Alphabetizing References in MLA Format

According to the MLA handbook, the entries in your works cited list should be alphabetized. After completing your MLA paper and creating your works cited list, alphabetizing references in MLA format is the next step.

Thankfully, alphabetizing the works cited list is very easy because it follows the letter by letter method.

Guidelines for Alphabetizing References

Let’s go through some guidelines when alphabetizing references, shall we?

List the entries alphabetically

You are expected to list each entry alphabetically by the author’s last name. The letters that appear before the comma that separates the last name from the first name should be considered during the arrangement. However, in the case where the last names of two or more entries are the same, then the letters after the comma, i.e. the first name should be considered.

In the course of alphabetizing, you are required to ignore spaces and other punctuation marks.

Example:

Alvin, Wyatt

Jim, Thomas

Rene, Defacto

Sydney, Margaret

Sydney, Jones

Thomas, McAlister

Vaugh, Zachary

Zed, Beth

Special characters and diacritical marks are to be ignored

When the author is unknown

When the author of the source is not known, you are expected to alphabetize the entry by the title.

Example:

“Algerian Costumes for Theatre Arts”

Alvin, Wyatt

“Art and Artists”

“Benton Ousted in the zoo.”

Jim, Thomas

Rene, Defacto

Sydney, Jones

Sydney, Margaret

Thomas, McAlister

Vaugh, Zachary

Zed, Beth

Multiple works by a single author

When a single author has multiple works, you are to alphabetize the list by title. Substitute the author’s name with three hyphens (—) in the subsequent entries followed by a period. However, you are not to place three hyphens in place of the author’s name when the author is listed in another work with multiple authors.

Example:

Sydney, Margaret. “ A Way To Reach The Sky”

—. “Mankind getting to the moon.”

—. “The outer space.”

Thomas, McAlister. “Effects of Hydrogen in The body.”

Thomas, McAlister. “Pollution and what it does to the body.”

Thomas, McAlister, et al. “Confirmation of the impact of CO2 on the lungs.”

Multiple works, coauthors

When you have multiple entries with the first listed author’s name the same, then you are to alphabetize with the last name of the second author listed.

Example:

Rene, Defacto, and Jim, Thomas

Rene, Defacto, and Vaugh, Zachary

However, if the coauthors are the same in the same other, you are to give the name in the first entry, then replace both their names with three hyphens followed by a period. Make sure to alphabetize them by title.

Example:

Rene, Defacto, and Jim, Thomas. “The imagination of females.”

—. “ The linguistics of sexual intercourse.”

Alphabetizing references by title

In the event when you will need to alphabetize the entries by title, you are to alphabetize letter by letter and ignore articles such as The, A, and And in any language they might be written.

Example:

The avengers

locomotives

Les Misrabelles

Taxi

Titles that start with a number

When you are alphabetizing your works cited list, you are expected to treat the numbers as though they are spelt out. For instance, 2 is two and 42 is forty-two

Example:

The avengers

locomotives

Les Misrabelles

1999 conceptualization of arts

Taxi

2+2=5

How To Alphabetize Your Works Cited List Using Microsoft Word

check-mark Highlight all the entries in the work cited list with the exclusion of the page’s header

check-mark Click on the “sort” icon in the paragraph ribbon on the Home tab

check-mark A popup window will open. Under sort by, click paragraph

check-mark Under Type, click on Text and then click ascending

check-mark Click on ok and Microsoft word will automatically sort your list.

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Related Articles:

Alphabetizing References in APA Format

MLA Reference Page