There are lots of citation styles to choose from, each developed to help a particular research community efficiently communicate about sources in a way that helps readers evaluate the author's evidence. But at this stage the most important thing is to pick one style and be consistent with it in your paper.
Below I've given guidance and examples from the MLA Style, but you can find similar guidance for APA and Chicago as well if you prefer.
Be sure to pair your Works Cited list with good In-Text Citations, explained in the 3rd tab above.
Your bibliography should be alphabetized by author last name. For works that do not have an author, alphabetize by item title (omitting articles like "a" or "the"). Your bibliography should also be formatted using Hanging Indents.
The Bible. Authorized King James Version, Oxford UP, 1998.
Dorris, Michael, and Louise Erdrich. The Crown of Columbus. HarperCollins Publishers, 1999.
Fagih, Ahmed Ibrahim al-. The Singing of the Stars. Translated by Leila El Khalidi and Christopher Tingley. Short Arabic Plays: An Anthology, edited by Salma Khadra Jayyusi, Interlink Books, 2003, pp. 140-57.
Johnson, Roberta. Gender and Nation in the Spanish Modernist Novel. Vanderbilt UP, 2003.
Copeland, Edward. “Money.” The Cambridge Companion to Jane Austen, edited by Copeland and Juliet McMaster, Cambridge UP, 1997, pp. 131-48.
Poe, Edgar Allan. "The Masque of the Red Death." The Complete Works of Edgar Allan Poe, edited by James A. Harrison, vol. 4, Thomas Y. Crowell, 1902, pp. 250-58. HathiTrust Digital Library, babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=coo.31924079574368;view=1up;seq=13.
Piper, Andrew. “Rethinking the Print Object: Goethe and the Book of Everything.” PMLA, vol. 121, no. 1, Jan. 2006, pp. 124-38. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/25486292.
Dwyer, Jim. “Yeats Meets the Digital Age, Full of Passionate Intensity.” New York Times, early ed., Arts and Leisure sec., 20 July 2008, pp. 1+.
Mackin, Joseph. Review of The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction, by Alan Jacomb. New York Journal of Books, 2 June 2011, p. 222. nyjournalofbooks.com/book-review/pleasures-reading-age-distraction.
Weintraub, Arlene, and Laura Cohen. “A Thousand-Year Plan for Nuclear Waste.” Business Week, 6 May 2002, pp. 94-96.
Clowes, Daniel. David Boring. Eightball, no. 19, Fantagraphics, 1998.
NOTE: Access dates are not required in MLA style, but they are an option and can be useful. Here's official guidance on using access dates in your bibliographies.
“Maplewood, New Jersey.” Google Maps, www.google.com/maps/place/Maplewood,+NJ.
Quade, Alex. “Elite Team Rescues Troops behind Enemy Lines.” CNN.com, 19 Mar. 2007, www.cnn.com/2007/WORLD/meast/03/15/search.rescue/index.html?iref=newssearch.
Note that in this example, the optional original date of publication is included, as well as several people in the Other Contributors category. If you were studying a particular person associated with the work, that person could be listed in the Author position, like so: "Capra, Frank, director."
It’s a Wonderful Life. 1946. Directed by Frank Capra, performance by James Stewart et al., Republic, 2001.
Bloedel, Peter, director. “BLC Theatre Presents Hamlet by William Shakespeare.” YouTube, 20 August 2013, www.youtube.com/watch?v=zz6GL6AFphU.
Whether you decide to put the episode director into the author position or not depends on the show and your use of the show in your writing. If the show features episodes with distinct story lines or dramatic styles, the director for each episode may take on authorial importance, otherwise the creator or director of the series as a whole may be placed in the author position. If no one takes authorial importance for your work, place the title of the episode in the first position.
Bernstein, Adam director. "Hazard Pay." Breaking Bad, season 5, episode 3, High Bridge Productions et al., 29 Jul 2012.
"Hush." Buffy the Vampire Slayer, created by Joss Whedon, performance by Sarah Michelle Geller, season 4, episode 10, Mutant Enemy, 1999.
Cite them like books, book chapters, web pages, etc, depending on whether the item you are citing is a single thing (book/report), a portion of a larger thing (book chapter), or web-based thing (web pages). Sometimes there will be specific people named as authors, but when this is not the case, use the name of the institution or agency responsible for publication.
Begin the entry with the name of the government, followed by a comma and the name of the agency. At the end of the entry for a congressional publication, you may optionally include the number and session of Congress, and they type and number of the publication. (The MLA Handbook specifically recommends following the Chicago Manual of Style if you use many government publications and need specialized citation guidance.)
Great Britain, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, and Food. Our Countryside, the Future: A Fair Deal for Rural England. Her Majesty's Stationery Office, 2000.
United Nations. Consequences of Rapid Population Growth in Developing Countries. Taylor and Francis, 1991.
United States, Congress, House, Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. Al-Qaeda: The Many Faces of an Islamist Extremist Threat. Government Printing Office, 2006. 109th Congress, 2nd session, House Report 615.
Njus, Jesse. Performing the Passion: A Study on the Nature of Medieval Acting. 2010. Northwestern U, PhD dissertation. ProQuest, search.proquest.com/docview/305212264?accountid=7432.
List the person (last name first), followed by "Personal Interview" and then the date of the interview
Smith, Jane. Personal interview. 19 May 2014.
Smith, Jane. Personal Communication. 19 May 2014.
Note that in the first example the title is in quotation marks because that is the name the author gave it. In the second and third examples the interview had no given title, so we present a brief description without quotation marks instead.
Blanchett, Cate. "In Character with: Cate Blanchett." Notes on a Scandal, directed by Richard Eyre, Fox Searchlight, 2006.
Olivier, Laurence. Interview by Kenneth Tynan. Richard III, directed by Laurence Olivier, 2004. The Criterion Collection, www.criterion.com/films/366-richard-iii.
Verbinski, Gore and Johnny Depp. Audio Commentary. Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, Buena Vista Home Entertainment, 2004.
Aristophanes. Directed by Barbara Karger and Michael Preston, 20 April 2006, Goodwin Theater, Austin Arts Center, Hartford.
If you view it first hand, the Location is the physical location of the work. If you view a reproduction, follow the standard rules for Containers.
If your image has no title, give a brief description of the item in the title location. Do not include quotation marks or italicize this description.
DaVinci, Leonardo. Mona Lisa. 1503?, Louvre Museum, Paris.
DaVinci, Leonado. Mona Lisa. 1503?, Wikipedia, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Mona_Lisa,_by_Leonardo_da_Vinci,_from_C2RMF_retouched.jpg.
Image of cat. 2016, img1.wsimg.com/fos/sales/cwh/8/images/cats-with-hats-shop-06.jpg.
See our "Citing Social Media" guide.
@libechillbro. "Root beer floats are in honor of National Library Week, and we'll be handing them out from 2:30-4:30 this afternoon." Twitter, 18 June 2016, 4:39 PM, twitter.com/libechillbro/status/2651151366.
Penguin, Oscar. "Root beer floats are in honor of National Library Week..." Facebook, 18 Apr 2016, facebook.com/openguin/posts/10154065808067067.
libechillbro. "Root beer floats are in honor of National Library Week…" Instagram, 18 Apr 2016, instagram.com/p/5pjGjvjTH6/.
Each cited work has common elements listed in the following order with the punctuation listed on this chart. Works may be published as single units, but many are held in "Containers" (like an essay or poem in a book, or an episode of a TV show, or an article in a newspaper). If information about an element isn't available, skip the element and move to the next.
Here are some useful examples:
Authors are understood very broadly. If you are concentrating on the work of a particular actor in a movie, that actor is the Author, and you add a descriptive label like so: Pitt, Brad, performer. If you have 3 or more authors, list the first author followed by "et al."
Titles of sources are italicized if the source is a complete thing unto itself (a book, play, or movie). Titles are enclosed in quotation marks if the source is part of a larger published thing (a poem in a collection, an episode of a TV show, an article in a journal). For this reason, the title of a container is nearly always italicized. If there is no title, add a brief description of the work but do not use italics or quotation marks.
Other Contributors can be noted if they are important to your work. Precede each name or group of names with a description such as "adapted by" or "edited by." If the person's role must be in noun form, do so followed by a comma as in "general editor, Edwin H. Cady." If the contributor was important to the source but not the container, put this contributor information between the Title of the Source and the Title of the Container.
Versions are occasionally important, such as "8th ed" for this version of the MLA Handbook.
Numbers refer to volume and issue numbers on books and periodicals. Use "vol." and "no." for "volume" and "number."
Publisher refers to the organization that made the source/container available to the public. Place of publication is no longer listed as of the 8th edition, except in special circumstances (see page 51). Multiple publishers which are equally responsible are all listed, separated by a forward slash. "University Press" is abbreviated to "UP." Publishers are not listed for the following types of sources:
Publication Dates are listed in the format "28 Dec. 2014, 10:34 AM." In general, use as much of the date as you can find. For example, for journals listing a month or season and year of an issue's publication, list both the month or season and the year (this is a change from the 7th edition).
Locations may be page numbers (now listed with p. for single pages, pp. for page ranges), or DOIs, or URLs (though leave off the http:// part of the URL). When using URLs, look for "permalinks" or "stable URLs," especially in library databases. Often the URL in the browser will not work after you close your browser or for people other than yourself, but these stable URLs will work for other people. When given the choice between a DOI and a URL, choose the DOI (which will start with "doi:" and continue on like a URL). Locations are flexible and may refer to things like disc numbers in DVD sets, identifying numbers on manuscript collections, or (if you experience something in the real world like an art installation) a city name.
These are listed in the book, pages 50-128. Of special note are the times when listing a place of publication might be useful (page 51), and citing portions of Shakespeare, the Bible, or other classic works of literature (pages 118-124).
Parenthetical citations typically go at the end of a sentence that quote, paraphrases, or refers to a source. Closing punctuation for that sentence goes after the citation.
Each item cited in your text should have a corresponding item in your bibliography.
List the author's last name followed by a page number: (Barron 194).
Add a short title to your citation: (Barron, "Redefining" 194).
Use a short form of the title: (Reading at Risk 3)
Exclude page numbers or use a marker that is prominent in the text (like paragraph numbers, section numbers, time stamps, chapter numbers, line numbers, etc): (Chan, par. 41), (sec. 3), "Hush" 00:03:16-17), (ch. 17), ("Ode" 1-3), etc.
Separate the citations with a semicolon: (Baron 194; Jacobs 55).
Omit the author's name from the citation: (194).
Use the title, followed by abbreviated book name, followed by chapter and verse separated by a period: (Bible, Ezek. 1.5-10).
In Shakespeare, you'll cite the play as if it were a book (if it is published on its own) or as if it were a chapter in a book (if it's published as part of a collection of plays all in a single volume). But then in the text of your paper you'll cite act, scene, and line numbers rather than page numbers. The standard formula is (Name/Title Act.Scene.Line) where the "identifier" is likely only necessary sometimes. If it's clear from your paragraph that you're talking about a Shakespeare play, and if you're only citing one play in your paper, you won't need the Name/Title. If you're citing one play and it's not clear from your paragraph that you're citing Shakespeare, or of you're citing multiple Shakespeare plays in your paper, you should include a short version of the title of the play there.
Some professors prefer roman numerals and some prefer "regular" numbers. For example (Hamlet III.i.68) vs (Hamlet 3.1.68).
Example 1 (no play title needed) - Roman numeral version: Shakespeare's line "To sleep: perchance to dream" opens the possibility that death may not be pleasant (III.i.68).
Example 2 (play title needed) - Arabic numberal version: Shakespeare's line "To sleep: perchance to dream" opens the possibility that death may not be pleasant (Hamlet 3.1.68).
Questions? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
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