation or paraphrase. For example:

According to John Smith, “the history of the world is a complex and fascinating subject” (23).

If you are citing a source with no author, you can use the title of the work instead:

“The History of the World” is complex and fascinating (Smith 23).”

If you are citing a source with multiple authors, you should list all of the authors in the in-text citation:

According to Smith, Jones, and Williams, “the history of the world is a complex and fascinating subject” (23).

By properly citing your sources in the body of your paper, you can demonstrate the thoroughness of your research and give credit to the original authors.

Annotated Bibliographies

An annotated bibliography is a reference list of sources that includes bibliographic information (such as the author, title, and publication date) and a summary or evaluation of each source. An annotated bibliography is often used to provide a more thorough overview of the sources used in a research project.

To write an annotated bibliography, you should follow the same guidelines for formatting a bibliography in MLA style. In addition, you should provide a summary or evaluation of each source. This can include a description of the main arguments or themes of the work, an assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of the source, and any relevant personal observations or insights.

Here is an example of an annotated bibliography entry in MLA style for a book:

Smith, John. The History of the World. New York: HarperCollins, 2010.
Smith covers a wide range of topics in this comprehensive world history, from ancient civilizations to modern politics. He draws on a variety of sources and presents a well-balanced argument. However, some readers may sometimes find the text dense and difficult to follow.

By including an annotation with each bibliography entry, you can provide a more thorough overview of the sources that you used in your research. This can be especially helpful if you are working on a longer research project or your sources are particularly complex or specialized.

Conclusion: Best Practices for Writing a Bibliography in MLA

In conclusion, writing a bibliography is an important research process. By accurately citing your sources and organizing them in a consistent format, you can demonstrate the thoroughness of your research and give credit to the original authors.

Here are some best practices to keep in mind when writing a bibliography:

  • Gather all the necessary information for each source, including the author’s name, the title of the publication, the date of publication, and any relevant page numbers or volume numbers.
  • Organize your bibliography in alphabetical order by the author’s last name.
  • Use quotation marks around the title of any articles or chapters.
  • Include the URL and date you accessed the information for online sources.
  • Follow the guidelines for the bibliography format you use, such as MLA or APA reference style.
  • Use in-text citations to cite your sources within the body of your paper properly.

Following these tips and best practices, you can confidently write a bibliography for your research papers.