1. Failure to Follow MLA Guidelines for Entries – Did you know that there is specific formatting that must be used in a Works Cited page? Unless your teacher says otherwise, you must follow the guidelines from the Modern Languages Association (MLA). The format of each citation will vary depending on the type of source you are using. For example, you will not cite a paper book the same way as you would an e-book. There are also specific rules for citing lectures, films, journal articles, etc. Click here for full MLA Works Cited guidelines.
2. Including Material That Is Not Cited in the Paper – You should never include material on a Works Cited Page if you did not cite the source in the paper. This is the purpose of a Works Cited page -- it gives your readers specific and detailed information about your sources. Even if you paraphrase a source, you need to give the specific source. This is called “indirect” citation. If your teacher asks for a Bibliography then it is fine to include all of the sources that you read, not just the ones that are cited. Often this is what your teacher will want for a research paper, but you should make sure that you follow the specific requirements for the assignment. Note that you will usually be required to cite a minimum number of sources in the body of the paper.
3. Including Non-Scholarly Sources – Did you know that not all sources are appropriate to use in your writing? Unless your teacher says otherwise, try to use scholarly sources in your academic writing. A scholarly source is written by a professional with academic qualifications (like a scientist or a college professor). Usually, your teachers will want you to avoid citing “shortcut” sites like Sparknotes or Litcharts. The shortcut sites may be useful but their purpose is to sell products to you using advertisements. If you are not sure if a source is okay to use, ask your teacher. Remember that you can use Wikipedia to find research for a subject, but you should never cite Wikipedia in a paper.
4. Not Sweating the Small Details – Did you know that your Works Cited page needs to have specific indentations? Each entry should have a hanging indent and you should organize your entries by alphabetical order. Don’t forget that MLA guidelines also require you to follow a specific font style (Times New Roman), color (black), and size (12).
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Image Credit: Wrong by Adrien Coquet from the Noun Project
- Works Cited