MLA Citation Style (8th Edition)

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  • MLA Guidelines:

    (Based on the MLA Handbook, 8th ed., published in 2016)

    What’s New in the Eighth Edition

    In the previous version of MLA, an entry in the works-cited list was based on the source’s publication format (e.g book, film, website, magazine article). In contrast, the 8th edition, the entry is not based on publication format. Instead, it deals with facts more common to most works such as author, title and so on.

    Table of Contents

    Core elements

    These are the elements that MLA suggests including in each of the Works Cited entry. The elements are listed in the following order and should be followed by the punctuation marks as per the list. 

    Core elements in order with punctuations:
    1. Author.
    2. Title of source.
    3. Title of container,
    4. Other contributors,
    5. Version,
    6. Number,
    7. Publisher’s name,
    8. Date of publication,
    9. Location.
    If two containers: Container 1:
    1. Author.
    2. Title of source.
    3. Title of container 1
    4. Other contributors
    5. Version
    6. Number
    7. Publisher’s name
    8. Date of publication
    9. Location
    Container 2:
    1. Title of container 2
    2. Other contributors
    3. Version
    4. Number, Title
    5. Publisher’s name
    6. Date of publication
    7. Location

    Author: Start with the author’s last name, followed by a comma and the rest of the name, as presented in the work. End this element with a period.

    Title of the source: Titles of any chapters or sections that were used. Depending on the source it should be listed in italics or in quotation marks. Books and websites name should be in italics. A title is placed in quotation marks if the source is part of a larger work ( poems; essays; short stories; magazines, journal, and newspaper articles, ) should be in quotation marks. End this element with a period.

    Title of the container: Unlike the previous editions, the 8th edition included the title of the container. Containers are the elements that hold the source. For example, if you want to cite an essay which is listed in a collection of essays then the essay is the source and the collection is the container. Title of the container is italicized and followed by a comma and then the rest of the information (elements 4-9) that describes the container ending with a period. In some cases, a container might be within a larger container (i.e a Databases). In that case, after all the information about the smaller container, provide the information about the larger container for elements 3-9.

    Other contributors: Here include the other contributors such as editors, illustrators, translators etc. Note: In the eighth edition, terms like editor, illustrator, translator, etc., are not abbreviated. This element ends with a comma.

    Version: If a source is listed as an edition or version of a work, include it in your citation. End this element with a comma.

    Number: If a source is part of a multi-volume set or journal with both volume and issue numbers, those numbers must be listed in your citation entry. (e.g vol. 30 no.2) Publisher’s Name: Include name of the publisher here. End this element with a comma.

    Date of publication: include here the publication date. When the source has more than one date, then use the date that is most relevant to your use of it. End this element with a comma. Location: An essay in a book or an article in a journal should include page numbers and for that use the abbreviation (p.) for a page number or (pp.) for a range of pages. The location of an online article should include URL. The physical object that you experience firsthand, should identify the place of location.

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    Optional elements

    These are the elements that can be included in the citation at the writer’s discretion.

    1. Date of original publication
    2. City of publication
    3. Digital Object Identification or DOI: is series of numbers and letters that leads to a location of an online journal. If your online source is listed with a DOI then use that instead of a URL
    4. URL: even though URL is an optional element, MLA 8th edition recommends to include it when citing online sources.
    5. Date of Access. even though Date of Access is an optional element, MLA 8th edition recommends to include it when citing online sources.

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    Your bibliography list should be alphabetized by author’s last name. For sources that do not have an author, alphabetize by the title (omitting articles like "a" or "the"). Your bibliography should also be formatted using hanging indents (creating a hanging indent in Microsoft word or in Google Docs). Double space all citations. Do not skip spaces between entries. (For more details see the section MLA Work Cited Page located at the bottom of the page)

    Author/creator. Title of the source (chapter of a book, “article,” “essay,” “poem” ). Title of the container

    (book, website, periodical, television series), Other contributors (edited, 

    illustrated by, adapted by),  Version (edition, revised, special edition), Number (vol. no.), Publisher,

    Publication date, Location (URL without http://, database title). Accessed date (electronic sources only).


    • One author

    Bourne, Joel K. “The Plight of the Punjab.” The End of Plenty: the Race to Feed a Crowded World, W.W.

    Norton & Company INC, 2015, pp.77–97.W.W. Norton & Company INC, 2015, pp. 77–97.

    • Two Authors

    Shaffer, Mary Ann, and Annie Barrows. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. New York, NY,

    The Dial Press, 2008.

    • Three or more authors

    Danielson, Charlotte et al. Implementing the Framework for Teaching in Enhancing Professional Practice,

    Alexandria, VA, ASCD, 2009.

    Other Contributors:

    Sullivan, Robert, editor. “The Arts.” 100 Photographs That Changed the World, Time Warner, New York, 2003.

    Magazine article (accessed from a database):

    “Climate Change.” Issues & Controversies. Infobase Learning, 18 Mar. 2016, Accessed 25 Oct.2016 

    For more detail, see the MLA guide for A Journal Article Retrieved from a Database

    Website Wagner, Gernot, and Martin L Weitzman. “An Economist’s Take on How to Combat Climate Change.”  PBS, PBS, 3 Dec. 2015,  Accessed 25 Oct. 2016.

    YouTube video (or other online videos) Lastname, Firstname [or single username]. "Title of YouTube Video." Publishing Website, Day month year posted, URL. Penguin, Oscar. "Root Beer Floats." YouTube, 18 Apr 2013,  For more detail, see the MLA guide for videos on websites.

    SoundCloud (or other online audio) Lastname, Firstname [or single username]. "Title of the audio track." Publishing Website, Day month year posted, URL. Penguin, Oscar. "Root Beer Floats" SoundCloud, 18 Apr 2013,

    Citing Social Media:

    • Facebook post (use this format for a Google+ or Renren post also) Lastname, Firstname [or username or page name]. "first several words of a Facebook post..." Facebook,           Day month year posted, time posted [if available], URL. Penguin, Oscar. "Root beer floats are in honor of National Library Week..." Facebook, 18 Apr 2013,
    • Instagram Lastname, Firstname [or single username]. (handle). "First several words of an Instagram post (if any)..." Instagram, Day month year posted, URL. libechillbro. "Root beer floats are in honor of National Library Week…" Instagram, 18 Apr 2013,
    • Twitter @Username. "Full text of the tweet." Twitter, Day month year posted, time posted, URL. @libechillbro. "Root beer floats are in honor of National Library Week, and we'll be handing them out from 2:30-4:30 this afternoon." Twitter, 18 June 2013, 4:39 PM,


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    MLA Paper Format

    (Always follow your teacher’s instructions)

    • Use white 8.5 x 11-inch paper.
    • Set the margins 1 inch on all sides.
    • Double-space the text of your paper.
    • Use Times New Roman or similarly legible font. The font size should be 12 pt.
    • Leave only one space after all the punctuation marks.
    • Indent the first line of paragraphs one half-inch from the left margin.
    • Insert a header in the upper right-hand corner that numbers all pages consecutively with Arabic numerals (1, 2, 3, 4, etc.) and align to the right margin
    • Use italics throughout your essay for the titles of longer works
    • Include Endnotes on a separate page before your Works Cited page. Label it Notes and center it

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    MLA Formating the First Page

    (Always follow your teacher's instructions)

    • Do not make a Title page.
    • Double space between each line.
    • In the upper left-hand corner, list your name, your teacher’s name, the course, and date.
    • After double spacing add the title in Title case (standard capitalization rule), and align in center
    • Insert a header in the upper right corner at half an inch from the top and one inch from the right of the page, list your last name and page number here

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    In-Text Citations

    • All sources cited in the text should be listed on the Works Cited page.
    • The author’s name may be included in the text and only the page numbers in parentheses. Many instructors prefer this method.
    • Alternately, use the first part of your citation for parenthetical documentation; this usually will be the author or authors’ last names. Follow with the page number. (Brown and Proper 17).
    • Use as little information as possible while making a unique identification. If there are two books by the same author, you must include part of the title. (Allison, Whatever 97).
    • When you are quoting person A in who was quoted in person B’s essay, your parenthetical reference should acknowledge that: “Allison believes such and such (qtd. in Brown and Proper 256).”
    • If you have no page numbers, it usually flows better to include an indirect reference in the text, such as,“According to Allison, the…”

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    MLA Work Cited Page

    (Always follow your teacher's instructions)

    • Your Work Cited list should be on a separate page at the end of your research paper.
    • It should have the same one-inch margins and last name, page number header as the rest of the paper.

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