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MLA Style Citation Guide - Langara Library


Our MLA tutorial covers citation basics, and has activities at the end to help you check your understanding of MLA Style.

The Core Elements

MLA Handbook, 8th ed., pp.20-53

MLA 8th edition is an updated, streamlined system of documentation created to reflect the changing nature of modes of publication in a digital age. Instead of structured examples, MLA 8th edition gives the author/writer the flexibility of using a core set of elements to base the citation on. The core elements are the base for the citation whether the item cited is a book, journal article, website, film, or something else. Keep in mind not all resource types will have every core element.

In the order they will appear in your citation, the core elements are:


The creator(s) of the resource listed as they appear on the resource (including order), followed by a period.

  • Single author: Anzaldúa, Gloria.
  • Two authors: Simpson, Leanne, and Edna Mantiowabi. (Last, First, and First Last.)
  • Three or more authors: Park, Yoon Jung, et al.

If the person or group primarily responsible for the work is not an author, you can use their name as the author element and add a description of their role (D’arcens, Louise, editor.)

MLA Handbook, 8th ed., pp. 21-25.

Title of source

The full name of the resource, in one of the formats below, followed by a period:

  • italics (book, play, report, periodical name, film, album, TV series, entire website)


  • "quotation marks” (journal/newspaper/magazine article title, essay/chapter/story/poem in a collection, article or posting on a website, song name, episode name, email subject, tweet text).

MLA Handbook, 8th ed., pp. 25-29.

Title of container

A container is a larger work that includes the resource you are citing. Container titles are usually italicized and are followed by a comma.

  • an article (title) in a journal (container title)
  • an essay/chapter (title) in an edited book (container title)
  • an episode (title) of a TV series (container title)
  • a post (title) on a website (container title). 

MLA Handbook, 8th ed., pp. 30-36.

Other contributors

Credit all contributors to the work other than the author if their participation is important to your research or the identification of the work (adaptors, editors, translators, illustrators, contributing authors, etc.). Precede each name with a description of the contribution and follow with a comma.

  • Translated by Ken Liu,
  • Illustrated by Yoko Shimizu,
  • Introduction by N.K. Jemisin

MLA Handbook, 8th ed., pp. 37-38.


Include any version or edition information as it appears followed by a comma.

  • For books this is usually an edition (8th edition, revised ed.,)
  • other resource types may have other version designations (Director’s Cut, Version 2.3.2, etc.).

MLA Handbook, 8th ed., pp. 38-39.


If the resource is part of a numbered sequence or is a periodical (journal, newspaper, magazine) include any notation as it appears, followed by a comma:

  • vol. 22, no. 4,
  • season 3, episode 6,

MLA Handbook, 8th ed., pp. 39-40.


List the name of the primary publishing organization or company as it appears on the resource, followed by a comma.

  • The MIT Press,
  • National Film Board,
  • Vancouver Coastal Health,

If more than one publisher is given equal prominence, separate names with a slash

  • Vancouver Art Gallery/Black Dog Publishing, 

There is no need to list a publisher for most periodicals, a work published by its author, a website published by an organization of the same name, or a resource published by a website that does not contribute to the content (YouTube, Tumblr, etc.).

MLA Handbook, 8th ed., pp. 40-42.

Publication Date

Use the date most closely associated with the version or edition of the resource you used. Write the full date as it appears on the source followed by a comma.

  • For individual articles, posts, etc. from the web use the specific posting date;
  • for entire websites and projects you can use a range (2008-2017).
  • Some online sources such as Tweets or comments may also list a timestamp to include.

MLA Handbook, 8th ed., pp. 42-46.


Location specifies where in a work the source appears (not the place of publishing), followed by a period.

  • Print works may have a page number (p. 67.) or page range (pp.3-5.).
  • Online sources may include a URL (a permalink if possible) or a DOI (digital object identifier) (doi:10.1353/pmc.2000.0021.). MLA recommends including URLs in the works-cited list, but check with your instructor for their preference.
  • In some cases the location will take the form of a disc number (series on DVD) or place (lecture, art work on exhibit, etc.).

MLA Handbook, 8th ed., pp. 46-50.

Notes about the core elements

Optional Elements

Optional elements can be included at the discretion of the writer. These include: date of original publication, city of publication, date of access, and other facts about the source. Date of access is important to include if the source does not specify a date of publication. It is more often included with online sources as these can typically be changed or removed at any time. Check with your instructor whether they prefer date of access to be included or not.

Missing elements

Unlike the previous version of MLA citation, you no longer need to include information that is not available from a source. Don’t use n.p. or n.d. if there are no pages or dates, just leave it out.

MLA Handbook, 8th ed., pp. 50-53.