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Overview of using MLA to format citations.

Containers and Sources

MLA Handbook, 8th edition, asks writers to consider containers when creating citations. Containers normally appear in italics. They are followed by a comma because everything that comes after a container title--editor and other contributors, publisher name, date of publication, and page numbers--describes the container (30). Many MLA citations will include one or two discrete containers. 

Types of Containers

  • Compilations, such as books of essays, poems, or short stories
  • Newspapers, magazines, and academic journals
  • Websites (including online periodicals) 
  • Library databases and online book platforms

source is a segment of a container. "Use quotation marks for the titles of sources that are contained in larger works. Follow a source with a period" (68). 

Types of Sources

  • Pages on a web site
  • Books that are not compilations
  • Chapters, short stories, or poems in a book 
  • Newspaper, magazine, or journal articles
  • TV series episodes

Important Exception:  MLA 8th still expects writers to "italicize titles of sources that are self-contained and independent" (68). Therefore, italicize book and film titles even when they are not containersbut place a period after them.

MLA Handbook. 8th ed., Modern Language Association of America, 2016. 

Major Changes in 8th Ed.

  • If a core element does not exist or cannot be found, simply omit the element from the Works Cited entry. Placeholders including "n.d." for "no date" and "n.p." for "no publisher" are no longer used.
  • For sources with three or more authors, list the first author's name followed by ", et al.".
  • The city of publication for books is no longer included.
  • Journal volumes and issues are now formatted: "vol. 12, no. 3,".
  • If a journal issue includes a publication month or season include that in the publication date, like: "Spring 2016," or "Jan. 2016,".
  • If an organization is both the author and the publisher, list the organization only once as the publisher and begin the citation with the title.
  • Include a DOI (digital object identifier) when available using the format "doi:############." If a DOI is not available, use a stable URL.
  • The URL, without http:// or https://, should be included for Web sources. Angle brackets are no longer used.
  • The source's medium (Print. Web., etc.) is no longer included.
  • In the Works Cited entry, "p." is used before citing a page number and "pp." is used before citing a page range. These are not used in the in-text citation.
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