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MLA Style (8th/9th Ed.)

NEW MLA Handbook - Eighth Edition

The editorial style of the Modern Language Association (MLA) is used by students and scholars in the Humanities: English Literature, Philosophy, Religion, etc. 

For students, the most important aspect of the style is the method for documenting sources you have used in your papers. You must provide a complete list of the sources you cite at the end of your paper, your Works Cited list. 


Ask your instructor to confirm which Edition of the MLA citation guidelines they want you to use.


Looking for the previous MLA guide?


The MLA Handbook has outlined the core elements to use when creating your list of Works Cited. These are traits that most works share; a creator/author, a title, format, date, and location. 

You may not need to include all of the elements, but the elements used must appear in the same order as shown in the list using the punctuation marks indicated.

Focusing on common elements is meant to make creating your citations easier, particularly for new and emerging publishing platforms. 

Missing information is no longer indicated in the citation. For practice templates and more details visit the MLA Quick Guide.

The elements in brief:

1. Author. -->The author(s) of the work. 

2. Title of source. -->Title of the work. Subtitles are included after the main title.

3. Title of container, -->This is the name of the journal, website, newspaper, etc. that contains the work

4. Contributor, -->This refers to other people who were involved with the work, such as an editor or narrator.

5. Version, --> Use this when your source states it is a different version from the original, e.g., revised edition, 8th edition, director's cut

6. Number, -->This element is used to refer to volume numbers in books, volume and/or issue numbers in journals, seasons and episodes in television shows, etc.

7. Publisher, -->The publisher is the organization responsible for making the source available to the public.

8. Publication date, -->This is the date when the source was published.

9. Location. --> This refers to the location of your source within its container, for example, the page numbers of an essay, the URL of a page or post from a website, or the page numbers of an article from a journal.

Supplemental Elements: description of an unusual or unexpected aspect of a source type, placed after the Title of Source or after Location. This depends on if the specific element applies only to the Author or Title element, to the entire container.

Date of access, Date of original publication, City of publication, Series name, and Information on prior publication.


Begin the entry with the author's last name, followed by a comma and the rest of the name, as they appear in the source. For example, if a middle name is given, use the middle name, not just the initial.  

This element ends in a period.

***If there is no author, skip this element and begin the citation with the title. ***

One author:  Last Name, First Name Initial.  Baron, Naomi S.

When a work has multiple authors, include them in the order in which they are given in the work.  

Two authors  - Last Name, First Name, and First Name Last Name.  Reverse the first, follow it with a comma and and, and give the second name in normal order.

e.g.  Trujillo, Alexander, and Gerald Komanski.

Three or More Authors - Last Name, First Name, et al. Reverse the first of the names (like above), follow it with and comma and et. al. (meaning and others).

e.g.  Mansfield, Amanda, et al.

Corporate, Government or Organization as Author: Do not include "the" when a government department is listed as the author. For example. The Ministry of Agriculture would appear as Ministry of Agriculture in your citation.

Reference List Example for Corporate, Government or Organization as author: 

British Columbia. Ministry of Forests. Managing Identified Wildlife: Procedures

          and Measures. Victoria: Ministry of Forests, 1999.

If someone other than an author is responsible for creating the work, enter their name followed by a label that describes their role (editor, translator, performer etc.)

Examples:  Last Name, First Name, role. Stein, J. B., editor. /  Rogers, Harold B., translator.  /  Harris, Nigel, director.

Reference List Example for Editors:

Bartol, Curt R., and Anne M. Bartol, editors. Current Perspectives in Forensic 

Psychology and Criminal Behavior. 4th ed., Sage, 2016.

For more information, refer to pages 107 -120 of the MLA Handbook, 9th ed.

IN-TEXT Citations:

In-text citation, also called parenthetical citations (because they are wrapped in parentheses) should follow as closely as possible the quote or paraphrase in your writing. 

If you mention the author's name in your writing do not include it in the in-text citation, only provide the page number. Eg: (194)

If you do not mention the author you must include their last name and the page numbers. Eg: (Baron 194)

If quoting more than one work by the same author you must add a short form of the title to help your reader understand which source you are referring to. Note the punctuation: (Baron, "Redefining" 194)

More than one author with the same last name? Include that author's first initial: (L. Baron 194)

Corporate author or Anonymous? Use as shortened version of the title because this is how the source is listed in your works-cited/reference list.

TITLE of Source

After the author, the next element in the citation is the title.  Enter the title as it is given in the source, capitalizing each major word. 

The way a title is formatted helps the reader understand the type of source easily.  If the source is self-contained and independent (and not part of a larger container), the title is italicized.  If the title is part of a larger work, such as an article in a journal, chapter in a book, or a web page on a website, the title is placed within quotation marks.

This element is usually italicized and ends with a period.

The title of a book should be in italics:

Villoldo, Alberto. Illumination: The Shaman's Way of Healing. Hay House, 2010.

Title of a web page from a website should be in quotation marks:

"Drugged Driving by the Numbers." MADD, 2015,
drugged-driving/drugged-driving-by-the.html. Accessed 18 June 2016.

The title of article from a journal/magazine/newspaper should be in quotation marks:

Conatser, Phillip, and Martin Block. "Aquatic Instructors' Beliefs Toward Inclusion."
Therapeutic Recreation Journal, vol. 35, no. 2, 2001, pp. 170-184.

The title of an essay/chapter/short story etc from an anthology should be in quotation marks:
Brant, Beth. “Coyote Learns a New Trick.” An Anthology of Canadian Native 

Literature in English, edited by Daniel David Moses and Terry Goldie,
Oxford UP, 1992, pp. 148-150.

For more information, refer to pages 121 - 133 of the MLA Handbook, 9th ed.

IN-TEXT Citations:

Abbreviate a title if it is longer than a few words. If it starts with a noun phrase shorten it to only the noun phrase. Eg: Faulkner's Southern Novels - is a noun phrase so the entire title would appear in your in-text citation.  Faulkner's Novels of the South - should be shortened to  Faulkner's Novels. A quote from page 23 of the book Under the Volcano would appear as (Under 23) in the text of your paper.

Use the established abbreviations for the works of Shakespeare and the Bible found on pages 96 - 101 in the MLA Handbook.

If there is no author start in-text citation with the word used to alphabetize it in the works cited list. This may be a shortened version of the title, or a description of a source. It must match the entry in the citation list.(pp.117 -118) Eg: (Gif of Meryl Streep)

TITLE of Container

"When the source being documented forms a part of a larger whole, the larger whole can be thought of as a container that holds the source.  The container is crucial to the identification of the source. A container can also be nested within a larger container (e.g. a journal article is contained within a journal and that journal is contain within an online database. (MLA Handbook, 8th ed., p. 30) 

This element is italicized and followed by a comma, since the information that comes next describes the container. 

In this sample citation, the first container and the second container are both in italics.  

The first container is the Journal of Scientific Exploration.  

The second container is the online database Academic Search Complete.  

Each of these are followed by a comma because the information that follows describes the container.


Williams, George R. "What Can Consciousness Anomalies Tell Us about Quantum Mechanics?" Journal of Scientific Exploration, vol.30, no. 3, 2015, pp. 326-354. Academic Search Complete,

NOTE:grey highlight and colored font are for learning and illustration only. Do not use this formatting in your citations.

 Find more information on pages 134 - 145 MLA Handbook, 9th ed.

Contributor, (formerly Other Contributors)

In addition to the author of a work, other people such as translators, editors, directors, performers etc. may have been important contributors to the work.

This element ends with a comma. 

 If they are considered important, or if you discuss their contribution, you should name the contributors in your citation.

Common descriptions are:

adapted by     directed by    edited by    illustrated by    introduction by    narrated by     performance by

Example for Translator -  translated by: 

Paz, Octavio. In Light of IndiaTranslated by Eliot Weinberger, Harcourt, 1997.

For more information: MLA Handbook, 9th ed. p. 145 - 153


If the source has a version or edition, include this in your citation.  Books are commonly published in versions called editions.  They may be published as revised edition, 2nd edition, expanded edition etc. Audiovisual material may also appear in versions such as unabridged version or director's cut. Abbreviate edition to ed. and revised to rev. 

This element ends with a comma.

Citation Example:

Lutgens, Frederick K., and Edward J. Tarbuck. The Atmosphere: An 

Introduction to Meteorology13th ed., Pearson, 2016.

For more information, refer to pages 154 - 157 of the MLA Handbook, 9th ed.


If your source is part of a numbered sequence, provide the type of number followed by the number (e.g. vol. 2).  Common numbered sequences are volume (vol.), issue (no.), season, episode. Abbreviate volume to vol. and number to no.

This element ends with a comma.  

Citation Example:

Rabb, Nathaniel, et. al. "Truths About Beauty and Goodness: Disgust Affects

Moral but not Aesthetic Judgments." Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity

and the Artsvol. 10, no. 4, 2016, pp. 492-500. PsycINFO,

doi:10.1037/aca0000051. Accessed 12 Nov. 2016. 

For more information, refer to pages 158 - 164 of the MLA Handbook, 9th ed.

IN-TEXT Citations:

Multiple volumes: If you quote or refer to more than one volume include the volume number and page reference in the in-text citation. Do not use the words 'volume' or 'pages' or their abbreviations!  Eg: (5: xxii). This is the correct in-text format for volume 5 page xxii.

Multiple editions: If you are quoting from a work that is commonly studied and is available in many different editions it is helpful to your reader to include this information.


The publisher produces the work or makes it available to the public.  To find out the the name of a book's publisher, check the title page or the copyright page  which is usually on the reverse side. If your source has more than one publisher, separate the publishers with a forward slash (/).

Omit business words such as Company (Co.), Incorporated (Inc.), Limited (Ltd.), Corporation (Corp.).

Shorten University Press to UP (e.g. Oxford UP,  U of Chicago P).

On Web sites, the publisher's name is often located at the bottom of the home page or on a page that gives information about the site.  Omit the publisher if the title of the web site is the same as the name of the publisher.

This element ends with a comma.

Example - television series:

Kuzui, Fran Rubel, director. Buffy the Vampire SlayerTwentieth Century Fox1992

Example - book:

Lessig, Lawrence. Remix: Making Art and Commerce Thrive in the Hybrid EconomyPenguin Press, 2008.

For more information, refer to pages 164 - 172 of the MLA Handbook, 9th ed.


Write the full date as you find it on the source.  Use the format of Day Month Year to minimize the use of commas.

The names of months that are longer than four letters are abbreviated in the works cited list. (MLA Handbook, 8th ed. p. 95)

Jan.     Feb.     Mar.     Apr.     Aug.     Sept.     Oct.     Nov.     Dec. 

This element ends in a comma if the citation continues with more information.  

If it is the end of the citation, it ends with a period.

"When a source carries more than one date, cite the date that is most meaningful or most relevant to your use of the source.  For example if you consult an article on the web site of a news organization that also publishes its articles in print, the date of online publication may appear at the site along with the date when the article appeared in print.  Since you consulted only the online version of the article, ignore the date of the the print publication." (MLA Handbook, 8th ed., p. 42-43)

If the source you are citing does not have a publication date, omit that part of the citation. Do not write "No date" or "N.d."

Example - article in a journal:

Baron, Naomi S. "Redefining Reading: the Impact of Digital Communication Media."

          PMLA, vol. 128, no. 1, Jan 2013, pp. 193-200

For more information, refer to pages 173 - 186 of the MLA Handbook, 9th ed.


The location element refers to page number or page numbers in a print resource or the web address (URL) or a digital object identifier (DOI) for online resources. If available, cite the DOI rather than a URL. for lectures or performances use the venue.

For a single page, use p., for a range of pages use pp.

This element ends with a period.

Example - article in a journal found online with DOI:

Chan, Evans. "Postmodernism and Hong Kong cinema." Postmodern Culture, vol. 10, no. 3,

           May 2000. Project Musedoi:10.1353/pmc.2000.0021

Example - physical object or art work that you experienced in real life: Artist. Title. Date created. Location.

Bearden, Romare. The Train. 1975, Museum of Modern Art, New York.

For more information, refer to pages 187 - 197 of the MLA Handbook, 9th ed.

IN-TEXT Citations:

Multiple editions: If you are quoting from a work that is commonly studied and is available in many different editions it is helpful to your reader to include this information. Use the numbering scheme from the work itself. Do not count lines or invent your own numbering system.

Plays: Act, scene, line. Prose: page number: chapter. Poems: page, line or paragraph. 

Shakespeare: use the standard abbreviation of the play's title then act.scene.line numbers. Eg: (Ham. 1.5.35-37)

Standard abbreviations of common works including Shakespeare are on pages 97 - 101 in the MLA Eight Edition.


In addition to the nine core elements, there are optional elements that can be added. "Your decision to include optional elements depends on their importance to your use of the source." (MLA Handbook, p.50).

Date of original publication: "...consider giving the date of original publication if it will provide the reader with insight into the work's creation or relation to other works." (MLA Handbook, p.50).

City of publication: Publishers with offices in different countries often publish novels in different versions. Also reprints of classic works that are intended for students and scholars may have a unique introduction, a scholarly preface or afterward from the author. If you are citing these sections it would be very helpful to provide your reader with more than the required elements.

Volume: for multi-volume work.
Example:  Rampersad, Arnold. The Life of Langston Hughes. 2nd Ed., Oxford UP, 2002. 2 vols.

Series name: if resource is one of a series.

Unusual or unexpected resource type: a transcript, a lecture or public address. Other possibilities include an interview you conducted, a sermon or protest speech you were witness to, or even a performance art piece that you experienced at an event or gallery.

Information on prior publication: Various editions of a specific resource can exist for many reasons. A film director may release a director's cut of a film with additional scenes that were removed from the original film. 

Date of access: MLA no longer requires this information but your instructor may want you to include it in your citations.

For more information see pages 208 - 219 of the MLA 9th Edition.