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MLA 8th edition: Elements of the Citation

Created by Eryn Roles @ Marshall University in 2018

Creating the Citation

When creating your "Works Cited" page,

  • Think about the source you are documenting,
  • Select the information about the source that is appropriate to the project you are creating, and
  • Organize the information logically and without complication.

The MLA Handbook (8th edition) has a good section (pp. 14-18) on finding the facts about publications, and an extensive discussion of each of the core/optional elements.

Core Elements

These are the core elements of any entry in the Works Cited list, in the order in which they should appear. Omit any element that is not relevant to the source being cited. Use a period after the last element and the punctuation mark shown below for all earlier elements.

Element & Punctuation Contains
1  Author. the name of the person or group primarily responsible for creating the work
2  Title of source. the title of the work, as given in the source
3  Title of container, the title of a larger work that contains the source being documented
4  Other contributors, the name of others who helped produce the work (e.g. editors, translators)
5  Version, identifies the form you used when a source is released in more than one form,
6  Number, identifies when a source is part of a numbered sequence (e.g. journal issues)
7  Publisher, the name of the organization primarily responsible for producing the work, or making it avaiiable
8  Publication date, the date of publication most meaningful or most relevant to your use of the source
9 Location. where the source is located within the container (e.g. page numbers, URL, disc number, place)

A container may also be nested within a larger container; a blog post within a network of blogs, for example, or a book of short stories available on Google Books. If this is the case, simply repeat the relevant core elements 3-9 to the end of the entry to account for each additional container.

Optional Elements

Besides the core elements, there are several pieces of information that may be important to your use of the source. These may be added to the end of the entry, or right after the core elements they relate to. This is not an exhaustive list; include information bases on whether it might help your reader.

Element & Punctuation Contains
Date of Original Publication. if the original date will provide the reader with insight into the work's creation or relation to other works, place it right after the source's title
City of publication, not usually needed for recent works, but include: (instead of the publisher) for works published before 1900 ; (before the publisher) when the source may differ based on the country of publication, or when it would help identify an unfamiliar publisher in a country outside of North America
Other facts about the source (placed at the end of the entry)
volume count. total number of volumes in a multivolume publication
series name. give the series name in regular type and the number of the source (if any) in the series
type of work. when the source is unexpected (e.g. the transcript of a radio program rather than the broadcast itself)
information about prior publication of the source. when the source was previously published in a form other than the one you are citing, give that publication information
legislative documents information give the number and session of the legislature (e.g. Congress), and the document's type and number
date of access. include if it is important to show which version you consulted, or when the source itself gives no publication/production date


The MLA Handbook (8th edition, section 1.6) gives approved abbreviations for common terms, publishers' names, and the parts of the Bible and works of Shakespeare.

When giving the names of publishers in the Works Cited list:

  • omit business words like Company (Co.), Corporation (Corp.), Incorporated (Inc.) and Limited (Ltd.), and their foreign equivalents
  • in the names of academic presses, replace University Press with UP, University with U, and Press with P - e.g. MIT P, U of Chicago P, Teacher's College P

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