A Simple Guide to Writing an MLA Bibliography

Though quite easy, most people experience difficulties when it comes to writing a bibliography in MLA style. Some miss key factors while others include them, but in wrong styles. What then must be included in such a bibliography? Here is the complete guide to help you write that amazing bibliography in MLA format.

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  1. Have a Heading

When it comes to writing, headings are quite essential. They help the reader understand what the content is all about. Because you are writing a bibliography, the title then must be bibliography. It should be in sentence case and centrally indented.


  1. Indicate the Author

This is the first step in writing the bibliography. The author is the owner of the material you have used to cite your work. Always begin with the surname of the author. It should then be followed by the first name. Where there are three or more authors, indicate the first author only, followed by et al. I mean, Last name, First name et al. Do not indicate any degrees or designations that the author holds. These include titles like Ph.D., Mr., or Rev.  The only exception is when Jr. and Sr. are used. This is indicated because these two designations differentiate two different people. The format is the same when it comes to journals, articles, and magazines.


(One author)- Gilman, Charlotte.

(More than 3 authors)- Gilman, Charlotte et al.


  1. Indicate the Title and Sub Title

When writing the title or subtitle, every important word is capitalized. Important words include nouns, adverbs, adjectives, and verbs.  Conjunctions are however not capitalized. Where there is both a title and sub title, the two must be separated by a colon (:). In addition, titles and sub titles must always be italicized.

For example; Herland: MLA Style Citations for Scholarly Secondary Sources, Peer-Reviewed Journal Articles and Critical Essays.

Notice how I did not capitalize the conjunctions. Use the same format when it comes to articles, journals, periodicals, and magazines.


  1. Illustrate the Place of Publication

This is only applicable to books. The place of publication is in most cases a city or a town. Therefore, names of countries and states are not used. If a city is well known such as Paris, there is no need then to show its state. However, if it is not known, always indicate its state.

An example is Hauppauge, New York. Alwaysremember to separate the city and state using a comma.


  1. Note the Publisher

For journals, articles, and newspapers, it is not essential. However, for books it is a must. Do not confuse the publisher with the printer. Where a publisher is not given, use ‘n.p.’ without quotations to show the publisher is not shown. In case there are many publishers, mention them in the order that they are listed. Additionally, they should reflect their year of publication.


  1. Add the Date of Publication

There is a huge difference between the date of printing and the date of publication. Be very cautious when searching for the date of publication. When it comes to a book, the copyright year is what is used. The term copyright is not included in the works cited. Only the year is indicated.  If it is a publication, it can be expressed in terms of a month, year, or season.



Books- Gilman, Charlotte. Herland: MLA Style Citations for Scholarly Secondary Sources, Peer-Reviewed Journal Articles and Critical Essays. California, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2016.

Journals- Alternatives Journal Spring 2005.


  1. Indicate the Page Number(s)

They are used to indicate where citations come from in articles or anthologies. Additionally, they also indicate what the used footnotes and end notes were referring to. It is not a requirement that page numbers be included when it comes to books. If a page number is not given, use ‘n.pag’ without quotations.


For Example;

Gilman, Charlotte. Herland: MLA Style Citations for Scholarly Secondary Sources, Peer-Reviewed Journal Articles and Critical Essays. California, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2016. 114-119.

Note how I have hang indented the bibliography after the first line. It is a must.



The basic guidelines can therefore be summarized as follows;


Author’s Surname, First name. Title: Subtitle. City of publication, Publisher, Year of publication.

Magazines, articles, journals, or periodicals

Author’s Surname. First name. Title: Subtitle, Day, Month, Year of publication: Page number(s).





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