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MLA List of Core Elements
MLA citations are created using the following template of core elements* (in this order):
- Title of Source.
- Title of Container,
- Publication Date,
Each element is followed by the punctuation as shown in the list above.
Not every element will be relevant to every item being documented.
A single item may have more than one container.
For more information and examples, please see Works Cited: A Quick Guide accessible at the MLA Style Center.
* In addition to the core elements, there are supplemental elements that may also be included in a citation (for more details, see the MLA Handbook, 9th edition, beginning at section 5.105).
Please note: this guide has been updated to reflect the publication of the new 9th edition of the MLA Handbook.
Some links and information below pertain to the older 8th edition.
MLA is the citation style most commonly used in the Arts and Humanities.
The 8th edition of the MLA Handbook (2016) introduced many changes and a different approach to documenting sources. The newer 9th edition (2021) builds on this approach and provides additional guidance and explanations along with new examples.
- Citations are created using the MLA template of core elements.
- Elements are then assembled in a particular order.
- MLA uses the concept of "containers" to describe when a source is part of a larger whole.
- See Chapter 5 in the 9th edition for a detailed explanation.
MLA Style Center:
The MLA Style Center provides a range of guides and resources, including:
- Works Cited: A Quick Guide provides a brief tutorial using the MLA Practice Template and list of core elements to create an entry for a Works Cited.
- Citations by Format: examples showing how to cite five basic source types.
- Interactive Practice Template: a tool for teaching and learning MLA Style.
- Formatting Your Research Paper: a handy guide to formatting your paper the MLA way (covers margins, text formatting, titles, page numbers, placement of the List of Works Cites and more)
- Sample Papers in MLA Style: examples of fully formatted papers demonstrating how sources are documented, line spacing, etc. Relates to content in the 8th edition of the MLA Handbook.
- For those more accustomed to the 7th (and earlier) editions of the MLA Handbooks, the What’s New in the Eighth Edition page of the MLA Style Center still offers a useful overview of changes brought in with that edition.
Other Online Guides with Examples:
The MLA Handbook
New 9th edition now available in print and online!
MLA Handbook Plus
"MLA Handbook Plus includes the full text of the ninth edition of the handbook and will soon host additional material, including other MLA guides and instructor resources."
MLA Handbook by
Call Number: LB 2369 .M52 2021
Publication Date: 2021
The new 9th edition of the MLA Handbook was recently published and is now available in the library. The ninth edition "builds on the MLA's unique approach to documenting sources using a template of core elements--facts, common to most sources, like author, title, and publication date--that allows writers to cite any type of work, from books, e-books, and journal articles in databases to song lyrics, online images, social media posts, dissertations, and more."
MLA Handbook by
Call Number: LB 2369 .G53 2016 REF
Publication Date: 2016
"Previous editions of the MLA Handbook provided separate instructions for each format, and additional instructions were required for new formats. In [the eighth edition] MLA recommends instead one universal set of guidelines, which writers can apply to any type of source."