Works Cited Warnings

As you put together your final copy of the research/synthesis paper, here are a few citation pitfalls—they are extremely common, and you should avoid them. (The teacher will be very aware of them and will be marking your paper!)

Don't mix MLA and APA

Because this is an MLA paper, ALL of the in-text citations must be MLA.

An MLA citation is the author's name plus page number, if there is one. (Web sites don't normally have page numbers.) Here are two examples of MLA citations; the first would be a printed item, and the second a website.

Citation mistakes “are extremely common, and you should avoid them” (Allen 123).
Citation mistakes “are extremely common, and you should avoid them” (Allen).

APA citations are normally the author's name plus the date of publication:

Citation mistakes “are extremely common, and you should avoid them” (Allen, 2020).

NOTE: Even if your high school teacher said it's OK to mix things or to use the in-text citation format you feel best about, it's just not. Choose one format and stick with it.

A bare web address is not a Works Cited page entry

This is not enough for a Works Cited page entry:

www.toptieradmissions.com/

This is slightly better, but still insufficient:

www.toptieradmissions.com/how-the-coronavirus-impacts-grad-school-admissions

The best practice is to use Noodletools and actually fill in all the blanks that apply to your source. If you do that, you get a Works Cited citation which looks like this:

Wilmott, Kristen. “How the Coronavirus Impacts Grad School Admissions.” College Admissions Counseling | Ivy League Admissions Coaching, National Association for College Admission Counseling, 10 Mar. 2020, www.toptieradmissions.com/how-the-coronavirus-impacts-grad-school-admissions/. Accessed 5 Apr. 2020.

That citation above is really full. We can get away without the web address, and if the site name had just been the name of the sponsoring organization, we would not have needed the organization's name either.

Author name problems

A Writer's Reference discusses authorship on page 398. Here are a few isues I keep running into.

Author unknown

Corporate authorship

The Washington Post and other newspapers often post opinions that the whole organization stands behind. The Post's author attribution says "By Editorial Board." That is not someone's name. There is no Mr. Board who lives with his wife Hermione Board and the three darling Board children, so treat it like a corporate name:

Editorial Board. “Foot-dragging GOP Governors Are Imperiling the Whole Country.” Washington Post, 4 Apr. 2020. Accessed 5 Apr. 2020.

It would probably be acceptable to treat this as a no-author item. That would have the advantage of giving you a much cleaner in-text citation: ("Foot-dragging") instead of the confusing (Editorial Board).

“Foot-dragging GOP Governors Are Imperiling the Whole Country.” Washington Post, 4 Apr. 2020. Accessed 5 Apr. 2020.

Wire Services and Associated Press are never authors. Don't list them as such. And for goodness sake, don't list "Services, Wire" or "Press, Associated" as an author!

Academic degrees

In my examples above, Kristen Wilmott really does have her doctorate, but we do not put that on the Works Cited page.

One last thing: Alphabetize

The Works Cited page entries are alphabetized, not numbered, not in order of appearance, not sorted according to type of resource.


The views and opinions expressed in this page are strictly those of the page author.
The contents of this page have not been reviewed or approved by Ashland University.
Revised 5/5/20 • Page author: Curtis Allen • e-mail: callen@ashland.edu.