MLA 8:

Core Elements

MLA 8th Edition: The Core Elements

(adapted from the MLA Handbook, Eighth Edition, 2016)

The 8th edition of the MLA handbook highlights principles over prescriptive practices. Essentially, a writer will need to take note of primary elements in every source, such as author, title, etc. and then assort them in a general format.

Author. Title of Source. Title of Container, Other contributors, Version, Number,

Publisher, Publication Date, Location.


Begin the entry with the author’s last name, followed by a comma and the rest of the name, as presented in the work. “Author” refers to the person or group primarily responsible for producing the work. End this element with a period.

Two authors: include them in the order in which they are presented in the work.

Three or more authors: only show the first author in the source, followed by et al.

Title of Source.

Give the title in full, exactly as found in the source with standardized capitalization and punctuation. Titles are placed in “quotation marks” if the source is part of a larger work. Titles are italicized if the source is self-contained and independent. If a source is untitled, provide a generic description. End this element with a period.

-Book title = italics

-Essay, poem, or story in a collection = “quotation marks”

-Periodical = italics, specific article = “quotation marks”

-TV series = italics, specific episode of TV series = “quotation marks”

-Website = italics, posting or article on website = “quotation marks”

-Song on an album = “quotation marks”

Title of Container,

When the source being documented forms part of a larger whole, the whole is a container that holds the source (e.g. a book that is a collection of essays, poems, or stories). The title of the container is normally italicized, and followed by a comma. There are times when there is more than one container, such as an article found from a journal found on a database.

Other contributors,

If there is another contributor important to the source, they should be named in the citation, preceded by a description of the role (adapted by, directed by, edited by, illustrated by, introduction by, narrated by, performance by, translated by). In most cases, contributors listed are followed by a comma.


If the source exists as a certain version, that should be noted. This includes certain editions, which might be numbered (second edition) or named (the King James Version of the Bible). The version is followed by a comma.


If the source is part of a numbered sequence, such as volumes of a work too long to be published in one book, or an issue of a journal (note: some journals use both volume and issue numbers--you need to list both!). Include the number in the entry, preceded by a term that identifies what the number refers to (e.g. volume, issue, season, episode). The number is followed by a comma.


The publisher is the organization primarily responsible for producing the source or making it available. For books, look on the title page. For websites, the publisher can usually be found by the copyright notice on the bottom of the page, or on a page with information about the site. The publisher is followed by a comma. The publisher may be omitted for the following:

-A periodical (journal, magazine, newspaper)

-A work published by its author or editor

-A website where the title of the site and the publisher are essentially the same

-A website not involved in producing the work it makes available (e.g. Wordpress, YouTube, or an archive like JSTOR or ProQuest).

Publication date,

Sources, especially if found online, may be associated with more than one publication date. In this case, cite the date that has the most meaning or is most relevant to your use of the source. For example, if you find an article online that has also appeared in print, you only need to list the date for the online version, since that is the version consulted. The same goes for newer editions of books--cite the date of the version used. The publication date is followed by a comma.


Specifying a work’s location depends on the medium of publication. End this element with a period.

-Print: a page number or range of page numbers

-Online: URL (Web address) NOTE: a DOI (digital object identifier) is preferable to a URL if available because a DOI remains attached to a source even if the URL changes.

-TV episode in a DVD set: disc number

-Physical object experienced firsthand (not in reproduction): place, commonly an institution. NOTE: Give the name of the place and of its city, but omit the city if it is part of the place’s name.

-Archived objects: number or other code

-Live presentation (such as a performance or lecture): Venue and its city (but omit the city if it is part of the venue’s name

**For specific examples of citing different kinds of sources, please see the Purdue OWL**:

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