Rules for Spelling Names
A few additional rules:
- Spell names exactly the way they appear on the source. For instance, if the source gives a nickname, like “Tom,” put that, not “Thomas.”
- If a middle name or initial is given, include it after the first name.
- Suffixes, like “Jr.” or “III”, are included if they appear on the source, but not titles, like “Doctor” or “R.N.”
A note on hanging indents
MLA style requires "hanging indents" for works cited entries: the second and subsequent lines of each entry are indented 5 spaces past the first line.
Examples in this guide do not show the hanging indent, because of the way that the guide displays across different screen sizes. See the tab "hanging indents" for more information on hanging indents and how to create them.
In addition, example citations in this guide are shown in bold. This formatting is used to help separate them from explanatory text. Do not use bold type for the citations on your real works cited page.
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The author is the person or entity responsible for the work. If the work isn’t written, the name of an artist, performer, director, etc., may go in this spot. Complete entries for various source types are shown, but authors’ names are handled the same way for any source type. Model the “author” part of your citation off the example that best matches your source’s authorship situation, even if the example is a different source type.
One Author: Put the author’s last name (family name) first, followed by a comma and the first (personal) name.
Goad, Tom W. Information Literacy and Workplace Performance. Quorum, 2002.
Two Authors: List the authors in the order they appear on the source. For the first author, arrange the name as shown above for a single author. For the second author, put the name in normal order, rather than last name first.
Zwier, Lawrence J., and Glenn Mathes II. Study Skills for Success. U of Michigan Press, 2005.
Three or more authors: List the first author, as shown for a work with one author. After the name, put a comma and the words “et al.”, which means “and others.”
Moore, Sarah, et al. The Ultimate Study Skills Workbook. Open UP, 2010.
No author: If you don’t see an author’s name on your source, review the next several examples to see if any of them apply to your source. If you are sure there is nothing that makes sense to put in the author spot, begin your entry with the title of the source. Do not put “anonymous” or “unknown.”
“Sources and Searches: Resources for Media Literacy and Research.” American Libraries, vol. 48, no. 5, May 2017, pp. 60-61. EBSCOhost, 0 -search.ebscohost.com.wave.lccc.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&AuthType=ip,cookie,url,uid&db=a9h&AN=122898587&site=ehost-live.
An editor: An editor’s name may go in either the author spot, or in the “other contributor” spot. One time you may want to use an editor’s name in the author spot is when your source is an anthology or collection of pieces by a lot of different authors, and you want to cite the whole thing. If you were citing just one piece from the collection, you’d put the author’s name in the author spot, and the editor in the “other contributor” spot.
Here’s an example of citing a whole collection:
Mintz, Anne P., editor. Web of Deceit: Misinformation and Manipulation in the Age of Social Media. Cyberage, 2012.
If there was a second or third editor, you would handle their names the same way you would additional authors.
And here’s one of citing a single piece:
Smith, Meg. “Social Media and Intentional Misinformation.” Web of Deceit: Misinformation and Manipulation in the Age of Social Media, edited by Anne P. Mintz, Cyberage, 2012, pp. 1-19.
Organization as author: Authorship of the source may be attributed to an organization, rather than a specific person or people. Put the organization’s name as it appears on the source—don’t try to break it up into a first name and a last name.
American Medical Association. Family Medical Guide. Wiley and Sons, 2004.
If the name of the organization is also the name of the publisher, you don’t have to put it twice: just start the entry with the source title, and put the publisher in the publisher spot:
MLA Handbook. Modern Language Association, 2016.
Something other than an author or editor: If your source is non-written, put the name of the person (or people, or group) responsible for the content in the author spot, and include a brief description of their role: director, performer, producer, creator, artist, etc.
Seligman, Martin, speaker. “What Positive Psychology Can Help You Become.” TED Talks, TED Conferences LLC, 28 Jan., 2012. Films on Demand, Films Media Group.
If there is more than one important role involved in the creation of the work, consider which one is most important for your purposes, and put that one in the author spot. Additional roles and names can go in the “other contributor” spot. If there is more than one individual person performing the same authorship role—for instance, co-directors of a movie—handle the names the same way you would multiple authors, as shown above.
Pseudonym: If a name appears on the source, use it, even if it obviously isn’t the person’s true legal name. This situation often comes up with internet sources that are posted under a nickname or handle. You may have to use your judgement about whether to invert the name (put the last name first) as you would normally do for a first author. If the pseudonym includes an obvious first and last name, invert it, like any other name, for a first or only author:
Twain, Mark. Huckleberry Finn. Townsend, 2003.
If you can’t pick out a first and last name, put the name in the same order as it appears on the source, like you would for an organization:
Not That Mike The Other Mike. Cutetropolis. 2017. http://cutetropolis.com/.
Translator: Most of the time, the name of a translator will go in the “other contributor” spot, and the author will go in the author spot.
Khosrokhavar, Farhad. Radicalization: Why Some People Choose the Path of Violence. Translated by Jane Marie Todd, New Press, 2017.