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MLA Citation Style Guide: 8th Edition

Provides general guidelines to MLA citation format, 8th edition

Overall Format: One Container

Publication Elements in MLA 8

In MLA Citation Style Guide 8th edition, the type of source does not determine how the citation is formatted: the source's publication elements are the most important features in this new system.

When you cite a source, look for the publication information listed in this image and arrange the information in this order using the given punctuation.  Keep in mind, you will probably not find all of the information listed; including all fields is not necessary for a correct citation.

Format: Containers Inside of Containers

When citing materials, be aware that sometimes publication "containers" can be nested inside other publication containers.

According to the MLA Handbook (8th), "[s]ometimes a source is part of two separate containers, both of which are relevant to your documentation" (31).

Some examples include:

  • A blog in a network of blogs
  • Journal article in a database like Academic Search Complete.
  • Book of short stories in Google Books
  • An episode of a television series on Netflix

The image to the left shows the publication information that may be found in multiple containers.

 

Defining Terms

Begin with the author or authors' name(s), last name first.

An author is "the person or group primarily responsible for producing the work" (MLA Citation Style Guide 22). An author can be a person, persons, or an organization who created the work that you are citing.

 

The next element in your citation is the title of your source. Make sure that you use standardized capitalization, that is capitalize most of the words in the title. Don't worry about articles (The, A, An) or prepositions (in, on, of, . . . ).

Format titles appropriately with either quotation marks or italics. A title is placed in quotation marks if it is part of a larger work; a title is placed in italics if it is self-contained and separate. For example, place quotation marks around a poem or short story and italicize the title of the book.

EXAMPLE: Bierce, Ambrose. "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge." Selected American Short Stories,

In MLA Citation Style, a container is considered to be "a larger whole . . . that holds a source" (30).  It is a larger source that contains smaller works.

For example, if you are citing the short story "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge," the book that has the short story, Selected American Short Stories, is considered the "container," as it contains the story.

Other examples of containers include magazines, journals, newspapers, which contain articles; blogs, which contain posts; TV series, which contain episodes; or web sites which contain articles or individual posts.

 

The "Other Contributor" field is where you put people who helped contribute to the source, but not the author or authors. This field for is for editors, translators, illustrators, performers, and the like. See the MLA Citation Guide page 37 for other examples.

Example: Bierce, Ambrose. "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge." Selected American Short Stories, edited by Martin Dunlap.

If the source you are citing exists in multiple versions, include the version that you are using in this field. The most common example of different versions are different editions of books. A film may have two versions: a release cut and a director's cut.

Example: Bierce, Ambrose. "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge." Selected American Short Stories, edited by Martin Dunlap. 3rd ed.,

Sources may be part of a numbered series, like issues of journals, graphic novels, or episodes of TV shows. Some journals are numbered by volume and issue number. Examples of formatting:

For a Journal: vol. 128, no. 1.

For a TV Show: season 4, episode 10.

Example: Dunlap, Martin. "Baseball and American Literature." American Sport Quarterly. vol. 14, no. 3,

A publisher is an organization responsible for making the source available to the public.

Finding publishers

  • Books: Look on the title or copyright page.
  • Films / TV series: Find the company that had the primary responsibility for the work.
  • Web sites: Look for a copyright notice or an About page.

Omit publisher from the following types of sources:

  • Periodical (journal, magazine, or newspaper).
  • Web site whose title is practically the same as the name of its publisher.
  • Web site not involved in creating the works that it hosts.

Example: Bierce, Ambrose. "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge." Selected American Short Stories, edited by Martin Dunlap, West Virginia UP,

When citing a source with more than one publication date, cite the date that is "most relevant to your use of the source" (42).

If you are citing year, day, and month, use the following format DAY MONTH YEAR (25 July 2016).

Example: Dunlap, Martin. "Baseball and American Literature." American Sport Quarterly. vol. 14, no. 3, April 2015,

Location is defined by the type of source you are citing. For example, if you are using a print source, location refers to text's page numbers.

For online work, you can use a URL or a DOI (digital object identifier).

Example: Dunlap, Martin. "Baseball and American Literature." American Sport Quarterly. vol. 14, no. 3, April 2015, pp. 67 - 99.

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