MLA Eighth Edition
The latest edition of the MLA Handbook focuses on the elements common to most publications through the use of one standard citation format. There are no special instructions for a particular media type (e.g., book, magazine, journal, or tweet) and there may be more than one way to document a publication depending on how you used the source. The ultimate goal is to provide enough information for the reader to locate your source.
MLA’s Universal Citation Format
Author. "Title of Source." Title of Container, Other Contributors, Version, Number, Publisher,
Publication Date, Location. [Title of Container 2, Other Contributors, Version, Number,
Publisher, Publication Date, Location.]
What is a “container?”
MLA uses the word “container” to refer to the larger body of work from which the documented source originates.
For example, Melissa uses information from a chapter in a psychology textbook for her research paper. The title of the chapter is the source and the title of the book is the container:
A source may have more than one container depending on how it is accessed.
For example, Tom uses an episode of a TV series that is available on Netflix for his research paper. The series title is the first container and Netflix is the second container.
As another example, Kim uses an article he finds in an online database for his research paper. The journal title is the first container and EBSCO is the second container.
What are “other contributors?”
Other contributors are individuals other than the author that are important to include in a citation. In the above example, Tom may be discussing particular performances in the Gossip Girl episode and would include the actors in his citation:
Common descriptions for contributions include: adapted by, directed by, edited by, illustrated by, introduction by, narrated by, performance by, and translated by.
What is a “version?”
A version can be an edition, revision, abridged/unabridged or other special format of the source. Some examples:
What does "location" mean?
The location may be page numbers, a web address or a DOI. It is not the publisher's city.
What about the date of access?
It is important to include the date an item was accessed if there is potential for change to or removal of the item, such as websites or social media posts. This is also important to include if there is no date of publication. Including the date of access will help the reader further understand which version of the item you are using.
For example, Tom may want to include the date of access for his TV show since Netflix frequently adds and removes content:
A few more examples
For a website with no author and no publication date, start the citation with the title of the source:
For an organization as an author, place the name of the organization as the author:
For two authors, list the authors as they appear on the work. The first author is listed last name, first name and the second author is listed first name last name:
For three or more authors, list the first author last name, first name followed by et al.:
It may be helpful to use a template to gather necessary information. A downloadable template is available on the last tab in the MLA section of this website.
Citation Formatting Tips:
- Place a period after the Author, Title of Source if it is part of a larger work, and last item in the container.
- Place a comma after the items that follow the container.
- A title is placed in quotation marks if the source is part of a larger work. (e.g., essay, story, poem, chapter, song, photograph or scene).
- A title is placed in italics if the title is self-contained (e.g., book, album, play, movie.).
- Use a DOI, or digital object identifier, instead of a web address (URL) when possible. The DOI is listed in the article’s information page in an online database.
Works Cited Page Formatting:
- The works cited page is located at the end of the body of the paper on a new page and must be double spaced.
- The page must have the title "Works Cited" in the center of the page. It may not be bolded, within quotation marks, italicized, underlined, or in a larger font.
- The entries must be alphabetized.
- The first line of each entry must be flush with the left margin. If a citation is more than one line, each line after the first line shall be indented 1/2 inch from the left margin.
MLA Handbook. 8th ed., Modern Language Association of America, 2016.
Sevastopoulos, Julie. “Citing Sources.” Grammar-Quizzes, 2016, www.grammar-quizzes.com/writing_citations.html.