Research Paper Basics

Formatting the Works Cited page

Good news: The physical layout (but not the content of the items) of an APA References page is identical to the layout of an MLA Works Cited page, so once you master this technique, you can use it in APA papers as well.



The really slick way to do this page would be to have a paragraph style for the hanging indent items you need. Unfortunately, neither Google nor Microsoft believes that, so we are on our own. Here goes:

  1. Start a new page. Yes, you can just hit the "Enter/Return" key a lot to force a new page, but that's unreliable. If you ever edit anything or if someone prints it out on a different computer, your Works Cited page might land in the middle of the sheet or some other weird place. Do this instead. After your last page of real content:
    • Apple Pages: Drop down the "Insert" menu and click "Page break."
    • Microsoft Word (online version): Click "Insert" menu and choose "Page Break" (on the left).
    • Google Docs: (I'm assuming you began with the "Report MLA template.) This is a bit tricky because Google Docs doesn't have a robust paragraph styles setup. The slick way to do this was to delete all the "Printer's Greeking" stuff, type your paper, then deal with the Works Cited page. If you didn't do that, put your cursor at the end of your text, drop the "Insert" menu down, choose "Break," then choose "Page break."
  2. Type the title. At the top of the new page type Works Cited and center it. (By the way, all the word processors have a slick, one-click way to center things. If you are still hitting the "Tab" key or the spacebar a lot and eyeballing it, you need to learn this little trick.) By the way, if you type "Works Cited" and center it, the next paragraph will be centered too, so you have to change the formatting back to "Left."
  3. Format the hanging indent. It's probably easiest to do them all at once, so type all your Works Cited entries, then:
    • Apple Pages: Highlight the citations, then open the format menu by clicking the format paintbrush on the right hand menu. Click on Layout in the menu. Under indents, change first to 0.00 and left 0.5.
    • Microsoft Word (online version): Click "Home" menu and find the "Paragraph" section of the menu. Hover over the choices to see what they are and choose "Special Indent." Click that and choose "Hanging."
    • Google Docs: If you left that last page of Works Cited information (all those items from L. I. Dolor) intact, just carefully delete all the template items and type in your new information. If you deleted that page, type your new Works Cited entries, highlight them all, then drop down the "Format" menu. Choose "Align & Indent" then "Indentation options." Then under "Special indent" choose "Hanging."

Noodletools messes up

The citations that Noodletools puts out are just plain ugly. They are always in Courier type and they fake a hanging indent with spaces, so they look like this if you just copy and paste:

Douglass, Frederick. "Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass an American Slave. Written by MMMMMHimself." Free eBooks - Project Gutenberg, 4 Nov. 2012, MMMMM23-h.htm. Accessed 22 May 2019.

Here's how to fix them. Keep Noodletools open because you will need to remember what got italicized.

One more warning

Do not simply copy the Annotated Bibliography for your Works Cited page. The Works Cited page does not include the discussion of the value of the item and it includes only the sources actually referred to in your paper.

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 8/9/21 • Page author: Curtis Allen • e-mail: