Citation Guide

MLA Handbook, 8th Edition: A Major Overhaul

The 8th edition of the MLA Handbook was published in April 2016.  Below is a brief introduction to the philosophy behind the changes, an explanation of Core Elements, and examples of common Works Cited entries. 

MLA 8th Edition: The Basics

In the 7th edition of the MLA Handbook, the focus was on publication formats--many, many publication formats (book, book chapter, journal article, webpage, section of a webpage, YouTube video, etc.). And each format had its own set of rules for creating the citation. What to do if you had a source in a format not covered by the Handbook? Good luck forcing the citation to fit an existing format!

In the new 8th edition, the focus is on core elements common to most sources (author, title, date, etc.) and universal, flexible guidelines.

Core Elements

Core elements are the basic pieces of information that should be common to all sources, from books to articles to DVDs to webpages to Tweets.

The 9 MLA core elements are:

Core Elements

Elements are shown in the order in which they should appear.

Each element is followed by the punctuation mark shown, UNLESS it is the final element, in which case it will end in a period.

If you cannot find one of the elements, simple omit it.  You no longer need to put n.d. when you can’t find a publication date on a website, or n.p. if there is no publisher or sponsor.

Note that medium of publication (Web, Print) is no longer a core element!

See https://style.mla.org/works-cited-a-quick-guide-book/ for three citation examples with annotations.

Major Changes in the 8th Edition

  • Omitted, Deleted, Done Away With
    • Medium of publication (Web, Print) 
    • Place of publication  
    • Date a webpage was accessed. [Optional: ask your instructor!]
    • n.d. (to signify no date found) and n.p. (to signify no publisher or sponsor found)
  • Added or Expanded
    • Label volume and issue numbers as vol. and no.(It's vol. 41, no. 7; not 41.7)
    • Include the url, minus http:// or https://, unless your instructor tells you otherwise.
    • When possible, citing a DOI (digital object identifier) is preferable to citing a URL.
    • Provide publishers' full names.
    • Pseudonyms, including online handles and screen names, can now be used as authors' names.

Works Cited Entry Examples

“Remember that there is no longer necessarily one “right” way to cite a source. Emphasize to your students that it is up to them to use the list of core elements to create works-cited-list entries and to draw on what is optional about the style to emphasize the most important aspects of their use of a given source.” (MLA Style Center)

For detailed examples with annotations, see the MLA Style Center.

**MLA recommends that writers indent the second and subsequent lines of each entry so that readers can spot where the entry begins.

Book with one author

Bradley, Heather. Design Funny: A Graphic Designer's Guide to Humor. HOW Books, 2015.

Book with two authors

Grazer, Brian, and Charles Fishman. A Curious Mind: The Secret to a Bigger Life. Simon & Schuster, 2015.

Book with three or more authors

Schacter, Daniel L., et al. Introducing Psychology. Worth Publishers, 2013.

Chapter in a book

Kang-Brown, Jason, et al. "Zero-Tolerance Policies Do Not Make Schools Safer." School Safety, edited by Noah Berlatsky, Greenhaven Press, 2016, pp. 50-52.

Article found in a library database (DOI found)

Barlow, David H., and Katherine Ann Kennedy. "New Approaches to Diagnosis and Treatment in Anxiety and Related Emotional Disorders: A Focus on Temperament." Canadian Psychology, vol. 57, no. 1, 2016, pp. 8-20. ProQuest, dx.doi.org/10.1037/cap0000039.

Article found in a library database (no DOI found)

Hallett, Vicky. "Prancercise, a Celebration of Self-Expression." The Washington Post, 18 Sept. 2013. EbscoHost, ezproxy.nwtc.edu:2048/login?url=https://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=edsgov&A  N=edsgcl.343280158&site=eds-live&scope=site.

Article or page on a Web site

So let’s say I want to cite this CDC website: http://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/basics/index.html

One option is to use these core elements:
Author. “Title of Source.” Title of Container, Publication Date, Location.

United States, Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Diabetes Basics.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 20 Jul. 2017, www.cdc.gov/diabetes/diabetes/basics/index.html.

Another possible option is to leave off any author. I recommend this when you are using two or more web source with the same “author”, especially government entities, which can be looooooooong and whose names are usually repeated later in the citation.

“Title of Source.” Title of Container, Publisher, Publication Date, Location.

Diabetes Basics.” Diabetes Home. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 20 Jul. 2017, www.cdc.gov/diabetes/diabetes/basics/index.html

Dissertation found online

Zapf, Jason S. The Relationship between Students' Perceptions of Instructor Immediacy and Academic Engagement in Online Courses. 2008. Indiana U, PhD Dissertation, ProQuest, gradworks.umi.com/33/19/3319912.html.

YouTube Video

sayerb123. “Husky Puppy Talking Saying ‘I Love You’.” YouTube, Dec. 13 2009, youtu.be/N_Qqs0Qw5CE.