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English & Literature

Introduction to the MLA 8th Edition

According to the MLA website, the new handbook, "rethinks documentation for an era of digital publication. The MLA now recommends a universal set of guidelines that writers can apply to any source and gives writers in all fields—from the sciences to the humanities—the tools to intuitively document sources. Learn more below about the changes to MLA guidelines."

This guide provides an overview of those changes along with examples of the most common citations for books, articles, web sources, and in-text citations. This guide is intended to be a basic introduction. For more detailed examples, or for information about other aspects of MLA, see the print handbook or consult the "What's new" section of their website.


Core Elements

The 8th edition is built around nine core elements that can be combined to create a citation for any source. Any element that does not exist for a particular citation should be omitted. Each core element is followed by a punctuation mark as follows:

  1. Author.
  2. Title of source.
  3. Title of container,
  4. Other contributors,
  5. Version,
  6. Number,
  7. Publisher,
  8. Publication date,
  9. Location.

The final element should always be followed with a period.