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MLA 8th: Overview

Examples of how to cite resources found at PCC Library according to the MLA Handbook, 8th edition.

MLA 8th Edition

This guide provides citation information according to the new (2016) 8th edition of the MLA Handbook. For examples of MLA citations according to the old (2009) 7th edition, see the guide titled MLA 7th.

Core Elements of MLA Citations

The new 8th edition of the MLA Handbook recommends that you break down your source information into its core elements, and arrange these according to a standard format that can be applied to any type of source. Think of your citation as having a number of small parts that are arranged to fit in a larger container, a container that has sometimes been placed into an even larger second container:

Author.
Title of Source.
CONTAINER 1
Title of Container,
Other Contributers,
Version,
Number,
Publisher,
Publication Date,
Location.
CONTAINER 2
Title of Container,
Other Contributors,
Version,
Number,
Publisher,
Publication Date,
Location.

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Using Core Elements to Arrange Your Citations

Use only those core elements that apply to your source when forming your citation. In many cases, most of the listed core elements will not be needed. Here is an example of how you would arrange the elements of a  journal article you found in a library database:

Author.                     Weber, Alan.
Title of Source.       “Playful Writing for Critical Thinking: Four Approaches to Writing.”
CONTAINER 1
Title of Container,   Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy,
Other Contributers,  
Version,                      
Number,                   vol. 43, no. 6,
Publisher,
Publication Date,    Mar. 2000,
Location.                  pp. 562-68.
CONTAINER 2
Title of Container,   Literary Reference Center Plus,
Other Contributors,
Version,
Number,
Publisher,
Publication Date,
Location.                libpro.pittcc.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=lkh&AN=2864919&site=ehost-live.      

To form your citation, arrange this information in the order listed, using the punctuation shown:

Weber, Alan. “Playful Writing for Critical Thinking: Four Approaches to Writing.” Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, vol.43, no. 6, Mar. 2000, pp. 562-68. Literary Reference Center Plus, libpro.pittcc.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=lkh&AN=2864919&site=ehost-live.

What's New in the MLA 8th Edition?

Aside from a major change in approach from “separate instructions for each format” to “one universal set of guidelines,”1 a number of other differences exist in what MLA recommends in the 8th edition:

Added:

  • Include initial articles if they are part of the name of a journal, magazine, or newspaper (e.g., The News and Observer, The Journal of Finance).
  • Use vol. and no. when giving volume and issue numbers.
  • Include month(s) or season (if listed) when giving dates for journals.
  • Use p. or pp. when giving page numbers.
  • Include the DOI (preferred if listed) or the URL for database articles, website articles, e-books, or anything found online. (Note that angle brackets are not included, the initial "http://" or "https://" is not included, and you need to put a period at the end of the URL in your citation. If you are later copying and pasting this URL into a web browser to find your source, you will likely have to remove the period.)
  • Use the entire publisher’s name, except for business words such as “Company,” “Inc.,” etc. (This does not apply to academic presses, for which "U" and "P" are still substituted for the words "University" and "Press.")

Eliminated:

  • The names of more than two authors are not included; if there are three or more authors, use "et al." with only the first author's name.
  • Place of publication is no longer required.
  • Placeholders such as “n.p.” or “n. pag.” are no longer needed. If information is missing (such as publisher or page numbers), just skip the missing information and go on to the next item.
  • Abbreviations for common terms such as "editor," "edited by," and "review of" are no longer used; write these terms out in full.
  • Medium of publication ("Web," "Print," etc.) is no longer included.
  • Complicated punctuation is gone. Nearly all punctuation now consists of commas and periods.

Optional:

  • Access date for online sources is no longer required, but still strongly encouraged when it might be useful, such as when no publication date can be found. (Some MLA resources, such as the Purdue OWL site for example, may even seem to indicate that this is still a necessary component.)
  • When citing a source that was previously published in a form other than the one you are citing, you may include the original publication information. 
  • A descriptive word for an "unexpected type of work" (such as a transcript for a radio broadcast, or a lecture you heard in person) may be included at the end of your citation.
  • Any amount of other optional information may be included if you think it is important to your research or might be helpful in leading readers to your sources; see the MLA Handbook for more details on this.

1 From the cover blurb of MLA Handbook, 8th edition. See also the new online MLA Style Center.