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Citations: MLA Style (8th ed.)

A guide to writing and citing in MLA format.

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About MLA Style: Fast Facts

News! MLA 9th ed. will be released in April 2021. We will not officially adopt it until fall 2021. Learn more.


MLA handbook coverMLA = Modern Language Association, a professional society for the humanities and the governing body of MLA Style. Current edition: 8th.

  • Times New Roman, size 12, double-spaced everywhere.
  • In the upper left corner of your first page, you should have the four-line MLA heading:
    • your name,
    • your instructor's name,
    • the course, and
    • the date.
  • In the upper right corner, inside the margin, you should have your last name and page number.

MLA Core Elements: 

MLA ElementsWhen writing a citation, first identify the  [1] creator(s) followed by the [2] title of segment (article title, episode title, etc). Each of these will be followed by a period and a space.

Container 1 Elements:

Next, look for information about where this thing was originally published. Each element will be separated by a comma and a space. [3] Title of Container could be the name of a journal, magazine, TV series, website name... whatever it is that your particular source exists as a piece of. 

[4] is where you'll specify any other contributors, like "translated by Name" or "narrated by Name." You'll probably skip this one a lot. [5] Version can also be edition, whether numeric (7th ed.) or descriptive (Updated ed., director's cut, unabridged version). [6] Number can include volume and issue, or season and episode number.

[7] Publisher is whoever put it out to the world, typically a company name. [8] is the date of that version's publication. For website comments or tweets, include the timestamp. [9] Location is pretty broad. This could be page numbers, a URL or DOI, which disc in a DVD set, or the physical location of an artwork. Note: MLA 8th ed. doesn't need place of publication for a book!

Container 2:

Repeat the elements of the first container for any additional information you need to provide. If you're looking at a source in its original context, you probably won't need to do this. However, for an article in a database, you would include element [3] Title of Container (the name of the database, e.g. Academic Search Complete) and element [9] Location, or the permalink to that article.

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