Dr. Karen Palmer

When using research to support your ideas, creating a list of sources is required. No matter what format you are working with (APA, MLA, etc), you will need to create a list of sources at the end of your paper.

Below is a general overview of some of the most common documentation guidelines for creating a list of sources. You can also find the complete instructions for the most common documentation styles at the websites below:

Some general online searches, especially those conducted on your library databases, are also likely to generate guidelines for a variety of documentation styles. Look for an opportunity to click on a “citation” or “documentation” icon, or ask a member of the library staff for guidance.

You can even get help through the word processing program you typically use. Microsoft Word, for instance, has an entire tab on the taskbar devoted to managing and documenting sources in all three of the styles featured here. Also, don’t forget the free resources that abound on the web from various online writing labs (OWLs) managed by writing programs at colleges and universities across the country.

Citation Machine provides a tool for citing online sources that is particularly helpful.

Developing a List of Sources

Each different documentation style has its own set of guidelines for creating a list of references at the end of the essay (called “works cited” in MLA, “references” in APA, and “bibliography” in CMS).

Source lists should always be in alphabetical order by the first word of each reference, and you should use hanging indentation (with the first line of each reference flush with the margin and subsequent lines indented one-half inch).


  1. Use the “Insert page” feature to make sure the Works Cited is on its own page at the end of your document. Put your cursor at the end of your paper, then insert a new page. Start typing your list of sources on the new page.
  2. Center the heading at the top of the page. Follow the guidelines for the documentation style you are using.
  3. The entire page should be double spaced, just like the rest of your paper.
  4. Sources should be in alphabetical order.
  5. Sources should use a Hanging Indent.

Use a Hanging Indent

  1. Highlight the text you want to format.
  2. Right click.
  3. Choose Paragraph.
  4. Choose Hanging Indent.
How to make a hanging indent
Image licensed CC BY NC SA.

Exercise 1

1. In your essay rough draft, create a hanging indent.

Additional Resource:

If you don’t know how to cite a certain type of source, please see the OWL at Purdue website: https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/research_and_citation/resources.html 




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Creating a List of Sources Overview Copyright © 2023 by Dr. Karen Palmer is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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